HOW many times have you heard the old saying: use it or lose it?
Brain training might seem like a lofty concept, but a growing body of research is confirming what people have always believed: the brain can function better with the help of some exercise.
Queensland Brain Institute director Professor Perry Bartlett said new studies have not only confirmed the theory, but some old ideas are also being smashed.
Prof Bartlett said brain exercise can benefit people of any age.
In particular, research at the Queensland Brain Institute shows the elderly might be able to not only slow the effects of cognitive decline, but actually reverse it.
He said 1 in 3 people suffer some kind of cognitive decline by the age of 85.
The good news is, it is not inevitable that your brain begins that gradual decline.
"As opposed to what we thought ten years ago, the brain actually continues to make new brain cells throughout life," he said.
"The old idea that whatever brain cells you have at birth, or at age 20, have to last the rest of your life, is wrong."
"There are certain parts of the brain which continue to make new brain cells," he said.
"The parts of the brain where these new brain cells are made are important for learning and memory."
Prof Bartlett said it is now known that production of new nerve cells in the brain can be stimulated by "brain training" activities, such as different learning tasks, or exploring new things.
Research also shows physical exercise is a potent stimulator for production of new brain cells.
Prof Bartlett said in theory a human of any age can improve their brain power by exercising the brain.
Master class for the brain
THE game of chess is a reflection of life. That's why Louie Radovanovic loves to play.
"Chess is like real life," he said.
"There are a lot of similarities. Everything in the game depends on you."
Decision-making on the chess board is an enthralling challenge, but it also provides exercise for the brain.
"The more I play and the older I get, I find out how chess is really helpful for working the brain and keeping the brain occupied," Mr Radovanovic said.
He said he feels the healthy effects of chess in his thought processes. It promotes relaxation, memory, decision-making and problem-solving skills.
He started playing when he was about five years old in Serbia. People played in the parks and he loved watching, but his father could not afford to buy him a chess set.
The young boy with a passion for chess swapped his expensive pet chinchilla rabbit for a chess set, a impulsive decision he stands by to this day Mr Radovanovic is part of the Gladstone Chess Club.
For information about the club phone 0416 168 689.
There are countless different exercises for the brain. Many of them are fun activities we have been doing for years.
- Rubic's Cube
- Math problems
- Don't forget, physical exercise also promotes brain cell production.
Train your brain
An online search finds hundreds of exercises to boost your brain power