What If Your Brain Never Stopped Growing?

New research explores this question—what could it mean for how you see your life?

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Posted in , May 23, 2019

Music helps fight aging

Brain science is a fast-evolving field, and a pressing question over recent decades has been whether new brain cells called neurons emerge throughout the human lifespan or for a finite period of time. Recent research published in the journal Nature Medicine suggests that lifelong brain cell growth might be a reality for humans.

The question is far from settled, as researchers continue to question whether neurogenesis—the scientific term for the growth of new neurons—is possible throughout a lifespan. If it can be proven to be true, the finding would have tremendous implications for Alzheimer’s treatment, as a decline in neurogenesis would indicate the earliest stages of the disease.

But beyond the medical and scientific implications, is the impact such a finding could have on the pursuit of a positive life. If our brains are able to generate new neurons throughout our lives, shouldn't that free us to think more generously about what we can accomplish as we age? 

Cognitive decline is an expected aspect of the aging process. But researchers have long established that in otherwise healthy people, challenges with memory, attention and focus can be mitigated through a healthy diet, regular exercise and learning new skills or studying languages or music.

The idea that the brain can continue to create new connections and cells is an inspiring image to take with you as you sign up for an adult education class, music lesson or start some other new chapter of your life. In the meantime, it’s a fun exercise to consider this question: what would you do if your brain was growing to keep up with your positive attitude? 

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