6 Things You Didn’t Know About Trotting the Globe!
Did you know?
- Studies have shown that money spent on travel makes you happier than money spent on material things.
- The length of your stay doesn’t affect your post trip happiness.
- People who travel regularly tend to get along with people better, are more confident, and feel less anxiety in social situations.
- Traveling actually increases your brain’s ability to problem solve.
- Travel, or even planning travel and imagining yourself in an unfamiliar and distant location, can improve your creativity.
- People who have traveled are actually more productive when they return to their school or work routine.
Does Traveling Make You Smarter?
All would agree that traveling can broaden our horizons, both literally and figuratively. But can it also make us smarter? German scientists who conducted a recent study of how our minds respond to new experiences, like those of travel and exploration, say YES! And it does not apply only to humans. Even the tiny brains of lab mice seem to benefit from roaming around!
For the study, researchers kept 60 mice in a large enclosure that provided what they called an “enriched environment” where the mice could interact with unfamiliar and changing surroundings. They divided them in three groups, one of which they exposed to the richest environment, providing numerous learning opportunities; the second group was limited to smaller, much less stimulating spaces; the third was used as the control group. To measure the number of encounters with new events each group faced for the duration of the experiment, a total of 105 days, the mice were outfitted with tracking devices and monitored with sensors placed all around them.
As it turned out, the mice that were allowed the most freedom to explore showed significantly more activity in the hippocampus, the region in the brain that is primarily responsible for learning, than the less adventurous, more homebound mice.
“Those who moved around a lot had many more experiences,” said Dr. Kempermann, a neurologist and one of the authors of the study. “The brains of active individuals produce additional neurons in anticipation of more experiences to come and to deal with them effectively.”
So does this study transfer to humans? “If experiences and lifestyle choices have such a great influence on the individual structure of the brain in mice, chances are that this happens for us even more so,” Dr. Kempermann added.
Obviously, just crossing state lines or filling one’s passport with more stamps does not automatically add more IQ points. But openness and curiosity, the willingness to question old views and convictions, and seeing the world from different angles can expand our ability to take in new information. Not to mention the places you’ll go and the sights you’ll see!
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