Brain Work-outs

In the past, researchers believed that our genes were the main determinants of brain development. Now an increasing number or studies shows that conditions in our surroundings can influence our internal brain plan during early life and in later years. Researchers say the evidence could not only initiate personal behavioral changes, but also could launch new behavioral therapies and medications that repair or expand the brain.

If your physical activity centers on typing, then your leg muscles will never rival Arnold Schwarzenegger’s. Likewise, if your mental exercise is radically low, then your brain will probably be on the scrawny side, according to a new view of brain development.

For years, researchers underestimated the role that worldly experience played in brain formation. In the same way a person is genetically pre-destined to have blue eyes, the brain, they assumed, was internally programmed to bloom into a precise shape that held a specific map of nerve cells or neurons. This mission, they thought, was completed within the first few years after birth.

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