Cognitive stimulation is based on the fact that our brain is not a rigid structure, but on the contrary, it is elastic and moldable.
Do cognitive activities cost you more than before? Are you less agile mentally, have memory loss or difficulty maintaining attention for an extended time?
Different muscles of our body can be worked through physical activity, physical exercise or sport. Well, the brain work is done by what we now know as cognitive stimulation.
The years do not pass in vain for our brains, since in the same way as our body, it grows old. Our brain structures are deteriorating, neuronal loss progresses, the production of neurotransmitters decreases …
All these actions are important variables that, of course, show their consequences in the general functioning of our mind.
However, we have good news. The human brain , like any other muscle in our anatomy , can be worked on , with the aim of enhancing its cognitive abilities.
If you read this article carefully you will learn what cognitive stimulation is, what its benefits are and how it can be worked.
What exactly is cognitive stimulation?
The term ” Plasticity of the nervous system ” refers to this potential that our brain has to modify, adapt and enhance its structures and functioning.
Thus, cognitive stimulation is the name given to techniques and strategies that seek to optimize the effectiveness of brain functioning through the different cognitive abilities that the human being possesses:
- Memory .
- Orientation Processes.
All these cognitive functions we perform and train human beings practically daily. When we read a book we work our language and memory, when we drive through an unknown street orientation, when we attend to our boss’s work instructions care, etc.
Now, do we do enough cognitive work throughout the day? Probably a person who is studying, reads frequently, or has a job that requires a lot of brain activity does.
However, it could be that we worked a lot of cognitive functions, but at the same time others were left aside … Well, this is exactly what cognitive stimulation aims at: to ensure an integral work of all our cognitive functions.
Who can benefit from cognitive stimulation?
The answer is simple. Cognitive stimulation can be applied to anyone, since, as you will surely agree with me, any of us can improve our mental abilities.
Cognitive stimulation has two main objectives:
Increase the development of mental abilities.
Improve and optimize the operation of these capabilities.
This type of intervention is usually seen in early intervention programs in childhood, training in attention or concentration in athletes, the enhancement of professional skills in different jobs, etc.
However, you do not need to be in any of these situations to work, since the performance you can get from cognitive stimulation is not specific to any vital area, because who will benefit will be your cognitive functions, it will be your brain, it will be you!
That is to say: when you perform cognitive work, you activate, stimulate and train different cognitive capacities and their components in a systematic way, with the aim of transforming them into a skill or dexterity.
However, after noting that cognitive stimulation is beneficial for any human being on the planet, we must outline its therapeutic role , which practically encompasses the function of this technique as a whole.
And it is that when we talk about the therapeutic role of cognitive stimulation, we are doing about cognitive impairment, cognitive deficit or dementia.
This leaves one thing clear: if you do not have any cognitive deficits, you can benefit from cognitive stimulation to improve your abilities and prolong the aging of the brain, but if you feel disaffected and already have any signs of deterioration, cognitive stimulation should become part of your life yes or yes !.
Today, cognitive stimulation is the first-choice treatment for cognitive impairment and the various types of dementia, of which the most common is Alzheimer’s.
These pathologies are now irreversible and incurable, but this does not mean that the evolution of the disease can not be slowed down.
This is where cognitive stimulation comes in, since it is beneficial to improve the skills when we do not have any pathology, it is also a lot to preserve those we still have when we have some cognitive deficit.
Thus, although there are currently some drugs for cognitive enhancement such as inhibitors of acetylcholinesterase ( tacrine, donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine), perform cognitive stimulation is estimated as necessary for the treatment of dementia and cognitive Deterior.
Benefits of cognitive stimulation
So let’s see what the benefits of cognitive stimulation are.
To do this we will divide the advantages into two distinct groups. On the one hand the advantages of cognitive stimulation for the individual without cognitive impairment, be it child, adolescent, adult or elderly, and on the other hand, the benefits for the individual who presents some type of cognitive deficit or dementia.
If you do not have any cognitive deficit, cognitive stimulation will be very useful for you:
Improve your neuronal plasticity : the human brain is elastic and moldable, so the more you stimulate it, the more plastic it will be and you will avoid brain stiffness.
Increase your brain functioning : if you stimulate your brain you will also increase the functioning of your neurotransmitters. Each cognitive function is performed by a brain region and a group of different neurotransmitters, so with each technique of psychostimulation you will benefit a specific part of your brain.
You will increase your potential : the more you work, the more skilled you will be. Each brain potential or skill can be worked and increased. The more you work the better skills you will have, the less you work the less skills you will have …
Prevent the progress of cognitive deficits : the human brain, just as the rest of the body grows older. If you work it and stimulate it you will keep it in a better shape.
