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"For decades, scientists assumed that humans were born with all the brain cells they'd ever have. Then, in the 1970s researchers showed that new brain cells and neural pathways form through the end of life; when people challenge their brains, they found, new synapses are created." This claim was made in "Secrets of Your Brain" (Washington, DC: US News & World Report, 2011). The publication offered these ideas on challenging your brain:
"Cultivating connections as you age is a good idea for many reasons, one of which might be brain health. In a study of more than 2,800 people age 65 or older, Harvard researchers found that those with at least five social ties — church groups, social groups, phone calls from family and friends — were less likely to suffer cognitive decline than those with no such ties...
"Try something new. One way to take your memory to a higher level is to expose it to as many new experiences as possible. Recent studies conducted in Germany by University of Magdeburg researchers... demonstrated that novelty stimulates activity not only in the memory centers of the hippocampus/medial temporal lobe, but also in the dopamine rich midbrain areas responsible for motivation and reward processing. Because dopamine can enhance learning, anything you consider unique gives you proactive neurocircuitry more ammunition. By trying something new at least once a week... you provide yourself with more cross-reference material to draw on in the future."
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