Neuroplasticity is defined as “the ability of the brain to rewire itself through experience”.
We typically summarize a lot of brain research by encouraging SharpBrains readers is to seek for novelty, variety and challenge, as guidelines for “brain exercise” that will help build new connections in the brain, force one to be mindful and pay attention, improve abilities such as pattern-recognition, and in general contribute to lifelong brain health.
A friend just sent an update on her amazing experience in Namibia (the pic on the right shows the entrance to the University of Namibia) that shows how Travel and Engagement with meaningful projects can provide superb mental stimulation, or “brain exercise”. This is relevant at all ages, and we are encouraged to see organizations such as Civic Ventures and Elderhostel that offer opportunities for baby boomers and older adults who want to maintain active minds.
Try picturing in your mind, as you read this, all her different brain areas that are getting needed stimulation through her Namibia experience.
UPDATE: my friend just wrote to expand on the “be mindful” angle by saying that “it definitely requires purposeful processing of the information that you are consuming in order to make it a useful brain exercise. For example, I always try to journal or write thoughtful emails about my experience in order to try to best understand it.” Great point.
With her permission, here you have:
I am just returning from Namibia and am buzzing with excitement about all of the opportunities for us to make an impact there when we return with our students next Spring.
Namibia is very different than I expected. It was the last country in Africa to gain independence from colonialism, gaining independence just 20 years ago. Thus, it is much more developed than any African country that I have visited, with relatively good infrastructure and no existing debt. That said, the legacies of apartheid can still be felt in today’s society, and the people are very clearly dealing constantly with issues of race and identity. One of the most interesting experiences that I had was attending a “braai” (the Namibian version of a barbecue which basically consists of Read the rest of this entry »