For Mental Agility, This is More Efficient Than Brain Games

Image of someone with a hearing aid doing a brain game to improve cognitive ability.

Because of its simplicity, soduku is a globally popular puzzle game. A pencil, some numbers, and a few grids are all you need. A very enjoyable way to pass some time, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. It’s an added bonus that it strengthens your brain.

It’s becoming popular to use “brain workouts” to address cognitive decline. But there are other ways of delaying mental decline. Often, your brain requires a boost in mental activation and studies have revealed that hearing aids may be able to fill that role.

Cognitive Decline, What is it?

Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural connections will fizzle without proper stimulus. That’s why Sudoku has a tendency to keep you mentally active: it causes your brain to think, to creatively make and reinforce a plethora of neural pathways.

While some mental decline is a natural part of aging, there are some factors that can accelerate or exacerbate that decline. A particularly potent hazard for your cognitive health, as an example, is hearing loss. Two things happen that powerfully impact your brain when your hearing begins to wain:

  • You can’t hear as well: There’s not as much sound going in to stimulate your auditory cortex (the hearing focus of the brain). Your brain may end up changing in a way that makes it prioritize other senses like sight. These changes have been connected to a higher risk of mental decline.
  • You don’t go out as much: Untreated hearing loss can cause some individuals to self-isolate in a detrimental way. Staying home to steer clear of conversations may seem simpler than going out and feeling self-conscious (specifically as your neglected hearing loss worsens). This can rob your brain of even more input.

These two things, when combined, can cause your brain to change in significant ways. Memory loss, problems concentrating, and eventually an increased risk of dementia have been connected to this type of cognitive decline.

Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?

So if your hearing loss is overlooked, this kind of mental decline can be the consequence. And it’s pretty clear what you need to do to reverse these declines: have your hearing impairment treated. For most people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of properly-calibrated hearing aids.

The degree to which hearing aids can slow cognitive decline is both unexpected and well-corroborated. Scientists at the University of Melbourne interviewed around 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some kind of hearing loss. Over 97% of those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months revealed a stabilization or even reversal of that mental decline.

That’s an almost universal improvement, just from using hearing aids. That tells us a couple of things:

  • One of the principal functions of hearing aids is to keep you in your social circle. And the more social you are, the more involved your brain stays. It’s easier (and more fun) to hang with your friends when you can understand the conversation!
  • Finding ways to activate your auditory cortex would be helpful because stimulation is the key to mental well being. As long as you continue to hear (with the assistance of hearing aids), this major region of your brain will remain stimulated, active, and healthy.

Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea

The University of Melbourne research isn’t an outlier. If you have untreated hearing loss, many studies have demonstrated that wearing hearing aids can help decrease cognitive decline. The dilemma is that not everyone knows that they have hearing loss. You may not even recognize the early symptoms. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a bit spacier than normal, it might be worth talking with your hearing specialist.

That hearing aids are so effective doesn’t necessarily mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and involved in a number of different ways can help expand the total cognitive strength of your executive functions. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.