How do you keep your brain healthy? Do you take vitamins and minerals? Do you eat so called brain foods?
While there’s nothing wrong with those things we would like to bring you another way to improve your brainpower and keep that important organ healthy and well functioning. And yes, it makes certain areas of your brain grow too.
You might have been told that structure of the brain cannot change except through aging and disease, a new study however revealed that learning can result in changes in brain activity and structure.
German researchers studied a group of 24 people and asked the half of it to practice juggling for three months. They were after effects that acquiring new skills will have to the brain. And after three months, magnetic resonance imaging or MRI of all the participants showed interesting results.
The researchers learned that the volunteers who didn’t train to juggle showed the same brain scans. Those who trained to juggle showed a significant increase in gray matter in two areas of the brain. The said areas are linked in visual and motor activity – visual and motor skills are obviously needed to juggle successfully.
Scientists agree that increase in volume and density of the mid-temporal area and the posterior intraparietal sulcus are a good thing.
Dr. Arne May, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Regensburg in Germany and the head researcher of the study, believes, ‘The growth of cells could be due to locally new cells, stem cells invading from somewhere else or local connections between cell – but we simply do not know.’
Furthermore, the idea of “Use it or Lose it” can explain a part of this experiment. Just after three months of not practicing juggling, the group that once learned to juggle and showed increase in the size of their gray matter “lost their gained brain power and the enhanced brain regions decreased in size.”
Dr. May explained that the brain is simply like a muscle that you need to exercise. She details that even if the positive effects were only temporary; their study proves that some activities like juggling may have direct benefits on the brain.
This study proves that diseases like stroke, trauma and some neurological disorder that result in loss of gray matter could one day be prevented with regular activity that affects gray matter growth.