Cross Train Your Brain
If someone you love has dementia, you probably worry about it happening to you. The good news is we can take steps right now to help our brains stay sharp as we age. DMDEC recently spoke to Ms. Lindsay Gaskins, the CEO of Marbles the Brain Store, about the benefits of exercising our brains.
DMDEC: The idea of exercising our brains has become pretty popular in recent years. Why is that?
LG: Science is starting to gain some interesting insights into how the brain works. Researchers are beginning to discover different ways that people can try to stave off dementia; not cure it, but try to prevent it from happening earlier in life. The science is compelling and very exciting. It shows that if you exercise your brain, if you challenge your brain with continual exercises, you can build up your cognitive reserves and make your brain stronger.
DMDEC: That is very exciting! I’ve been reading about the term “neuroplasticity”. What is it?
LG: The whole idea behind Marbles is this thing called neuroplasticity, which is your brain’s ability to reorganize itself and change. Through mental exercise and challenges, you can actually create growth in your brain. The old wisdom was that when you were around 13 or 14 or some young age like that, your brain stopped growing, and that you’d have no ability to change how it functioned. Now, we know that through exercise, you can actually change how your brain works, and that new neurons can be created through brain exercise. Just as you can build your muscles in your arms, you can build your brain up by exercising it.
DMDEC: So doing crossword puzzles is exercising your brain, right? Relying less on speed dialing and actually memorizing phone numbers wouldn’t hurt either, would it?
LG: Doing crossword puzzles is great, and it’s excellent exercise for your brain to remember phone numbers. Memorizing number sequences of 7 or more is a good thing to do. But really the best brain exercises require working all the functions of the brain. The brain seeks novelty. When it comes to keeping the brain sharp, expertise in any one thing isn’t great. You really want to challenge all the brain’s functionality through cross training. So, if you like doing crossword puzzles, adding in other kinds of brain games is actually more beneficial.
DMDEC: So how can the products you offer at Marbles the Brain Store help us to achieve a full brain workout?
LG: We have products that challenge all categories of brain functionality: memory, coordination, visual perception, critical thinking, and word skills. There’s lots of interconnectivity between all the categories, and all of them are important to strengthening our brains. So while we have products that are geared specifically toward helping your memory, for example, working out all the functions of the brain is the best way to improve any one function.
DMDEC: So if the key to maintaining our mental health is to consistently challenge our brains, I think we’ll have to take a new look at the concept of retirement. Seems like if we stop working, we better start doing other things with our brains–and lots of them– or we’ll be in big trouble.
LG: Absolutely. Science has taught us a lot about how our brains grow, and now that we know that we can control what happens to our minds as we age, it’s on us to do something about it.
DMDEC: It all sounds very hopeful. I hear that it’s becoming popular for people to play brain games during their lunch breaks, which is a great idea. And I see that brain gyms are popping up on the west coast, which is a very cool idea. Maybe someday soon, we’ll go to the regular gym on certain days and the brain gym on alternate days. Or maybe we’ll start seeing brain gyms or Marbles stores built right onto our health club properties!
LG: You never know! We hope to build Marbles stores all across the country to help people everywhere to challenge their brains in a variety of fun and interesting ways.
DMDEC: I think your stores are part of a huge revolution in how we approach getting older. Thank you so much for talking to us today. It’s great to know that we don’t just have to sit there—we can actually do something to keep our brains in shape as we age.
For more information on Marbles the Brain Store, check out their website: http://www.marblesthebrainstore.com/