Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, in large part because of its simplicity. All you need in order to play is a few grids, some numbers, and a pencil. A very pleasant way to pass some hours, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it gives your brain a workout is an additional perk.
“Brain workouts” have become a popular means of fending off cognitive decline. But there are other methods of slowing cognitive decline. Recent research has revealed that hearing aids might be capable of providing your brain with a nice little boost in mental activation, slowing the advancement of mental decline.
Mental Decline, What is it?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulus, neural connections have the tendency to fizzle out. That’s why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively forge and strengthen numerous neural pathways.
While a certain amount of mental decline is a normal process associated with aging, there are some factors that can hasten or quicken that decline. Hearing loss, for example, can introduce an especially formidable hazard for your mental health. When your hearing starts to decline, two things occur that really impact your brain:
- You hear less: 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 cases, for example, your brain starts to prioritize visual information; but that isn’t true for everyone). 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 people do when they suffer from hearing loss. As your hearing loss progresses, it may just seem simpler to stay inside to avoid conversation. But this is not a good idea as it can rob your brain of that needed stimulation.
These two factors, when put together, can cause your brain to change in significant ways. Loss of memory, trouble concentrating, and eventually an increased danger of dementia have been connected to this type of cognitive decline.
Is Mental Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So, this cognitive decline occurs because your hearing loss is being neglected. This means that the best way to treat those declines is fairly obvious: deal with your hearing impairment! Usually, this means new hearing aids.
The amount that hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both surprising and well-substantiated. 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 brought about an almost universal improvement. That tells us a couple of things:
- One of the principal 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!
- Finding ways to keep your auditory cortex active would be beneficial because stimulation is the key to mental health. As long as you continue to hear (with the assistance of hearing aids), this vital area of your brain will remain stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
This new research out of the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have untreated hearing loss, countless studies have demonstrated that wearing hearing aids can help decrease mental decline. The issue is that not everyone recognizes that they have hearing loss. You may not even notice the early signs. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a little spacier than normal, it might be worth talking with your hearing specialist.
You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. They keep your brain refreshed and pliable and give you better general cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you work out your brain and keep yourself cognitively fit.