If you’ve never played cards, you don’t know the fun you’re missing. And with science’s recent acknowledgment of the efficacy of card games as exercises for the brain, you now have an excellent incentive to learn how to play. If you don’t like cards, play a board game or work on puzzles. Here’s a look at the science that supports brain exercise games as routes to better memory and larger brain volume.
Take Charge of Cognitive Dysfunction
Because of increased longevity and dementia in some at an advanced age, a brain fitness movement has emerged. Brain fitness refers to maintaining three functions late in life: strong attention, memory, and language skills.
Asenath La Rue, PhD, senior scientist at Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute, is one of many at the forefront of this movement. The principal investigator in a program called Take Charge, La Rue seeks answers to the question of how we can take brain fitness into our own hands: What can we do to delay the onset of clinically significant symptoms of Alzheimer’s?
Take Charge is a year-long program for seniors (ages 60 and older) who receive individualized activity care plans. According to Dr. La Rue, both physical and mental exercise play roles in maintaining brain fitness — but brain fitness does not come with a one-size-fits-all prescription. Through a “personal trainer” approach, the doctor cites progress. And though the results are not conclusive, 93 percent of the participants have felt the program was helpful, and 87 percent thought the sessions increased their brain activity.
More Research on Brain Exercise Games
Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, recently reported on research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014. Scientists at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute and the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center studied 329 healthy people who were at a high risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The participants, whose average age was 60, underwent cognitive testing and MRI scans, and revealed how often they participated in such activities as brain exercise games, reading, playing card games, going on outings, etc. The study found that those who worked puzzles and played games scored higher when their memory and thinking skills were tested. According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, those who scored higher were “more likely to have greater brain volume in several brain regions.”
Start Working Your Brain Today
The research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference suggests that everyone can take steps to keep their mental faculties sharp. Mental fitness really boils down to three things:
- A proper diet to feed your brain.
- Proper exercise (if, for some reason, you can’t exercise, get up and move about frequently).
- Brain exercise games (such as those included in Philips Senior Safety Package) that stimulate your mind and keep you energized.
The science is hardly settled. However, the results of research conducted over the past few years has been impressive. It suggests that we may be able to take steps to keep our brains fit. And you could even have some fun along the way. So start now, and play brain exercise games whatever your age. It can’t hurt — and it could help.