Imagine your body is a space ship and our surrounding environments (outside, our home, our work space etc.) are the epic frontiers of space. What is our bridge and our captain? If you answered with "your head" and "your brain" respectively, you would be correct. The brain captains the body. It houses our minds, our processes for thinking, memory, problem-solving, learning, creativity. It communicates millions of messages with every cell in every body part and oversees all functions for every other system in the body. The brain translates what it sees through our eyes. The brain is the most important muscle in the body.
Like with any muscle, we have to exercise it to keep it healthy, sharp and functioning properly. A great way to do this is through brain training. Yes, you read that correctly. Brain training refers to practicing and improving cognitive functions through mental exercises. Such mental exercises target core brain functions including attention, long-term and short-term memory, creativity, auditory processing, cognitive processing speed, logic, reasoning, emotional processing, strategy etc.
We started this post with mentioning Star Wars and Star Trek. Yes, we have these movies, but even better: we have books! Books open our worlds to all kinds of adventures from the fictional swashbuckling tales of Treasure Island to the epic real life stories in the many biographies available to us.
There is nothing better than stepping into the pages of a good book. Not only can we entertain ourselves, but reading provides one of the best brain training exercises available to us. It improves vocabulary, processing, social skills, information, memory and more. Studies have shown that, in older adults, there is as much as a 30% reduction in memory loss and cognitive function. Pick up a book!
Other great ways to train your brain include doing puzzles or playing games. A classic puzzle, a rubix cube, or a word puzzle makes the brain work through problem-solving, creativity and processing. Playing a game of chess, checkers or cards helps the brain work on logic, strategy and reasoning.
Exercising our brains keeps us
- "Can Reading Help My Brain Grow and Prevent Dementia", Alan Castel, Ph.D., April 11, 2018, Psychology Today
- "Dementia Breakthrough? Brain-Training Game 'Significantly Reduces Risk'", Honor Whiteman, November 16, 2017, Medical News Today
- "Brain Training", Learning Rx
- "Reading Books and Playing Games May Help Prevent Dementia: Study", Alexandra Sifferlin, May 30, 2018, Time Magazine