Until recently, medical science believed that our brain, a three pound wonder, stopped creating new neural connections as we aged. Prior research appeared to indicate that memory begins to decline at about 20 years of age and becomes irreversibly worse as we get older. Medical science believed that like other parts of the body, brain neurons weakened with age. However, during the past few years, multiple scientific studies have shown that our brains are capable of making new neurons and replacing damaged neurons even as the old ones wear out.
The center of the human nervous system, the brain is a highly complex organ protectively encased in the cranium: with 100 billion brain cells, the complexity of the brain is truly “mind-boggling.” The human brain is generally similar in structure to the brains of other mammals: however, the human brain is three times as large as the brain of a typical mammal with an equivalent body mass.
The news is full of bold-faced headlines about the many breakthroughs in brain research. On July 5, 2013, the Vancouver Sun reported new studies presently underway to test the brain of those injured in sporting accidents. There are more than 300,000 sports related head injuries each year in the United States. The new medical equipment is being developed to test players on the field. If a player suffers a head injury, the equipment shows immediately if there is a danger in allowing him/her back in the game.
On June 21, 2013, the Huffington Post reported, “The postmortem brain of a 65-year-old woman has been transformed into a new 3D map revealing the intricate architecture of the human noggin on a scale finer than a human hair.
The map, known as ‘BigBrain,’ is freely available online, and has a resolution of 20 microns in each dimension, researchers report in a new study.The ‘BigBrain’ is the first ever brain model in 3D which really presents a realistic human brain.”
SharpBrains.com explains a few important points one needs to understand when exploring neuroplasticity:
- “The human brain is now considered to be a highly dynamic and constantly reorganizing system capable of being shaped and reshaped across an entire lifespan. It is believed that every experience alters the brain’s organization at some level. The key words in this new approach to the brain are neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.”
- “Neuroplasticity refers to the lifelong capacity of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to the stimulation of learning and experience.”
- “Neurogenesis is the ability to create new neurons and connections between neurons throughout a lifetime. The latter process is also referred to as synaptogenesis. This new paradigm contrasts with traditional ideas of the human brain being a fixed and essentially limited system that only degrades with age.”
- “As we age, the rate of change in the brain, or neuroplasticity, declines but does not come to a halt. In addition, we now know that new neurons can appear in certain parts of the brain up until the day we die.”
- “Brain plasticity is crucial following head injury. It is the one brain’s ability that allows recovery. Brain plasticity is also the ability that brain training takes advantages of to try to slow down the aging process.”
We all want to “keep our wits about us” as we age. The universal human desire to enhance concentration, memory, clarity of thinking, focus, alertness and mood has driven the phenomenal growth of the world market demand for brain building products, plans, potions and pills to increase brainpower. In recent medical studies, the drug Prevagen was shown to improve cognitive function.
Methods of increasing brain power include revolutionizing one’s diet, changing one’s habits, meditation, hypnotism, obtaining adequate sleep, getting plenty of physical exercise, pharmacological intervention, listening to music and stimulating the brain with challenging “brain games.” However, of all the approaches to increasing our intellect, the most effective method appears to be lifelong learning.
Educational Brain Building Programs
Organization For Quality Education
Brain Building by Norman Doidge
(Dr. Doidge is a research psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, on faculty at Columbia University, New York, and Head, Long Term Psychotherapy at the University of Toronto.)
“The Arrowsmith Program companies offer the Arrowsmith cognitive exercise program to public and private schools internationally. Arrowsmith School is located in Toronto, Canada. Established in 1980, it is where the Arrowsmith methodology was developed and through ongoing research, continues to be refined.”
“From birth we use and develop our brains more than any other organ in our bodies. But do you really know how the brain works and what happens when it gets hurt? At Cognuse we know.
That’s why we have developed the most comprehensive executive functions rehabilitation system in the world. Daily we help hospitals, clinics and elderly care institutions help their patients more effectively and efficiently.”
