The UK faces a brain training gap as so few people bother to exercise their minds, according to research by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).
It found that 62% of respondents believe that watching television stimulates their brain, while 32% of those surveyed said they did nothing to stimulate their minds.
Some 55% of those polled agreed that they needed to train the brain more than the body, but were more likely to spend money on keep-fit activities than exercising the mind.
However, 30% of respondents said they felt their brains had deteriorated in the past two years, while 57% thought their minds had declined in the past five years.
“The results show that people do not recognise the need to train the brain through life,” said LSC spokesman Ray Dowd, who is championing the cause of brain training. “There is a lack of awareness of the benefits of structured learning, which is one of the best ways to ensure the brain remains challenged and stimulated at any age.”
Professor Ian Robertson, professor of psychology at Trinity College Dublin, agreed. “Exercising your brain is essential if you want to stop it from slowly deteriorating. Our brains need to be stimulated and challenged through ongoing learning in the same way as our bodies need to be kept fit. This will see off the ravages of time that contribute to the decline of cognitive power.”
Although 88% of respondents read books and 84% regularly did crosswords or puzzles, only 17% were studying in their own time. The research was based on responses from 1,555 UK adults and was conducted at the end of August.