YOUR MIND IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE BRAIN
THAT PRODUCES IT.
Your memory of a sunny day in childhood, the smell of jasmine, your ability to find your car keys, read the newspaper, and cook a meal all depend on maintaining a well-functioning brain. It is the most important part of your body, because it generates all your experience and
controls everything you do.Despite this, the enormous importance of keeping your brain fit and healthy is generally overlooked. We are
bombarded with advice on how to keep our hearts and muscles in order, but information about the best way to preserve our cognitive faculties usually goes no further than the suggestion that we do occasional crosswords.This book is designed to fill that gap. It pulls together
some of the latest scientific research on brain health and shows you how best to achieve it in youth, maintain it through midlife, and preserve and perhaps enhance it in later years.First, it reveals the complex physical processes that produce thoughts, perceptions, and feelings. Then it explains how you can support, and perhaps enhance these
This includes the exercises and nutrition now shown to be especially good for the brain, and advice on how to help prevent or cope with common brain disorders such as stroke and dementia. The Brain Fitness Book describes the variety of mental skills that work together to produce a fully functioning mind and how each of them can be honed, exercised, and refined to make their best contribution.
You can test these skills to explore your own strengths and weaknesses.Finally, The Brain Fitness Book provides a catalog of activities from which you can pick ‘n mix to find a brainhealthy lifestyle filled with newly discovered interests. It includes practical guidance to help and encourage you to
get started on the activities of your choice.
PARTS OF THE BRAIN
Your brain is made up of hundreds of modules, each of which does something slightly different. Together, they produce everything you think of as your mind—your perceptions, memories, judgments, and thoughts—and conduct the countless processes that control your body.
THE ACTIVE BRAIN
To keep your brain healthy you need to maintain both its structure—the actual flesh—and the flow of electrical signals that make it work.
Throughout the brain are trillions of electrical cells called neurons, which transmit signals. Each neuron has a single axon, a biological “wire,” that carries the signals quickly from one end to the other. A tissue
called myelin insulates the axons and this is what makes up the brain’s white matter. When two neurons “talk” frequently, the axon from the first will grow toward the other. Growing axons increase the density of the brain. Most neurons are separated by tiny gaps called synapses. A neuron “talks” to the next neuron by transmitting its signal over the synapse using chemicals called neurotransmitters.
CONNECTING THE PARTS
The brain’s parts are densely connected so that they work as a single system. Signals travel through the gray matter (nerve cell bodies), as well as to and from the underlying areas.
Every bit of knowledge—each fact, skill, face, tune, place: anything you can say you “know,”—is stored in the brain as a unique network of electrically linked cells. Learning involves creating new networks
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