The small forgetfulness that we begin to suffer after a certain age and that do not affect our life but do cause us anxiety. With terror, we think that the brain begins to turn into jelly and we worry about being like Aunt Anastasia, who remembers in great detail everything about her childhood in Morelia, but cannot remember what she did yesterday or this morning.

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry, there is hope… There are many myths in which people mistakenly associate age with forgetfulness.

Neuroscientists have found that it does not necessarily have to be this way, that cells regenerate in the adult brain and that, contrary to what was thought, memory loss is not due to age or neurons dying , but rather to the reduction in number and complexity of the dendrites (branches of neurons) that, through the synapse, receive and process information from other nerve cells.

This happens for a simple reason: lack of use. It’s very simple, just as an unused muscle atrophies, dendrites also atrophy if they are not connected frequently, and the brain’s ability to process new information is reduced.

It is true, exercise helps a lot to alert the mind; There are also vitamins and medicines that increase synaptic transmission and strengthen memory, however, nothing like making our brain manufacture its own food: neurotrophins.

Neurotrophins are molecules that nerve cells produce and secrete, and act as food to keep them and synapses healthy. The more active brain cells are, the more neurotrophins they produce; This creates more connections between the different areas of the brain.

How to improve neurons

What we need is to do Pilates with the neurons : stretch them, surprise them, take them out of their routine and present them with unexpected and fun news through emotions, smell, sight, touch, taste and hearing.

Also, challenge them with crosswords, games like puzzles or chess, etc.

The result? The brain becomes more flexible, more agile, and its memory capacity increases.

As you read this, you are almost certainly probably thinking:

I read, work, exercise and a thousand other things during the day, so my mind must be very stimulated! But the truth is that most of us live in a series of routines.

Think about your average day or week…. How different is your morning routine, your route to work, what time you eat or when you return home? The time you spend in the car? The weather and the programs you watch on television?

Routine activities are unconscious, they make the brain work on automatic pilot, they require a minimum of energy and the experiences go through the same neural highways already formed long ago. No production of neurotrophins.

Exercises for neurons

Some examples of exercises that substantially expand the dendrites are:

Bathing with your eyes closed

Just by touch, locate the water taps, adjust the water temperature, find the soap, or the shampoo. You will see how your hands will notice textures that you have never perceived before.

Using your non-dominant hand

Eat, write, open the toothpaste, brush your teeth, open the drawer with the hand that is most difficult for you to use. Comb, bathe, paint, shave, brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.

read in loud voice

Different circuits are activated than the ones you use to read silently.

Change your routes

Take different routes to get to work, home, or anywhere you usually take. This will make your brain not connected with those same connections.

Change your routines

Do different things. Force yourself to go out, meet, and chat with people of different ages, jobs, and ideologies. Experience the unexpected. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Get out in the field, walk it, smell it. Try other foods, seasonings, listen to other music, smile at people!

Change things of place

Knowing where everything is, the brain has already built a map. For example, change the place of the trash can; you will see how many times you will throw the paper to the old place.

Learn something new

Anything can do, learn photography, cooking, yoga, study a new language. If you like it, put together puzzles, cover one eye so that you lose depth perception, so the brain will have to rely on other avenues.

Identify the coins

Put in your car a mug with several different coins and keep them on hand so that, while you are waiting at the traffic light, with your fingers you try to identify the denomination of each one.

Use your other hand to operate the computer mouse

You will see that this exercise, if you do it persistently, like the others, of course, will make you witness the enormous amount of different things that you can do every day. This will get you out of the routine by helping to form new neural networks in your brain. That means new cells.

Why not open your mind and try these simple exercises that, according to Neurobiology studies at Duke University Medical Center , expand our memory?

Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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