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Mentalrobics™

You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!

The cerebral cortex is the main part of the human brain. It is the part that handles memory, language, thought, and consciousness. When you see a picture of a brain, the outer layer that looks convoluted and bumpy is the cerebral cortex. It is actually a flat sheet of cells that are all bunched up around the middle parts of the brain. This folding increases the surface area; if you unfolded a human cortex, it would measure more than 4 square feet. The cortex is made up of four lobes separated from front to back and left to right. Each type of sensory input has its own place on the cortex. For example, there is a specific place where all processing related to smells happen. Muscle movements have their own spot, vision has a spot, and so on.

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Neurotrophins are small proteins that are naturally produced in the brain and act like mental nutrients. A constant level of neurotrophins are required just to keep the neurons alive. Neurotrophins are also responsible for pruning out unwanted cells and for stimulating the growth of new dendrites.

Stimulating your mind with new and interesting experiences causes it to increase the production of neurotrophins, which in turn increase the strength and complexity of the dendrites. It causes neurons to connect to different areas of the brain and form new patterns. The more connections you have, the more ways you have to remember a piece of information.

So, seeking out novel experiences is a great way to keep your mind in shape.

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Previously, we learned how natural brain deterioration is mostly caused because of disuse. If a neural pathway is not activated from time to time, it will slowly diminish in strength until the memory is no longer recoverable. Having a rigid daily routine is a sure way to make sure your brain doesn't have to think very much. To keep your memory intact, make sure that you use it on a daily basis. Vary your routines, do the crossword, or try memory games to keep your brain active.

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The brain does not have to deteriorate as we grow older. In fact, one recent study shows that new cell growth in the brain occurs in adults, something previously thought not to occur. This growth occurs in the hippocampus which is where memories are stored.

Another recent study shows that brain cells do not die as we age. In fact, when we are senior citizens, we will have the same number of brain cells as when we were teenagers.

Nearly 90% of people will age without any memory impairment caused by diseases or other medical conditions. The decline that most people will experience is due to a reduction in the number of dendrites in the brain, which form the connections between neurons in the brain.

Dendrites deteriorate because of disuse. The good news is that this can be avoided by staying mentally active. Solving brain teasers and playing games is one way to keep mentally fit.

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The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells, called neurons. There are over 100 million neurons per square inch of your brain! Neurons communicate to nearby neighbors via electrical and chemical signals sent between axons and dendrites.

An axon is a long slender projection from a neuron which transmits signals away from the cell and towards other nearby neurons. Bundles of axons make up nerves and are the primary way that signals are transmitted throughout the body. The axons in your spinal cord can be as long as 3 feet.

A dendrite is a projection from a neuron that receives signals from the axons of its neighbors. A neuron will have a large number of dendrites but only one axon.

The interface between a dendrite and an axon is called a synapse. The signal is transmitted along the axon as an electrical impulse. Once it reaches the synapse, the release of chemical neurotransmitters transmits the signal to the dendrites of other neurons. Each neuron will be have between 1,000 and 10,000 synapses.

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