Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, in large part because of its simplicity. All you require in order to play is some grids, some numbers, and a pencil. A very enjoyable way to pass some hours, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. It’s an additional bonus that it’s good for your brain.
It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to tackle cognitive decline. But there are other ways of slowing down mental decline. Recent studies have revealed that hearing aids may be able to provide your brain with a little boost in mental stimulation, slowing the advancement of mental decline.
Cognitive Decline, What is it?
Your brain has a rather use-it-or-lose-it disposition. Without stimulation, neural pathways will fizzle out. That’s why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it forces your brain to think, to creatively forge and reinforce numerous neural pathways.
While some mental decline is a natural part of aging, there are some variables that can accelerate or worsen that decline. A really potent risk for your mental health, as an example, is hearing loss. When your hearing starts to diminish, two things happen that powerfully affect your brain:
- You hear less: When you have less sound input, your auditory cortex (the region of your brain that deals with all things related to hearing) receives reduced stimulation. This can cause alterations to your brain (in some cases, for instance, your brain begins to prioritize visual information; but that’s not true for everybody). A higher danger of cognitive decline has been connected to these changes.
- You go out less: Self isolation is a very unhealthy behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they suffer from hearing loss. As your hearing loss increases, it may just seem simpler to stay inside to avoid conversation. This can deprive your brain of even more stimulation.
Put together, these two factors can result in a major change in your brain. This mental decline has often been connected to memory loss, problems concentrating, and (over time) increased risk of mental disorders including dementia.
Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So, this mental decline happens because your hearing loss is going untreated. This means that the best way to treat those declines is pretty clear: deal with your hearing impairment! For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a brand new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.
It’s well substantiated and also unexpected the degree that hearing aids can slow down cognitive decline. Around 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 revealed a stabilization or even reversal of that mental decline.
That’s an almost universal improvement, simply from wearing hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:
- Stimulation is critical to your mental health, so that means anything that keeps your auditory cortex active when it normally wouldn’t be, is probably advantageous. As long as you keep hearing (with the assistance of hearing aids), this essential region of your brain will remain stimulated, active, and healthy.
- One of the main functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And the more social you are, the more involved your brain stays. It’s easier (and more fun) to talk with your friends when you can understand the conversation!
Sudoko is Still a Good Idea
This new research out of the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Numerous studies appear to back the notion that hearing aids can help reduce mental decline, especially when that decline would be accelerated by neglected hearing loss. But many people have hearing loss and just aren’t aware of it. You may not even recognize the early signs. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a little spacier than normal, it may be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t necessarily mean you should quit doing Sudoku or 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 exercise your brain and keep yourself cognitively fit.