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Don't let brain go idle early in life to stay sharp

Posted on May 28 2014 | IANS

New York, May 28 : Parents must ensure that their adolescent kids keep learning new things instead of idling away time as using brain during adolescence may help brain cells survive and could impact how the brain functions later.

"It is not that learning makes more cells," said Tracey Shors, a professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in the US.

It is that the process of learning keeps new cells alive that are already present at the time of the learning experience, Shors added.

The experiment showed that the newborn brain cells in young rats that were successful at learning survived while the same brain cells in animals that didn't master the task died quickly.

The study is important, Shors noted, because it suggests that the massive proliferation of new brain cells most likely helps young animals leave the protectiveness of their mothers and face dangers, challenges and opportunities of adulthood.

Since the process of producing new brain cells on a cellular level is similar in animals, including humans, Shors said ensuring that adolescent children learn at optimal levels is critical.

The study appeared in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

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