Noggin may be slang for head (as in “use your noggin”) but it is also the name of a protein that is produced by vigorous exercise that helps in division of brain stem cells into baby neurons.
According to a study carried out by Dr Jack Kessler of Northwestern University in Chicago and his team, when mice were given large doses of noggin, they became “little mouse geniuses” and that making them exercise had a similar positive impact on their intellectual abilities.
Scientists have been claiming for a while now, that exercise can help to keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay and this study lends further credence to this claim.
As people age, the adult stem cells in their brains become less able to divide into stem cells or neurons, making the brain less agile with time. Whereas the protein noggin has this positive impact, it also counters the impact of the bone morphogenetic protein, or BMP, which slows down this activity of cell division. This is how noggin is able to keep the mind functioning more alertly and nimbly.
So it works like this – vigorous exercise encourages production of noggin, which helps in cell division to counteract the memory function decline that comes with advancing age.