There’s a lot you can do to engage the brain’s machinery in ways that help keep it healthy as an organ.
The brain’s plasticity—it’s ability to change not just functionally, but physically and chemically too—is most heavily engaged by activities that are intensive, repetitive and progressively changing. Those that emphasize refining the speed and accuracy of the brain’s sensory systems are most apt to help with other activities in daily life.
Look for activities that are attentionally demanding, inherently rewarding and continuously involve new elements to master. Those types of activities engage brain chemistry that’s benefitial for learning, remembering and mood—by stimulating the production of acetylcholine (when paying attention), norepinephrine (when encountering something new), and dopamine (when feeling rewarded).
Here’ are some of our favorite brain healthy activities and why each makes the list.