Which room would you prefer…
I imagine that many of you have children or grandchildren. Perhaps nieces or nephews? If you had to picture the nursery that you would want for them, would it look more like this:
Did you cringe at the thought of putting a child in the sterile room at the top? There’s nothing to interest or excite them in such a sterile environment.
Every child rearing book will tell you that babies need increasing levels of visual and mental stimulation so that they can grow and develop. Why then do we not expect that the same thing applies to us as adults?
Researchers Elizabeth Gould and Charlie Gross from the Department of Psychology at Princeton looked at the difference that habitats can make in brain structure.
They experimented with adult marmosets and found that animals who lived in more complex environments (vs. laboratory cages) possessed more neural connections and greater rates of neurogenesis.
These changes were observed in the regions of the brain commonly associated with cognition and regulation of emotion.
It’s still not known which factors from the complex environment lead to the neural difference, whether it be social interaction or increased physical exercise. I have no doubt that researchers will ultimately fill in the gaps in our knowledge, but in the meantime, what does this mean for us?
Well, for one thing, have you mentally challenged yourself recently?
It’s so easy to keep to the same pattern of work, applying the same formula and seeing new but similar results. How about pushing that mental comfort zone, even a little?
And what about social interaction? Over the years I have had so many private practitioners comment on their sense of isolation. It’s so fulfilling to have your own private practice, but it can also feel like working in a little private bubble.
Meanwhile, leave a comment below and tell us what you think.