Brain Training ‘Everyone’ Should Do Daily Revealed by Neuroscientist

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Many of us view cognitive decline as an unavoidable process of aging. But this is not necessarily the case.

Just like our muscles, our brains need to be trained to reach their full potential. So what exercises should you be doing to nurture your noggin?

“For too long, the focus has been on decline, disease, and doubt when it comes to the brain’s health and fitness,” Sandra Bond Chapman, professor in brain sciences and founder and chief director of the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas, told Newsweek. “Brain health is more than absence of brain issues. Brain health is the continual promotion of optimal development of brain, cognition, well-being, and connectedness across the life span.”

A major misconception about brain health is that after our 20s our brains stop changing and growing. However, this is not the case. “Science reveals that how we use our brains continually changes its functional and physical structure,” Chapman said. “Brain training specifically refers to exercises to improve certain cognitive and/or perceptual motor skills through repeated practice—just like physical training strengthens certain muscle groups in our body.”

But who should be doing this brain training? “Everyone, truly,” Chapman said. “We need to be as initiative-taking and preventive about our brain health as we are with our heart health. To that end, boosting brain health is key to our ability to thrive both in our personal and professional lives.

“The brain changes—both losses and gains, every moment of every day, our whole lives. This means that it is never too soon—or too late—to take charge of our brain’s health and fitness.

“Just like we do not wait to start brushing our teeth until we have a mouth full of cavities, we should not wait to train our brains until we detect some kind of decline.”

So, with that in mind, Chapman recommends five simple exercises to boost your brain health and cognitive function, no matter your age or ability.

  • “Practice reframing a personal situation when things don’t go as planned to generate multiple possibilities to go at it again. This makes you a more agile thinker versus a stuck-in-the-muck brooder.
  • Take an original approach to to-do lists, by dedicating your brain’s prime time (when you’re most fresh and energized) to tasks that require deeper thinking rather than depleting your mental energy on timely, but less important tasks.
  • Spark curiosity and consider different viewpoints to increase your flexible thinking, openness, and connectedness.
  • Conquer new skills: The brain thrives on learning and thinking. Become a master of new skills or hobbies that you are passionate about, while not over-extending your brain power across too many areas.
  • Nourish connections: Strong social bonds are good for brain health. Invest in meaningful relationships—quality matters more than quantity—and explore new dimensions of human diversity. This increases your mental flexibility and nurtures relationships.”
Photo of a woman doing a crossword. Just like our muscles, our brains need regular exercise and training to maintain peak performance.

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