Cognitive Research - How To Maintain Your Brain
Brain fitness is a term that's becoming familiar to more and more people. That's because the more that scientists learn about the brain, the more we realize how important it is to keep our brains, as well as our bodies, in good shape. And when it comes to how your brain is affected by aging, there is good news and bad news.
The idea that aging leads to mental decline is not new and cognitive research has proved it. As William Shakespeare wrote in Much Ado About Nothing, "When the age is in, the wit is out." But the good news is that recent research is proving that this idea is not entirely true. Evidence now suggests that the brain is a flexible and renewable organ and that are you age, your brain is able to maintain and even improve its current level of performance, especially if you make sure to lead an active and mentally stimulating life style.
So what is the bad news? Well, like other things in life, achieving brain fitness requires some work. The reason for this is that the brain, obviously, is no fool. As you go through your daily routine, there are many tasks that you repeat, over and over. Obviously, your brain is no fool; in fact, it's an extremely efficient processor of information, so it creates shortcuts for accomplishing these repetitive cognitive tasks.
For example, when you were first learning to drive a car, you probably had a hard time carrying on a conversation at the same time, because your brain was busy processing all the new stimuli and cognitive tasks that are involved in driving. Once you become an experience driver, it's much easier to talk to passengers, enjoy the scenery, and drive at the same time.
It's obviously a good thing that many of the cognitive tasks of driving become automated, because it allows your brain to divert its attention and resources to other things. But in the long run, creates problems too because your brain's natural tendency to learn from experience and create routines that make daily information processing easier also encourages it to become lazy and slack off a bit. As you age, this problem becomes even more pronounced because you encounter fewer opportunities to engage in new activities that will challenge the brain and jolt it out of a lifetime of automated processing. That's exactly why fitness is so important.
Brain fitness is like physical fitness. Just like your muscles, your brain requires consistent challenges in order to remain fit and healthy. Many people already rely on activities such as Sudoku, crossword puzzles or playing bridge to improve their brain fitness. These activities can indeed help keep your brain in good shape and they are definitely better than doing nothing. But if you repeat the same types of brain activities all the time, they too can become routine and will no longer properly challenge all of the attributes that are essential to overall brain health and fitness. The real key to optimum brain fitness is to exercise every part of your brain by constantly exposing it to as many new and different cognitive activities as possible. This level of fitness requires a more thorough and comprehensive program of brain training.
The reason for this is that cognition is made up of several attributes that operate together to create general brain fitness. They include (how good you are at memorizing and then retrieving information for different amounts of time), attention (how well you are able to concentrate on one or more tasks), perception (how well can you can perceive different stimuli in your surroundings), and hand-eye coordination (how well you are able to translate visual input into bodily movement). Since we are all unique individuals, your route to brain fitness is different from everyone else's. So the ideal brain fitness program is one that is able to determine your particular strengths and weaknesses and create customized exercise routines that will offer you the kind of training you need to maintain an active and healthy brain.
Or, as Shakespeare also said, "All things are ready, if our minds be so."