Early researchers soon learned that the benefits for rats that lived in an enriched environment included an increase in the complexity of the branching of their dendrites as well as an increase in the spines on their dendrites. The enriched environmental impact improved their brain’s chemistry, architecture and performance … their memory and ability to learn also improved as a benefit of living in an enriched environment. These encouraging findings were found in research with rats, cats, birds, monkeys and humans. Essential components of an enriched environment included social interactions made possible by having as many as twelve animals in one large cage. It also required a variety of “toys” that were changed every few weeks affording the opportunity for complex new learning.
Watching the complex new learning and socialization from an impoverished environment in an adjacent cage did not result in these benefits to the brains of the observers. To paraphrase while using caution is generalizing to humans from lower animals, the evidence suggests it’s not enough to watch, you must do. Furthermore, you benefit from having friends nearby who are also pursuing complex new learning.
Use Your Brain Cells and They Will Grow …
Joyce Shaffer, PhD, is a psychologist, nurse, speaker, global bicyclist and author. Nothing she writes or says is intended as health care advice; take science to your healthcare provider for guidance on earning your own Ideal Aging®. Dr. Joyce is a co-founder and collaborator in promoting Brain Health by YOU for the sole purpose of improving Brain Health anywhere on the globe.
How can you help? Read Neuroplasticity and Clinical Practice. It is a focus on brain health. Learn. Do.
Be a role model of many ways to improve your own Brain Health by YOU.