Playing the brain game


By Neil Offen

It’s not just our bodies that can get out of shape, our brains can get flabby, too. Sometimes the cerebral cortex even starts sagging so much it can barely do two push ups.

And the brain flabbiness can get worse as we get older, which is particularly upsetting because many of us had been certain that even in our sixties and seventies we could retain the razor-sharp mental qualities we had back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Of course, it’s possible that may have been because our mental qualities were tie-dyed and pretty much zonked all the time during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

This kind of worry is natural as we age, just like not understanding what EDM is and then finding out it’s electronic dance music and then still not knowing what it is. So, the question is, how can we compensate for our out-of-shape brains? How can we get them back in shape?

There are some easy ways, like putting Post-it notes on the refrigerator door to remind us to not put the tea kettle inside the refrigerator. Or we can also create mnemonic devices to help us spell the word mnemonic.

But let’s face it, none of these simple strategies completely works and that can be a tough pill to swallow, particularly if we’re already taking a boatload of vitamin supplements and that thyroid medication.

What we need instead are activities designed to truly stretch the hippocampus, bulk up the parietal lobe and exercise the cerebellum so it starts to pant heavily and just wants to lay down on the couch and rest. We want strategies, that is, that will increase our brains’ neuroplasticity so that we will know what neuroplasticity is.

For instance, you could try to learn a foreign language. This will not only keep your brain sharp, but you will be able to communicate more effectively while traveling with people who use money that looks like it belongs in a Monopoly game. Just make sure you don’t try to learn French where you have to smoke a Gauloise while complaining about raising the retirement age all the way to 64.

Or you could take up a new hobby, stretching your medulla until it snaps and hits you flush in the corpus callosum. Sled-dog mushing would be a good choice, unless you’re the sled dog.

You could, also, regularly play a word game like Wordle although if you tell us every day how well you did on Wordle we would have to smack you with a girdle.

Maybe do a crossw_rd pu_z_le, but only if you do it in pen so you can’t erase the wrong answer to 53 down. (By the way, 38 across, the three-letter word for the original name for Tokyo, is Edo. Yes, I’ve been working out.)

Or you could try testing yourself with riddles. For instance, figure out this one: Carol’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name? And remember, you can’t ask Carol for help. 

After a couple of months of these brain exercises, you will be able to easily remember where you left your glasses. Unless, of course, you don’t wear glasses.

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

Share This Article

Scroll down to make a comment.

Be the first to comment on "Playing the brain game"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.