Wired for Speech
Infants’ language learning and processing rely largely on the same brain circuits that adults use. Recent studies have shown activity in left-hemisphere speech centers in newborns as young as two to five days.
Practice Makes Perfect Learning
We repeatedly activate the same circuit of synapses when we practice a skill, game, or task. After several repetitions, the synapses being used subtly change—learning alters the structure of the brain.
The Teenage Brain—It’s, Like, Complicated
The dramatic remodeling of the brain during adolescence holds tremendous opportunities for growth and learning but also appears to increase a teen’s vulnerability to the long-term effects of environmental influences such as stress and drug experimentation.
While chronic, unmanaged stress can damage the brain and impair memory, mild stress—like an approaching deadline at work or school—can improve cognitive performance, focusing our attention on the task at hand.
I’ll Sleep on It
Studies have suggested that sleep is essential for the maintenance of proper immune function, and also that it serves as a mental “down time” during which neurons can repair themselves and memories can be organized into long-term forms of storage.
The Plastic Brain
The brain is constantly changing in response to experiences, and retains its flexibility well into old age. The healthy brain loses relatively few neurons with age, and even generates new neurons regularly.
Just Keep Moving
In studies of those aged 90 and beyond, the level of exercise was correlated very strongly with longevity. An average of 45 minutes a day provides the most benefit, but even 15 minutes helps.