Yet another study, this one led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that lifelong puzzling is better at staving off Alzheimers than engaging in cognitive challenges only later in life.
That’s not to say that puzzling in one’s later years isn’t beneficial: it absolutely is. Cognitive engagement is always beneficial. Lots of studies exist to support that.
As I understand it, this study focuses on beta-amyloids, which are proteins. People with Alzheimers symptoms have larger deposits of these proteins in their brains than people without symptoms, and some people have no buildup at all.
The study shows that people who engaged in cognitively-stimulating activities—puzzles, reading, writing, learning—throughout their lives had fewer deposits of these amyloids. This is the first study to link cognitive engagement and amyloid deposits.
In addition, researchers now think that cognitive stimulation may not only provide resistance to Alzheimers, but that it may effect the whole pathological progression. If so, early intervention with cognitive therapies may effectively alter the course of the disease.
Now, genetics and aging also influence amyloid buildup, but we can’t control those factors. We can, however, control whether or not we engage in cognitive workouts.
My conclusion: Don’t wait. Begin exercising your brain now. Make brain exercise a habit in your children. There is never a downside to cognitive stimulation, unless, perhaps, you are so engaged that you forget to eat and drink for several weeks.
Go on now: read a book; solve a puzzle; write a thoughtful comment here. Put your brain to work.