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Introduction: In our quest to understand the factors influencing brain health and cognitive decline, we explore a fascinating discussion on whether retirement could lead to mental deterioration. Join us as we dive into the insights provided by a metabolic scientist and unravel the importance of cognitive stimulus in maintaining a sharp mind.

Understanding Cognitive Stimulus and Its Impact on the Brain: According to the expert, cognitive stimulus plays a vital role in preserving brain function. Research reveals that when we lose a cognitive input, such as hearing or sight, the risk of cognitive decline and dementia increases. However, the good news is that these risks can be reversed when the stimulus is reintroduced, such as through hearing aids or cataract surgery.

The Role of Work and Retirement in Cognitive Decline: Work, for many individuals, serves as a significant source of cognitive stimulus. Therefore, when someone retires, they may experience a rapid period of cognitive decline, as the primary source of mental stimulation diminishes. The transition from an intellectually engaging work environment to a more leisure-focused lifestyle can have implications for brain health.

Exploring Stimulating Physical Activities: Physical activity, particularly when it involves a cognitive component, has shown to be highly beneficial for the brain. Engaging in activities like ball sports, dancing, or other open skill sports can stimulate cognitive function and contribute to brain health. The researcher points out that dancing, with its focus on coordination and motor balance, may be especially advantageous for brain preservation. The Protective Power of Education and Language Learning: Research indicates that education and language learning act as protective factors against long-term cognitive decline. People with more years of education and those who speak multiple languages tend to experience greater cognitive stimulus, helping to keep their brains more resilient as they age.

The Bottom Line: Stay Stimulated and Never Stop Learning: The evidence strongly suggests that stimulating the brain through various activities is crucial for protecting cognitive function. The metabolic scientist emphasizes the significance of continuous learning, whether through work, language acquisition, musical instruments, or physical activities like dancing. Retirement, in this context, may not be a cause of mental decline per se, but rather the reduction in cognitive stimulus that accompanies it. Conclusion: As we conclude our exploration, it becomes clear that maintaining brain health is within our control. By actively seeking out cognitive stimuli, staying engaged in work or learning new skills, we can better protect our brains from decline. The key takeaway is to embrace continuous learning, keep our minds active, and approach retirement with a mindful balance between relaxation and cognitive engagement. After all, nurturing our brains is an investment in a healthier and more fulfilling life as we age.

In this episode, you'll discover:

  • Cognitive Stimulus and Brain Health: Cognitive stimulus plays a crucial role in preserving brain function and reducing the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Reintroducing cognitive inputs, like through hearing aids or cataract surgery, can reverse these risks.
  • Impact of Work and Retirement on Brain Health: Work provides significant cognitive stimulus, so retirement can lead to a rapid period of cognitive decline as the primary source of mental stimulation diminishes. The transition to a leisure-focused lifestyle can affect brain health.
  • Protective Factors for Cognitive Decline: Education and language learning act as protective factors against long-term cognitive decline, providing greater cognitive stimulus and resilience as people age. Continuous learning through various activities is essential for protecting cognitive function throughout life.

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Tommy Woods

In humans, we know things like if you lose, um, lose an input, a cognitive stimulus, you see increased cognitive decline. So if you lose your hearing, you have a faster cognitive decline, you're more likely to get dementia. If you lose sight, again, the same thing. Importantly, those things are reversible. So if you then get cataract surgery, or you get a hearing aid, that Risk is reversed.

So you decrease the stimulus to the brain, increased risk of cognitive decline, but you can reverse that if you add that stimulus back. Um, there are multiple population studies that show as soon as you retire, that's the fastest period of cognitive decline because our, like you said, our main cognitive stimulus comes through work.

we can talk about other things like different types of. physical activity. So we know that physical activity is beneficial for the brain. This seems to be more protective if it has some kind of stimulating cognitive component. So if you're playing a ball sport, right, you're having to react.

We call that like an open skill sport. Uh, dancing is, is better than some kind of circuit training that Has the same amount of physical stimulus, but doesn't have that same kind of coordinative motor balance, um, uh, component. So, uh, we know that languages, uh, are protective, you know, learning and speaking multiple languages, again, that's, that's greater cognitive stimulus.

We know that people who have, um, greater or more years of education, even though that's confounded by socioeconomic status, more education is protective against long term cognitive decline, again, cognitive stimulus. Those people who play musical instruments, they have younger-looking brains because again, it's a cognitive stimulus.

So, all the evidence lines up in my mind to say that the most important thing for protecting your brain long term is to stimulate it. Um, in those various ways. So the best takeaway from here is like never retire. Just keep on working. And learn a musical instrument or learn a language or learn a skill.

All super important.

Dr. Latt Mansor

And it's, super interesting because like, my family always make fun of me because, You would understand this, because we spent so much time in school and education student that we didn't get into the workforce until I was like 30 and they're like well you ain't retiring anytime soon because you've got to provide for to the family now um, so I won't be retiring anytime soon but I, did you know I took up ballroom and Latin dancing back at Oxford?

Tommy Woods

I didn't, but that's amazing. Like dance, like if you look at all the potential things that you can do to like improve brain function or protect cognitive function, dancing is the best one.


Dr. Latt Mansor

Wow. What about the knees though? You know, you get to a certain age, you gotta look after the knees.


Tommy Woods

Oh God. I'm confident that with a well-structured Training program, your knees will be just fine. Right, right.


Dr. Latt Mansor

I did try to pick it up again here in San Francisco, but I just didn't have the time. So I might have to pick it up again, you know, from this conversation. And I did learn multiple languages because I had to learn multiple languages growing up.


My mom spoke to us in Cantonese. My dad spoke to us in Malay and they both speak English to each other. And then I learned Spanish, uh, and Thai, um, and, and, like, after high school, I learned Thai, and then in university, I learned Spanish as well.

Tommy Woods

So... So you're in pretty good shape,


Dr. Latt Mansor

For now.

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