The baby lying in her crib coos, moves her arms and legs in an apparent random fashion and turns her head to follow the movements of the mobile hanging overhead. Although she seems to be doing little of importance, she is already hard at work, setting the ground for the brain connections that will later on allow her to play the saxophone in a jazz band, hit a home run and solve intricate algebra problems.
What will determine her ability to carry out any one of these complex tasks and what prevents her from doing so right now, are specific neurological connections. The key to establishing those connections is movement, few of which are in place at birth. As a child goes through basic developmental stages, from creeping to crawling to standing to walking and running, new connections are established. In some instances, a child does not complete a particular developmental stage. In other instances stress—whether biochemical, emotional, or physical—causes those neurological connections to shut down.
Many people believe that memory, hearing and vision deterioration, and loss of the ability to think clearly are some of the natural consequences of aging. It is common knowledge that brain cells died off with aging and that cognitive decline was inevitable. A recent Columbia University study found older people continued to produce neurons in the hippocampus – a part of the brain important for memory, emotion and cognition – at a similar rate to young people.
Whether we lose brain cells on a daily basis or not, the good news is that the capacity to create new or activate underused neurological pathways is one that we have all of our lives. Brain Gym, simple, enjoyable movements to enhance brain function, is an easy way of keeping your brain young and healthy, regardless of your age. Initially developed for children with learning disabilities, Brain Gym activities help us move away from the survival centers in the brain into the neocortex for improved critical thinking and focus attention.
Created as a result of years of research by Dr. Paul Dennison, Ph.D., Brain Gym is a brilliant synthesis of applied kinesiology, left/right brain research, acupressure, developmental optometry and neurolinguistics. Since 1990 Brain Gym has been selected annually by the U.S. Presidential Task Force on Learning as one of today’s leading technologies for education.
Brain Gym® is a trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation.