Life Hacks: The Key to Growing New Brain Cells
You wake up after a rager, your head is pounding, you dare not think of the damage you did to your liver let alone your poor, tired brain last night. Maybe you’ve taken a few too many downhill tumbles (or any other risks of athletic pursuits) in the past few weeks, years, or over the course of pretty much your entire life. You’re definitely not as young as you once were and with your brain cells dying by the hand full, research tells you that you’re on a near certain path to Alzheimer’s. Luckily, there’s still hope for you and it lies in your ability to get laid (i.e. to engage in sexual intercourse with a person who excites you).
Until the 1990s, most scientists believed that the adult human brain was incapable of manufacturing new brain cells. It was generally accepted that the neurons we were born with were all we got. Thanks to modern technology, however, researchers have since been able to observe neurogenesis, or the production of new brain cells in the adult human brain. Their findings have major implications for humans wishing to avoid age-related brain shrinkage and associated pathologies like Alzheimer’s Disease.
While brain training games promising increases in mind power are speculative at best, there is one surefire scientifically proven way to improve memory and brain plasticity while enhancing mental functioning and physical prowess. This titan of all brain games is sexual intercourse and when it comes to making new brain cells little else can compare.
The physical health benefits of sex are well documented and include improvements in cardiovascular health, immune function, happiness and physical appearance. The fact that sexual intercourse promotes neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons) and prevents age-related brain atrophy by building a bigger and better brain is just the cherry on top.
Sex has been shown to enhance cell proliferation in the dentate gyrus of the adult hippocampus. Part of the limbic system, the hippocampus is implicated in mediating higher brain functions such as learning, memory, and spatial coding. With increasing age, the brain, and especially the hippocampus, undergoes physical shrinkage and functional decline. Beginning in the late twenties, the average human brain begins losing about 1% of hippocampal volume per year. By spurring the growth of new brain cells, however, sex stands not only to halt this neuronal death, but also to reverse it, adding years back on to our lives and protecting us from pathologies like Alzheimer’s Disease.
Sexual activity also improves learning by ensuring neuronal versatility in new cells. While the creation of new brain cells (gray matter) is indeed critical to preventing our brains from wasting away, cells that are not used and connected to the existing neural network by means of synaptic connections (white matter) will die off. Learning is one way by which new neurons can be looped. Not all brain cells are created equal though and cells created by means of physical activities like sexual intercourse are more readily connected to the neuronal grid than those formed under physically stagnant conditions like reading a book or listening to lecture.
It appears that compared to sex generated neurons, cells gained during non-physical learning tasks such as brain teasers and training games are only re-activated when performing the same activity that created them. These neurons lack the versatility needed for other applications and are thus severely limited in their capacities and resultantly their usefulness. As they are relevant only to the specific scenario during which they were created and unable to be utilized in other endeavors, these static brain cells appear to be encoded with a kind of learning that does not transfer to other types of thinking. On the contrary, neurons acquired during physically tasking activities such as sexual intercourse, are capable of being reactivated under highly diverse conditions and circumstances, meaning you get more bang for your buck. Neurons gained by means of sex, will thus not only become re-engaged during repetitions of sexual experience, but will also be capable of being utilized towards other cognitive pursuits like exploring new environments or solving chemistry equations.
Clark, P. J., Bhattacharya, T. K., Miller, D. S., Kohman, R. A., DeYoung, E. K., & Rhodes, J. S. (2012). New neurons generated from running are broadly recruited into neuronal activation associated with three different hippocampus‐involved tasks. Hippocampus, 22(9), 1860-1867.
Glasper, E. R., & Gould, E. (2013). Sexual experience restores age‐related decline in adult neurogenesis and hippocampal function. Hippocampus, 23(4), 303-312.
Kim, J. I., Lee, J. W., Lee, Y. A., Lee, D. H., Han, N. S., Choi, Y. K., … & Han, J. S. (2013). Sexual activity counteracts the suppressive effects of chronic stress on adult hippocampal neurogenesis and recognition memory. Brain Research, 1538, 26-40.
Leuner, B., Glasper, E. R., & Gould, E. (2010). Sexual experience promotes adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus despite an initial elevation in stress hormones. PLoS One, 5(7), e11597.
Yau, S. Y., Lau, B. W. M., & So, K. F. (2011). Adult hippocampal neurogenesis: A possible way how. Cell transplantation, 20(1), 99-111.
Want to grow even more brain cells?
Check out our article on the incredible brain benefits of blueberries.