Silence Is Vital to Regenerate the Brain
Silence has been a source of many reflections throughout the ages. At the same time, we have filled our homes with so much noise that it is difficult to find silence. This has caused an increase of people who, upon not hearing any noise, feel a great abyss within themselves.
We have ears that are literally hyper stimulated. The worst thing is that almost all the external auditory stimuli we receive are pretty alarming. Roaring vehicles, hustle and bustle, loud music, whistles, and chimes, basically nothing that inspires tranquility.
“The sand in the desert is to a fatigued traveler what incessant conversation is to a lover of silence.”
Experimenting with Silence
Beyond the impact these stimuli have on our emotional state, science has also proven that it affects our brain. According to a study done in Germany by the Research Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden, there are cerebral processes that can only be carried out in silence.
Until recently it was thought that it was impossible for neurons to regenerate. However, with the development of neurogenesis this has been proven wrong. It is still not clear what exactly promotes neural and cerebral regeneration, but there are valuable clues regarding this, and one of them is silence.
German researchers conducted their first experiment on rats. The study consisted of leaving them in complete silence for two hours each day. Then they would observe the brain to see if there was any change.
The results were compelling. After being subjected to this routine over a period of time, it was observed that in all the rats studied there was an increase in the number of cells in the hippocampus. This is the area of the brain that regulates emotions, memory, and learning.
The experts also found that the new nervous system cells would progressively integrate into the central nervous system and then they would specialize in different functions. In conclusion, silence has produced a positive change in the brains of animals.
Silence Helps Us Process Information
The brain never rests, even when we are in a state of calmness, completely still, or sleeping, this marvelous organ continues working, but in a different way. When the body is resting there are other processes that begin to develop and complement those that are carried out when we are active.
Basically, what happens is a sort of cleansing. The brain evaluates the information and experiences that we have been exposed to throughout the day. Then it organizes them and incorporates the relevant information and gets rid of what is not important.
This process is done completely unconsciously, but it produces conscious effects. That is why there are times we find the answers while we are sleeping, or we begin to see things from a new point of view, after having rested a few hours.
What is most interesting about all of this is that a similar process is also produced when we are in silence. The absence of auditory stimuli has almost the same effect as rest. Silence, generally speaking, leads to us thinking about ourselves and this purifies the emotions and reaffirms our identity.
The Important Effects of Silence
Silence does not only make us more intelligent, creative, and secure. Silence also has positive effects when in a state of anguish. Human beings are very sensitive to sound. So much so that, many times we awaken startled when an object falls or by a strange noise.
A study carried out at Cornell University found that children who lived near airports maintained an elevated level of stress. And, not only that, they also had higher blood pressure, and higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Fortunately, the opposite can also occur, and is evidenced by a study at the University of Pavia, which verified that simply two minutes of complete silence was more enriching than relaxing music. In fact, it was shown that blood pressure was reduced and people were able to feel more alert and tranquil after this short period of silence.
As it was observed, silence produces great benefits, intellectually as well as emotionally. We can confirm that being in silence, at least for short periods during the day, is a determining factor to good cerebral health. And with that, a decisive element to improve our emotional state, our health, and our quality of life.
Images courtesy of Magdalena Berny