Are you hip with your hippocampus? Everything you need to know!

The brain is the main component of the central nervous system and controls most of our bodily functions. So isn’t it important to care for the brain, just like we do for the other organs? The brain has many components, of which the hippocampus deals with certain sections of memories.

Many of us take the brain for granted, but it is important to know that just as exercise and a healthy diet are beneficial for the body, they are equally essential for cognitive well-being too.

What Is the Hippocampus?

The hippocampus is an important part of the brain and is named because of its resemblance to the shape of a seahorse. It belongs to the brain’s limbic system and is involved in saving our memories.

Humans have two hippocampi, one in each hemisphere of the brain and research shows that different parts of the hippocampi are involved in processing different types of memories. If one hippocampus is damaged, the brain can still perform reasonably well but severe damage to both sides can impact the brain’s ability to form new memories and also affect memories that were formed before the damage occurred.

Hippocampus and Memory

Scientists believe that the hippocampus plays a key role when it comes to our memories. Humans carry two types of memories: declarative and spatial relationship. Declarative memories are linked to episodes from everyday life, while spatial memories are more specific and include routes or directions.

The hippocampus also processes memories as you catch a few winks at night. Studies have shown that the hippocampi activity that occurs at night, especially after learning something new, can help you remember it better the following morning.

The hippocampus shrinks by about 13% between the ages of 30 and 80 and this can cause a remarkable loss in cognitive functioning. Damage can also be caused by accidents or conditions like Alzheimer’s.

Once impacted, the brain may lose its ability to retain memories and even create long-term memories. In some cases, people may remember memories from a long time ago but find it difficult to recollect recent incidents, names, and important dates like their child’s birthday.

A damaged left hippocampus could impact the ability to recall verbal information like simple words used in everyday conversations, while a damaged right side impacts visual information like recognizing faces and places. It could also impair a person’s ability to recollect spatial memory, making it difficult to get from one place to another even if they had been doing so for years.

Keeping the Hippocampus Hip

Research says that it is possible to keep the brain, especially the hippocampus, functioning efficiently by following a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few tips for keeping the hippocampus hip for a longer time:

  • Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise could reduce the risk of dementia by about 30%-40%, while also helping you maintain higher levels of cognitive functioning. Exercise can help slow the shrinking of the hippocampus and experts say that 150 minutes of moderate activity a week is advisable for overall mental and physical well being.
  • Eat Healthily: Following a heart-healthy diet, like the Mediterranean diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is good for the brain too. It is recommended to incorporate at least three servings of vegetables a week for the upkeep of a healthy brain. Abstaining from alcohol may also support healthy cognition.
  • Enjoy Spices: Spices can stimulate your taste buds and also impact cognition. Studies have shown that herbs and spices including ginger, turmeric, vanilla, basil, black pepper, and cinnamon are rich in antioxidants that could improve brain power.
  • Destress: Stress is a major factor in today’s fast-paced life, so slow down, take a few deep breaths and destress with a stroll in a park, a few minutes of meditation, or yoga to help the brain and body relax.
  • Learn Something New: Learn new skills like a foreign language or a simple craft because challenging the brain increases the growth of brain cells and slows the degeneration of cognitive powers.

Keep your brain powered by leading an exciting lifestyle that includes good food, exercise, and of course the company of family and friends.


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