Training the Brain right way
“Smartest brains”, which reports on the latest research and discoveries of neuroscience and how we can apply them to our daily lives to enhance our brain power at any age, airs on PBS stations across the country in August. (Check local listings.) Michael Merzenich, Ph.D., is one of the neurologists who appear in the special.
If you are old enough, you might remember a time, maybe back in his childhood, when someone measure your intelligence and assigns a number to it. I suspect it has either been proud of that “IQ” or maybe a little upset about it, from that day to this. The general belief at the time was that intelligence was a genetic endowment, along with the color of the eyes or a propensity for baldness.
We now know that this is not true. Your brain – every brain – is a work in progress. It is “plastic”. From the day we are born until the day we die, which continually reviews and remodeling, improving or declining slowly as a function of how we use it. If a brain is properly exercised, anyone can grow intelligence, at any age, and potentially by many. Or you can let your brain inactivity – and see that slowly, inexorably, go to seed as a sedentary body.
Most older brains, incidentally, are neglected. Therefore, they are slower and less accurate, and to check useful information and control the actions of their owners a poor job. The common belief, not many years ago was that older people were stuck with these powers in decline. Again, we now know that this is not true. Your brain can be better, stronger, smarter and safer from now.
As we do, every day
The key is to get “brain exercise” in the right way. We know we can sustain or even rejuvenate the brain precision, reliability and problem solving. Most people in middle age and beyond can regain the brain power and the adaptive intelligence of those 10, 20 or 30 years younger. As a scientist who has studied the plasticity of the brain and produced based on neuroplasticity to help people overcome neurological diseases, tools often ask me how we can incorporate science in our daily lives and what activities must be done to grow the power of brain.
My wife, Diane, and I have adjusted our own lives based on our knowledge of how it impacts brain health lifestyle, so they can have living brains that last as long as our physical bodies. what do we do?
First, we both spent time in an Internet “brain gymnastics”. AARP and BrainHQ both programs provide scientifically proven to grow or recover the power of the brain affected with age. Most days, they spend 20 to 30 minutes at these exercises on your computer or iPad, because I know this is by far the most efficient way to keep my neurological health. As with the exercise in a gym, I can work on your computer to improve specific skills that have difficulties to participate as effectively through my daily activities.
Also I start every morning with a brisk 30 to 60 minute walk. It helps to get physical and neurological benefits of walking, but in the process, also a high intensity my brain through reconstruction in great detail, in my mind and memory, the fascinating landscape where I live. Pay attention during these walks and along my day, to the feelings of my movements and actions. My mantra: Brainless exercise is a missed opportunity for improvement.
As I walk, I try to capture the wonders that come from observation as a child: the touch, the nuances of aroma, visual beauty and detail, complex and simple sounds, surprises and remarkable variation in all the wonderful things in the world. Throughout my day, I try to really listen in a conversation; to work hard to understand the music I hear on the radio or in the symphony; feel my body getting up from the chair or take the next step down the stairs; and in a hundred other ways, drinking in the details of what is actually happening around me.
It is no idle exercise. My brain power depends on my retained to analyze in detail what is going on in my world and in my mind and body domain. I continue the practice of holding my constructive and analytical powers. The goal is to be a master of my environment. My brain was designed to provide me with that power.
Later in the day, I find time to rebuild my morning walk or other activities in my mind, replaying forward and backward. I’ve become a master of the world in which I live. You can too.