Researchers in Germany have “proven” what we all already knew – that getting out in the world and exploring keeps you sharp. In a word if you want to be smarter you need to get off the Internet and into the wilds.
From France 24:
AFP – The act of exploring helps shape the brain and adventuring is what makes each individual different, according to a study out Thursday by researchers in Germany.
The findings published in the US journal Science may offer new paths to treating psychiatric diseases, scientists said.
Researchers sought to pin down why identical twins are not perfect replicas of each other, even when they have been raised in the same environment, and studied the matter using 40 genetically identical mice.
The mice were kept in an elaborate, five-level cage connected by glass chutes and filled with toys, scaffolds, wooden flower pots, nesting places and more. The space available to explore spanned about five square meters (yards).
“This environment was so rich that each mouse gathered its own individual experiences in it,” said principal investigator Gerd Kempermann of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.
Researchers found that the brains of the most explorative mice were building more new neurons — a process known as neurogenesis — in the hippocampus, the center for learning and memory, than the animals that were more passive.
Control mice kept in a less enriching environment showed less brain growth.
Kempermann and colleagues said they have shown for the first time how personal experiences and ensuing behavior contribute to individualization, and that neither genetics nor environment alone could cause this personal growth.
“Adult neurogenesis also occurs in the hippocampus of humans,” according to Kempermann. “Hence we assume that we have tracked down a neurobiological foundation for individuality that also applies to humans.”
The findings offer new understanding of how the brain works, and could shed light on the processes of learning and aging, said Ulman Lindenberger, director of the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.
Sounds like they’re saying sitting around in an office all your life is bad for your brain. So when your spouse wants to know why you’re always heading off some secluded woods or far off stream you can say you’re preventing future brain impairment. It’s science!
But seriously did we need a study to know that a dull life leads to dull wits?