The theory of brain plasticity is relatively simple: the brain is actually flexible and has a learning capacity at any age. It can be repaired after injury. It can stave off the effects of age associated cognitive decline. Brain function can be manipulated and improved with the right techniques. Unfortunately most of don’t put our mind to it.
Michael Merzinich an internationally renowned neuroscientist and professor emeritus at the University of California in his book Soft Wired says “Bad brain habits can limit our potential and even lead to health and psychological problems. That is where brain training comes in. Not too many years ago, the average citizen was ignorant about the relationship between physical exercise and health. Now nearly everyone understands that physical health is an important aspect of personal responsibility and overall health and vitality.”
If we exercise regularly we can improve our level of physical condition and fitness. By putting demands on our musculoskeletal and cardiovascular system, the response is improved efficiency, strength and condition. A comparison can be made to our brain. By putting demands on our brain, for example in form of learning, recall, positive thinking, control of negative thoughts, we can improve cognitive function.
Todd Sampson, producer of the ABC series “Redesign your Brain”, believes stress, fear and a lack of mindfulness prevent people reaching their potential. Brain training deals with all those factors, improving whatever needs improving. (The Australian, Friday Nov 8th)
Something similar happens with the brain. We can change the way we think, improve our memory recall or change our attitudes by specific ‘training exercises’ or activities. Bad brain habits can limit our potential and even lead to health and psychological problems. This can be helped by ‘Brain Training’.
Brain Training Tips (from Michael Merzenich):
- Practice skills of active listening eg in conversation.
- Walk, taking in the details of the local landscape/neighbourhood and commit them to memory.
- If you play a sport try and get better at it. Try and keep score.
- When you play a card game(or operate in a social setting) where there are a lot of cards (or people) to remember, work at developing strategies for tracking and remembering the details of all the actions and actors that are performing on your own human stage. Try and remember everyone’s names.
- Practice habits of mindfulness in which you see, hear and feel the details of your world.
Activities such as these can help you grow and retain your brain power.
knowledge … self-management … prevention