Researchers are finding that brain circuits for emotions are just as tangible as circuits for the senses, and advanced imaging techniques can now observe this.4 It is also clear from a number of studies that one's ability to remember something is largely dependent on its emotional context.5 As we discussed earlier, the hippocampus is more apt to tag information for long-term memory ifit has emotional significance. That's why engaging emotions through social interactions is a key strategy of Neurobics.
Interactions with other people are an important trigger of emotional responses. Also, since social situations are generally unpredictable, they are more likely to result in nonroutine activities. Most people have a strong, built-in need for these interactions, and in their absence, mental performance declines.
As we age, our social circles tend to shrink, so an important aspect ofNeurobic exercise is to find opportunities to interact with others. Not only does this engage our interest, which directly helps us to remember things, but as the MacArthur Foundation's studies on aging have clearly demonstrated, social interactions themselves have positive effects on overall brain health.6
The pace and structure of modern life has reduced the number and intensity of our ordinary, day-to-day social interactions, just as modern conveniences have deprived us of the richness of many sensory stimulations. Remember when buying gas meant talking with an attendant instead of swiping a card at a gas pump? Or getting cash involved dealing with a bank teller instead of pushing buttons on an ATM machine? Or a night out involved going to the movies with a crowd rather than renting a video and sitting alone in front of your VCR? And the computer and the Internet have isolated us even further from any number of personal transactions.
There's ample evidence today that being out in the real world, where you're engaging all the senses, including the important emotional and social "senses," is essential to a healthy brain and an active memory—especially as you age.
The aim ofNeurobics and the exercises that follow is to provide you with a balanced, comfortable, and enjoyable way to stimulate your brain.
As we have shown, Neurobics is a scientifically based program that helps you modify your behavior by introducing the unexpected to your brain and enlisting the aid of a/7 your senses as you go through your day. An active brain is a healthy brain, while inaction leads to reduced brain fitness. Or, in simpler words—"Use it or lose it."
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