Who wants new neurons?

It’s the beginning of a new school year and time to make some new resolutions, so we wanted to share with you the major principles behind enhancing neuron growth. According to Professor Pierre-Marie Lledo, head of the department of neuroscience at the Pasteur Institute, we all have the capacity to enhance our neuron growth regardless of our age. Here are the six main rules stated during the colloquium S3 Odeon.

1. Avoid routine

New neurons are only produced when we try out new activities. Change is a stimulant for neurogenesis. Motivation, a motor for learning, stimulates and solicits the brain, which in turn forces stem cells to produce new neurons. According to Pierre-Marie Lledo, we must “respect the libido sciendi, which is our thirst to understand and to learn.” So it’s up to you to produce new neurons by taking up a new sport, learning a musical instrument or a new language, or even trying a new application on your tablet.

2. Remove pointless information

Today’s world of digital media entails a mass of information, also known as infobesity, which we must constantly organize, as stated by Lledo. What information should we prioritize? Apparently, it’s not simply knowledge that’s important, but knowledge that enables us to understand, as this is the type of information that regenerates neuronal circuits.

3. Ban anxiolytics and sleeping tablets

It may not be easy, but these substances prevent our brains from functioning correctly. Chronic consumption puts the brain into a form of ‘automatic pilot’ that impedes the production of new neurons.

4. Be physically active

The benefits of physical activity can never be overemphasized. Professor Lledo explained clearly during the colloquium S3 Odeon: “We have to fight against inactivity because research shows that when we exercise our muscles produce chemical substances (……) which, through our blood stream affect the brain and in particular stem cells.” According to Lledo, the correlation between physical activity and the production of new neurons is clear.

5. Be open towards others

Also known as the ‘social brain,’ certain parts of our brains are outside of our conscious control and are only active through relationships with others. According to the Professor “the more one cultivates alterity, the more one heals the brain, which will in turn produce new neurons.”

6. Eat well

As the bestselling book bears witness “Gut: The inside story on our body’s most underrated organ” (G.Enders, Actes Sud, 2015), our intestine and our brain are in permanent communication. The impact of nutrition on the brain has been proven by research linking neuroscience and microbiology. To improve neurogenesis it is important to have a varied diet that is rich in fiber. In contrast, too many fatty and sugary foods will have the reverse effect, reducing the production of new neurons.

These are Professor Lledo’s guidelines to keeping your brain healthy.
Source: Sciences et avenir, “6 règles d’or pour que votre cerveau continue à fabriquer de nouveaux neurons,” article by S. Desmichelle, published 12-09-2016.

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