Brain Awareness Week

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Did you know that it’s Brain Awareness Week from the 12th-18th March? This annual event aims to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research worldwide. If you’re a parent or grandparent and keen on science, why not use Brain Awareness Week to have some interesting chats with your kids and grandkids about how amazing our brains are? It’s also a good opportunity for us all to think about how we can help maintain our brain function.

Five interesting facts about the human brain:

  1. When babies are being formed in the womb, they gain 8,000 new brain cells every second.[1]
  2. Although you had all your brain cells from birth, it took until you were nearly twenty years old for your brain to mature.[2]
  3. The average adult brain only weighs around 3 pounds but it uses 20% of a body’s energy[3].
  4. The right half of your brain controls the left-hand side of your body and the left half of your brain controls the right-hand side of your body. Scientists don’t fully understand why this is.[4]
  5. You can’t tickle yourself because your brain can distinguish between someone else’s unexpected touch and your own touch.[5]

 

How to boost your brain powerBrain Awareness Week

The brain is a muscle so exercising it can help keep it fit and well but it’s also important that you allow it to rest at times so it can recuperate. If you want to keep your brain as sharp as possible for as long as possible, there are a number of things you can try. These include:

  • Learning a new language, instrument or other skill that requires you to concentrate[6].

  • Not spending long periods of time watching TV. Try reading a book or completing a crossword or sudoku puzzle instead.

  • Getting out and about, whether it’s going for a walk, catching up with friends or joining an aqua aerobics class. Being physically fit can reduce your chances of dementia by around 30%.[7]

  • Thinking about your diet and introduce brain boosting foods such as oily fish (mackerel, sardines and fresh salmon), spinach, broccoli, eggs and blueberries.

  • Trying to be more spontaneous by not doing the same tasks day in and day out as this can make your brain lazy.

  • Giving up smoking and drinking alcohol, or cutting down if you don’t want to give up completely. This should help improve the blood flow to your brain.[8]

  • Using your weaker hand more. This means that if you’re right-handed you should use you left hand more and vice versa. In doing this, your brain will need to work harder even when you’re doing everyday tasks.

  • Cutting down on the number of cups of coffee you have a day as too much caffeine can be harmful to your brain.

If you feel that you’re having memory problems or your brain isn’t working as it should, it’s important to make an appointment with your GP to get checked out.

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