What happens to your brain when you knit?

But research shows that weaving and crafting with threads, like other meditative activities, can “activate areas of the brain that are good at generating a sense of calm (and contribute to) better emotional processing and better decision-making. More serotonin is released with repetitive movement, which improves mood and a sense of calm. After you've learned how to knit or crochet, you can also lower blood levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity help forge neural connections that keep the brain healthy and active.

By 2050, that number is expected to more than triple, and experts are quick to find ways to protect the brain from this debilitating condition. Knitting is a great activity for all people, young and old, because it involves all parts of the brain at once. Tissue has been shown to stimulate the brain to produce the hormone dopamine, which is a feel-good neurotransmitter. One of the BEST things that came with writing this blog was the unexpected opportunities presented to me to spread the word about neuroscience and brain health in fun and creative ways.

Knitwear, stitch groups, and even scrapbook parties have many keys to mental and brain health covered. Weavers learn that as they create wool neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Creative activities such as knitting, painting and crafts, which involve working the hands in sync with the brain, give patients with dementia a natural increase in dopamine, called the “natural antidepressant.” My experience in neurodevelopmental pediatrics and my experience working with children and adults with brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes and neurological disorders, led me to a fascination with neuroplasticity and the brain's ability to “reprogram” itself. Knitting forces the brain to use its memory actively, and the more you use your brain, the healthier it becomes.

Neuroscientists are beginning to understand how mindfulness, meditation and the experience of flow impact the brain. Neuroscientists used to believe that the brain was a static organ, Levisay says, and that once it fully developed at age 20, all you could do was lose energy. I am pleased to report that neuroscience is finally catching up with the brain health aspects of the trend that some have called the new yoga. As mentioned above, tissue stimulates different parts of the brain, including those that work for memory and attention span.

Researchers speculate that craft activities promote the development of neural pathways in the brain that help maintain cognitive health.

Jane MacDonald
Jane MacDonald

I am of the author and owner of I Love Knitting. I first learned to knit when I was around five years old, and stop doing it when I hit my teens! I than picked it back up when I had my first child, and have since taught all three of my children to knit.

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