Even in adulthood, the brain is continuously remodeling itself. The brain continues to develop connections throughout adulthood, but with two major differences:
- The rate of synapse formation is much slower than in childhood.
- Synapses are formed based only on specific experiences in the adult’s life.
For example, adults who witnessed a catastrophic event — such as the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York City — formed connections in the brain that allow them to remember and process what they saw. Adults who were not there, but watched news coverage of the attacks, formed different networks of connections that help them remember what they saw and heard on the news.
Aging and the Brain
Lifelong activity is important to maintain healthy brain growth. Areas of the brain that are not used regularly may eventually atrophy. Keeping the mind active is a key way to prevent brain atrophy. Activity can be as simple as reading, working crossword puzzles, or spending time talking to others and maintaining relationships. A person who isolates himself stops having experiences that keep the brain active.