Mar 072013
 

Brain Training Program


As the passage of time, we realize different changes in our body. Such change is realized in our brain too. As many people reach the middle age, they often start to realize that their memory and mental clarity are not what they used to be. We will forget where we put the keys just a moment ago, or an old acquaintance’s name or the name of an old music band, we used to love. As the brain fades, we euphemistically refer to these occurrences as “senior moments.”

While seemingly innocent, this loss of mental focus can potentially have a detrimental impact on our professional, social, and personal well-being.

It happens to most of us, but is it inevitable?

Neuroscientists are showing that there’s actually a lot that can be done. Our brain also needs regular exercise as our muscles and the right mental workouts can significantly improve our basic cognitive functions. Thinking is essentially a process of making neural connections in the brain. To a certain extent, our ability to excel in making the neural connections that drive intelligence is inherited.  However, these connections are made through effort and practice. Scientists believe that intelligence can expand and fluctuate according to mental effort.

A new San Francisco Web-based company developed the first “brain training program” designed to help people to improve and regain their mental sharpness. The brain training program that is Lumosity was designed by some of the leading experts in neuroscience and cognitive psychology from Stanford University.

Lumosity, is an online place to exercise your mental skills. They have integrated this exercise into a web-based program that allows you to systematically improve your memory and attentions skills. The program also developed such mechanism that keeps the record of your progress and provides detailed feedback on your performance and improvement. Most importantly, it constantly modifies and enhances the games you play to build on the strengths you are developing- much like an effective exercise routine requires you to increase resistance and very your muscle use.

Does it work?

Actually it works. While conducting clinical trials, Lumosity was shown to significantly improve basic cognitive functions. One study also showed that students improved their scores on math tests by 34 percent after using Lumosity for six weeks, significantly greater gains than those made by other students in the same class, who were not in training with the Lumosity program.

The company also said that users have developed clearer and quicker thinking, improved memory for names, numbers, directions, increased alertness and awareness, elevated mood, and better concentration at work or while driving.

There are some free games at Lumosity that are offered free of cost. But if you want to use full program over the long term, you have to pay a modest subscription fee.

However, Lumosity is currently offering a free trial of their program to new users so that you can see how well it works before you decide to subscribe. The trial is completely free (no credit card required) and the company believes the results will speak for themselves.

Click Here to try yourself.

Nov 262012
 

Smoking “rots” the brain by damaging memory, learning and reasoning, according to researchers at King’s College London.

smokingAccording to the study of 8,800 people, over 50 showed high blood pressure and overweight and also affect the brain, but to a lesser extent. Scientists said that people should be aware that the lifestyle could damage the mind as well as the body.

Researchers at King’s were investigating links between the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke and the state of the brain.

The data related to the health and lifestyle of a group of over 50s was collected and brain test is also conducted. For testing purpose, participants learn new words or name as many animals as they could in a minute.

They were all tested again after four and then eight years.

Decline

The results showed that the overall risk of a heart attack or stroke was “significantly associated with cognitive decline” with those at the highest risk showing the greatest decline.

It also said there was a “consistent association” between smoking and lower scores in the tests.

One of the researchers, Dr Alex Dregan, said: “Cognitive decline becomes more common with ageing and for an increasing number of people interferes with daily functioning and well-being.

“We have identified a number of risk factors which could be associated with accelerated cognitive decline, all of which, could be modifiable.”

He added: “We need to make people aware of the need to do some lifestyle changes because of the risk of cognitive decline.”

The researchers do not know how such a decline could affect people going about their daily life. They are also unsure whether the early drop in brain function could lead to conditions such as dementia.

Heart and brain

Dr Simon Ridley, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Research has repeatedly linked smoking and high blood pressure to a greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and this study adds further weight to that evidence.

“Cognitive decline as we age can develop into dementia, and unravelling the factors that are linked to this decline could be crucial for finding ways to prevent the condition.

“These results underline the importance of looking after your cardiovascular health from mid-life.”

The Alzheimer’s Society said: “We all know smoking, a high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and a high BMI [Body Mass Index] is bad for our heart. This research adds to the huge amount of evidence that also suggests they can be bad for our head too.

“One in three people over 65 will develop dementia but there are things people can do to reduce their risk.

“Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked and not smoking can all make a difference.”

 – BBC News