The specialists of the Spanish Society of Neurology affirm that traveling stimulates the brain , generates positive effects for health and prevents memory loss.
How does memory work?
The functioning of memory is similar to that of a filing cabinet in which memories can be stored, so that we retain information about those past experiences. Furthermore, these past experiences are generally divided into two possible categories:
Short-term memory : It is also called primary memory or active memory. This memory retains a small amount of information, but in a very active way, making it easily accessible in case it is necessary.
This memory is in charge of helping to solve problems, as well as allowing us to more easily understand the reality that surrounds us. Without this type of memory, we would be unable to organize the information flows that arrive from the outside.
Long-term memory : For its part, long-term memory stores memories for a longer period of time, and there is no known capacity or duration limit. However, access to the information stored in this secondary memory is much slower than in the active memory.
Within long-term memory, in addition, two types can be distinguished. A first would be declarative memory, which encompasses everything that can be consciously evoked by the person in question. Non-declarative memory, for its part, works at an unconscious level, and, by its nature, is a focus of trauma, but also of positive intuitions.
To make a parallel with the world of computing, we could talk about the fact that short-term memory works at the same level as the RAM memory of a computer, while long-term memory would be more similar to a hard disk. Perhaps this way it will be easier for you to visualize it.
It should be mentioned, on the other hand, that short-term memory can be transformed into long-term memory through a process of repetition .
In fact, many firefighters constantly repeat some safety routines so that it remains etched in their unconscious long-term memory, and when the time comes to use it, they can do it automatically.
You can also take the multiplication tables as an example, which, initially, are located in short-term memory. However, by repeating them, the brain remembers these tables forever .
Another interesting aspect is that the way to save the information is by means of a semantic codification, as it has been possible to verify in the investigations of Alan Baddeley. Another interesting point (although disputed) is that dreams help organize and consolidate long-term memories, eliminating those that are unnecessary .
That being the case, you can understand why experts recommend sleeping eight hours a day. This allows the brain to properly organize information and memories, eliminating the possibility of future memory problems, such as Alzheimer’s .
However, in recent times, this has become more nuanced. Currently, the idea that is more widespread among the scientific community is that, when you are young, you have to sleep more than when you are an adult . Going from 12 o’clock being a newborn, until 6 o’clock being a healthy adult.
What is a healthy brain like?
You cannot talk about a good memory level without talking about a healthy brain . So, let’s see, what exactly is a healthy brain?
For neurologists, a healthy brain is one that functions normally despite the passing of the years. In other words, although it is logical that some abilities are lost, the ability to carry out normal personal, social and work activities should not be lost.
However, the usual thing is that, when you are in your 30s, you begin to have some absentmindedness. At 40 these memory losses can intensify, and at 50 there may be much stronger forgetfulness.
This is the sad reality of our time, and, in the opinion of most neurologists, this is due to not exercising the brain well enough , as well as not getting adequate rest (which, as we have already seen, makes it difficult to memory settles).
However, it is also true that, if we go to a university, there are older people who are capable of reasoning easily, which shows that their mind has not been so affected … Precisely because they have been exercising it over the years! years!
In general, experts recommend that, to maintain a healthy brain, you have a good diet, limit stress , and maintain the necessary hours of sleep . Although a little later we will present some other recommendations to improve memory.
Do young people also suffer from memory loss?
Although it is normal for memory losses to appear with age, the truth is that at an early age there may also be some similar problems . However, the causes are usually different. In general, memory losses in youth are due to stress or inattention.
That is why neurologists recommend that, if a young person has memory losses relatively frequently, they go to the consultation to make sure there is no abnormality in the brain .
In addition, it should be noted that some thyroid problems or the lack of certain vitamins can also influence memory loss, regardless of age, so it is advisable to be careful in this regard.
In general, if a young person has memory problems, the usual thing is that a blood test is carried out to check if there are problems with hypothyroidism, deficiencies of vitamin B12 or folic acid , since low levels of these elements usually imply problems with memory.
