As we age the hippocampus gets smaller; but how does that affect memory?
What is the Hippocampus?
The hippocampus is horseshoe shaped and located in the brain where half of it is located on the left side of the brain, and the other half on the right side. It has a very important job of forming new memories, organizing, and connecting our emotions and senses.
Basically the hippocampus…
- organizes memories (sends memories to the cerebral cortex and retrieves them when needed)
- navigates emotional responses (example: you can connect the smell of fresh bread to your grandmother)
- maintains spacial orientation
I recently stumbled across an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, via Scientific American, that discovered minimal exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus. The research findings had a group of 55 to 80-year-old adults walk around a track for 40 minutes, 3 times a week for a year. The results indicated a 2% increase in hippocampus size. Now this is a very impressive and persuasive argument on the importance of exercise!
Does this research entice you to lace up those dusty runners?
(A side note: Not only will it help your memory but also your heart and well, your whole body!)
If you are curious to read more, click here.