As the longevity of our life span continues to increase, maintaining our cognitive health has become more important for the quality of life we want to enjoy. Research has found that our brain continues to build cells at any age. Learning new skills such as a language, knitting, dancing or even how to change the oil of your car can help protect the brain from developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. Physical activity is also important to maintain a healthy brain as 25% of the blood from each heart beat is utilized by the brain.
Dr. Paul Nussbaum clinical neuropsychologist who specializes in aging across the lifespan and brain health states, “Our identity, our hopes, our emotions, everything we love comes from this amazing organ that weighs between two and four pounds, the greatest miracle ever designed.” Dr. Nussbaum has developed several games that challenge the cognition and determine what areas of the brain may need more stimulation to maintain cognitive health.
Research from Current Biology reports that the working memory training that they have established with mice seems to have increased their intelligence. They trained mice on a task that exercised working memory and attention. The mice displayed improvement on general cognitive function when compared to mice with no training. This experiment has proven that the brain is highly adaptable and can be improved with training. They are hoping that further research will give them more insight on how to help the Alzheimer’s patient.
The brain needs to be stimulated with socialization, learning, appropriate nutrition, physical and sexual activity. The brain should be fed a steady diet of foods with Omega-3 fatty acids and high in anti-oxidants such as blueberries and spinach. This nutrition will keep the brain processing at a rapid speed. High levels of stress can be harmful to the brain. Practicing meditation, Yoga, and visualization are all excellent ways to learn how to manage stress levels. Reducing stress and stress hormones in your system is critical to the care of your brain.
Oliver Sacks MD professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center believes music can be very healing for the brain. In his book Musicophilia he explores the mystery of the human mind and interaction with music. “Music can animate people with Parkinson’s disease who couldn’t otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who can’t otherwise speak and calm and organize people who memories are ravaged by Alzheimer’s,” states Dr. Sacks. Music has been found to work when medication is ineffective because it engages so many parts of the brain. Keeping your brain healthy can be part of your daily lifestyle as you work to balance the needs of mind, body and spirit.