HCF Fit and Well : HCF Health Agenda - January 2017
FUTURE FOCUS 45 January 2017 | Health Agenda elastic brain The CAN YOU REALLY TRAIN YOUR BRAIN TO PERFORM 30 YEARS YOUNGER? ACCORDING TO THE EXPERTS, NEUROPLASTICITY MEANS YOU'RE ONLY AS YOUNG AS YOUR BRAIN CAN THINK. Words Robert Hardy ILEXX / GETTY IMAGES Dr Michael Merzenich walks 40 minutes a day around the parks, streets and hills near his home in San Francisco, while making a mental map of all that he sees. He takes his small dog Doug on a different route each time, taking note of the homes, people and plants they pass. It's just one way that the world-renowned neuroscientist trains his brain to remain fast and nimble. How nimble? The 74 year old equates his own brain's performance to that of an average 30 year old. "I am trying to reconstruct the landscape in my mind, down to the smallest detail. If I see a praying mantis on a plant I am excited, it is like living as a kid again," he says, with a smile. "I am not walking mindlessly. I am always trying to keep my brain lively and open to all possibilities, so it's always operating at speed and with an infinite ability to adjust to change. "The brain is not hardwired, as was once thought, but capable of forming new neural connections at any age," he says. This phenomenon, known as neuroplasticity, suggests the brain can change and heal itself of a host of physical and neurological ailments, from dementia, autism and attention deficit disorder through to multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.
HCF Health Agenda - Issue 02
HCF Health Agenda - April 2017