Your brain was very adaptable when you were young, but to keep it this way, you need to continue to learn new things. Your brain now operates on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis. The degree to which your brain continues to develop, or wither away, is largely based on how much you train it like a muscle.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young,”
Try the following five things:
Learn a new language. Learning new languages is arguably at the top of the pile in terms of long-term cognitive benefits. People who are bilingual tend to have more flexible brains, can be better at directing their attention and are less likely to suffer with symptoms of dementia. Have a look at Duolingo, Busuu or Livemocha (language acquisition apps) to learn or develop a language.
Learn to play a musical instrument. If you’ve ever wanted to learn a musical instrument, start now! Researchers have found musicians to have increased grey matter volume in their motor, auditory, and visual-spatial brain regions, and playing musical instruments has been associated with improved mental flexibility, vocabulary, and non-verbal reasoning.
Learn to juggle. Juggling can help reduce stress and anxiety, and even improves your brain connectivity and coordination. Buy some juggling balls and you’ll be able to teach yourself.
Practise memory techniques. You can strengthen your memory directly by practising challenging memory techniques such as the Roman Room, or Memory Palace techniques.
Practise meditation. One of the best forms of brain training there is, meditation strengthens your attention like a muscle. Researchers from the Liverpool’s John Moores University found that people who practised meditation performed significantly better on all measures of attention.
Your brain is like a muscle. Challenge it with novelty, unfamiliarity, and learning new things. It will remain younger for longer, and you will enjoy better learning, improved memory, and greater mental adaptability.