I previously mentioned that various forms of exercise are beneficial to the brain and I will go into greater details on the many ways it is good for the brain in a later post, but I also want to introduce another way to improve brain health – enriched environment.
Numerous animal studies have demonstrated the positive effects on the brain if animals are offered an enriched environment compared to a normal environment for an experimental animal. For animals an enriched environment usually consists of multi-level cages and many toys to interact with. Additionally, in some of these studies new toys are introduced on a regular basis. The actual positive effects observed include these injury/diseases: traumatic brain injury, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, stroke, Fragile X syndrome, and Down Syndrome. Pretty impressive list. For a good review if you have access: https://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v7/n9/abs/nrn1970.html). Don’t worry if you don’t have access I will be going into detail in later posts.
While it might be hard to compare animals living in cages compared to how us modern humans live. But on the other hand how many of us are locked into self imposed prisons? Prisons in which we are not exposed to new experiences. We get stuck into a routine and do the same thing over and over again – does this sound familiar?
Break out of prison.
Learn something new. Take up a new game – chess, poker, a new computer game (and change genres – not just first person shooters), learn to play a musical instrument, learn a new language. All of these would be good examples of an enriched environment – be good to your brain.
One more suggestion on how to enrich your environment – travel. In the spirit of the doctor (okay PhD) taking his own advice I am off tomorrow morning on an extended trip. Quit my job and off to explore the world (well a very small part of it, but it will be new to me and my neurons).
You will soon hear more from my Prison Break.
What are you going to do today to enrich your environment?