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Use It or Lose It: what is It?

Who has not heard “Use It or Lose It”. Now, what is “It”? And, is “It” only one thing or a num­ber of inte­grat­ed ele­ments, each of which are heav­i­ly involved in spe­cif­ic “brain exer­cis­es”, and all of which are impor­tant to main­tain Brain Fit­ness.

Let’s review at a glance:

The brain is com­posed of 3 “brains” or main sub-sys­tems, each named after the evo­lu­tion­ary moment in which the sub-sys­tem is believed to have appeared, and after which species we share that struc­ture with.

Theropod A) Neo­cor­tex, or Human Brain, is the most recent area, where we per­form high-lev­el think­ing and com­plex inte­gra­tive tasks. Oth­er mam­mals do have this part too, but in much small­er pro­por­tion of the whole brain vol­ume.
B) Lim­bic Sys­tem, or Mam­malian Brain, crit­i­cal for emo­tions and for mem­o­ry,

C) Cere­bel­lum and Stem, or Rep­til­ian Brain, that reg­u­lates basic vital vari­ables such as breath­ing, heart­beat and motor coor­di­na­tion (Cred­it for pic: Arnold Key­ser­ling and R.C.L.)

Theropod B) Lim­bic sys­tem: emo­tions are gen­er­at­ed here, as well as the appetites and urges that help us sur­vive. For instance, the amyg­dala gets trig­gered to pre­pare us to deal with a threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion, result­ing in our feel­ing of fear. The hip­pocam­pus is key in the for­ma­tion of mem­o­ry. (Cred­it: Sand­hills Col­lege)
Theropod A) The Neo­cor­tex is com­posed of

-Frontal Lobes: or the CEO of the Mind, for sophis­ti­cat­ed brain func­tions such as plan­ning and con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing.

-Pari­etal: deals with move­ment, the sens­es, and some forms of recog­ni­tion

-Tem­po­ral: audi­to­ry process­es and lan­guage

-Occip­i­tal: visu­al pro­cess­ing cen­ter (cred­it: Mor­phonix)

In action When we exer­cise our brains, we put our Neu­rons in action. “Cells that fire togeth­er wire togeth­er”, mean­ing that synaps­es, or unions between neu­rons, get solid­i­fied the more often the respec­tive neu­rons “talk” to each oth­er. (Cred­it: Peter Fursten­berg)

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26 Responses

  1. Elona says:

    Great post. You have made a very com­plex top­ic very acces­si­ble. I teach a unit on the teenage brain to my grade nine stu­dents in my Learn­ing Strate­gies Class. I think they will “get it.” more eas­i­ly after view­ing this. I tell them they have to use all parts of their brain all the time, not just the video, tv watch­ing part. So I have them do all kinds of dif­fer­ent puz­zles to keep their brain “strong”.

  2. Alvaro says:

    Very good take-away. Yes, we need nov­el­ty and vari­ety to exer­cise our brains. I see that once we under­stand the basics of brain anato­my and func­tion­ing, the implca­tions are clear.

    Good luck, and please let me know how the exper­i­ment goes.

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