December 9, 2014
International Business Times
Jenny Michelle Panganiban

t the recent Mind and Its Potential international conference in Sidney, scientists explain how the aging process can be delayed for a few decades. Keeping one’s memory and mind power sharp until the twilight years can be achieved even without costly medical procedures.

Dr Michael Merzenich, a neuroscientist from the University of California, discussed how this could be done through neurogenesis. This is the body’s ability to grow new synapses and neurons in our brains. The 72-year-old professor and pioneer in neuroplasticity says that every time the brain is revitalised, other organs get rejuvenated as well. Thus, the goal is to keep the brain healthy so the body does not deteriorate.

Renowned journalist, Ruth Ostrow shares some of these methods that Merzenich and other leading neuroscientists recommend to prolong life. One is finding new and complex body movements every day to stimulate greater brain activity. To sustain vitality, things should not be made easy for the brain. It should be given big surprises and challenges. It is then recommended to add unconventional exercises such as a “silly walk” to one’s daily routine to make workout more fun and effective.

Another tip is avoiding the use of modern gadgets for simple tasks. Practice memorising important data such as personal phone numbers and email addresses instead of relying on mobile phones and computers to do the job. Learn how to navigate a vicinity without depending on a GPS tracker. Merzenich encourages brain training with games as well. His Web site,, from Posit Science, is a brain training system that offers various courses and challenges.

Meditation is another way of maximising the brain. Dr Richard J. Davidson, founding chairperson of the Centre for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center in Madison says meditation opens pathways in unused regions of the mind. Other suggested methods for mind stimulation include continuing education, adopting new hobbies, social interaction, and trying new awkward things.

All of these promote improved intelligence, release of good neurochemicals and creation of synaptic connections. Social neuroscientists explain the importance of social interaction in sustaining wellbeing. Trying awkward things such as juggling improves agility, motor skills, focus and ability to solve problems.