Did you know that at any age, your brain has the power to constantly make new neurons? As long as you respect a few principles.

Representation of a neuron on a black background.

The production of new neurons never stops. Researchers have observed that in a region of the brain involved in memory formation and emotion management – the hippocampus – old neurons are replaced by new ones, freshly produced from stem cells. And each of us would have this potential, regardless of our age. Reassuring. Except that, according to Prof. Pierre-Marie Lledo, during the second edition of the S3 Odeon conference, experiments in mice showed that this capacity could diminish or even disappear (in case of stress) depending on the environment. On the contrary, in an adapted environment, neurogenesis in rodents was multiplied by three in a few weeks. The director of the neurosciences department at the Pasteur Institute gives us six principles to respect in order to keep a young brain for the rest of its life.

1. Avoid routine

The brain feeds on change. The stimulation caused by the change causes stem cells to produce new neurons. According to Pierre-Marie Lledo, we must avoid routine, “respect the libido sciendi, that is to say the thirst to understand and learn” .t the circuits to regenerate. On the other hand, the question to ask is: what information? The digital ecosystem in which we live leads to an avalanche of information, of course… Too much according to the doctor. “The information that just lets us know is absolutely deleterious, and does not encourage the brain to produce new neurons. On the contrary, the brain, bombarded with information, is then condemned to anxiety”. Concretely, it is essential to sort out this information: to choose the useful one, the one that makes us understand, and to get rid of the futile one, the one that just lets us know.

3. Ban anxiolytics and sleeping pills

The purpose of anxiolytics and sleeping pills is to prevent the brain, the one that tries to understand, from functioning. Taking them puts the brain on “automatic”. Their chronic use is therefore an obstacle to the production of new neurons.

4. Move!

“We must fight against sedentary lifestyles because science tells us that, in the case of physical activity, muscles produce chemical substances (called trophic factors) which, through the bloodstream, will act on the brain and particularly on the niche of stem cells,” explains Professor Lledo. There is therefore a direct correlation between muscle activity and the production of new neurons.

5. Cultivating otherness

Some parts of our brain, which we cannot control, are only engaged when we are exposed to others. This is what we broadly refer to as the social brain,” says the doctor. The more you cultivate your otherness, the more you’re going to cure your brain because it will be inclined to produce more new neurons.

6. Healing the microbiota

Very recently, neurosciences, associated with microbiology, have shown that there is an intestinal flora that constantly communicates with our brain. Our diet therefore has an important role to play: the consumption of fibre, a varied diet, encourages the proliferation of certain bacterial species that contribute to the proliferation of neurons. Conversely, a diet that is not very varied, rich in sugars and fats, encourages the proliferation of bacterial species that will no longer allow cells to produce new neurons, whatever the age.

(artcle extracted from the site: https://www.sciencesetavenir.fr/sante/cerveau-et-psy/)


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