Reader's Digest Asia Pacific


You can rev up your thinking with a few fun activities. It’s scientific­ally proven


Creative ways to beat back cognitive decline by building extra brain capacity.

NBY HELEN SIGNY ot so long ago, we thought our brains had reached their peak by the time we hit adulthood and everything was simply downhill from there. But now we know that’s not true – scientists have identified a process dubbed “neuroplast­icity”, which acknowledg­es our brains are capable of growing and making new connection­s as we age.

Giving our brains a regular mental workout can reduce the risk of mild cognitive decline – the precursor to dementia – by as much as 40%, says Dr Nicole Kochan, a clinical neuropsych­ologist and researcher with the University of New South Wales’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing. And a recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic in the US confirmed that elderly people who’d kept up a hobby – such as arts and crafts, social activities or computer use – since middle age were less likely to be affected by dementia.

It’s due to a phenomenon called “cognitive reserve” – or the mind’s resistance to damage of the brain. When we start developing dementia – usually several decades before we

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