Brain Games for Brain Health?
Maintaining brain health is essential. As we age, cognitive decline is a very real
possibility and can dramatically influence the quality of life in our golden years.
In the last several years we have seen an explosion of the brain game buzz.
People engage in Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and even video games in the hopes of keeping their brain sharp and their mind alert.
Although any of those things can be highly entertaining, it is not the key to maintaining brain health.
According to cognitive neuroscientist, Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, the key lies in strengthening connections between different areas of the brain. While doing Sudoku and word jumbles on a regular basis might improve the specific cognitive ability to do those puzzles, it doesn’t cross over to the complex skills that really matter. Skills such as problem solving, planning, and clarity of thought.
Engaging in complex mental activities such as innovative thinking (thinking outside the box) appreciating different perspectives, reflecting on abstract concepts are ways we can improve brain health. Challenging our mind in this way will increase blood flow to key regions of the brain, improve brain functioning and even decrease symptoms related to depression or stress. That is self care at its finest.
Studies also warn against too much time spent on smart phones, tablets and/or video games as it can overload the brain. The same goes for multi-tasking – not all it’s hyped up to be after all.
Instead, try strategy based mental training that challenges your mind to look at abstract concepts, themes and global meanings. Similar benefits can be obtained with socializing and engaging in regular physical activity.
The brain is an amazing and complex organ. We owe it to ourselves to do all we can to keep it functioning optimally.
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