If you have a cognitive deficit or dementia syndrome , cognitive stimulation will be essential for you:
Improve your neuronal plasticity : Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases severely affect the brain, rapidly increasing neuronal death. But that does not mean your brain stops being plastic. Although less, your brain still has plasticity. If you stimulate your brain you will have more, and as long as the disease destroys neurons, you can respond by creating some.
Maintain the cognitive functions you preserve : with cognitive impairment, functions gradually decrease. However, if you do cognitive stimulation you will be able to keep those functions that you are still capable of performing.
Delaying the evolution of the disease : most of the dementia syndromes progressively progress and are irreversible. However, if you do cognitive stimulation you will make it difficult for the disease, and your brain will stay functional for longer.
Improve your quality of life : The more cognitive stimulation you realize, the less you will deteriorate, the more you will preserve your cognitive abilities, you will preserve your functionality and your quality of life will benefit.
10 activities of cognitive stimulation
Having seen the benefits of cognitive stimulation, let’s see how it works, and what kind of exercises we can do.
To do this, I will propose 10 different exercises. These exercises often conform what are known as global psychostimulation programs .
This program contains:
- A reminiscence therapy.
- A therapy of orientation to reality.
- 8 exercises to work the different cognitive functions: attention, calculation, executive functions, language, memory, praxis, gnosis and orientation.
Depending on the level of functionality (or deterioration) of the person to whom the stimulation is applied, the exercises will be of greater or lesser difficulty.
As an example, the proposed exercises would be adapted to a person suffering from an initial or mild dementia syndrome.
Reality Counseling Therapy
It is a session between 30 and 60 minutes long, where you work in small groups of patients.
The sessions have a cognitive approach, usually beginning with the temporal orientation, spatial and following by the discussion of events, generally of the near environment of the patients.
As a working tool, the classic Guidance Board is used, which typically presents information such as the day, the date, the season, the name of the place and other additional information.
The goal of this therapy is to keep the patient in touch with reality, working simultaneously different cognitive skills such as attention , concentration , orientation or memory.
It is a process of narrative evocation of the contents of remote memory. It consists of telling stories remembered by the person.
Remote memory contains information stored throughout life and is retained in a more or less profiled way. Thus, although there is some type of deficit, this therapy allows to retain the memory in the long term and not to forget the most important aspects that have shaped the life of the patient.
Thus reminiscence is a way of reliving experiences and events of the past. With this technique, individuals reintegrate the past from the point of view of the present, allowing it to perform 3 different processes: remember, evaluate and synthesize.
A typical exercise to work the attention is the typical “soup of letters”. This exercise allows to work effectively the attentional processes as well as the concentration of the individual.
- Find and paint the vowels of the letter soup.
- Find and paint the letter soup numbers 6.
- Find and paint the alphabet soup numbers 2.
C calculi activity
One of the most typical and mostly used activities is mathematical operations. Depending on the level of operation and / or deterioration will be more or less complex.
Continue the numerical series:
- 4, 8, 12 …………………………………………….
- 22-28-34 ………………………………………… ..
- 28-26-24 ………………………………………… ..
Activity to improve executive functions
Executive functions allow us to schedule activities. Thus, a useful exercise is to plan activities of daily living.
Order the following sentences in a way that makes sense:
– Wait for the oil to warm up. 1- …………………………………
-Light the fire. 2- …………………………………
-Put oil in the pan. 3- …………………………………
-Put the egg in the pan. 4- ………………………………….
L Language Activity
The main symptom of language impairment is anomie. Anomia occurs when we find it hard to remember the name of things, a fact that interrupts our discourse and hinders expression.
An appropriate activity to stimulate this function would be the naming of quantities of objects by category. In this way, memory and language work simultaneously.
Write 8 names of:
- Political presidents.
Activity of m emoria
The memory can be worked according to its different modalities: Working memory, short-term memory, long-term memory, etc.
List by arrow the following meals with the Spanish region of which they are characteristic .
- Squid Sandwich Asturias
- Paella Community of Madrid
- Mojo Picón Galicia
- Fabada Canary Islands
- Pulpo Valencian Community
Activities for praxias
The p raxia is the ability that allows us to carry out purposeful movements. Therefore, an effective way to stimulate this cognitive function is to draw different objects such as:
Draw the following objects:
- A hand.
- A house.
- A fish.
- Cognitive stimulation: Gnosis
Gnosia is the ability that allows us to recognize previously known stimuli. An exercise to work this function is to be able to place different regions on a map.
Activity or Guidance
In order to work the orientation it is advisable to ask and / or to remind the person of the different aspects that allow him to maintain the spatial orientation (where he is, in which street, neighborhood, etc.) in person (as it is called, in which year he was born, call your children, etc.) and temporary (what day is today, month, week, etc.).
Also Read: Asthenia: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments
In short, taking care of our brains should be an obligation for any of us, and cognitive stimulation is a more than effective resource that allows us to increase our mental abilities.