Shrinking brains sounds excruciating and extremely terrifying since it has to do with the organ that is responsible for who we are, what we do and how we do it. The brain is irreplaceable, once it’s gone, you are gone; unlike some of the other organs of the body that can be transplanted, you can only use one brain throughout your life and when it shrinks, there is no way you can get it back to the way it was. There is no cure for shrinking brains but there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of your brain from shrinking in the first place, in order to beat this natural abomination, you need to know how it occurs and what happens when it does.
Human brain is the main organ of the central nervous system which is protected by the skull.
All human brain has the same structure with that of other mammals, but with a more developed cerebral cortex. Human brain has approximately15 to 33 billion neurons in the cerebral cortex, with each neuronconnected by synapses to several thousand other neurons. These neurons communicate through what is called axons.
The cerebral cortex plays a key role in language, memory, consciousness, awareness, thought, attention and perception. It composed of gray matter, consisting mainly of cell bodies and capillaries which contrast with the underlying white matter, consisting mainly of the white myelinated sheaths of neuronal axons.
What is brain shrinkage?
The shrinking of the brain is referred to as cerebral atrophy. Atrophy means a decrement in the size of the cell of a tissue; in the brain, atrophy describes a loss of neurons and the connections between them. The shrinking of the brain can affect the whole brain or may be limited to a particular section of the brain which results in a decrease in the function of that area the brain controls.
Why it occurs
Some brain shrinkage occurs naturally while others are due to diseases, injuries or infections. Naturally, the brain starts to reduce around the age of 25 years which is when the brain as reaches its maximum mass and stop growing, although no significant mass reduction take place until the age of 60 years when about 0.5 to 1 percent of the brain volume is lost per year; the human brain shrinks to about 15 percent of its maximum mass by the age of 75 years. This is because of the progressive loss of cytoplasmic proteins in the brain.
The injuries and diseases that lead to brain shrinkage includes traumatic brain injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, Pick’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, leukodystrophies, mitrochondrialencephalomyopathies, type II diabetes, eating disorders and even malnutrition; many diseases that cause cerebral atrophy are associated with seizures, dementia, and aphasias (group of language disorders). The infections that can affect the brain are encephalitis, neurosyphilis and also AIDS.
How to prevent it
Unfortunately, you cannot prevent it from occurring; you can only reduce the risk of having it. This can be done by changing some part of your life: firstly, try to get enough sleep; taking 6 to 8 hours of sleep is not only good for your body but also your brain, it helps to maintain your gray matter. Another way is by eating healthy balanced diet, which must contain antioxidants and omega-3 which makes up the central building blocks of the brain tissue. You can also reduce the risk by staying active physically, mentally and socially.