Because it’s simple, soduku is a globally popular puzzle game. All you require to play is some grids, some numbers, and a pencil. For many individuals, a Sudoku puzzle book is a relaxing way to pass the time. It’s an additional perk that it strengthens your brain.
“Brain workouts” are becoming a popular means of fending off cognitive decline. But there are other methods of slowing mental decline. Current studies have demonstrated that hearing aids may be able to provide your brain with a little boost in mental stimulation, reducing the progression of mental decline.
What is Mental Decline?
Your brain has a rather use-it-or-lose-it temperament. Without stimulation, neural pathways will fizzle out. That’s the reason why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively develop and strengthen a plethora of neural pathways.
There are a few things that will accelerate the process that would be an ordinary amount of cognitive decline associated with aging. An especially formidable risk for your cognitive health, as an example, is hearing loss. Two things occur that really affect your brain when your hearing starts to wain:
- You can’t hear as well: There is less sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). This can cause changes in your brain (in some situations, for instance, your brain begins to prioritize visual stimuli; but that isn’t true for everyone). These changes have been connected to an increased risk of mental decline.
- You don’t go out as much: Neglected hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in a detrimental way. As your hearing loss progresses, it may just seem easier to stay inside to escape conversation. But this is a bad idea as it can rob your brain of that needed stimulation.
Put together, these two factors can result in a major change in your brain. This cognitive decline has often been connected to loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, and (in the long term) higher risk of mental disorders including dementia.
Will Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So, this mental decline takes place because your hearing loss is going untreated. And it’s fairly clear what needs to be done to reverse these declines: have your hearing impairment treated. Usually, this means new hearing aids.
It’s well corroborated and also surprising the extent that hearing aids can slow down cognitive decline. Approximately 100 people with hearing loss from the age of 62 to age 82 were interviewed by the University of Melbourne. Over 97% of those adults who wore their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that mental decline.
Just using hearing aids resulted in a nearly universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:
- Stimulation is key to your mental health, so that means anything that helps your auditory cortex stay active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is probably beneficial. As long as you continue to hear (assisted by hearing aids), this essential region of your brain will remain stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.
- Helping you continue to be social is one of the key functions of any set of hearing aids. And your brain remains more involved when you stay social. When you can hear conversations it’s much more fun to spend time with your friends.
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
This new study out of the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Numerous studies seem to back up the notion that hearing aids can help slow cognitive decline, specifically when that decline would be hastened by neglected hearing loss. But many people have hearing loss and just don’t recognize it. The symptoms can take you by surprise. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a little spacier than normal, it may be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. Keeping your brain agile and involved in numerous different ways can help broaden the total cognitive strength of your executive functions. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you work out your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.