One of the most obvious glitch of aging is the decreasing function of the brain. As years are added up to your age, you will realize that you are forgetting more things than usual. There are times that you are having difficulty to attach a name to its owner when you have not seen him o her in a while. There are times that you go into a place and wonder why you went there in the first place. Something in your brain circuits is definitely not clicking the way it should, as it used to when you were younger.
The good news is, the scaffolding theory has recently been discovered. According to this theory, you can build a better brain even as you age. Your neural circuits will be able to function more properly and efficiently as opposed to the common course without the intrusion of scaffolding.
The Vital Function of Neurons
It is a skill of a young brain to activate other neural circuits when some are not functioning as well. In this time and age, even an older brain can accomplish switching on the other circuits to continue to enjoy better brain function. Suddenly, they can challenge the natural course and proceed to solve mental problems just as well as young adults or even better.
You may have heard of the debate between the advocates of neural fallouts and the supporters of plasticity model of the aging brain. Neural fallouts advocates argue that loss of neurons and synapses occur as years pass. On the other side of the arena, plasticity fans stood firm by the researches that show some neurons in the brain actually never stop developing new connections, continuously functioning to maintain the balance of brain resources.
Youth vs. Experience
Aging is also an important player on the function of the brain known as “procedural memory”.
Procedural memory is the brain’s ability to remember the processes that individuals usually go through in their daily lives. It includes the simplest of tasks like making the morning coffee, sewing on a button, and hammering a nail among others. The normal course of aging usually spares your ability to perform those tasks.
Even in other areas that are intense and cognitively challenging like playing chess, typing, and reading, it has been proven that experience usually takes over youth. Master chess players can easily make a move at first sight of the board. They only take a longer time to move as usual thinking for a better way to win the match.
Some areas of the brain indeed mature well into the middle years, especially those that are involved in complex skills and languages.
There will always be a debate on which wins more often, youth or experience. You will see that in some areas, there is obviously a heavy weight on experience. Take for example the masters of a profession that requires quick reaction and a significant eye for detail. As they age with the challenges of the job, they become more efficient answering the problems that come up.
Give your Mind a Mental Boost
In case your mind does not respond to the alternate neural circuit thingy, you can always do something to maintain your mental health even as you age.
First, you can do aerobic exercises. A physical activity such as aerobics is usually thought of as an antidote for cardiovascular disease. But it can do more than keeping your heart healthy. It can also make your mind sweat and well while you go through the routine.
Secondly, you can watch what you put into your mouth. Your diet — what you eat — can significantly get in the way of your brain’s function. You may have heard that taking foods with Omega-3 is healthy. Yes, it is healthy for the brain, too. Flavonoids-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, dark chocolates, and red wine have essential effects to your cognition. The importance of flavonoids in brain function has been proven by a research made in France over a ten-year period. High levels of flavonoids were associated with significantly lower memory declines.
Thirdly, the amount of mental activity you get into spells a striking difference on how your brain age in the long run. You can even prevent Alzheimer’s disease from happening or ever having to appear as obvious.
Finally, there is your mental attitude. To help preserve your mental abilities, you must be in tune to the fact that your cognition may change as you age. But you must not settle for that fact alone. Because you can definitely do something to help maintain your cognitive abilities or make it function as efficient as it used to.