As we age, there are noticeable changes in our body such as grey hair & wrinkled skin; however, there are changes in our brain that take place & go unnoticed. Physical workouts, fitness routines, body exercises are pretty dominant in the air we breathe, simply because we have access to a mirror which never fails to show us our physical progression or regression; however, do we have one to reflect the health of our neurons?
Weighing not more than 3 pounds, the human brain has trillions of synapses interconnecting over 100 billion neurons.
As you age, your brain experiences constant changes such as the frontal cortex shrinkage, formation of white matter lesions and increase in memory impairment. The predominant effect of ageing takes place on the cognitive abilities of an individual. It takes longer than usual for an aged brain to recollect names, phone numbers and storing new pieces of information becomes challenging.
While declarative memory – accumulated wisdom of experiences & life events declines with time; it is the procedural memory – how to drive a car or make a cup of tea, that remains intact. Our working memory – being able to process new information quickly, problem-solving skills, is also greatly affected by ageing.
So, now that we’ve established the fact that ageing is inevitable, do we have any solution to fight against it or reverse its effects?
We’re all familiar with the concept of physical workouts & diets for a healthy & fit body, but did you know it also has a profound effect on our brain against ageing? Indulge in regular physical activities, say no to junk food, and increase fish & fish oil in your diet to slow brain ageing.
How about some workout for your grey matter?
A few years ago, experts believed that nature provided us with a brain that we can’t modify, enhance or improve. We were supposed to accept it the way it was given to us. However, neuroplasticity is a term that has recently stepped into the limelight, and it refers to the ability of the brain to continually form new pathways or synapses & new neural networks. It is the heart of brain/cognitive training with the help of which we can improve our cognitive skills such as paying attention, problem-solving, working memory, etc.
This training has been majorly used by psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and rehab specialists to improve an individual’s cognitive skills after a traumatic event or brain injury. However, with increasing technologies & cognitive applications being introduced, everyone can reap the benefits of cognitive training by regular mental exercises to slow down brain ageing, e.g. solve a sudoku puzzle every day!
The strategy of most exercises focuses on how to filter out irrelevant information & focus on the relevant ones, synthesizing each element of daily life by deep thinking, and how to come up with innovative solutions to diverse interpretations of problems.
Enhance your attention & comprehension by:
1. reading a fragment of a story/text & answering questions based on the passage, vary the difficulty of the questions accordingly;
2. observe a drawing and reproduce the same image yourself or
3. grab a random sequence of numbers and memorise it forward & backwards.
Enhance your memory by reading a list of words and recollecting all the items after some time. When you improve your cognitive skills such as reasoning, judging, planning, you’ll observe significant changes in your confidence & emotional stability. Increasing your brain activity by indulging into basic cognitive workout fuels your neurons & strengthens your mind, and that is exactly what you need to reverse the effects of ageing.