Scientists are just beginning to understand how your brain works, and there are thousands of things that can happen within it to change everything. How awesome is it that an organ the size of a head of lettuce is able to control all aspects of your body! Your ability to walk, talk, understand language and process complicated information is all under the control of one muscle. This means that if there is damage or weakening to that muscle it will not work the way it should, and could send all other functions out of whack as well. We are at the mercy of our brains, so it is in our best interest to take good care of them.
For decades scientists had believed that each section of our brain works independently to control specific areas, and the functions they have associated with those areas. According to an article in the Journal of Neuroscience published out of the University of New South Wales, the brain is made up of thousands of thread-like fibers that run all along the spinal cord, central nervous system and the brain. This goes against the mainstream science concepts. The brain is a complex network of nerves that interconnect throughout the system, sending signals to all areas of the brain. This makes up the “information-processing and control system” of the brain and it is through this network the body is able to function at its optimum level. They also found that more than one area of the brain can control the same function.
The study was geared toward an aging population, with a group of 342 healthy people between the ages of 72-92. The subjects underwent “brain mapping,” which consisted of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans while using a new imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). A mathematical technique, called graph theory, allowed the neurologists to measure and observe how the nerves connect.
The goal of brain mapping is to allow scientists to view the way the brain is able to process information, and how the body and brain inter-relate to allow a person to think, feel, and react. The results of this and corresponding studies will help neurosurgeons and neurobiologists to design treatments of both psychological and psychiatric disorders, including how we age.
If scientists are able to localize areas weakened through the use of brain mapping they can get to the root cause of many degenerative diseases, in addition to age-related mental and physical decline.
After the age of 40, research has found that the brain begins to slow down naturally, and that affects energy, attention span and memory. The body begins to take on a whole new set of ailments, and is more susceptible to a weakened immune system, stress-related problems, depression, insomnia and loss of sexual vitality.
Through brain mapping the degrees of slowing mental and physical activity can be evaluated and corrected. Hopefully this will lead to a program that will enable doctors to return a person to their full potential, at any age, by retraining their nervous system.
In the meantime, research also shows that by stimulating the brain regularly, through the use of memory training techniques, puzzles and brain games, the loss can be minimalized until a cure can be found.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time USA Memory Champion . He speaks at seminars and to large groups all over the world on how to improve memory and memory techniques. In addition, his website BrainAthlete.com sells CDs and programs to improve memory skills and advise for success.
Journal of Neuroscience, (26 January 2011) – Discrete Neuroanatomical Networks Are Associated with Specific Cognitive Abilities in Old Age: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/4/1204.full.pdf
The Anatomy of the Brain: http://psychology.about.com/od/biopsychology/ss/brainstructure_2.htm