On Today's episode of All in the Mind on ABC's Radio National, the topic is brain training programs and whether or not these "workouts" for the mind and brain can really slow the cognitive decline that comes with aging (and lack of use).
The brain is in some ways like a muscle - as we age (past age 30), it becomes a "use it or lose it" situation. The most repeatable research has shown that regular cognitive activity that challenges our skills is the best way to slow the decline (aside from adopting an anti-inflammatory diet and regular cardiovascular exercise - see here for info on general nutrition on brain aging, here for the role of omega-3 fats, and here for the role of cardiovascular fitness, just for starters).
The other intervention that has been demonstrated empirically is learning a new language, especially in an immersion situation - this keeps the brain "young" in ways no other intervention can - see here and here.
- Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, by Dr. Daniel Siegel
- The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, by Dr. Norman Doidge
- Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves, by Sharon Begley
- Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, by Jane McGonigal
Sunday 24 November 2013
Lynne Malcolm, Host
Image: (Evgeny Terentev (Getty))
We are constantly being told to 'use it or lose it' and brain training programs are flooding the market. Our brain's capacity peaks at around the age of 30. Can we really slow or even reverse the subsequent decline through dedicated brain work out, or will a change in our approach to life make a significant improvement? On this week's All in the Mind, the research, the hype and the hope around boosting our brain.
Related Article: Video game training enhances cognitive control in older adults.
- Dr. Michael Merzenich, Professor emeritus neuroscientist, University of California, San Francisco
- Professor Robert Wood, Professor of Psychology at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the University of Melbourne
- Dr Jee Hyun Kim, Neuroscientist at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience
Soft-wired, how the new science of brain plasticity can change your life, by Dr. Michael Merzenich PHD