Cognitive Stimulation ~ Brain Training

"Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind." ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

Cognitive Stimulation is very Important for the Health of Your Brain
Cognitive Stimulation is very Important for the Health of Your Brain | Source

What is Cognitive Stimulation?

With our ever increasing aging population, there are a lot of new words and phrases being tossed around. One such phrase is “cognitive stimulation,” and it certainly gives one much to consider.

What exactly is cognitive stimulation? Simply, it is exercise for the brain.

How do we go about providing stimulation or exercise for our brains? Can it be an individual activity? Does it require a computer program? Do you have to join some type of group? We will answer these questions and more.

Cognitive Stimulation is Important

Cognitive stimulation is as important to the health of your brain as physical exercise is to the health of your body. This simple fact is becoming more and more apparent as we grow older, and as Alzheimer’s and dementia become more prevalent. It's important that we do all we can to keep ourselves mentally fit. The saying: "If you don't use it, you lose it!” also applies to the brain.

The brain has a natural ability to process information in all stages of life, and continual learning or stimulation is essential for brain health. Individuals never stop learning! We can teach our brain that nothing more is required of it than what is necessary to sit in front of the TV all day long, or we can challenge our brain by learning new activities, doing crossword puzzles, engaging in a hobby, reading a book, or any other mentally stimulating or challenging activity. The choice is really ours, but then so are the results.

Cognitive Stimulation, Functioning, and Alzheimer's

Much is being discovered about the brain and the brain’s development with new discoveries and theories to be tested always on the horizon. Papers and reports are frequently published. Let’s look at snippets from a few of them.

The adult brain continues to generate new neurons (brain cells) throughout life. This is good news! But, the new cells must be used in order to survive and become integrated in the brain. (Van-Pragg, Kempermann and Gage, Nature, 2000; Eriksson and Gage, 1998, Nature). Therefore, stimulation can help preserve the remaining healthy cells, and newly developing brain cells.

Robert Wilson with The Rush Institute in Chicago reported in 2002 that people who participated in mentally challenging activities had a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and a reduced decline in global cognition.

. . . cognitive training therapies help improve memory, cognition, and daily functioning for Alzheimer’s (Sobel, 2001;Avila, 2002; Emmerson, 2002).

Intensive cognitive training in persons with mild to moderate cognitive impairment improves cognition (Ballarini, et al 2002)

Robert Wilson with The Rush Institute in Chicago in 2007 showed that loneliness doubles a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. He went on to stress that meaningful cognition and socialization is associated with lowered risks of depression, loneliness and cognitive decline.

MRI Brain Scan on Video

Maintaining Cognitive Health

So, how do we develop and keep these neural connections? Stay active, both mentally and physically! Challenge your mind. Work crossword puzzles. Do math. Read. Learn new words. Join a study group.

If an activity is no longer challenging, it is not giving your brain a good workout. When this happens, it might be time to try a different activity. You need to stretch the limits every now and then to create new neural connections.

Websites that Offer Free Cognitive Training Exercises

Many websites are now available to those having access to a computer and an internet connection. Some of the sites require a subscription, and will track your progress. Others are free. A few of these sites are listed below:

  • Lumosity – This is a very popular subscription site, but a few great games are available for free.
  • Mind Dabble – This site does not require a registration or subscription and provides games to boost your brainpower and improve your memory. It does allow you to post your results on Facebook and other social networks
  • Brain Metrix – This site has free brain exercise games that helps train your brain in the areas of memory, learning and power.
  • Brain Age Games – measures your brain age in two minutes by playing games.
  • Brain Training 101 - This free site has a wide variety of games that that helps to train your brain in logic, memory, focus and attention, and problem solving skills.
  • Fit Brains – This free site provides scientifically developed brain games to develop memory, concentration, language, visual spatial, and problem solving. This site also provides detailed feedback and recommendations.

Cognitive Stimulation and Brain Training - The Choice is Yours

Everyone is looking for a way to prevent the brain from deteriorating. Now you get to choose - use it or lose it!

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Comments: "Cognitive Stimulation ~ Brain Training" 27 comments

nybride710 profile image

nybride710 4 years ago from Minnesota

I liked what you said that we can train our brains that nothing is required of it except sitting in front of a TV. That was kind of sobering way to put it. I'm not a TV watcher, but I work and hang out on the computer all day. I look forward to checking out some of the websites you listed.

CloudExplorer profile image

CloudExplorer 4 years ago from New York City

Wow this hub was intuitive in every way, I like to think of myself as a precog, or someone who has precognitive intuition, not sure if you know much about that, but you're right about needing to use the mind by exercising it, and taking it to its limits every once in a while to generate more neurons, and nice video.

Good Stuff, Voted up.

Lyn.Stewart profile image

Lyn.Stewart 4 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

Brilliant hub voted up and useful thanks

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

nybride710 - We can even train our brain to be lazy, by letting the cobwebs grow. I know when I learn new things, my mind benefits in many more areas than in the specific area that I have studied. Thanks so much!

Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

Brain fitness is something that I am more and more concerned about as I get older. I enjoyed the good information and tips you gave to keep the brain healthy and will be interested in checking out some of the links you provided.

