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A Brain Primer

Learning how the brain works will help in understanding how important exercise is for your neural health.

The neuron is the basic tool of the working brain. A neuron is a cell body with two major extensions on either end. One extension is the axon, a connector that is used to give information to the next cell via synapses. The other end is a tiny antenna-like connection called a dendrite. That's what receives the information from other neurons.

The two parts of the brain that are the keys to higher thought are the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus. Our five senses are sending us data all the time, even when we are asleep. The cerebral cortex takes in this information and helps us do our immediate thinking, talking and movement. However, we are assaulted by huge amounts of information, and the cortex would be overwhelmed without a filter to decide what is important to retain or act on.

That's where the hippocampus steps in. Basically, it's a clearinghouse that decides what data is significant enough to retain and retrieves that information from long-term storage when relevant.

And the stronger the web of associations that has been established in your brain, the more likely you will be able to retrieve the information you need. That's why finding new cell growth and establishment in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex is so exciting.