Staying Young by Learning

An old proverb states that to stay young is to keep alert and active or: “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”

University of California neurobiologists are providing the first visual evidence that learning promotes brain health — and, therefore, that mental stimulation could limit the debilitating effects of aging on memory and the mind.

Using a novel visualization technique they devised to study memory, a research team found that everyday forms of learning animate neuron receptors that help keep brain cells functioning at optimum levels. These receptors are activated by a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which facilitates the growth and differentiation of the connections, or synapses, responsible for communication among neurons. BDNF is key in the formation of memories.

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