tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

Your brain - use it or lose it

The BBC news article Juggling 'can boost brain power' reminded me of a neuropsychology lecture by Alan Parkin while I was at Sussex University. It was about aging and he was saying people have the idea of not being too active and not 'wearing out' their brain, but that people who are active, both physically and mentally, tend to have less problems as they age. It's a case of 'use it or lose it' when it comes to brain power.

The BBC article reports on how a thickening of brain matter is found in areas related to juggling (i.e. handling particular spatial tasks) when adults learn the skill from scratch. This would be good support for the 'use it or lose it' - the thickening seen when learning a new skill and continuing it's practise would suggest that people who are not using their brain will gradually lose some of their connections, and therefore have a thinning of brain matter in more general areas.

It's difficult to show something like this without a long-term study, and the sort of tests that can discover this have only become available in recent years, so it will be a long time before it can be shown or not.
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