New Study Shows Mental Activity Stops Alzheimer's

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Mood & Memory
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

We’ve often heard that when it comes to brain health, it’s “use it or lose it”—and that things like crossword puzzles, reading, and more can ward off mental decline. Now, a new study released by the University of California, Berkeley shows that mental stimulation actually stops the physical development of Alzheimer’s in its tracks!

In their findings, which were just published in the Archives of Neurology, the researchers noted that Alzheimer’s is caused by beta-amyloid deposits, which are fibrils of proteins that have “misfolded.” Those proteins form fibrous sheets that clog up the brain by filling in the spaces between brain cells. Clogged brains don’t function properly.

Lifelong mental stimulation helps to ward off amyloid buildup, so the brain can function as it should—regardless of your age. In fact, the oldest participants in the study who engaged in the most mentally stimulating activities had levels of amyloid buildup comparable to those in the younger control group, leading researchers to conclude that cognitive activity actually appeared to keep their brains young.

So, how can you put these findings into action for you?

  • Stimulate your brain with crossword puzzles, Sudoku, word searches, and more.
  • Turn off the TV and read. Consider joining, or starting, a book group.
  • Take a class at your local community college. Many community colleges also offer free or low-cost lecture series.
  • Share your talents. Volunteer to teach English as a second language to adults or at a local elementary school to help youngsters to read or master their math facts. Many nonprofit organizations also need volunteers to fundraise and help with a multitude of office tasks. 

In addition to mental stimulation, the right nutrients can help ward off memory loss. Here’s what I recommend.

Now it’s your turn: How do you stay mentally active?

You may also be interested in:

What’s Your Real Age?

Brain Bender: Test Your Mental Edge

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