Use it or lose it
There are several pieces of advice for helping prevent or delay age-related dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Don’t smoke
- Eat healthy, heart-friendly foods
- Challenge your brain
Keeping your brain active and fit can be especially fun and rewarding, as it usually involves learning something new. Examples of good brain-stretchers are:
- Learning a foreign language
- Learning to play an instrument
- Learning to dance, especially a complicated dance such as ballroom or folk dancing
- Playing games
I love to play games. Board games, card games, word games or video games. You can play with others, which also satisfies the socializing benefit, but playing a challenging game by yourself is good, too. I like crossword puzzles; my husband likes sudoku.
Related post: The healing power of mahjong?
Be a Citizen Scientist!
I also like video games, and I recently discovered a fun website and game called EyeWire.
EyeWire is the brainchild of MIT neuroscientist, Sebastian Seung. He wants to understand the brain, and he believes first he needs to understand the brain’s connections—the labyrinth of billions of nerve cells, or neurons.
No small task.
To provide the necessary man-hours, he devised a way to engage the public, who he calls “citizen scientists”, to aid his team in tracing or mapping individual neurons in brain tissue.
Using 3D technology, players are given a cubed section of neural tissue and asked to trace or color one nerve branch through the cube. Watch this EyeWire YouTube to get an idea of how it works. (Bonus: you can choose which color you use for your tracings!)
A tutorial with several practice cubes helps you understand the “game” before you attempt the real thing. And don’t worry about getting it wrong. You can’t mess up the research! Everything is checked and double-checked for accuracy.
And the more you play, the better you get. The game keeps track of your accuracy, and it’s rewarding to see your percentage of correct tracings go up and up.
Of course, as with any video game, EyeWire is addicting! Don’t sit in front of the computer screen for too long, as too much sitting will undermine your quest for better health 😉
And if your eyes get tired from too much screen time, check out my previous post on eyestrain.