OHSU

The Adult Brain

The Adult Brain - OHSU Brain Awareness

During childhood, the brain gets "wired up." During adolescence, the frontal lobe undergoes a surge of development. As an adult, the most important trait of the brain is its plasticity. Plasticity is the ability of the brain to adapt in response to new experiences. As an adult, there are often a limitless number of new things to contend with: new jobs, marriage, children, financial responsibilities, new friends, etc.

New findings on the adult brain establish two principles. First, the adult brain continues to grow and develop throughout our entire life. Second, brain development in adulthood is shaped mostly by outside stimuli. This new thinking means that we can do healthy "workouts" for our brains, as well as our bodies!

Tips to improve adult brain function:

  • Experience new things. The brain is capable of making new connections throughout our lives. Each time you learn something new your brain builds new pathways.
  • Maintain old skills or develop new ones, e.g. sports, gardening, learning to play a musical instrument
  • Socialize with old friends, and make new friends.
  • Exercise. The brain and body are connected. New studies indicate that exercise stimulates new cell growth in the brain increasing mental abilities 20% to 30%.
  • Sleep. A good night of sleep (about 8 hours) is crucial for proper brain function.
  • Drink plenty of water. The brain works best when properly hydrated.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Research consistently demonstrates that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will benefit the brain AND the body.