Q. Aside from physical exercise and socializing, which you mentioned in your article, are there other things a person can do to increase his or her brain plasticity? Do “brain games” have any effect?
Answer By: Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D.
Alfred E. Mirsky Professor
Head, Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology
The Rockefeller University
Besides regular physical activity and a supportive social network, it’s also important to get adequate sleep and maintain a sensible diet. So-called “brain games” appear to be gaining some credibility, although the jury is still out. Probably the most important factor is “eudamonic well being”––that is, doing things that have meaning and purpose, including doing things that benefit other people
such as volunteer activities like the Executive Volunteer Corps or the Experience Corps. Expanding one’s mind by reading and engaging in enjoyable hobbies also provide
relaxation and diversion. Studies now show that this is protective against dementia and has positive effects on physiology and brain function.