Ian Bennett Alas highlights Nicholas Spitzer's interview with The Economist in his latest post about how to protect your brain.
[L]et me dispel a brain development myth. Many people think classical music is going to enhance brain function (the Mozart effect) or playing particular games sharpens ones cognitive function. These theories have been looked at in detail and they don’t stand up. It is disappointing in a way, but what we have learned is that exercise is the key thing for brain function.
Doing crosswords isn’t good for your brain?
It is good for improving your crossword skills but does it lead on to other kinds of advanced cognitive function? No. There is no translation of the crossword skills to other skill categories. That shouldn’t discourage anyone, they are a lot of fun, but a vigorous hike will do more for your cognitive function.
What about playing an instrument? Don’t you have to use right and left brain for a stringed instrument?
Yes. That has clear cognitive functions that do crossover. Especially learning to play and read the music at the same time. But exercise is number one, diet number two and then social interaction. These are the important things for brain function.
What do you do to protect your brain?
I’m a rock climber and an ice climber. I go to the Sierra Nevada mountains, anywhere above 10,000 feet I’m a happy guy. At home I go to the gym.