The term “brain age” has been in the media a lot over the past few years. With the rollout of brain health apps like Luminosity and others, it really began to pick up steam. With that, you may be wondering what, exactly, “brain age” means, why it may be important to you, and what you may be able to do to help protect it.
The term brain age can be more or less understood to be equivalent to general intelligence, or the ability for someone to learn and process information. Indeed, brain age is just a loose term that is intended to describe how well our brains are functioning relative to our physical age. You can think of it like your performance on any of the standardized aptitude tests that you likely took in school.
While the idea of standardized tests may give you shivers, the good news is that, when it comes to brain age, you don’t have anything to worry about. Our brains have many peaks during our lives, ranging from our detailed memory, which typically peaks at about age 18, to our vocabulary, which typically peaks at age 67. This means that our brains are constantly evolving, as we learn new skills and have new experiences.
There are numerous apps and websites that claim to be able to calculate one’s brain age. The aforementioned Luminosity was one of the first on the market and is still considered to be among the best. You should be aware, though, that so-called “brain age” calculations by these types of applications are not the same as getting a full cognitive test from a medical professional.
It is also important to note that there is no particular reason that you would need to calculate your brain age. If you do have concern about your or a loved one’s cognitive function, you should seek out the counsel of a medical professional. Otherwise, your brain age isn’t something with which you need to be overly concerned.
Much more important than knowing what some application or website thinks about your brain age is knowing how to keep your brain as healthy and strong as possible, and this is where science really begins to shine.
There is a considerable amount known about how to keep one’s brain functioning as well as possible. The first, best advice is to do what you probably already know is generally good for you:
If you’re thinking that that sounds a bit too easy, it is because it is! The simplest advice turns out to be the best advice for our brains. So, if you’re interested in optimizing your brain age and keeping yourself feeling mentally sharp, you need look no further than prevention which, when it comes to brain health, really is the best medicine.