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Trivial Pursuits?

Posted 8/22/2017 by UHBlog

If you need ideas on how to stave off mental decline, talk to us.

Trivial Pursuits?

In order to remain strong, the brain – much like a muscle – needs exercise. But you don’t need to head to the gym to give your brain a workout.

Instead, consider heading to your local bar or restaurant for a trivia night, says neurologist Karla Madalin, MD.

“Trivia is great,” Dr. Madalin says. “It gives people rewards for knowing the answer and keeps their brain working.”

Plus, there's some evidence that participating in these sorts of mental games can stave off or delay dementia.

“It creates more connections in the nervous system, which can be one factor in delaying dementia,” she says.

Dr. Madalin offers three additional reasons – besides being fun – that you should brush up on your trivia skills:

  1. It's a rush. Trivia brings the same endorphin rush of other high-stakes games, but without the physical risks.
    Competition can be healthy. It raises the heart rate and keeps you energized, Dr. Madalin says. And when you correctly answer an obscure question, your brain floods with the same feel-good chemicals that come from gambling or winning a sports game.
    “If someone’s a couch potato, that is not very challenging for their brain,” she says. “One of the keys to aging well is having your brain challenged. Trivia is great for that.”
  2. It has great social benefits. Your social health correlates directly to your physical health. Interacting with others can be just as beneficial as exercise in lifting your mood.
    “Being social is part of what makes us human,” Dr. Madalin says.
    Yet, a recent University of California, San Francisco study showed that 43 percent of seniors reported feeling lonely on a regular basis. According to Dr. Madalin, group trivia nights are an easy, fun way to both connect and feel connected to the outside world.
    “Socializing with other people can prevent isolation and depression, something I see a lot of with my dementia patients,” Dr. Madalin says.
  3. It may slow mental decline. To answer trivia questions correctly, you need to draw from the part of your brain that stores memory. Decline in that particular brain section – the frontal cortex – is often what leads to dementia and other memory disorders. So tapping into – and utilizing – that part of the brain on a regular basis is a good way to keep mental decline at bay.
    “It keeps your brain active,” Dr. Madalin says.

Karla Madalin, MD, is a neurologist at University Hospitals Bedford Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Madalin or any other doctor online.

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