Some studies continue to demonstrate that mentally stimulating activities can help reduce and delay cognitive decline.



  • It may not be a new idea, but it is still worth considering how beneficial traditional puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku are for brain health? In this article, Emi Berry makes the following points:
  • UNSW Clinical neuropsychologist, Dr Nicole Kochan, said groups of people who engaged in complex mentally stimulating activities such as crosswords, learning a language, learning a new hobby, or even learning how to use new technology have a lower risk of dementia. 
  • Another study in which older adults who underwent intensive skills training such as using applications on an iPad or digital photography performed better on memory tests than control groups who did not receive the training. 
  • Research from the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (a longitudinal ageing study) has shown that people who engage in higher levels of complex mental activity such as doing puzzles, engaging in art and using the internet, were less likely to have mild cognitive impairment—a risk factor for future dementia. 
  • The benefits to the brain are thought to be because:
  • Stimulating cognitive activities build a ‘cognitive reserve’ over a lifetime that can help withstand brain changes associated with the ageing process. 
  • Brain exercises buffer pathological brain changes associated with age-related neurocognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, and can potentially reduce or delay cognitive decline.
  • Dr Kochan says there is currently no consistent evidence that any particular activity is better than another, so people should try new things and do mentally challenging exercises that they enjoy doing.