Engage in Brief Periods of Fasting

New research from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging suggests that fasting is able to tune synaptic activity, giving these high-activity connection points a rest as an energy conservation measure. When researchers observed the neurons of fruit fly larvae in a fasted state, the amount of neurotransmitters released decreased dramatically, which essentially cleaned up the synaptic gaps.

This is positive because excess neurotransmitters left to linger in the synaptic gaps can generate damage-causing free radicals. Fasting may therefore help limit unwanted oxidative damage in the brain (alongside its ability to reduce the brain’s dependency on glucose)

Avoid Excessive Stimulation

Multiple systems are involved in mediating sensory input. When our senses become overloaded, this can substantially diminish our executive function. This is perfectly illustrated by what happens when we watch a movie. The sights and sounds completely envelop us and we feel immersed in the universe of the film. This occurs because intense sensorimotor processing inhibits parts of our brain responsible for self-awareness


Acknowledge your biological excitation mode and inhibition mode, and understand that you need both regularly: exercise and recovery, adventure and relaxation.


Ever had the sensation of losing yourself in a great movie, book, or video game? What about a workout session, sex, or playing your favorite instrument? We owe this incredible, life-affirming sensation of complete immersion to a relative disengagement of the prefrontal cortex.

Located at the very front of your brain, just behind your forehead, the prefrontal cortex is thought to be responsible for planning, decision making, expression of one’s personality, and self-awareness itself. Save for when we send it on vacation with the activities I just mentioned, a functional prefrontal cortex is very important to daily life

The Glymphatic System: Your Brain’s Nightly Cleaning Crew

Anatomy textbooks are not updated too often these days. After the advent of the microscope, physiologists were quick to slice, dice, stain, map, and draw every square millimeter of the human body—and within a few short decades, there was seemingly nothing left to explore.

So it was a major geek-out moment for biology lovers when Jeffrey Iliff and his team at the University of Rochester discovered what could rightly be called an uncharted organ the glymphatic system. This system forcefully pushes cerebrospinal fluid through the brain while we sleep, providing a free power-wash for our brains every single night.

Hormonal Helpers

Our behaviors are often motivated by our brains, but sometimes they originate in the body. In many ways, willpower is like a marionette puppet, with chemical messengers called hormones at the strings. Unlike neurotransmitters, which allow individual neurons to communicate with their next-door neighbors, hormones are long-range messengers, being released in one part of the body and having an impact in another. For example, a hormone called leptin may come from the fat cells around your belly, directed toward a region in the brain that controls energy expenditure. Or cortisol, secreted by your adrenal glands just above your kidneys, may impact parts of your brain involved in memory.

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