In the last decade researchers have made an astonishing discovery: the brain is much more “plastic” than they ever anticipated. Plastic may not sound like that much of a compliment, but trust me – it is. What it refers to is the fact that rebuild and rewire your brain at any time of your life. Yes, you can build new synaptic connections. You can activate any one of billions of unused connections.
Do you know what this means? Your wife may think you’re a moron. Your boss may think that you’re a boneheaded buffoon. But the reality is that you’ve potentially got a supercharged Cray sitting right on top of your neck. Furthermore, even if you’ve lived a questionably healthy lifestyle for a few decades, you can actually rebuild your brain and get yourself more smarter.
The key, though, is how you live and what you do from this moment on. Most of us already know how we can slowly destroy our brain: a Western lifestyle has taught us everything we need to know. Below is a better way that will maintain and transform your brain in ways that no one thought possible until just recently:
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- Exercise. Nothing beats exercise for rebuilding the brain. It increases learning, memory, processing speed, creativity. For more details, read here about to Rebuild Your Brain Through Exercise.
- Growth Hormone(and IGF-1). It is now recognized that Growth Hormone, and IGF-1 which is increased whenever your body releases Growth Hormone, directly and positively effects the brain and “mental agility” as one set of researchers put it.  Really Human Growth Hormone’s capabilites goes beyond this and can directly improve learning and memory.  Read my links on Growth Hormone for more information.
- Exercise Your Brain. “With a reasonable amount of effort, you can improve your memory 30 to 40 percent“. Who said that? Dr. Barry Gordon, founder of the memory clinic at John Hopkins.  The key is mental workouts that push your brain in a variety of auditory, visual and learning modes. Scientist have actually developed a computer program, called Brain Fitness 2.0 from Posit Science, that does just this. And a study showed that it actually improved memory. The catch is that the program is expensive: around $300 when I called in April of 2008. A cheaper alternative is to get the book Keep Your Brain Alive. It’s a compendium of “tricks” and exercises that you can do to improve your neuronal connections. It has no studies to directly back up the exercises, but it is written by a Ph. D. professor of neurobiology and based on the latest research. (See my Favorites link.) So forget the memory tricks: exercise your brain!
- Cut Calories. A 2009 study in seniors showed cutting calories by 30% improved memory significantly.  This is more evidence that reducing insulin and inflammation are the keys to a healthy brain, because reducing calories led, of course, to signficant reductions in both blood glucose and insulin levels.
- Testosterone. In the male testosterone is also critical for mental sharpness and cognition, so protect your testosterone! Testosterone can also improve your memory, brain, cognition and learning. Yes, testosterone is intimately linked to cerebral function. Several studies have shown that, in particular, visual spacial skills are tied to testosterone levels. And hypogonadal (low testosterone) men have been shown in several studies to have lower verbal skills.  In other words, anything you can do to boost your testosterone will help your cognition. I recommend this link on How to Boost Your Testosterone for ideas.
- Sex. Sex, at least in rats, actually grows brain cells! Scientist believe that it is because of the reduced stress hormone levels experienced by more sexually active rats.  “Grow harder, grow smarter,” we always say.
- By the way, blood flow, nutrients and antioxidants protection are also keys to Super Brain Power, but the above are those things that can actually boost your memory and rebuild your brain connections directly. Read these links about How to Improve Cognition and Learning for more information.
REFERENCES:1) Newsweek, 2/10/07, p.68-72]
2) The Jour of Gerontology 6) Cardiovasc Res,Apr 2002,54(1):25-35
3) Arch Neurol,2001,58:498-504
4) Saving Your Brain, Jeff Victoroff, p. 135
5) Rev Endocr Metab Disord,Dec 2006,7(4):225-35
6) Cardiovasc Res,Apr 2002,54(1):25-35
7) PNAS, 2009, 106:1255–126, “Correction for Caloric restriction improves memory in elderly humans”, appeared in issue 4, January 27, 2009 of Proc Natl Acad Sci USA and first published January 26, 2009
9) Achieving Optimal Memory, Aaron Nelson, Ph. D, p.48, McGraw-Hill, 2005
10) Achieving Optimal Memory, Aaron Nelson, Ph. D, p.152, McGraw-Hill, 2005
11) Ann Intern Med,2006,(144):73–81; Am J Epidemiol,2005,161:639–651; Arch Int Med,2001,161:1703–1708; J Am Med Assoc,2004,(292):1454–1461
12) British Journal of Sports Medicine, 1997, 31:240-245, “Exercise enhances creativity independently of mood”
13) PLoS ONE, 2010, 5(7): e11597, “Sexual Experience Promotes Adult Neurogenesis in the Hippocampus Despite an Initial Elevation in Stress Hormones”