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What impact does constant learning have on the brain?

Because our brains are designed to prune away unused synaptic connections, our cognitive skills tend to dip after we graduate from college or retire from work. To stay sharp as a whip, continue to challenge your brain on a daily basis. Each time you learn something new and practice it, your brain will either change the structure of its neurons (cells) or increase the number of synapses between your neurons, allowing them to send and receive information faster. You can harness your brain’s inherent plasticity to learn new skills, build a better memory or quicken your speed of processing abilities, which will help to keep you sharp as you age.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Education is key to slowing brain aging. Simply put, the more you know, the more you stretch your brain's capacity for learning.

One of the better examples is a study of nuns in a monastery. The researchers analyzed the sentence structure of essays the nuns wrote before entering the convent, then looked into their cognitive function some 65 years later. Those who used the most complex sentence structure when they entered the convent had the highest cognitive function as they got older. (Here's another important finding: Those who were most optimistic in their entries also had higher cognitive function.)

Learning even helps if it's in a formal system. People with higher levels of education and those who continue to be involved in activities that stimulate the mind undergo less mental aging. A college graduate who also continues to learn in formal educational settings is 2.5 years younger than a high school dropout. But informal activity helps, too.

Keeping your mind active keeps arterial aging, immune aging, and even accidents in check and has a RealAge benefit of making you 1.3 years younger.
YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.