Our brain is like plasticine. It bends and adapts when faced with mental challenges, and we can keep it in fit shape by staying mentally active.
Watch this Brit Lab video on memory and age and complete the gaps in the transcript with the missing words. The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 and Advanced 1 students.
Will I lose my memory when I get old?
Your brain is (1) ... . Well if you're over 30 it is. After that, on average, you lose a bit less than 0.5 percent of your brain volume every year. Reach ninety and you may have lost over (2) ... ... of your hippocampus, the seahorse-shaped bit of the brain vital for making memories, and you’ll have said goodbye to 14 percent of your cerebral cortex, the (3) ... ... responsible for useful things like thinking, emotions and speech. Worse still, scientists used to believe the adult brain’s fixed and unable to change like (4) ... . So losing some was a serious matter.
In 2000 researchers began to investigate a group of London taxi and bus drivers. The bus drivers trained for six weeks and then rode the same (5) ... every day, whereas the taxi drivers had trained for up to four years memorizing some 25,000 streets. The researchers took MRI scans of both bus and taxi drivers but it was the (6) ... brain that showed something incredible: Their brains contained far more gray matter in the back part of the hippocampus than the bus drivers.
Here is what scientists think was going on. Inside our brains are trillions of synaptic connections, chemical and electrical (7) ... , that transfer messages between the body and the brain like millions of cabbies taking millions of (8) ... to different destinations. In memorizing and using their mental matter, the cabbies’ brains adapted and changed creating more synaptic connections. So it turns out the brain isn't like concrete but more like putty or plastic, able to adapt to (9) ... ... . Scientists call this adaptability neuroplasticity. This new discovery is great news because while you might not be able to stop your brain shrinkage it seems you can compensate by building new connections if you stay mentally active, (10) ... your brain like a London cabbie.
To discover more about your plastic brain go to you www.hellobrain.eu.
1 shrinking 2 a third 3 grey matter 4 concrete 5 routes 6 cabbies’ 7 impulses 8 patrons 9 our demands 10 challenging