Rocky Mountain Learning Center Brain Builder
RC Learning Center says, “Use brain-building methods tested and proven effective over a 30-year period on over 15,000 children and adults. See significant, lasting changes in auditory and visual sequential processing skills and short-term memory. Psychologists and educators call it “sequential processing.” It’s essential to every mental process, including every level of verbal communication. Better sequential processing enables us to take in more of what there is to see and hear. It determines how quickly and clearly we can grasp concepts with 3 or 5 or 7 components. And it determines how effectively we can express ourselves to others. If sequential processing capacity is limited, it’s a little like not having enough RAM in your computer. Some things work just fine. Others work, but s-l-o-w-l-y, or more crudely. And certain things become impossible, resulting in frustration.”
RC Learning Center advises, “The principle behind Brain Builder is exercise. The more you exercise your brain’s fundamental processing capacities, the stronger, more efficient and more organized they become. As the pathways of your neural network proliferate and deepen, so too will your ability to absorb and process information quickly and easily. The result is clearer, quicker thinking, less confusion and better communication. You’ll have less need to reread information or hear it repeated, and faster, more accurate responses to real-life or academic problems. Naturally, this means less stress, higher self-esteem, and greater satisfaction and all-around success in life.”
Counseling Tools, Techniques, Recommendations, and Discoveries at AskTheCounselor2.com states, “Did you know that your brain can process sensory data (photons hitting the rods and cones in your retina, sound waves hitting your ear drums, pressure, scents, and tastes) twice as fast as you can blink your eyes? (1/10th second.) That is 1/18th second. Facial expressions can be processed in 1/25th second at the rate of 126 bits of sensory information per second.”
Brain Research and Learning Theories
“New imaging studies are revealing—for the first time—patterns of brain development that extend into the teenage years. [These patterns] may parallel a pruning process that occurs early in life that appears to follow the principle of “use-it-or-lose-it:” neural connections, or synapses, that get exercised are retained, while those that don’t are lost. While it’s known that both genes and environment play major roles in shaping early brain development, science still has much to learn about the relative influence of experience versus genes on the later maturation of the brain…” — NIH Publication No. 01-4929 Teenage Brain: A work in progress
- The Franklin Institute –
- Army Research Drives Brain Injury Science
“With $633 million and 472 active research projects on traumatic brain injury alone, the Army is driving the science behind this neglected public health problem that affects everyone from kids on the sports field to service members in Afghanistan.”
- Ways to Use Brainstorming as a Team Building Tool
- Rockefeller University Press – Brain building: Study shows brain growth tied to cell division in mouse embryos
- Mental Health Research Institute – “The size and research strength of the group will position the Melbourne Brain Centre as one of the top five centers for brain research internationally, alongside the Institutes for Neurology and Psychiatry (UK), the Janelia Farm at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (USA) and the Riken Brain Science Institute (Japan).
- Behavior and Brain Training / Mind Training in the Workplace
Practical Tactics from Neuro Discoveries with Dr. Ellen Weber
- Oxford Journals – Germinal matrix hemorrhage: destroying the brain’s building blocks
Online Brain Training Sites
Online brain training sites allow participants to access their “brain gym” from any computer. Designed, endorsed and promoted by researchers, scientists and celebrities, these sites often offer a free, trial membership, followed by monthly membership charge.
- Mind Sparke
- Fit Brains
- Brain Train
- Silva Life System
- Peak Genius
- Mind Tools
- The Brain
- Brain Gym International
“An in-depth Luminosity review reveals that Luminosity’s training consists of fun brain training games that provide diversion and a quick mental workout. Luminosity from Lumos Labs incorporates brain-training exercises targeting a wide range of brain functions. Luminosity recommends approximately fifteen minutes of brain training per day. Independent studies show that while Luminosity’s approach to brain training might, unlike MindSparke’s improve performance on the task being trained, it will not increase general cognitive function.
Industry analyst SharpBrains, after conducting a Luminosity review as part of its Brain Fitness Market Report, found that only 51% of Luminosity customers achieved the results they were looking for.
