Some people believe that diet is the only factor that affects brain activity. To some extent it is true that food is the most important thing for keeping any organism alive and fit. Moreover, one’s nutrition is rather helpful for boosting mental activity. On the other hand, even the most well-balanced diet is not enough to keep the body and brain operations at an optimal state. There are many other factors beyond diet that equally contribute to the development and functioning of the human brain and body. In order to be healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually, any person requires an appropriate amount of sleep, exercise, music, and prayer.
It needs to be said there is no mechanism in the world that can work continually without pauses. Time for rest is especially important for biological organisms. Otherwise, any kind of species would suffer from exhaustion or even die. There is no doubt that the human brain is one of the most complicated biological systems. It controls all human actions, starting from body movements and finishing with thoughts and dreams. It realizes millions of operations every day. Nevertheless, it is not a secret that the brain does not work at the same rate all the time. At some moments it can be quite easy to concentrate and memorize, the other day it was difficult even to express the thoughts. The reasons for such a diverse mental performance are actively discussed by numerous scientists. According to Jonathan Fahey (2009), a psychology professor from Texas University Todd Maddox blames the lack of rest for ruinous impact on the brain functioning. The results of his experiment with the cadets prove that an insufficient amount of sleep can dramatically change mental performance and seriously worsen general physical health. This phenomenon is explained by the specificity of the human brain activity. Different parts of brain constantly change each other and work in turns. When one of the brain hemispheres is active, another one is resting. However, when a person happens to be sleep-deprived, brain mechanism fails to function correctly. Different parts of brain cannot renew the energy on time. Consequently, they are not able to fulfill their everyday tasks with the same speed and quality. Conversely, good rest can be rather helpful for boosting brain activity. It is not a surprise that sleep enhances memory to a great extent. A person will definitely remember something learned in the evening better if he or she sleeps well at night. Moreover, it is even possible to memorize things with the help of listening to audio materials while sleeping. Considering the information analyzed above, it is obvious that sleep is an extremely important factor that affects brain functioning.
Brain seems to be the most important part of the human organism. This idea is explained by the fact that the brain is indeed the only organ in the body that cannot be transplanted. However, this superiority is not absolute. It is repeatedly proved that the brain is totally affected by the body. Besides diet and sleep, physical exercise is another vital factor that influences mental health. As Gretchen Reynolds describes in her article (2012), an interesting experiment was made by a group of researchers from DartmouthCollege in Hanover. Professors of psychology and neuroscience department tested a group of adults and received unique information about the connection of physical activity and memory. At first, fifty-four healthy people aged from eighteen to thirty-six were tested for their psychological state and their ability to memorize. After that, half of the group had specific physical trainings every day for a month. Later the group was halved again. One part of the group exercised on the day of the second test; another half rested before the test. Finally, the researchers received four groups of people. One subgroup was sedentary from the beginning till the end, the second part was passive for a month but trained on the day of the second test, the third subgroup exercised for four weeks but rested on the last day, the fourth group was active for the whole month and also before the second test. The results of the final examination were impressive. The fourth subgroup showed the best memory results. Moreover, these active people were in high spirits. Those who exercised for a month but were passive on the last day were still quite successful. On the contrary, people with totally sedentary way of life not only showed the worst results at the memory test, but also were very anxious. An interesting fact is that one day of training before the exam after a month of passive life did not enhance mental activity, but even more increased fear and uncertainty. Such a significant experiment proves that physical activity is a very important stimulus for the development of the human brain possibilities. Nevertheless, only regular exercise can be helpful for the enhancement of memory and psychological state.
