1ºbaccalaureate's students attended lectures about the brain in medical school of U.C.L.M. the last week. These lectures were becouse of the brain awereness week that takes places troughout the world organized by The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives-
We only attended last thursday and we listened several lectures. I think it was really interesting and I would like to share with you some of what we were explained:Within its 1.3 kilograms mass are approximatly a hundred billion neurons, billions more "support" cells, and a hundred trillion or more synaptic connections linking themall together. Each neuron can make as many as a thousand synapses. At any given moment, millions of synapses might be actively sending messages along intertwined networks of neurons
The brain accounts for a mere two percent of our body weight, but consumes 20 percent of the oxygen we breathe and 20 percent of the energy we take in. Our brains are what set us apart from every other species on Earth.
Disorders of the brain are a major cause of death and disability worldwide. As the world population ages the problem will grow, because many brain disorders disproportionately affect older people. Finding ways to prevent, treat, and cure the disorders of the nervous system is a primary goal of neuroscience research.Now we are going to see some interesting questions:
how does the brain accomplish multiple tasks at once?
The brain needs to attend to one task at a time; it can't just double or triple its processing power in line with how many things we're trying to do at once. That's not to say that walking and chewing gum isn't possible. But in general, tasks that require mental processing seem to be handled sequentially by the brain, not simultaneously.
What happens to the brain as we age?
Not all brains age the same, just as not all bodies age the same. In other words, everyone's brain ages differently.
The good news is that the braín is adaptable at any age. It continues to add and modify its synapses and neural pathways throughout Iífe, in an experience-dependent manner.
That means "use it or lose it." Brain pathways that are inactive are eventually lost, while an enriching and stimulating life creates a richer network of synapses.
How can I keep my brain young?
Converging evidence from multiple areas of brain research is beginning to point to a number of factors that seem to contribute to a brain-healthy lifestyle, including:
• Stimulating our mind with mental activities and novel experiences that challenge the brain and activate new neural pathways.
• Incorporating physical activity -especially aerobic exercise- into our daily schedule, even if only for 10 minutes at a time.
• Interacting with other people and engaging in social activities.
• Having a sense of self-worth and self-efficacy, the feeling that what we do matters.
• Reducing cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
• Eating a healthful diet that includes plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables (for antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals) and fatty fish or nuts (sources of Omega-3 fatty acids), and that limits trans fat and saturated fats.
• Managing stress and finding healthful ways to cope with high-stress periods.
• Getting adequate amounts of sleep¬about 8 hours for most adults.
Think about how you can work brain-friendly activities into your day in each of these areas. It's never too late (or too early) to start.
How does the brain develop from birth to adulthood?
The development ot the human brain is a complex, dynamic process that untolds over the course ot two decades or so. It is driven partly by genetic programming and partly by interactions with the environment, both ot which conspire to shape the "wiring diagram" ot the brain.
At birth, the human brain is equipped with only a small proportion ot the synapses it will eventually have. In early development, synaptic connections are added primarily through synapse overproduction and loss-essentially, genetic programming sets up a large number ot connections, then experience plays upon this network to strengthen some synapses and eliminate others. The timing ot this process varies by brain region
This is why neuroscientists talk about "critical periods" or "sensitive periods" for learning certain skills such as language.
Around adolescence, the brain undergoes a second burst of synapse overproduction, followed by another dramatic "pruning" period during which underused synapses wither and die back. This final developmental wave of synaptic fine-tuning proceeds from the back of the brain to the front, making the prefrontal cortex the last area of the brain to develop. This region is associated with advanced cognitive functions such as planning, reasoning, and inhibiting impulsive behavior.
The teenage years represent one of the most dynamic phases of brain development,
a period during which the brain is "hyper-plastic" -highly adaptable- as it shapes and refines the neural pathways that will support it through adulthood. This can be a double-edged sword, for the same mechanisms that appear to make the teen brain exquisitely primed for learning also make it vulnerable. Drugs of abuse, for example, seem to have longer-term effects on the brain when they are used during adolescence than at other ages.