Neuro Plastic City? What?

My Brain – So What?

New breakthroughs in our understanding of the brain are not in short supply, and that’s great. For example, within the last decade we’ve discovered that our brain changes throughout the course of our lives (neuroplasticity) – not just when we are young. This video provides a brief explanation of neuroplasticity and the implications.

Me Talking About Lumosity

Many people are interested in ways that can keep their brain strong. Many gaming programs out there claim to boost your cognitive functioning simply by playing. This sounds great and fun, which is why I downloaded the Lumosity application. “But don’t you have to pay for that!?”

I downloaded the Lumosity application on my phone, but I didn’t pay for a membership. Without paying for a membership, I have access to three daily games instead of five.  I can play those three over and over and over (assuming that I have an empty schedule and love the eye strain that only staring at my phone or computer for hours can provide)all day long until the next round of games is released to me the following day.

Maybe you’ve seen the commercials where someone has drawings floating around their heads and talks about playing games to get smarter. You probably remember that the games are developed around neuroscience and your ability to strengthen your brain. You can view some of the research by clicking here.

Lumosity has an in house science team called the Human Cognition Project (HCP) that collaborates with many clinicians, scientists, educators, and volunteers (get involved here). HCP has more than 40 studies currently taking place.

Do Brain Games Work?

I wanted to explore different sides of the story of brain training games in order to get a clearer picture of what you can hope to accomplish when you invest time – and maybe money – into programs like Lumosity.

An article on Time by Eben Harrell talks about a study, which claims that brain exercises do not improve your overall cognition. The study found the following:

“People who practice a certain mental task — for instance, remembering a series of numbers in sequence, a popular brainteaser used by many video games — improve dramatically on that task, but the improvement does not carry over to cognitive function in general.

The widely held belief that commercially available computerized brain-training programs improve general cognitive function in the wider population lacks empirical support.”

In the same article, Torkel Klingberg, professor of cognitive neuroscience in Sweden, states that the aforementioned study, “draws a large conclusion from a single negative finding” and that it is “incorrect to generalize from one specific training study to cognitive training in general.”

(See full article)

Okay, We Aren’t Sure…

While both sides of the argument for or against brain games seem shaky, there is no reason not to enjoy the games themselves. Personally I find that taking time to focus on playing a game, even for a few minutes, helps me get out of my head and improves my ability to shift my frame of thought and to focus (these are my subjective findings on myself). I have recently taken up word searches for that reason.

What Can I Do!?!?

Here are some proven methods to increase your cognitive functioning:

 

-Exercise

-Eating well

-Having an active social life

-Getting plenty of sleep

-Managing stress

Please enjoy this game I found on the Alzheimer’s Association’s Website:

Click here to play game

Do you play any brain training games? What do you enjoy most about them?

Thanks for stopping by the well!

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