Learning Strategies Blog

The Hungry, Hungry Brain

by Paul Scheele

Scientists have long wondered why human children grow at a rate typical of reptiles—much more slowly than our fellow mammals.

The answer likely lies in the appetite of a child’s brain, suggests a study from Northwestern University. According to the researchers, the brain of a 5-year-old consumes twice the glucose—the energy used to fuel the brain—as an adult’s brain.

By measuring glucose uptake and brain volume, the study determined that the brain grows fastest at the time when the body grows slowest. At the age of four, brain growth peaks, consuming more than 40 percent of the body’s total energy.

“Our bodies can’t afford to grow faster during the toddler and childhood years because a huge quality of resources is required to fuel the developing human brain,” says Christopher Kuzawa, professor of anthropology and co-author of the study. “As humans we have so much to learn, and that learning requires a complex and energy-hungry brain.”

The brain maxes out its glucose consumption around age five, when we learn much of what it takes to be successful humans.

As an adult, your brain may only have half the appetite it once had, but you can still access the childhood traits you had when your brain consumed twice as much energy.

Through the spirit of juvenile optimism we physically manifest and express our youthfulness, including traits such as curiosity, inquisitiveness, imagination, creativity, open-mindedness, joy, spontaneity, enthusiasm, sense of humor, playfulness, optimism, and flexibility.

Our bodies and brains are designed to continue delighting in these traits throughout life, but programming from society, television, advertising, parents, teachers, and friends—even our own self-talk—can lead one to feel old.

So how can you maintain a sense of youthfulness?

  • Recognize you have a choice in your life. You do not have to blindly accept society’s typical norms about aging.
  • Continually learn new skills and activities to stimulate your curiosity and thirst for knowledge.
  • Socialize with others, and embrace new technologies.
  • Nurture youthful traits. That’s the focus of our Youthful Vitality Paraliminal. You can do this anytime with this simple visualization exercise:

Close your eyes and relax. Select a trait of youthfulness you want to integrate into your personality. You might have to think back to your childhood when you had an ample supply of imagination, spontaneity, or resiliency. Use rich imagery to immerse yourself in this trait, expressing it as a fun-loving child. Tap into the visualization daily until you truly inhabit this trait.

Take measures today to rejuvenate your body, mind, and spirit and activate the energized brain in you.

To help you activate traits of passion, curiosity, and youthfulness, I recommend you listen to the Youthful Vitality Paraliminal. Simply push play, close your eyes, relax, and listen. This closed-eye process activates your “whole mind” with a precise blend of music and words to help you get the most out of every minute.

To learn more about Youthful Vitality and all our other Paraliminal programs, please click here.