Generally we pay more attention to the fitness of our body. We are keen to maintain our weight, stay away from hypertension and diabetes, and desire a bubbling energy to enjoy life to the fullest. But while striving for physical fitness, we hardly think about brain fitness. Actually it is good if we keep our body healthy by eating moderately and exercising regularly, because when our body is healthy, our brain too is healthy and works efficiently. Still we need to enhance brain fitness in particular, in order to live life by truly enjoying it!
Brain is the main part of our nervous system and the commands about how to behave in a particular situation are given to nerves spread across our body, by the brain. Therefore, if our brain is fit, obviously we can function more efficiently. Just like, our muscles become stronger when they are put to regular physical exercise, our brain cells too become strong, when they are put to various types of regular mental exercises. Days have gone when it was believed that once died neurons cannot be replaced by new ones. Researches have shown that neurons do regenerate. The concept of neurogenesis is proved scientifically and, it has been established that stem cells, which are special cells which can produce any new cells, required in the body, at a particular time and for a specific function, give rise to neurons too. These new neurons take their place in the brain, how ever remote it is, and replace the lost neurons and replenish the brain. Even it has been seen from studies that a sudden neuronal death can trigger neurogenesis.
Dendritic sprouting is a process in which a brain cell develops connections with its neighboring neurons. The more active a brain cell is, the more dendroitic sprouting it undergoes. A single neuron may have over thirty thousand such connections, because of which a dense network is created all through the brain. If each neuron is induced directly by way of experience or indirectly through its connections from the neighbors, possibility of its death reduces significantly.
Physical exercises too have the ability to boost the process of neurognesis all through life, whereas mental exercises increase the rate of survival and development of new connections with the neighboring cells, of new brain cells. Physical and mental exercises together increase the release of nerve growth factor, which is helpful for neurons to grow and remain healthy.
Thus regular mental challenge by innovative stimuli is necessary for increasing production and interconnection of neurons and nerve growth factor, and also for preventing cell death and loss of connections. This brain fitness can be brought about by a cognitive training program. According to studies, such a cognitive training carried out for five weeks brings about improvement in memory, information-processing speed and reasoning in elderly individuals.
There are different brain activities, which give rise to various degrees of cognitive skills and brain fitness. Some examples are chess, crossword puzzles, ballroom dance, basketball, walking in the interior of house, learning a new language or painting, and physical exercises. But it is seen that amongst all types of cognitive training programs, online brain training programs, like online memory games, actually help the individuals to enhance focusing, cognitive skills, levels of attention, speed of information processing and of course, increasing memory. What’s more, in some cases, they even eliminate depression.
The ability of nervous system to change its composition and function over lifetime, in response to environmental variations is called brain plasticity. Cognitive training is ideal for stimulating cerebral plasticity. The training puts brain to a systematic practice of activities essential to form new neural circuits and to strengthen synaptic connections among the neurons. Especially if the training activities are highly personalized the brain learns most effectively and this brings about true brain fitness. Therefore, to keep your brain fit, it is very necessary to put it to different mental challenges, which keep you amused to in addition to bringing about brain fitness.