"Mental exercise improves the brain the way physical exercise improves the body."

Gary Small, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, is the Director of the UCLA Center on Aging and is one of the world's leading physician/scientists in the fields of memory and longevity. He has developed breakthrough brain-imaging technology that allows physicians to detect brain aging and detect early signs of Alzheimer years before patients show symptoms. www.aging.ucla.edu/staff.html Dr. Small calls his program “mental aerobics". "It's a little like going to the gym and working out your muscles," said Small. "You can lift bigger weights with less energy. Your brain can do the same thing. You can perform better on memory tests, and you can use less brain energy to do that." "People need to realize that Alzheimer's disease is not an inevitable consequence of aging" said Small. "There's a lot we can do to improve our memory very quickly, to improve our brain health." "We're convinced," says Small, "that it is going to be much easier to protect a healthy brain rather than try to repair a brain once damage has set in."
abcnews.go.com/WNT/Health/story?id=1054841&page=1 and

The subjects of the American Medical Association study were American senior citizens undergoing cognitive skills therapy, but Dr. Gibson asserts that analyses performed on children seeking the same type of therapy at LearningRx brain training centers indicate the same results; brain function can improve with appropriate brain training. "Weak cognitive skills are the cause of 80% of learning problems. They include the skills we all need to read and learn - working and long-term memory, auditory and visual processing and attention skills, among others."

Chess is a mental exercise that strengthens memory and could prevent mental diseases - it is well known that prevention costs much less than development of a cure. “The study of people in their 70s found that those who regularly participated in intellectually challenging hobbies during their younger adult years tended to be more protected against Alzheimer's. A healthy, stimulated mind will help delay the onset of the degenerative brain condition.” Chess is a better “work out” for the human brain than other mental activities like reading, puzzles and backgammon because of the greater number of challenges one needs to solve in a unit of time. As a result, chess has a much greater effect on a person’s memory and overall mental abilities.