Intellectual Stimulation Activities Keep Your Brain Young


An elderly man decreasing his cognitive decline with intellectual stimulation activitiesAs people age, it’s usual to experience some inability to remember things, forget where things were put, not remember appointments. This is called cognitive decline. To reduce the impact of this effect, intellectual stimulation activities may be a good option.

In order to stave off this age-related decline, people are encouraged to engage in intellectual stimulation activities. Everyone wants to stay intellectually sharp and cognitively focused for all of their lives. Research has shown any activity that requires thinking, problem-solving, and attention-focusing may be beneficial. Even video games that involve people staying actively involved in the action can be good for the kind of stimulation that will positively affect cognition.

Regular physical exercise positively affects both heart function and cognition. Low fat and high vegetable and fruit consumption may likewise aid in preserving cognition.

Interestingly, targeted memory or what has been called brain training has not been effective in increasing or preserving cognition. However, the research did indicate people believed they had improved cognition. Perhaps this is a positive outcome of this kind of training.

Effects of Intellectual Stimulation Activities

A recent study in the August issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Neurology suggests that mental exercise, especially late in life, can help to protect against age-related cognitive decline. The study was conducted by the Mayo Clinic and involved 1,995 individuals in their 70s and 80s without dementia who were enrolled in The Mayo Clinic Study of Aging beginning in October 2004 and completed intellectual lifestyle enrichment measures and had at least one follow up visit at the clinic. The participants did not have dementia at the beginning of the study.

The individuals were studied on two non-overlapping areas, education/occupation and self-reports of cognitive activity. Though the two measure did not overlap, there was significant interaction between them.

Higher education and mentally stimulating jobs, as well as more recreational cognitive activity such as working puzzles, learning new skills, and taking classes, were all associated with better cognitive outcomes later in life. Those who had less education seemed to benefit even more from later cognitive stimulation than those with more early education. Overall, those who engaged in mentally stimulating activities at least three times a week delayed cognitive decline by an average of three years when compared with those who engaged in less mentally stimulating activities.

The effects of mentally stimulating activity later in life were stronger in those who had less education and less mentally stimulating occupations, showing that, as important as education is, it really is never too late to stimulate your brain.

When most people think of later life brain training, they often think of such things as crossword puzzles, sudoku, and ‘brain training’, such as that offered on a number of websites. However, there is no evidence that these kinds of activities are any better than any other intellectual stimulation. Such activities as learning a new skill or language, reading, playing games, making crafts, creating art, playing music, taking up a new hobby, or any other mentally demanding activity, especially when engaging in those activities in a social setting. In one study, elderly individuals who were considered to be at high risk of cognitive decline showed noticeable cognitive gains after six months of volunteering at an elementary school. This means the list of possible intellectual stimulation activities is almost endless.

Research on Cognitive Decline

Reading was tested as one of the Intellectual Stimulation ActivitiesThe Mayo Clinic study focused on individuals who possessed genetic markers for predisposition to Alzheimer’s. Those with the genetic marker showed lower cognitive functioning overall, but those who engaged in frequent intellectually enriching activities were able to delay their cognitive decline by an average of almost nine years.

The results of this study show that more education, more mentally stimulating occupations, and engaging in intellectually stimulating activities, especially later in life, can all help to protect individuals against age-related cognitive decline and dementia. As the population ages, the implications of these findings suggest possible interventions to help protect cognitive function in the elderly, especially those who are at increased risk.

Compromised cognitive functioning is one of the myriad of symptoms that come with adrenal fatigue. This condition that occurs when the adrenal glands become depleted because of continued infusion of stress presents these symptoms gradually. As stress continues, the symptoms grow worse until the person involved become debilitated and possibly bedridden. Physicians often have a difficult time diagnosing the cause of these symptoms. They tend to see them as separate symptoms rather than an indication of a systemic problem.

Physicians who know the NeuroEndoMetabolic model have a different viewpoint. Seeing the collection of symptoms shown by adrenal fatigue from a system standpoint allows more comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. This model allows understanding of the underlying pathology that leads to the presented symptoms. All systems of the body are investigated. This means nutrition, metabolism, the endocrine system, and the effects of toxins on these systems are considered and treated. Better treatment of the person follows.

Source: Journal of American Medical Association Neurology, 2014.

Intellectual Stimulation Activities

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