More evidence is now in, according to a possibly ground-breaking study published online July 3 in the journal Neurology: tackling brain-stimulating activities from childhood through old age can help delay the onset of memory loss. We need to keep our brain active by doing things, such as reading books, writing letters and solving problems throughout our lives.
The study was conducted by a team of neurologists, behavioral scientists and academic researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The authors conclude that more frequent cognitive activity across the life span has an association with slower late-life cognitive decline that is independent of…other conditions.
Lead author, Robert S. Wilson, Ph.D., explains how engaging in intellectually-challenging activities helps support brain function: The brain tries to constantly adapt to the challenges it’s asked to do. The brain is experience dependent. Activities that are sustained are going to impact its structure and function. And cognitive circuits that are elaborately structured and functioning very well are able to adapt when the inevitable onslaught of aging occurs. Wilson recommends finding real-world activities that include a combination of challenges and the need to focus and concentrate. He adds, Physical activity is also important.
Prashanthi Vemuri, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, encourages everyone to start developing their thinking and memory skills as early as possible. She advises, Parents should know that reading programs at a young age will help their kids have a good old age.
Reading, writing, game-playing and problem-solving with the children in your life—the main theme of this blog— clearly benefit all involved. Let’s continue to find ways to incorporate that type of cognitive activity into our days.
To that end, I would like to single out a book that lives up to the promise implicit in its title: UNBORED The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun. The tagline across the top of the book reads: Indoors/Outdoors/Online/Offline, an indication of its inclusivity. There is something (actually, more) that will interest everyone in this 350-page mega resource. This book is written for kids—though adults will be intrigued, as well—but kids will want or need to collaborate with adults on the various projects. While the book contains enlightening best-of lists, trivia and quizzes, the reader is prompted to make, do, create and experiment; it is definitely part of the DIY/Maker culture. This would be a great choice for a gifted child, someone who is being home schooled, a grandparent looking for ideas, a child with ADHD (there is a section that addresses this), almost anyone.