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 enjoyable way to pass some time, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it’s a workout for your brain is an additional perk.
“Brain workouts” are becoming a popular means of fending off cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. Recent studies have shown that hearing aids might be capable of providing your brain with a little boost in mental stimulation, slowing down the progression of mental decline.
What is Cognitive Decline?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Neural connections will fizzle out without appropriate stimulation. Your brain needs to create and reinforce neural pathways, that’s why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
While a certain amount of mental decline is a natural part of aging, there are some factors that can hasten or worsen that decline. Hearing loss, for example, can introduce a particularly potent danger for your cognitive health. Two things take place that powerfully affect your brain when your hearing starts to wain:
- You hear less: There is less sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some circumstances, for example, your brain starts to prioritize visual information; but that isn’t true for everyone). These changes have been linked to a higher risk of cognitive decline.
- You don’t go out as much: Untreated hearing loss can cause some people to self-isolate in a detrimental way. Staying in to steer clear of conversations might seem simpler than going out and feeling self-conscious (particularly as your neglected hearing loss progresses). This can rob your brain of even more stimulation.
These two things, when combined, can cause your brain to change in significant ways. This cognitive decline has frequently been connected to loss of memory, problems concentrating, and (over time) greater danger of mental illness like dementia.
Can Hearing Aids Reverse Declines?
So if your hearing loss is overlooked, this kind of cognitive decline can be the consequence. And it’s pretty clear what you need to do to reverse these declines: get your hearing loss treated. For most people with hearing loss, that means a shiny new pair of properly-calibrated hearing aids.
It’s well substantiated and also unexpected the degree that hearing aids can delay mental decline. Around 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 revealed a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.
That’s an almost universal improvement, just from wearing hearing aids. We can learn a couple of things from this:
- One of the main functions of hearing aids is to help you stay social. And your brain remains more engaged when you are social. When you can understand conversations it’s a lot more enjoyable to talk with your friends.
- Stimulation is critical to your mental health, so that means anything that helps your auditory cortex stay active when it otherwise wouldn’t be, is probably beneficial. As long as you keep hearing (with the assistance of hearing aids), this essential area of your brain will continue to be stimulated, dynamic, and healthy.
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
This new research from the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. If you have neglected hearing loss, many studies have revealed that using hearing aids can help decrease mental decline. The issue is that not everyone knows that they have hearing loss. The symptoms can take you by surprise. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a bit spacier than usual, it might be worth checking with your hearing specialist.
You should still continue doing Sudoko and other brain games. Keeping your brain agile and involved in a number of different ways can help expand the total cognitive strength of your executive functions. Exercising and keeping mentally fit can be assisted by both hearing aids and brain games.