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Boost your brain power

EDUCATION BRIEFS
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A strong memory is dependent on the health and vitality of your brain. Whether you are a student studying for finals or a working professional wanting to stay mentally sharp, there are some tips and exercises to improve your mental performance. 

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, researchers from the Center for Development of Advanced Medicine for Dementia in Japan found that people who were more physically active during the day were less likely to experience brain shrinkage in their frontal lobe. The frontal lobe plays a role in problem solving, personality, judgment and memory.

Your brain depends on adequate exercise and sleep– physical exercise increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss. Regular exercise can also protect brain cells and enhance the effects of helpful brain chemicals. Also, adequate sleep is critical to learning and memory function; sleep deprivation leads to the inability of the brain to operate at full capacity and, when this happens, creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking skills are compromised.

Healthy relationships matter– research shows that having meaningful relationships and a strong support system are actually vital to brain health and function. A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people with the most active social lives had the slowest rate of memory decline. 

Laughter is the best medicine– did you know laughter engages multiple regions across the entire brain? Listening to jokes and working out punch-lines actually activates areas of the brain vital to learning and creativity. Here’s a fun fact: physically, a smile requires the use of approximately 36 muscles, but a frown uses 97 muscles. A smile releases the muscles on your scalp, which in turn lets the blood flow more easily, which brings more oxygen to the brain. 

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