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Mentalrobics™

You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!

Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative disease of the nerve cells in the brain that causes impairment of memory and other brain functions -- such as language or perception of reality. Alzheimer's patients also experience personality changes and a decreased ability to take care of themselves. Many scientists believe that the disease is caused by the abnormal accumulation of a specific protein that eventually leads to nerve cell death. The disease appears to start in the hippocampus and spreads to other parts of the cortex as it progresses.

Alzheimer's disease is not part of the normal aging process. There are some genetic risk factors (gene mutations) that may influence the development of the disease. The main risk factor is age. Ten percent of people over the age of 65, and 50% over the age of 85, have the disease. Some studies have shown that a lifelong love of learning and physically staying in shape are negative risk factors for getting the disease. So, even if you are genetically prone to this disease, if you stay mentally and physically in shape, you can significantly delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer's.

 



As we have learned, events with emotional significance get preferential treatment by the hippocampus and are more likely to make strong memories. The most important way that emotions are created is from interactions with other people.

Modern technology is constantly reducing the social interactions that we have on a daily basis. Drive-through pickup, self-checkout lines, Internet shopping and email are examples of ways that today's technology isolates us from face-to-face interactions with other people. Humans are social beings, and social interactions are required for good mental health. Several studies have shown that people with social lifestyles have stronger cognitive function than people who are reclusive. Social ties can also help one deal with life's stressful events.

Try to get in touch with more people. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you on the bus, or the checkout person at the store. In addition to the mental benefit, you will be making the other person's day a little more interesting.

 



Our senses of vision and hearing are used far more often than our other senses of taste, touch, and smell. This may be why there are common names for a lack of vision (blindness) and a lack of hearing (deafness), but not for a lack of the others. Humans used to rely on smell more than we do today. We used smells to track animals, navigate the oceans, and to tell if food was spoiled. With grocery stores, GPS devices, and refrigeration, people hardly know how to use their noses anymore.

Try to concentrate on your underused senses from time to time, especially if you want to remember something. The more senses you can bring to bear on the situation, the stronger associations you will create in your mind. Smell in particular has an important role in memory. Sometimes you only need a whiff of a smell to have a flood of old memories rush into your mind. This is because the olfactory system has a direct link to the hippocampus. Try to pay more attention to the smells that are around, it will help keep your mind in shape.

 



You use different parts of your brain for normal tasks and for new, interesting tasks. Even after a few minutes of performing certain tasks, your brain becomes accustomed to it. For example, close your eyes and touch your arm. You will certainly feel that, but keep your finger there for a few moments. Eventually your sense of touch becomes accustomed to the feeling of your arm and no longer reports it to your brain; you will no longer feel anything. The same thing happens for all your senses (which is why you can't tell when your own breath smells bad!)

The brain thirsts for novel experiences. Unique experiences activate different parts of the brain, strengthen your synapses and pump up the production of neurotrophins. So, break up your routines and try something new.

 



Previously we talked about how new experiences can create new connections in your mind, which helps retain memories. Active experiences, where you are actually doing the activity, are the stimulus to create these new connections. Watching someone perform an activity is not the same thing as doing it yourself.

In particular, television is usually not a mind-enriching experience. When you watch someone doing something interesting, only your senses of sight and hearing are involved. When you are actually doing the activity, all of your senses are involved. Additionally, each additional hour of TV watched per day has been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer's Disease. So, don't sit on the sidelines, get out there and experience!

 





 

 



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