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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

 A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

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“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

“When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

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When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

“All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

Silence relieves stress and tension.

It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

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A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

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But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

Summation

Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

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Rebecca Beris

Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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Published on March 18, 2021

7 Best Brain Supplements that Actually Work

7 Best Brain Supplements that Actually Work

As important as it is to look after our body, it’s also important for us to be looking after our own mental health. Doing daily exercises, eating plant-based or organic meals, amongst other activities are a good way of promoting our brain health. But for many other people, they feel that they can be getting more out of it.

There is a tonne of top brain supplements available for you to look out for. With plenty of brain supplements available on the market, we wanted to pick out the ideal supplements for you to purchase. As such, the ones we recommend offer the following:

  • Nootropics – Every one of these supplements is a nootropic, meaning that they are drugs that have a track record of improving cognitive function.
  • Science-backed – One of the big problems with brain supplements is that there is no oversight. The best memory supplements, therefore, are the ones that have been researched and have studies to support the use of them.
  • Price vs. Value – All of these nootropics are able to work on various parts of the brain, offering plenty of value at a reasonable price. They’re one of the best memory supplements and can stave off age-related brain problems such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Below is a list of the best brain supplements to improve your memory, sharpen your focus and grow your brain further.

1. Blended Vitamin & Mineral

When it comes to supplements, it’s hard to find a supplement that offers a blend of vitamins spread over many vitamins. This isn’t the case when you’re purchasing from the Infuel brand. Infuel Focus Boost offers a great blend of vitamins and essential nutrients that can help in whatever you hope to achieve.

The vitamins, which include Vitamin A, B complex, C and D, that Infuel Focus Boost provides will allow you to stay focused and sharp throughout the day. You’ll also find that your energy levels, memory retention and overall clarity will be increased with this brain supplement.

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2. Fish Oil

Another one of the best memory supplements to consider is fish oil supplements. Fish oil supplements provide a rich source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

These types of omega-3 fatty acids have been tested thoroughly and have been linked to several types of health benefits. One such improvement is brain health.[1]

Out of the various supplements available, Nature’s Bounty is an ideal pick. They are softgels which means your body will be able to absorb all the nutrients. The company also prioritizes purity so you can expect no filler or unnecessary ingredients in these pills. Paired with the fact they are trusted by wellness experts is enough to say this is a quality brand.

3. Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a type of antioxidant that occurs naturally in the skin of purple and red fruits such as grapes and other berries. You can also find this in red wine, chocolate and peanuts.

Even though you could get resveratrol from those sources, health experts still recommend supplements to ensure you get higher doses of it. Studies show that taking resveratrol is able to prevent the deterioration of the hippocampus,[2] the part that is connected to our memory.

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One brand that caught our attention for providing this supplement is Toniiq. The company takes pride in their 600mg capsules providing the highest quality of resveratrol you can find. Better yet, they are ethically sourced and cultivated using an extraction process that ensures a 98% purity. While it’s not 100%, it’s a big stretch as other brands that produce resveratrol tend to contain 50% or less purity.

4. Phosphatidylserine

Also known as phospholipid, it’s a type of fat that our own brain has right now. That said, because our brain will deteriorate with age, taking supplements of this type can actually help in preserving the health of our brain.[3] By preserving your brain, you’ll be able to keep up with typical brain functions as you would normally.

Out of the various best memory supplements available, Double Wood’s phosphatidylserine was a notable one. It’s made in the USA and tested for purity. It’s non-GMO, soy-based, and the capsule is gelatin.

5. Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an amino acid that our body produces ourselves. But like many supplements on this list, boosting its production with a supplement has proven to be beneficial for us. In this case, this is one of the ideal focus supplements to go for as studies show taking these supplements to boost focus, improve memory and slow down age-related memory loss.[4]

Out of the various top brain supplements available, our pick is the NaturaLife Labs supplements. They are GMO Free, and Vegan friendly. Beyond that, these supplements are highly potent at 1500mg. It’s also made 100% pure acetyl-l-carnitine so you shouldn’t expect fillers or binders when taking them.

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6. Ginkgo Biloba

You probably haven’t heard about Ginkgo Biloba much because it’s actually a herbal supplement that stems from the tree of the same name.

Think of it as a supplement hidden in plain sight as it’s incredibly popular amongst people who look past the unique name and figure out what it does. Research shows, taking these supplements increases blood flow to the brain which in turn improves brain functions of the brain.[5]

Nature’s Bounty offers these top brain supplements too and is a great brand to purchase from. Similar to what’s mentioned above with the previous supplements, these are pure and high-quality supplements.

7. Creatine

Creatine is the last on our list and is something that you might be familiar with. After all, it’s commonly found in protein powders, meats, fish, and eggs too. Creatine is also found in our own bodies and plays an important role in our energy levels and metabolism.

That said, not every person is big on eating those kinds of foods. As such, supplements provide a good way to get the creatine your body needs. Not only does creatine help with energy levels, but also sharpen our brain – namely an improved memory and thinking skills.

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You can look to protein powder for creatine, but you can also consider capsules as well. With capsules, you don’t have to think much about adding liquids. Optimum Nutrition’s Creatine capsules are a notable option as they provide 2.5 grams of pure creatine per serving. They’re also easy to swallow making it an ideal supplement to try out.

Bottom Line

When looking for brain-boosting supplements, you don’t have to look far. Paying attention to your diet can help you out in keeping up your brain functionality.

However, adding one or two of these supplements into your daily supplement routine would help you in boosting your brain functionality, memory, and stave off the various age-related brain problems.

Featured photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via unsplash.com

Reference

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