If you wish to improve your thinking ability and improve brain function then one of the most successful and enjoyable methods is to learn to speak a new language. There have been extensive studies that confirm that learning a new skill can improve brain function. The author has proven this theory for himself by learning to speak Spanish. Spanish is the fourth most spoken language in the World. Therefore, it should be the fourth most useful language to learn.
I suffer from Multiple Sclerosis and one of the many symptoms of this disease is frequent and persistent brain fog. Since beginning my Spanish language lessons, my brain fog is most remarkably reduced.
Furthermore, it has proved very useful to the learning process to write in detail about the learning that has been undertaken.
Improve Brain Function with Spanish
Spanish has been chosen as the means by which the author will improve brain function. As he harbours a desire to retire to the sunny climes of Spain.
This has not been my first foray into writing about learning languages as a mental health improving function. The previous attempt was very good at furthering the understanding of the finer nuances of the language.
My hope is that by publishing these language exercises I may help a fellow student on their way to becoming fluent. Furthermore, my brain fog may continue to retreat.
How to slow your mental decline
There is no reason for the human brain to slow or experience a mental slow-down simply by growing old.
Some of us think of the brain as a muscle that needs exercise. This is a mistaken assumption. The brain is not a muscle, it is an organ and a very vital organ. But, it does respond to exercise. The more you stretch yourself mentally, the better your brain becomes at problem solving and multitasking.
Your brain controls EVERY function of your body. Without a brain you cannot live, you would not exist. Your brain is YOU! That fantastic body and that beautiful face are just icing on the cake. Your brain determines your personality and your character.
But, I was talking about learning a new language!
Learning a new language can bring extraordinary mental health benefits. It will reduce the occurrence of brain fog and those senior moments we all have. Improve your multitasking abilities and reduce the associated anxiety.
Studies have shown that people who can speak two or more languages are far less likely to experience cognitive decline or early stages of dementia.
How can learning a new language prevent dementia?
There are a number of recognized ways you can help to reduce your risk of developing dementia.
- Being physically active
- improve your diet
- Stop smoking
- Drink less alcohol
- Exercise your mind
One of the things that have muddied the waters of my understanding is the apparent conflict of opinion in the medical world. You may think, as I did for many years, that the normal adult human only uses around 10% of their brain capacity. This is a myth and is debunked by Medical News Today.
I am also of the opinion that we all have something called “neural reserve”. This, perversely, feeds into the 10% myth. The brain of a baby has millions of neural pathways. However, as the baby grows from infancy into childhood and then on to adulthood. Many of these neural pathways are lost because they were never used.
Hence the old adage, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
I began to become very concerned with my own mental health when I read about brain atrophy in multiple sclerosis. However, before I explore the brain shrinkage topic further, I intend, in my best Ronnie Corbett voice, to digress.
When I first became aware of the fact that I was likely to have MS. I was, like many people, completely unaware of what this disease might mean for my future. I was aware that MS was a neurological disorder but, I thought that affected nerves and was likely to impact my mobility. Which it is and does! But, it is much more than that. It affects the nerves in your brain and spine.
The inflammation of the nerves in the brain can damage the protective sheath or myelin around the nerves. If this inflammation persists, the nerves can be damaged, preventing normal neural communication. This gives rise to brain fog and impaired thought processes.
So, I had been as happy as one can be faced with a disability. I might lose my ability to walk but, I would retain my intelligence.
I was wrong! Brain atrophy or brain shrinkage is going to have a real impact on my cognitive prowess. A recent MRI scan confirmed that brain atrophy had indeed occurred.
Now the first article I found that referenced brain atrophy concerned primary progressive MS. I have secondary progressive MS and brain shrinkage has certainly limited my thinking.
Sometimes, a piece of news can be devastating. When I learned that I had Multiple Sclerosis, I accepted this without a qualm. I clearly did not appreciate the gravity of the diagnosis.
But, when I realised that my brain might be shrinking, I was horrified. I felt sick to my stomach for several days.
Furthermore, it is probable that I was allowing childhood preconceptions to influence my mood. I still had this very unfair notion that mental illness was a bad thing. This was irrefutable evidence that I was suffering from a mental illness. This confirmed, for me, that multiple sclerosis is a mental illness.
My reaction was not to accept this as an inevitable situation. I was going to fight back. I was going to beat the MonSter. But how?
Hopefully, you remember the dementia prevention list, I included earlier. Of the 5 points, I have taken heed of all but the physical activity one. My walking is very frail, so I am unable to take too much action on this point.
I stopped smoking, I drink very little alcohol, I adopted The Wahls Protocol with much fervour and I am learning to speak Spanish and brush up on my French and German and keep my mind active at all times.
Of all the things \i have done to mitigate the effects of Multiple Sclerosis my most notable action has been to learn to speak Spanish. With each day of language lessons, I could feel my clarity of thought improving.
Fue un triunfo rotundo (It was a resounding triumph).
If you can learn any new skill, you will be forcing your brain to make new neural connections. This will improve your clarity of thinking and your problem-solving abilities.
Your new skill does not need to be the ability to converse fluently with the locals in Benidorm. Your skill could be:
- Take up Chess
- Join an exercise class
- Learn a lamguage
- Read a literary classic
One of my friends has PPMS (Primary Progressive MS) and his speech is badly impaired, So, he has decided to learn sign language to help both his communication skill and his mental faculties.