Maximizing your brain fitness

Be brainful

Maintaining an active brain is thought to be key to maximizing and prolonging brain health through the buildup of a cognitive reservoir and an increase in brain mass [1]. Mental exercise empowers the brain by strengthening connections making it more resilient to insults and aging [2].

In 2000, a study showed that London taxi drivers having a mnemonic map of the city had larger hippocampi than bus drivers navigating only 5 routes [3].

You can stimulate your brain by doing crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, playing board games that make you think, reading challenging fiction or non-fiction books. You could learn a new language or take a course on something completely new. Activities that involve interacting with other people can be beneficial in avoiding social isolation or depression, both known risk factors for developing dementia [4].

[1]       Cheng S-T. Cognitive Reserve and the Prevention of Dementia: the Role of Physical and Cognitive Activities. Curr Psychiatry Rep 2016;18:85.

[2]       Stern Y. Cognitive reserve in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. The Lancet Neurology 2012;11:1006–12.

[3]       Maguire EA, Gadian DG, Johnsrude IS, Good CD, Ashburner J, Frackowiak RSJ, et al. Navigation-related structural change in the hippocampi of taxi drivers. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2000;97:4398.

[4]       Hsiao Y-H, Chang C-H, Gean P-W. Impact of social relationships on Alzheimer’s memory impairment: mechanistic studies. J Biomed Sci 2018;25.