The most popular Luminosity alternative — MindSparke Brain Fitness Pro — focuses on brain training exercises that have been proven by independent research to increase IQ and overall cognitive ability. MindSparke has taken the only brain exercise scientifically proven to produce general cognitive improvement, the dual n back brain training exercise, and incorporated it into Brain Fitness Pro. While Luminosity reviews show that it delivers only task-specific improvement, MindSparke guarantees dramatic cognitive gains with its brain training innovations such as the incorporation of meditation into the brain training process.”
Brain Building Software
Brain Athlete reports, “Statistics used to say that older drivers, as a group, tended to be more likely to be at fault in auto accidents than younger people, and suffered more severe injuries or death as a result. Recent studies indicate that with some brain training these negative statistics could be turned around and help older adults to improve their driving skills. It also can’t hurt younger people either in order to ensure their reflexes and focusing abilities can improve.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a research group funded by the insurance industry, between 1997-2008 the number of fatal crashed caused by licensed drivers over the age of 70 fell 37%. Drivers over 80 decreased the accident rate by almost 47%. As a comparison, the fatal crash rate for drivers 35 to 54 years of age decreased only 23%. Nonfatal accidents and the survival rate for older drivers also went in the right direction.”
Guaranteed to increase brain speed by 25% in 4 weeks for $119.00. Computer software designed to track up to 5 people on your computer, Brain Builder is a brain fitness program designed to increase attention, memory and brain speed.
Posit Science – Brain Training Software
Coaching, Courses and Seminars
- Mark Channing Coaching
Square Enix Europe head of acquisitions Roger Cheung said: “Mensa Academy brings something unique to the brain training game market. Mensa Academy is the most credible game of its kind to date from the definitive experts in the field of measuring and fostering intelligence. The power of the mind is fascinating, the real challenge is how to best maximize its potential. Mensa Academy tangibly tackles this in a user-friendly way.”
“The Brain train syllabus includes a diverse array a of personal, corporate and specialist excellence courses built using the latest technology and advancements in Classic NLP, New Code NLP and Hypnosis.”
- IMMRAMA Institute – Infinity program to increase intuition and awareness
- Repair Your Aging Brain by Dr. Al Sears
This site offers a free online book about repairing and rejuvenating the human brain. Registration is required to download the pdf version of the book and receive the monthly newsletter.
- Neuropsychonline – Software for professionals
- The Great Courses – Optimizing Brain Fitness
- LiteMind – 120 Ways To Increase Your Brain Power
As seen on Dr. Phil, Prevention Magazine’s Brainpower Game Plan book is about foods that are rich in the nutrients needed to keep brain cells healthy and to help prevent brain-damaging inflammation. The online program incorporates brain games to help improve memory and brain function. The Brainpower Game Plan Book promises that you can boost your brainpower by 78% in just 4 weeks. Interested readers can review the book for free for 21 days. If satisfied, the customer pays four installments of $6.50.
More Critical Thinking Programs
ProProfs Brain Games 107,180 different free online brain puzzles
- Brain Pro – Online classes to increase a child’s reading comprehension
- C8 Sciences
- Parallel Universe
- Shepperd’s Brain Building Software
- Brain Arena
- Word Juxtapoz
- Test My Brain
Puzzles, Math Problems and Brain Teasers
• Sudoku Games
• Aunty Math
• Creative Puzzles
• Brain Teaser, Optical Illusions and Logic Links
Fun Brain – Interactive Online brain games for children
Gamequarim – Online brain building games for children
In The News
- Can a daily pill really boost your brainpower? (The Guardian)
- How Working The Muscles May Increase Brain Power (New York Times)
- Popping Pills A Popular Way To Increase Brain Power (60 Minutes)
- 6 Ways To Increase Brain Power Without Drugs (CBS News)
- Scrabble regains number one slot as brain games craze takes hold
By: Marlene Affeld
Brain research centre on verge of concussion breakthrough
National Brain Tumor Society
CBS Good Morning
<iframe id=”dit-video-embed” width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”http://snagplayer.video.dp.discovery.com/831155/snag-it-player.htm?auto=no” frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” allowtransparency=”true”>