Rolly A Chabot profile image

Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

Morning homesteadbound... yet another interesting and thoughtful writing here. We do need to stop and think of what we are doing to exercise our brains. Great article and off and running to see what course or study I can undertake next.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

I have stretched my brain tremendously in the last 7 months since beginning to write at hubpages. And I can feel the difference in my thought processes. It is easier to think. So it does help.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

I think writing for hubpages is a great way to stimulate the brain. And I love the variety of cognitive brain games available on the internet. Aarp has some fun games offering different levels of competency. Such a great topic to write about Cindy. Thanks and voted up, up, up and sharing!

Donna Huebsch profile image

Donna Huebsch 4 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

Great article - I am bookmarking so that I can link to some of the web sites. I'm also sharing with my friends and family on Twitter and Facebook :o)

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

This is wonderful news to me, "The adult brain continues to generate new neurons (brain cells) throughout life. This is good news! But, the new cells must be used in order to survive and become integrated in the brain." I am going to keep active using the suggestions you post. It can only help one keep healthy over time. Today, more than ever, we hear of Alzheimer’s Disease and it is alarming when a loved one is diagnosed as such. Interesting that loneliness may be another cause of this disease. Voted up and interesting.

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

Lyn.Stewart - I am pleased that you enjoyed it!

Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

This is an important topic - we need to exercise our minds and use them creatively, not just through passive stimulation. Thanks for listing the sites where we can grow our brain cells and boost them a bit! I agree with your comment about HubPages - it's a great place for stretching our minds as well as our skills. Voted up and useful!

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I worry about Alzheimers in my future. Although scientists still have not discovered exactly who will and who won't get the disease one thing is clear- certain risk factors make you more likely than the population at large to get the disease. They discovered this by comparing the medical records of people with the disease and people without the disease - how are their backgrounds different/same? One of these risk factors I have - there is a 20% higher occurrence of the disease among people who have sustained brain trauma - regardless of the cause - than among people who have not had brain trauma. And I sustained trauma when I was born. When I was in university I didn't worry about it, but afterward, I had to search for cognitive stimulation. Regularly. I like to do quizzes, read articles, watch shows like CSI which involve thinking (even if the time process is illogical) -anything to keep it active. It means I sometimes have to focus on world news and that is often depressing. But to know what is going on and process my reaction does keep my brain sharp. Writing also helps me do this. Even something like poetry will do this if I write a poetry form which is strict in its form-like couplets. It's also why I don't mind when people who disagree with me say so on my hubs. The need to respond intellectually to differing views requires much thought.

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

Stephanie Henkel - I am happy that you enjoyed the article. We are finding out that Brain Training or Cognitive Stimulation is so important to our brain health. Thanks so much for stopping by!

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

Rolly - I hope your were able to find something to stimulate your brain. It is so important. Thanks so much.

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

There are many sites that are available for cognitive stimulation on the internet, including AARP. These others were listed before AARp's site , but I have been to their site as well. Thanks so much!

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

Donna Huebsch - I am pleased that you have shared this with friends and family. They will be able to benefit from the exercises that are found on the various sites. Thanks so much!

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

There are so many new things that we are constantly learning, and the area of Alzheimer's is no different. Cognitive stimulation is so important for brain health and if it can impede the progression of Alzheimer's, it should be pursued. Thanks so much!

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

Marcy Goodfleisch - I have so stretched my mind since I have come to hubpages. I took the brain age test yesterday and it said my brain age was 28, which is quite amazing. 7 months ago before starting on hubpages it felt sluggish. It does not feel that way anymore. It feels constantly challenged by all that I have had to learn in the last 7 months! Thanks!

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

I understand what you are saying about head trauma and Alzheimer's disease. The thought has crossed my mind as well. I have had several concussions over the years and that has affected my processing abilities as the time and sometimes lingered for a long time afterwards. So I too wonder about this issue. We can only do what we can do. Help our brains to be as fit as possible. Wishing you the best.

Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois

The brain is fascinating and I've been doing a lot of reading over the past year on it and how to keep it healthy (mainly due to fears of dementia, aging, etc) Fortunately for me, I've always enjoyed doing crossword puzzles and other puzzles as well as physical fitness, all of which I know help my brain.

I've been on Lumosity before but not the others. I also bought a "page a day" calendar for myself and my husband two years ago with a daily puzzle. When my older son was home for a visit, he challenged me when he saw me skip a day with a maze I didn't like, telling me I had to do even those or it wasn't helping me. He's right. We can't do just what we love or we aren't exercising our brains.

Voted up and I thought it was very well written.

BakingBread-101 profile image

BakingBread-101 4 years ago from Nevada

This was quite interesting and so are the various comments! I suffer from "Sometimer's Syndrome" as in, "Sometimes I just can't remember." I had a serious brain trauma in 1983, but most people don't know it. I'm doing great. Lack of proper sleep (7-8 hours) can cause a lot of the issues. Anyway, I really found your hub interesting and well done.

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

It sounds like your son has your best interests at heart, Danette Watt! It is good to be concerned about exercising your brain!

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

BakingBread-101 - I so understand Sometimer's Syndrome. I believe that I suffer from it as well. I am glad that after such a serious trauma that you have been able to recover. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

jodiejay71 profile image

jodiejay71 4 years ago

Great article from a terrific writer.

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas Author

jodiejay71 - thanks so much!

created4wellness profile image

created4wellness 4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

This is your brain on drugs (legal or otherwise).

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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