The latter has been proven from some studies, in which participants were given vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements for two years. It was clearly seen that those who had received the supplements had better memory in both short and long term.
Why does traveling stimulate the brain and prevent memory loss?
And now, let’s get to the heart of the question in this article: How can simply traveling stimulate brain activity and memory?
And the truth is that there are many reasons why traveling helps stimulate the brain and, with it, create better relationships between neural synapses, which contribute to better memory.
For example, firstly, if you travel to a place where another language is used , you will be able to practice it, or, in case you do not know it at all, you will have to communicate through gestures or small pictograms. This helps to exercise the mind, as you might guess.
Second, when traveling to unfamiliar locations, the brain deactivates the automatic pilot , forcing itself to be more attentive, which, again, stimulates mental activity and helps short-term memory work better.
There are other types of travel experiences that also help stimulate the brain in new ways. For example, trying different types of food also helps to activate other areas of the brain that are generally inactive.
Everything that has to do with people acting differently for cultural reasons , or the simple fact of making different plans and putting them into practice, also helps the brain to face new situations and, when solving them, it is exercised.
The basic idea, to understand the importance of this, is that the brain, when it is in a new and unknown situation, is activated, and begins to record what happens so that, in the future, if you find yourself in a situation similar, you know how to react more easily.
And, as you can imagine, that implies a very interesting memory exercise . Besides that, of course, it helps you to get to know other cultures and other ways of seeing the world, which allows you to open your mind and approach problems from a different perspective.
On the other hand, although it does not always happen, travel is usually a great opportunity to reduce stress, which, as we have already had the opportunity to see, is one of the reasons why memory losses occur.
And, at this point, it is convenient to make an extra mention of an issue that is not usually taken into account: The above is valid for pleasure trips. But what happens to a person who goes to another country as an emigrant, that is, out of necessity?
In this case, the brain is even more stimulated, because it has to deal with more problems. And rest assured that your brain loves challenges (and, in addition, facing them helps stimulate it and improve memory both in the short and long term).
Just think of the older people you know. Which ones would you say have a healthier mind? Those who have had an exciting life or those who have had a boring life? The answer is usually clear.
Is traveling good for people with Alzheimer’s?
There is little doubt that Alzheimer’s is one of the toughest diseases we are currently facing . If a person falls ill and dies, it seems painful to us, but we accept it as inevitable.
However, seeing a person who does not know who he is, who is unable to recognize his loved ones, is something we were not used to, and it seems much more painful and difficult to accept.
It should be mentioned that, in general, remitting Alzheimer’s is impossible . However, it is possible to reduce the speed at which it advances, and travel is a good option to achieve this, because, as we have already seen, it is something that stimulates brain activity.
However, it is also true that there are people whose brain has already damaged their brain so badly that it is not a viable option to go on a trip with them. Therefore, this recommendation should be taken as valid for those first moments of the disease.
Are there other ways to stimulate the brain without traveling?
Now, not everyone has the opportunity to travel. Surely, you are wondering if you can stimulate your mind without having to go to other places. And the answer is yes, and these tips are valid both for you and for people with Alzheimer’s:
- Do new things : As we have already seen, to improve memory, it is essential that the brain gets out of the automatic pilot with which we usually work. Therefore, trying new things is a great option.
- Perform physical exercise : Physical exercise allows you to leave the brain “blank”, and, although it seems that this is the last thing that is needed when looking to improve memory, the truth is that those moments of “blank mind” help substantially improve brain activity (so meditation is also recommended).
- Train memory : Currently there are many memory games that, practicing them assiduously, help to reduce brain deterioration and improve synaptic connections between neurons.
- Eat healthy and sleep well : We have seen before that experts recommend eating and sleeping well, and they do not do it by chance. Reducing stress, eating well and sleeping the necessary hours each day is essential to improve memory.
In conclusion, memory is affected over the years but when traveling we can stimulate the brain in many ways, which is very beneficial for our memory . If we accompany it with a good diet, sport and adequate hours of sleep we can preserve our mental faculties despite aging.
Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.