A Prominent Psychiatrist on Psychological/Behavioral Hygiene for the Brain as We Age

The NYT Sunday edition for 10-26-15 published a commentary by Richard Friedman, MD, which provides an excellent update on research outcomes for “brain hygiene.” In the article, “Can You Get Smarter?”, Dr. Friedman disputes the idea that we can increase our intelligence with various brain training exercises, but he also reports on research that supports the actual (limited) benefits of brain training programs, and also reviews the (more substantial) brain benefits of exercise and an active social life in our later years.  He also reviews the (limited) benefits of antidepressant and stimulant medication for general brain health.

He concludes: “In the end, you can’t yet exceed your innate intelligence.  Buy that seems less important than the fact that there is much that you can do to reach your cognitive potential and keep it.  Forget the smart drugs and supplements; put on your shorts and go exercise.  If you are 60 and up, consider brain training.  And do it all with your friends.”

 mhconcierge’s take:  we should be asking our patients in the older age groups whether they are concerned about cognitive deterioration (in my experience, they are), and offer guidance of evidence-based activities they can do to improve their brain health.

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