If you're driving, open the windows to help construct a new mental map. Simply by opening the windows as you drive will let in a tapestry of smells (fresh rain on a macadam road, a street vendor's cart, leaves burning in autumn) and sounds (birds singing, kids yelling in a school playground, sirens) that mark your route. Like an ancient navigator, your brain will begin to make and recall associations between the sights, sounds, and odors that you encounter. Remember that the hippocampus is especially involved in associating odors, sounds, and sights to construct mental maps. Opening the windows provides these circuits with more raw material. If you walk to work, the brain stimulation are even greater.

Brain Training

Turn Off Automatic Pilot

You could also take a different route to work. On your routine commute, the brain goes on automatic pilot and gets little stimulation or exercise. An unfamiliar route activates the cortex and hippocampus to integrate the novel sights, smells, and sounds you encounter into a new brain map.

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