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The brain has a feature of rearranging its own cells for more efficiently involved areas. A striking example is that many professional athletes during interviews – who did not have enough time for intellectual development-often demonstrate poor speech, straightforwardness, if not even clumsiness of expressed thoughts, difficult to formulate answers to multitasking questions, and almost complete lack of abstract thinking or developed imagination.
Degradation of brain activity or atrophy of brain tissue is a very real consequence of prolonged absence of active mental work. For example, alzheimer's is one of the diseases that can occur at any age and its causes are precisely the destruction of neural connections in the brain.
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Directly, the brain doesn't care what purposes you think you're using it for. The brain never stops working. whether you take integrals, make a grocery list, or read an ad in the elevator with nothing to do, it only slightly changes the overall level of brain activity, which in turn never drops in a healthy living person.
The “Use your brain or you'll lose it” theory has no proof – it's impossible to perform such experiments on humans. Animal experiments show that the more the brain interacts with new environments, the more its plasticity increases. But there is no evidence that giving up mental exercise leads to brain atrophy.
It is known that the brain retains plasticity until old age and does not depend on the amount of experience you have accumulated. The role is played not by experience, but ,as they say, by the “starting point”. Therefore, even those who have given up brain activity for a long time will not lose their natural neuroplasticity.
Another point – even if you don't do mental exercises, but for example, play sports-you still stimulate your hippocampus (the area of the brain that, among other things, is responsible for the transition of short-term memory to long-term), the temporal lobe (processing of sound and visual information) and the frontal lobe (planning, judgment).