September 1, 2010
Use it or lose it—your mind, that is.
Keeping your mind active stimulates brain neurons, strengthens neuron connections and generates new neurons—all of which reduces your risk of developing Alzheimer's symptoms, according to research reported by SharpBrains.com.
Investing in your brain
Scientists have discovered that our brains are capable of building up a "cognitive reserve." In other words, the more you use your brain, the more neuronal connections you add to it. These additional connections can help your brain continue to perform at a high level in spite of our natural, age-related loss of brain functions (such as response speed and short-term memory), according to P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., in his AARP The Magazine article, "Boost Your Brain."
So adding connections by stimulating your mind with challenging puzzles and games is like saving for a rainy day. And the sooner you start, the more your brain interest will compound, so to speak.
Diversify for even better results
Scientists have also found that physical exercise boosts mental acuity. For example, Dr. Doraiswamy points out that walking briskly for 40 minutes four times a week increases the flow of blood to areas of the brain that can grow new cells.
Other activities that grow and/or strengthen neural connections include mindfulness (paying attention to what you’re doing), performing tasks and playing games that require a fast response, taking classes, working, volunteering, taking on new hobbies and socializing.
Thousands of mind games at your fingertips
The following Web sites offer thousands of brain training puzzles and games. Many are free, but some require Web site membership and/or a fee. Choose your favorites and let the mind games begin!