The Science of Fit Brains
One of the essential concepts at the core of brain fitness is the concept of "Brain Reserve," which is also related to the concept of brain plasticity. Brain plasticity relates to the brain's ability to physically reorganize itself in response to the demands placed upon it. When you exercise your brain with activity that is varied and complex, you build stronger Brain Reserve more quickly. A brain with a strong Reserve is one that has formed many cellular connections and is rich in brain cell density. The brain, like a muscle, should be stimulated on a daily basis.
Brain Plasticity & Cognitive Reserve
The miracle is that your brain is plastic and continues to grow new cells and form new connections across your lifespan. This continuous brain remodeling is stimulated by your interaction with the environment across your lifespan. The more challenging and complex activities you do, the better you stimulate brain growth. Regular stimulation can improve your Brain Reserve, which can make a significant difference to its health. You do have control over how much challenging exercise your brain receives and this is great news!
Want to learn more about Brain Fitness? Read on for some interesting studies on the topic.
In 2006, the ACTIVE Study, funded by National Institute of Health, demonstrated that older adults could improve their brain abilities with the correct training. Certain mental exercises can partially offset the expected decline in older adults' thinking skills and show promise for maintaining cognitive abilities needed to do everyday tasks. Some of the gains from training were seen to be beneficial 5 years later. Read more about the findings here.
The Bronx Aging Study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed almost 500 people for more than 20 years. The research found that people who participated in mentally stimulating activities, such as interactive games and other leisure activities multiple times a week had a 65-75% better probability of remaining sharp than those who did not participate in these activities. Read more about the findings here.
Another well-known study is the Nun Study. Scientists followed 700 nuns for more than 20 years. An interesting finding was that certain types of intellectual activity and stimulation could protect against many types of cognitive decline. Read more about the findings here.
A study from Columbia University supports the concept of brain reserve and that education, occupation and stimulating leisure activities all reduce the potential risk of developing brain disease. Read more about the findings here.