The brain is more complex than the universe

As we get older, the physiological properties of the brain change, neurons become less connected to each other, begin to die, and cognitive functions decrease. Brain activity is thought to help slow down decay. But what’s important here is that it’s not the kind of training that a person receives in old age that is more effective, but the kind of training that he or she received in his/her youth. An extra year of university education at 20 or 30 years protects the brain in old age better than a year of the same lectures at 50 or 60 years. The young person’s brain derives more long-term benefit from it, literally growing more connections between neurons that allow for longer compensation of decay processes.

– Does it mean that elderly people have to accept it and not torture themselves with learning?

– No, it is also good for them. But even more important is a healthy lifestyle, primarily movement. It is desirable that a person walks (or moves more actively if health permits) at least 120 minutes a week, otherwise the brain really begins to “spoil” also because of the hyponymy and associated poor blood supply.

– Is the brain more properly perceived as a large factory or as a collection of competing small business owners?

– It’s like a hybrid of both: many small enterprises producing different but related products, plus their overall management. Different parts of the brain process information independently of each other and compete intensively for the attention of senior management centers. Researchers conventionally show a person a chocolate bar and watch him. One part of his brain says, “The chocolate bar is delicious,” the other one says, “From the chocolate bar you will become fat!”

To be clever…

– How to become smarter in the broad sense of the word? Does the brain better develop reading, drawing, singing, learning foreign languages, communication, watching lectures on the Internet?

– The following concept works: “What you practice is what you will do better and better”. The more people draw, the better they will draw. Will this have a positive impact on other intellectual abilities? Most likely, yes, but not as much as we would like. For the brain, it is useful to learn especially complex and very difficult things, such as a new foreign language or mastering a musical instrument. It is pointless to do so only for the sake of abstract “intelligence” if you don’t really need a foreign language in your life. For the abstract benefit, you should first of all start to sleep enough and move enough to just maintain good health and blood supply to the brain.

– What’s the secret of a good memory? Is it possible to improve it by training?

– A person keeps the information in the working memory for a few seconds, and usually, there are about 4-6 elements, for example, pictures or numbers. But here it is important that these elements themselves can be complex and complicated. To remember 4 words is no more difficult than to remember 4 letters. For example, I’m telling you “1984” and you remember the only semantic element: “Orwell’s book”. And if you hadn’t read the book, you would have to remember it separately – 1, 9, 8, and 4, and that would be enough to load your working memory. It seems that it is impossible to increase the amount of working memory for new information, but you can make the information less new and thus increase the ability to process it.

– How can I memorize something more efficiently?

– If you want to memorize something, it is important to look for associations with what you already know, and in general, to process the information somehow. Drawing diagrams, telling other people anything as long as you don’t read mechanically. And it is possible to read it mechanically at night when you have already understood and recognized all the material so that while sleeping the brain can easily load everything into the long-term memory. In general, this is the main function of sleep – to sort what you need to remember or forget. In chronic sleep deprivation, memory suffers very much.

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