Ways to Grow a New Brain

Scientists once thought the brain stopped developing after the first few years of life. But new research has shown that the brain can form new neural pathways and create neurons (Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis).

Exercise for 30 minutes per day or meditation stimulates the production of new synapses; eating foods rich in flavanoids (cocoa and blueberries) and antioxidants (green tea) also helps with brain growth. 

In addition to these, here are some proven ways to promote Neurogenesis and Neuroplasticity in your Brain:

Intermittent Fasting 

Calorie-restriction/fasting increases synaptic plasticity, promotes neuron growth, decreases risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and improves cognitive function

Fasting causes a metabolic shift lowers the body's leptin levels, a hormone produced by fat. As a result, the brain receives a signal for neurons to produce more energy.

Travel

Traveling promotes neurogenesis by exposing your brain to new, novel, and complex environments. Those new and challenging situations cause the brain to sprout dendrites.  You don't need to travel across the world to reap these benefits either; taking a weekend road trip to a different city gives your brain the same stimulation.

Use Mnemonic Devices

Memory training promotes connection in your brain's prefrontal parietal network and can slow memory loss with age.  Mnemonics are a form of memory training that combines visualization, imagery, spatial navigation, and rhythm and melody.

Learn an Instrument

Brain scans on musicians show heightened connectivity between brain regions. Playing a musical instrument is an intense, multi-sensory experience. The association of motor actions with specific sounds and visual patterns leads to the formation of new neural networks.  If you've always wanted to learn an instrument, consider brain growth as a motivator to get you started.

Non-Dominant Hand Exercises

Using your non-dominant hand to do simple tasks such as brushing your teeth, texting, or stirring your coffee/tea can help you form new neural pathways. These cognitive exercises strengthen connectivity between your brain cells.   Switch hands with simple tasks to give you brain a workout.

Expand your Vocabulary 

Learning new words activates the brain's visual and auditory processes (seeing and hearing a word) and memory processing. A small vocabulary is linked with poor cognition while an expansive vocabulary is an indicator of success.

Learn one new word each day to expand your vocabulary and give your brain a workout. 

Create Artwork

Engaging in art strengthens the neural pathways that controls attention and focus.

Whether it's creating mosaics, jewelry, pottery, painting, or drawing, the combination of motor and cognitive processing will promote better brain connectivity. Join a local art class; just once a week will help your brain grow.

Hit the Dance Floor 

Not many of us would think of dancing as a "decision-making process," but that's the reason why it's healthy for your brain. Especially free-style dancing and forms that don't retrace memorized paths.  Dancing increases neuroplasticity because it forces you to integrate several brain functions at once --kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional. If you're dancing with a partner, learning both "Lead" and "Follow" roles will increase your cognitive stimulation.

Sleep

Sleep helps learning retention with the growth of dendritic spines, the tiny protrusions that connect brain cells and facilitates the passage of information across synapses.  Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you're struggling to get a consistently good sleep, try creating a nightly ritual; going to bed at the same time; drinking some sleep-inducing tea; or making your room as dark as possible.

xox, Dr. G