Whether it's becoming a Sudoku champion or remembering the name of someone you just met, everyone probably wishes they could muster up a little extra brain power. There are no quick fixes when it comes to improving (or preventing the decline of) cognitive functions like memory, info processing, or critical thinking, but there are some very basic steps you can take to keep your brain as healthy as possible.
"A lot of things that should be recommended for reducing dementia are actually just common sense and work for general health too," says Dr. Joe Verghese, professor of neurology and medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "The challenge is getting people to do it." Eating right, exercising, and staying mentally active top the list of brain-health boosters, but they aren't the only options.
While many studies have found an association between social support and better cognitive functioning, it's hard to tell which one causes the other. A 2008 study that looks at retired people found that memory among people who were least socially integrated declined twice as much as in people who were most socially integrated. Researchers have suggested that socializing may help our minds because it encourages people to take better care of themselves, reduces stress, and releases beneficial neurohormones, stemming from the emotions usually caused by being with loved ones.
Credit: Getty Images