May 13, 2016 by Judith Liebaert
Can learning a new skill help you keep old memories? Chances are, yes.
If you’ve been working crosswords, sudko or other brain puzzlers to improve your cognition and memory, put down the books and pick up a paint brush.
When it comes to brain fitness, it turns out the old gray matter benefits from switching up activities much in the same way your body does for physical performance. For the body, a limited fitness routine becomes less effective as muscles become more efficient; in other words, it takes less effort to do the same thing. Athletes know this, it’s the reason they use cross training to break through a plateau.
Brain plasticity, or the ability of the brain to maintain and create new neural pathways, becomes more efficient with use. Neural pathways are the information highway of the brain, providing access to everything you’ve ever learned. Well, almost everything. Turns out our brains discard the information we no longer use or need by letting some neuron connections die-but that’s another topic. Okay, science lesson over.
What you need to know: Making your brain work in new ways helps maintain optimum function. Something as simple as writing, brushing your teeth or engaging in a sporting activity with your non dominate hand forces your brain to think differently. However, learning a new skill that requires time and effort seems the best method for improving both cognitive skills and memory function. The key elements to look for in a brain boosting activity are:
- It teaches you something new
- It’s challenging
- It’s a skill you can build on
- It’s rewarding
So, take up an instrument, study calculus, take dance lessons, learn a new language . . . or take an art class!
Check out this one featuring some of my favorite artists!
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