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Because it’s simple, soduku is one of the world’s most popular puzzle games. Some numbers, a pencil, and a few grids are all you need. A very relaxing way to pass some time, for many, is a soduku puzzle book. That it’s a workout for your brain is an added perk.

“Brain workouts” are becoming a popular way of addressing cognitive decline. But Sudoku isn’t the only way to delay cognitive recession. Recent studies have demonstrated that hearing aids may be able to provide your brain with a little boost in mental activation, slowing down the progression of mental decline.

Cognitive Decline, What is it?

Your brain has a truly use-it-or-lose-it temperament. Neural pathways will fizzle without appropriate stimulation. Your brain needs to forge and reinforce neural pathways, that’s why Sudoku works, it keeps you mentally active.

There are certain things that will hasten the process that would be a normal amount of mental decline associated with getting older. Hearing loss, for example, can provide an especially potent hazard for your cognitive health. Two things take place that powerfully impact your brain when your hearing begins to wain:

  • You hear less: With less sound input, your auditory cortex (the part of your brain that deals with all things hearing-related) gets reduced stimulation. This can cause alterations to your brain (in some cases, for example, your brain starts to prioritize visual stimuli; but that isn’t true for everyone). These changes have been connected to an increased danger of cognitive decline.
  • You go out less: Self isolation is a very detrimental behavior, but that’s exactly what some individuals do when they have hearing loss. As your hearing loss increases, it might just seem simpler to stay home to avoid conversation. But this is a bad idea as it can rob your brain of that necessary stimulation.

Combined, these two factors can cause a significant change in your brain. This mental decline has commonly been linked to memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and (over time) higher risk of mental disorders such as dementia.

Is Cognitive Decline Reversable With Hearing Aids?

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

The amount that hearing aids can slow mental decline is both unexpected and well-corroborated. Scientists at the University of Melbourne surveyed around 100 adults between the ages of 62-82, all of whom had some kind of hearing loss. 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 wearing hearing aids brought about a nearly universal improvement. We can learn a couple of things from this:

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

Sudoko is Still a Smart Idea

This new study from the University of Melbourne isn’t the only one of it’s kind. Study after study seems to back the notion that hearing aids can help slow mental decline, specifically when that decline would be accelerated by untreated hearing loss. The problem is that not everyone knows that they have hearing loss. The symptoms can sneak up on you. So if you’re feeling forgetful, strained, or even a bit spacier than normal, it might be worth checking with your hearing specialist.

You should still keep doing Sudoko and other brain games. Keeping your brain nimble and involved in a number of different ways can help broaden the overall cognitive strength of your executive functions. Exercising and staying cognitively fit can be helped by both hearing aids and brain games.

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