Because of its simplicity, soduku is one of the world’s most popular puzzle games. All you need to play is a few grids, some numbers, and a pencil. A very enjoyable way to pass some hours, for many people, is a soduku puzzle book. It’s an additional perk that it’s good for your brain.
“Brain workouts” are becoming a popular means of fending off cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only method of delaying cognitive recession. Often, your brain requires a boost in mental activation and studies have demonstrated that hearing aids might be able to fill that role.
What is Mental Decline?
Your brain is a “use it or lose it” organ. Without stimulation, neural connections will fizzle. Your brain has to make and reinforce neural pathways, that’s the reason why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.
While a certain amount of mental decline is a normal process associated with aging, there are some things that can speed up or quicken that decline. Hearing loss, for instance, can provide an especially potent risk for your mental health. Two things occur that really affect your brain when your hearing starts to wain:
- You can’t hear as well: There’s not as much sound going in to activate your auditory cortex (the hearing center of the brain). This can cause alterations to your brain (in some cases, for instance, your brain starts to prioritize visual information; but that’s not true for everyone). These changes have been connected to an increased danger of cognitive decline.
- You go out less: Neglected hearing loss can cause some individuals to self-isolate in an unhealthy way. Staying in to avoid conversations might seem easier than going out and feeling self-conscious (particularly as your untreated hearing loss progresses). But this is a bad idea as it can deprive your brain of that necessary stimulation.
These two things, when combined, can cause your brain to change in major ways. Memory loss, problems concentrating, and eventually a higher risk of dementia have been connected to this sort of mental decline.
Is Mental Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?
So, this mental decline occurs because your hearing loss is being neglected. And it’s pretty clear what you need to do to reverse these declines: have your hearing impairment treated. For the majority of people with hearing loss, that means a brand new pair of well-calibrated hearing aids.
The amount that hearing aids can slow mental decline is both surprising and well-corroborated. Researchers at the University of Melbourne surveyed around 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some form of hearing loss. Over 97% of those adults who used their hearing aids for at least 18 months reported a stabilization or even reversal of that cognitive decline.
That’s a nearly universal improvement, simply from using hearing aids. We can learn a couple of things from this:
- Finding ways to activate your auditory cortex would be helpful because stimulation is the key to mental health. This area of your brain will continue to be vital and healthy as long as you continue to hear ( with assistance from hearing aids).
- Helping you stay social is one of the key functions of any set of hearing aids. And your brain stays more involved when you stay social. It’s easier (and more enjoyable) to hang with your friends when you can follow the conversation!
Doesn’t Mean Sudoku is a Bad Idea
The University of Melbourne research isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Numerous studies seem to back up the notion that hearing aids can help reduce mental decline, especially when that decline would be accelerated by neglected hearing loss. But many people have hearing loss and just don’t recognize it. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So if you’re feeling strained, forgetful, or even a little spacier than normal, it may be worth checking with your hearing specialist.
That hearing aids are so successful doesn’t automatically mean you should quit doing Sudoku or other brain games. They keep your brain fresh and pliable and give you stronger overall cognitive function. Both hearing aids and Sudoku can help you exercise your brain and keep yourself mentally fit.