Use it or Lose It!

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. Prov. 4:7, 8, NIV.

At the University of California in Berkeley scientists put rats into four different environments to test the effect on their brains. 
Group 1 experienced solitary confinement. The rats were given food and water only. 
Group 2 experienced social enrichment. Three animals occupied each cage.
Group 3 experienced environmental enrichment. In addition to three in a cage, a new toy or device was added every day for 30 days.
Group 4 experienced a natural environment. Instead of a cage, the rats were put in a large area with a buried fence, with stars and sky for ceiling and earth for floor. For challenges they had hawks by day and owls by night looking to make them fresh meals! Immediately the rats were motivated into action. They dug holes and tunnels to obtain food, water, and friends.

In group 3, in which the rats had environmental enrichment, their average brain weight increased 7 or 8 percent. They had more and better dendrites, which are the long fingers of nerve cells—the input connectors in the brain. Their brains had increased amounts of the chemical choline acetylase (ah-SEAT-ul-ase), which is important in intelligence. (Note: this is the chemical that decreases in Alzheimer’s disease.) Hexokinase (hex-o-KIN-ase), the chemical that helps energy get from the blood into the brain, also increased. In addition, the rats were faster and smarter in getting through a maze
But the most amazing finding was with the group 4 rats in the natural environment. Their brain weight went up 12-13 percent, almost twice as much as those in the artificially enriched environment of group 3.

Why did this happen? It is called the law of atrophy of disuse. Simply stated, “Use it or lose it.”

I’m reminded of Ellen White’s words: “Action is a law of our being. Every organ of the body [including the brain] has its appointed work, upon the performance of which its development and strength depend” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 237).

The question is What are you doing for your brain? Are you in group 1: lonely and feeling sorry for yourself? group 2: with friends, but inactive? or in group 3: getting a lot of artificial stimulation? Hopefully, you’re a group 4 person, enjoying God’s natural environment and motivated activity.

Lord, help me to use it—not lose it! Increase my wisdom and understanding.

Used by permission of Health Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.