In college I took a freshman seminar on early childhood development, where I learned that our brains, under the hair, skin, and sculls, are like hard jelly. When you’re born it starts out like soft jelly, and this plasticity is what is partially responsible for the extraordinary rapid learning of our early years. Over time, we lose plasticity, and along with it the ability to learn quickly. We also lose the ability affect the structure and inner makeup of our brains so that doing things like improving memory and boosting learning become more difficult to manage. (That’s why a lot of moms play classical music for their fetus babies! Listening to classical music during that formative time affects our brains’ development, in ways that scientists have been able to physically measure.)
But more and more research has shown that all is not lost for adults. We can follow some fun practices to keep our brains stimulated, improve memory, boost learning, and train your brain to look at the world with fresh eyes and an open mind. All of these practices follow the same general rule: Challenge yourself. Learn something new or do something different.
Things you can do to train your brain:
- Brush your teeth with the other hand.
- Change your handwriting (e.g. write your “a”s differently).
- Start learning a new language.
- Pick up a new instrument or refresh an old one.
- Play puzzles that challenge you.
- Learn computer programming. (Super useful in this day and age)
- Learn to juggle!
Josh (my boyfriend) recently learned to juggle with my juggling balls!! Check it out:
Of course, there are countless things you can do, so pick something that’s fun, different, and challenging for you, step out of your comfort zone, and go have an adventure this weekend!