Your Brain Through The Ages

headBrains are pretty amazing. How they change and grow over the course of human life is pretty impressive as well. Here’s a little about how your brain changes and grows as you age.

Gestation

The brain begins to develop four weeks after conception, so it needs a healthy environment in which to do that. At certain points in development it is estimated that 250,000 neurons are added each minute. That’s one remarkable noggin!

A baby that is born too early can have disruptions in the development of their brain, and this can lead to behavior and psychological problems later in life. It is not fully understood how this all works, though. While scientists study the brain, there is still a lot of mystery to it.

Childhood

During childhood, the brain produces twice the number of neurons it will need and only those that are reinforced will remain. This is the point in brain development where the brain is as elastic, flexible and energetic as it will ever be. By age 6 a brain is 95% of its adult weight!

Adolescence

In puberty, some brains begin to show signs of aging. It is now fully formed, but the wiring is still a work in progress, as any parent of a teenager well knows. An interesting thing that occurs at this point is called “waves of gray matter pruning”, which means that teens lose about 1% of their gray matter every year until they hit their 20’s. Remember this when dealing with your teen and try to be nice, as they are literally losing a bit of their mind. 

Adulthood

Believe it or not, the peak in brain power comes around the age of 22 and lasts for about five years. When it starts to decline, you may have problems recalling events and with the ability to plan as well as lose some task coordination. By age 45-49 men and women suffer a little over a 3% loss of brain power every year. This means that the brain’s capacity for memory, reasoning and comprehension begins to go the way of Dodo bird.

Old age

Shrinkage of the brain usually leads to worsened cognitive abilities. This includes inductive reasoning, spacial orientation and verbal memory. When the hippocampus begins to shrink you will also lose orientation.

What You Can Do

There are many factors that impact brain aging. To a point it is inevitable, but there are things you can do to stave off aging of your mind. Keeping your brain engaged and active is important, as is physical exercise. Getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet will also aid in brain aging and if you can control your stress levels, you can help to keep wear on your neurons down.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of david pacey

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