How to grow new brain cells


I have just enrolled in a new course called Learning How To Learn. Why? (You may well ask). To grow new brain cells!

But can I?

I believe you can always learn something new and it is good to give your brain some exercise. In fact, learning is fodder for growing new brain cells! [Note – so is exercise, calorie restriction 20-30%, intake of flavenoids and omega 3 fatty acids and resveratrol (contained in red wine)].

I recently enrolled in a MOOC (mass open online course) available through Coursera from the University of California, San Diego. It looks fantastic, and offers:

  • access to invaluable learning techniques used by experts in art, music, literature, math, science, sports, and many other disciplines
  • learning how the brain uses two very different learning modes and how it encapsulates (“chunks”) information
  • it covers illusions of learning, memory techniques, dealing with procrastination, and
  • best practices shown by research to be most effective in helping master tough subjects
    (Taken from Coursera – Learning how to learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects course outline)

The catch … 
While enrolling and looking at course outlines, I visited the course’s Facebook page to find a video clip of a TED talk called You can grow new brain cells. Here’s how. This is about neurogenesis and the factors that enhance brain cell replication. I have talked about neurogenesis in an earlier post: Are we ever or never too old to learn, Part 2.  But, there is a catch …

In the first few seconds of the presentation, the researcher suggested, “Drugs that stop cancer cells multiplying also stop newborn neurons being generated in [the] brain.”

Da-dow! That means chemotherapy drugs! So, I am enrolling in a course to learn about something I may not be able to do for a while?  Hmmm – well it will be interesting. Perhaps I can become my own lab-rat and see?

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
~ Pablo Picasso

Come up to the lab and see what’s on the … 
I am not sure how to observe myself, and how my own brain cell genesis can be observed … but perhaps I can record observations of how I go completing tasks for this? I plan to add in my learning observations to the blog, while also sharing things that may be of interest along the way. Perhaps I need some learning partners?  Anyone want to come up to the lab?

MOOCs are courses offered by different universities around the world. They are free unless you want a certificate of completion. Their online formats are usually very friendly, with good quality video presentations and materials. They engage the audience in learning activities and provide virtual environments for sharing learning. I have participated in one before, and became part of a study group that used to meet (online) to discuss what we had learnt.

Does anyone want to engage with this course, and join me in a discussion group?  If so – please let me know by emailing me:

You can find the Learning how to learn course at  It starts 4 January 2016.

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