I have been interested in Brain Science (esp in the area of cognition) ever since I left my Bio-technology degree in the 90's to pursue my interest in web technology. There have been so many exciting breakthroughs especially in the awareness of neuroplasticity. I have a real passion for the field as I grew up on a small farm in New Zealand I am a big believer in personal change.
However I am not a neuroscientist - I am sure this site would look quite different if I was :-). And you should not take your brain age too seriously.
Diet is the other half of optimum brain health. Keeping your weight down is important. A long-term study of 1,500 adults found that those who were obese in middle age were twice as likely to develop dementia in later life. Those who also had high cholesterol and high blood pressure had six times the risk of dementia.
This just to hand: Professor Levi-Montalcini puts her mental vigour down to regular doses of nerve growth factor (NGF) - the discovery that made her famous. She just turned 100!
I recommend a vegetarian diet but there is significant evidence that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial, I get mine from flax oil. Nuts are a useful part of your diet; almonds, pecans and walnuts are a good source of vitamin E, which is great antioxidant.
Brain biochemistry can be modified by nutrition and experience. Computerized cognitive training can provide positive training experiences. Playing Brain Games should not increase your IQ, practicing IQ tests can help you get better results in IQ tests but IQ has been shown to be almost 100% genetically determined ("Nature Via Nurture" by Matt Ridley).
"I hope I don’t become senile when I get old."
We are born with a complete set of neurons. From birth on, we lose them and never generate new ones. Because of this, scientists thought that humans naturally lose brain capacity, or get “senile” as we age. Later, scientists started to question whether having more neurons makes a person smarter. If it was true was true then bigger-brained people should be smarter than those with smaller brains. This is not so. And now scientists are finding:
- We can do things to help prevent “senility” or dementia in the aging brain.
- With cognitive training brain power can be improved regardless of age
Studies show it is not the number of neurons that make the difference; it is how you use the ones you have. It is now known that we can actually train our brains to help prevent dementia in old age.
A neuron (brain cell) has many branches extending from it, and many branches extending from those branches. The secret to brain rejuvenation is not growing new cells but simply growing more branches. When we have new experiences or absorb new information we grow new synaptic connections. Neurologists call synaptic connection growth neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity works in the same way human muscles do by growing stronger with use or getting weaker with disuse, the brain also responds by getting stronger with activity and becoming weaker with inactivity.
Games are a great brain exercise because they:
- Force you to think
- Can accommodate many different thought processes
- Offer opportunities to continually learn and memorize new information
- Are fun and enjoyable and socially interactive