I often get asked by my patients, young, middle aged and older, how they can maintain or even, improve their cognitive function. There is indeed some amount of normal age related memory loss that occurs in all people. This is due to the hippocampal region of the brain losing at least 20 % of its neural connections by age 80. But there are many things you can do to help your brain stay sharp during those years.
Recent studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku puzzles increases memory and other cognitive skills. Other skills, such as visual spatial processing (putting colored blocks in a formation, lining up triangles with edges aligned, drawing a picture top down) also improved memory. While this won’t prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s Dementia, it can significantly reduce cognitive dysfunction for those affected. Similarly, learning a new language, either spoken or computer programming increases neural connections and can also have some benefit, although this has not been studied fully yet.
Prerana R. Sangani, MD, MPH, October 18, 2021