There are several exercises that can stimulate an adult brain. To strengthen the neural connections and create new ones you can try this exercise. While working on a computer, operate your mouse with the hand that you do not use normally. It would be difficult and you may not be accurate initially. It would be difficult and you may not be accurate initially. It is very much like writing with your left hand if you are a right hander. Remember the times when you first learnt to tie your shoelaces. You can try brushing with your hand that you normally do not use, dial the phone with the other hand or operate your TV remote with your left hand if you are a right hander. All in all the brain is learning new skills.
Challenging your brain with new and novel tasks can be mentally stimulating. Trying out or learning new tasks that you have never tried before can be a good mental exercise for your brain. Learning to dance, play chess, try out yoga or Tai chi or learning to sculpt can be challenging for your brain. Working with building blocks, model construction blocks construction blocks or modeling clay is good for developing neural connections in children. Such exercises help develop agility and hand-brain co-ordination.
Experts advice that when you have too much to do, take one task at a time and change the task after an hour, and if left unfinished, schedule it for another time; another one hour. Switching from one task to another would engage different areas of the brain, keeping you mentally alert.
Traveling stimulates brain.
Think about it, the early Homo sapiens and our ancestors lived a nomadic lifestyle. Traveling to unknown places helped them in stimulating the brain, which led to the making of tools and survival skills. Their strategic lifestyles and diverse diets allowed the brain to rapidly evolve.
You can flex your brain by reading too. Neurologists suggest solving crossword puzzles, playing scrabble, starting a new hobby, learning a foreign language or doing any task that stimulates the brain to think. Challenging the brain early in life helps in building up your cognitive reserve, which in turn counters brain-damaging diseases.
Studies have shown that elderly people who regularly played bingo (a card game) had less memory loss and also had improved hand-eye coordination. In fact, bingo helped people of all ages of remain mentally sharp. Studies carried people of all ages to remain mentally sharp. Studies carried out by Prof. H.L. Dhar, Research Director at Bombay Hospital Trust and his colleagues at the Medical Research Centre of Mumbai Hospital, amongst the nursing students, have shown that meditation does improve intelligence, performance, and alertness in the elderly subjects resulting in improved health and reversal of aging process. Current research shows that mindfulness meditation and Aum mantra can also influence mental alertness.
In an interesting experiment carried out by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, showed that a muscle can be strengthened by merely thinking about exercising it. Thirty healthy youngsters imagined using either the muscle of their little finger or their elbow flexor for five minutes a day, five days a week for twelve weeks. As compared to those who did not do any imaginary exercises, those who imagined, gained muscle strength. And this strength gain was due to improvement in the brain’s ability to signal muscle.
Thinking and using the brain increases the number of dendritic branches of the nerve cells, Dr Marian Diamond, professor of anatomy and world’s foremost neuroanatomist from University of California, Berkeley, USA, poetically describes it, “We began with a nerve cell, which starts in the embryo as just a sort of sphere. It sends its first branch out to overcome ignorance. As it reaches out, it is gathering knowledge and is becoming creative. Then we become a little more idealistic, generous and altruistic; but it is our six-sided dendrites which give us wisdom.”
Regardless of age, the more you think the better your brain functions. Older brains may have an advantage over the younger ones. Also highly developed neurons respond better to intellectual enrichment than the less developed ones.
When you perform aerobics, you are physically exercising. But when you perform a brain workout it is termed as neurobics. The term was coined by Dr Lawrence C.Katz, professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Centre, USA. Neurobics makes use of five physical senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, and emotional sense in unusual ways to shake off those mundane routine chores. These are designed to help the brain manufacture its own nutrients, which strengthen, preserve and grow brain cells. The exercises help activate the underused or unused nerve pathways and connections imparting flexibility and fitness to the brain.
Neurobics can be done anywhere and anytime in many easy ways. Try to use one or more sense in an everyday task. Close your eyes and get dressed. While eating at the dining table communicate using visual cues and not talking. Combine two senses for instance smell flowers while listening to music, tap your fingers listening to the sound of rain drops. Break routines by going to work on a new route or eating with your opposite hand or shopping at a new grocery store.
Mental Stimulation for Alzheimer’s disease
Studies have indicated that educated individuals have less risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Increased intellectual activity during adulthood proves to be protective. The activities that help include reading, solving puzzles, solving Sudoku, playing a musical instrument, painting, playing cards or board games, home repairs, wood works and many more.
Interestingly, meditation can expand your mind. Concentration and focusing as in mediation may slow down or reverse age-related memory decline. Sit comfortably keeping your back straight. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Breathe normally and concentrate on breathing—nostrils, chest or abdomen. Try not to waver and do not allow your mind to wander. Meditate for at least about 15 minutes. You can even chant your favourite ‘mantra’ while meditating.
Effect of Television
Do not become a couch potato watching television all through the day. It is true that after a tiresome day, everyone wants to sit in front of the ‘Idiot Box’. Dr Aric Sigman, psychologist, biologist, and author of Remotely Controlled. How Television is Damaging Our Lives, says, “Too much TV may damage your memory. It’s not a question of what’s going on in your brain; it’s what’s not going on.” It is better to sit and use the leisure time to read Shakespeare or any other author of your choice, which can stimulate your brain activity.
Rest is Best for the Brain
Harvard Medical School studies suggest that getting quality sleep helps to lodge memories in your brain. The brain collects dissimilar pieces of information and weaves them into a coherent form while you are asleep. To get good sleep it is important to create a soothing atmosphere; a quiet, dark and cool bedroom. Avoid exercises or any pulse-quickening activities before you sleep. Instead listen to soothing music or read. Sleep for at least 7-8 hours in the night.