4/12/2013

Kick Starting the Brain


The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.
Robert Frost

Estimated amount of glucose used by an adult human brain each day, expressed in M&Ms: 250.
Harper's Index

I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.
Woodrow Wilson
 
I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me.
A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I couldn't stop myself with one quote today because there were so many fun choices, but all joking aside, today I want to talk about the importance of keeping the brain stimulated.

This subject is important to me since my mother had dementia. Many of the suggestions made by doctors to stave off dementia encourage keeping the brain active by challenging it so that new neural pathways are created.

A friend whose mother has dementia told me her mother's doctor suggested that my friend start living her life differently to reduce her dementia risk. One surprising suggestion was that my friend was told to do routine tasks differently. If she normally brushes her teeth right-handed, she should try using her left hand. If she opens her garden gate one specific way, she should try doing it differently. The idea is that every time we change our way of doing things, it forces our brain to make a new pathway.

I found some interesting information recently regarding reducing the risk of dementia. It comes from two University of Missouri studies. (I tried finding the actual studies so I could read and link them, but could not track them down.) The studies suggested that frequent dancing could reduce the risk of dementia by 76%. Doing at least four crossword puzzles a week reduced the risk by 47% and reading by 35%.

Is the greater risk reduction caused perhaps by the physical aspect of dancing (including increased cardiovascular activity) coupled with the mental challenge of learning new dance steps? I don't know. I already read as much as I can. I enjoy crossword puzzles, sudoku and kakuro. Maybe it is time for my husband and I to start taking those ballroom dancing lessons we've been talking about for years.


Image: ambro/freedigitalphotos.net

12 comments:

  1. The idea of doing things differently is fascinating. As I get older I do realize how attached I become to my routines. On the other hand, I usually find something new that takes my interest and time. But I'll make sure to pay attention to routines and new ideas.

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    1. I love routines because I can do things without thinking, but maybe I need to do the extra thinking instead.

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  2. I have a list of languages that I want to learn to help keep my brain going. Oddly enough, I blogged about knowledge today! Great post.

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    1. New languages? That's one I never thought of and it sounds like a great idea.

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  3. I've heard these things too and it makes a lot of sense. Hey, if you can start something new and fun and know that it's good for your brain too, go for it!

    Love the quotes! :)

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    1. Glad you liked the quotes. They made me laugh.

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  4. Great info Elizabeth. My mom does puzzles several hours a day. This information if encouraging.

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    1. Good for your mom. Puzzles are a much better idea than watching the tube all day, aren't they?

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  5. Go for it! Sounds like fun, with long life results. A good thing.

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  6. I usually park in the same spot at work, but after I leave at lunch I switch sides of the building, just to make my brain remember something different! Silly but hopefully it helps keep it nimble! :)

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