What’s The Deal With Mental Stimulation?

Stimulate Your Mind

When it comes to cognitive decline, it’s not a matter of “if ”, but rather a matter of “when” as research from the study Ageing And The Brain highlights how the “brain shrinks with increasing age and changes are present at all levels from molecules to morphology.”

Ageing typically impacts the brain and body in a negative capacity. Not only do we become vulnerable to cardiovascular and genetic risks, we also experience cognitive decline. These cognitive deficits come in all shapes and sizes and can affect different areas of the brain, in particular Peters details in Ageing And The Brain, “ageing causes changes to the brain size, vasculature, and cognition.”

In this article we will take a look at:

  • What Mental Stimulation Is
  • Mental Stimulation And Cognition
  • Types Of Mental Stimulation.

What is Mental Stimulation?

Dr Goldberg and Alvaro Fernandes in The Sharpbrains Guide to Brain Fitness note, Mental Stimulation enables cognitive reserve to form and “build up the brains resilience to neuronal damage and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms.” The concept of  “cognitive reserve” is having a larger preserve of “neurons and abilities” can balance out the loss of neurons caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s. 

What this essentially means is, even if you suffer from a strand of dementia, you may still be able to continue with normal life, with little disruptions. And it is for this reason we want to build and preserve cognitive reserve. 

There are a number of factors that take part in building cognitive reserve and it can be achieved through numerous ways. One of the most important ways is through mental stimulation. Stimulating different areas of the brain through challenging activities. 

Mental Stimulation and Cognition

The role of our cognitive processes is to “absorb and understand information via experiences, stimulated senses and learning,” when something happens that negatively impacts cognitive processes, it can severely affect quality of living and ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. 

Ruth Peters, researcher of Ageing and the brain found with natural aging, also comes: 

“Incidence of stroke, white matter lesions and dementia also rise with age, as does level of memory impairment and there are changes in levels of neurotransmitters and hormones.”

Demonstrating the various ways in which cognitive deficits can manifest, impacting anything from your mental agility, focus and memory to developing into Dementia, a syndrome which is associated with an “ongoing decline in brain functioning.” 

A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent early onset of cognitive deficits as well as most age-related health issues, Factors of a healthy lifestyle include:

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Low to moderate alcohol intake. 

And lastly, mental stimulation can also be key to maintaining a healthy brain and preventing deterioration. 

Types of Mental Stimulation

As mentioned above, mental stimulation looks to keep the brain active, challenged and stimulated through a number of different ways. Here are just some of the ways to do this:

1.Get creative. Doing anything remotely creative, writing a poem, painting, drawing or singing can get your cognitive processes flowing.

2. Learn a new skill such as another language or an instrument.

3. Puzzles. Playing a board game such as Scrabble or completing a crossword puzzle is an easy way to improve your language-related cognitive processes.

4. Get physical. Physical exercise is another great way to stimulate your brain, it’s also good for your health and releases a load of endorphins – which we love.

5. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a great way to “restore your brain’s structural balance and switch up your current way of processing information.”

6. Brain training. Mobile-based brain training applications are all the rage, not only are they a science-backed way to challenge your cognition, but they can be done in a matter of minutes. Peak – Brain Training is a perfect example of this. It features mini-games that can be played anywhere and on the go! 

In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it can be easy to forget about your brain and getting in your daily training, but we hope with this post we have shown you the importance of mental stimulation. Now that you are armed with the information and have some easy-peasy ways of working on your brain, there should be no excuses! 

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Sources Cited:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2596698/#__ffn_sectitle

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/about/

https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/preventing-dementia-brain-exercises#1

http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/236471/scrabblestudy.pdf

https://blog.peak.net/2019/07/2/cognitive-processes-improve

Sajal Azam

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