Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Path to a Healthier, More Productive Brain

According to Fred Gage, researcher at the Salk Institute, there is concrete evidence that neurogenesis (the creation of new brain cells) occurs in adult brains.

No longer is it believed that the brain is limited to the number of brain cells we are born with.

New brain cells are born well into the EIGHTH decade of life!

One of the main drivers of this process is voluntary movement/exercise. What supercharges this process is focused, directed attention to your movements.

You don’t have to go the gym to exercise to reap these benefits, however. In fact, pushing too hard and using too much effort will limit what you’re able to achieve.

You see, there is a scientific law that states that the more you slow down and the more you reduce your effort, the higher your capacity is to perceive differences.

The more differences you perceive in your movements directly translate to more movement possibilities for your nervous system.

By perceiving finer and finer differences in movement, you are actually increasing the number of dendrites branching out from your brain cells. These are the very parts of the neuron that tend to deteriorate with age (dendrites are the bushy projections through which a neuron receives signals from other neurons).

It has become a universal truth that the better connected a brain is, the better it will function - period.

And as Dr. Michel Merzenich, a pioneer in brain plasticity research states:

"Movement is inextricably controlled on the basis of ‘feedback’ from our bodies and brains, and movement control is guided very directly by the cognitive resources that guide all of our behaviors. They are weaker or stronger, enabled or disabled TOGETHER. Neurological processes that control the flow of cognition and thought are not really different from those that control the flow of movement — and in fact are complexly, inextricably inter-twined!"

With that being said, you can see how refining your movements to higher and higher levels of quality will enable you to refine your cognitive abilities as well!

You’ll actually become smarter!

Experience changes your brain structure.

Through your focused, directed attention to your movement experiences, you create richer and more complicated brain circuits.

It’s ALL in your hands (and brains).

Are you directing your attention to the same old stuff day after day, or are you slowing down, reducing your effort and looking for new ways to do things?

Let us know what you’re doing for yourself to create a more richly connected brain.


Chad Estes
Movement Specialist

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