Get in on the act
Learning lines for a production or an acting class engages the hippocampus, the temporal cortex and the frontal lobe, says Dr. Kosik. In one study, those who went to acting classes twice a week for four weeks boosted their ability to remember words, numbers and short stories. A follow-up study found they improved word fluency by 12 percent and word recall by 19 percent.
Draw out your neural connections
When you draw, paint or sculpt, you have to make spatial calculations and focus attention on details, Dr. Kosik says. Engaging in these activities (even doodling has health benefits!) helps protect octogenarians from mild cognitive impairment, according to a 2015 Mayo Clinic study. Also, 60- and 70-year-old art-class participants boosted scores on psychological resilience tests; MRI images showed their synapses had formed new connections.
MIND your eating habits
Research from Rush University found that combining the Mediterranean diet and the heart-healthy DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is good for your brain. Adhering to the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), as it’s called, was found to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s up to 50 percent. “The food you eat provides the fuel for your brain, and the MIND diet produces the best kind of fuel,” Dr. Chapman says. “It includes such things as whole grains, leafy green vegetables, nuts, fish, berries, olive oil, beans, as well as limited amounts of cheese, wine and dark chocolate.”