“Put your mind to work if you do not want to lose it,” warn scientists. Lifelong learning is the key to a healthy and sharp brain in old age. According to a study, the synapses continue to be formed at all ages, but only as long as we keep thinking…
As stated by Dr. Matthew Bambling from the School of Psychology and Counselling, University of Queensland, Australia, the new study does not confirm the previous points of view, according to which over the years, the brain mass shrinks by up to 12% in the elderly people.
For a long time, it was also believed that an adult brain can’t form new cells. The more we learn about the human brain, the more evident it becomes that it’s not the case and our most important organ is more flexible than we thought.
Dr. Bambling, who led the research, says that the process of neurogenesis, which is normally observed in the human brain during childhood and adolescence, may continue during adulthood and to a ripe old age.
The scientists found that the human brain develops new neural synapses when a person learns new things or when he or she changes their way of thinking as a result of psychotherapy. The same thing happens when someone is in going through antidepressant treatment.
Having examined the brains of elderly patients before and after psychotherapy, the researchers found that their brains had begun to form new neurons, which also could have been the reason for the change in the behavior of patients.
Dr. Bambling said that the process of neurogenesis stops when a person suffers from depression, and the objective of psychotherapy is to restart this process.
Finally, the scientists believe that if elderly people constantly learn new things and train their brain, it is possible to keep it healthy and active until a ripe old age. Thus, it turns out that lifelong learning is indeed the key to sound cognitive functions in old age.
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