Although physical state of a person plays an important role in brain functioning, there are some other factors that can considerably influence one’s mental possibilities. Quite obvious, music and rhythm are very powerful factors that have a strong impact on the system of human mental activity. Most of the people do not even notice how different sounds, melodies, sequences of notes and beats affect their memory, thoughts and emotions. Elizabeth Landau affirms in her article (2012) that the human brain tends to be easily influenced by music patterns. Very often pieces of popular songs literally get stuck in the mind. This sometimes happens even if a person hears a song for the first time or does not like a piece of music. However, it is almost impossible to memorize part of a text that is not accompanied by rhythm and melody. This fact proves the idea that music is a very strong stimulus for boosting memory. Such an interesting peculiarity of the human brain is commonly used in marketing when certain goods or services are presented together with pleasant energetic or calm pieces of music. A customer receives good emotions, which are subconsciously connected with certain product. Similar mechanism of memorizing is widely used in numerous schools for the students of different age. Small kids are encouraged to learn an alphabet set to music. Older pupils sing songs about grammatical rules or mathematical theorems and formulas. Furthermore, in the learning process not only melody, but foremost rhythm makes it easier to memorize the things. The main idea of such a learning mechanism is division of the material into small parts and also association. What is more, music proves to be an effective training for the brain. When playing any instrument, a musician memorizes not only the sequences of notes, but also the sequences of body movements. In addition to this, all kinds of motions are reflected in memory, which considerably improves abstract thinking. Moreover, music is often used for curing serious illnesses and defects, as long as it has an impressive ability to influence mental health.
Proceeding with the topic of mental and spiritual health, it is impossible to overlook a religious point of the issue. It was repeatedly stated by many researchers that prayer and other religious practices influence the way of thinking. However, the impact of religion on the human brain functioning is still not clearly explained. Among other scientists, M. D. Andrew Newberg tried to study the peculiarities of mental state influenced by prayer and meditation. As it is said by Garry Small in The Mind Health Report (2011), Dr. Newberg conducted a substantial research in order to see how human brain changes in the course of different religious practices. What is more, the scientist tried to find out how religion influences human feelings, relationships with other people, and health. During this experiment, Dr. Newberg did several brain scans of the people who were undergoing certain religious activities. Studying these graphic materials, he made conclusions about different parts of the brain that were affected in different ways. According to Dr. Newberg, a part of brain named frontal lobe is positively influenced by regular prayer. It is usually deteriorated with aging. Nevertheless, this process may be stopped by certain types of spiritual activities. Brain scans also showed how the anterior cingulate, which is responsible for compassion, is activated by prayer. By Garry Small (2011), this part of brain distinguishes people from other species. Most surprisingly, a researcher found out that prayer may not only activate the brain, but also make certain parts of it passive. Namely, the functioning of parietal lobes, which are activated by the sense of individualism, is depressed by prayer. This happens because religious practices encourage the feeling of unity with God and Universe in general. Another part of the brain that is deactivated by spiritual practices is named the limbic system, which is responsible for a wide range of negative emotions. Prayer proves to be a complicated mechanism that somehow enhances positive traits and emotions, improves emotional state and health. Although it is not obvious how this mechanism works, there is no doubt that it greatly influences not only soul, but also human brain and body.
After considering many factors that influence human brain, one may still assume that they are not so valuable. It may still seem that the most important thing in this list is diet. If to leave any person without food, sleep, physical exercise, music, and prayer, the first thing he or she would think about would most probably be the food. What is more, any person will definitely die without sufficient nutrition. This cannot be said about insufficient sleep, lack of exercise, music or prayer. However, if to give people enough food, but deprive them of other things listed above, brain function will not develop properly for sure. Additionally, any of the named factors cannot be judged as sufficient for the development of the human brain function when used alone. None of factors may be called the most important because they equally affect the human brain and should be used in complex.
To conclude the ideas discussed in this essay, it needs to be said that the human organism is a very complicated system of interdependent parts. Spirituality, mental activity and body are very closely connected. If a person wants to develop brain, it is needed to train the body and think about soul. If there are problems with physical health, it is sensible to pray and improve the mental state. If something is wrong with the mood, one should work with the body. In order to feel good, anybody needs to find his or her own balance. Moreover, it is vital to use a perfect complex of all accessible means of self-improvement.|