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This is where the ripple effects of the body’s stress response can lead to full-blown mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as high blood pressure, heart problems, and cancer. Chronic stress can even tear at the architecture of the brain.
cognitive flexibility improves after just one thirty-five-minute treadmill session at either 60 percent or 70 percent of maximum heart rate.
Exercise spawns neurons, and the stimulation of environmental enrichment helps those cells survive.
environmental deprivation could shrink the brain…In examining cats raised with one eye sewn shut, they found that the visual cortex was significantly smaller.
experiments with lab rats suggest that forced exercise doesn’t do the trick quite like voluntary exercise.
It turns out that moving our muscles produces proteins that travel through the bloodstream and into the brain, where they play pivotal roles in the mechanisms of our highest thought processes.
the point of exercise is to build and condition the brain.
At the end of the study the subjects who had done physical exercise increased their muscular strength by 30 percent, as one might expect. Those who only imagined doing the exercise, for the same period, increased their muscle strength by 22 percent.
imagining an act and doing it are not as different as they sound. When people close their eyes and visualize a simple object, such as the letter a, the primary visual cortex lights up, just as it would if the subjects were actually looking at the letter a. Brain scans show that in action and imagination many of the same parts of the brain are activated. That is why visualizing can improve performance.
Pascual-Leone found that both groups learned to play the sequence, and both showed similar brain map changes. Remarkably, mental practice alone produced the same physical changes in the motor system as actually playing the piece. By the end of the fifth day, the changes in motor signals to the muscles were the same in both groups, and the imagining players were as accurate as the actual players were on their third day.