Sometimes the more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know. Especially when our exploration comes to terrain as dynamic and multifaceted as the human brain!
With the recent hubbub surrounding Lumosity being found guilty of misleading consumers regarding the validity of their training programs, many have begun to question whether or not “brain training” really makes a difference.
Unfortunately, sometimes the one making the most noise isn’t the one having the greatest impact. I am proud to say that I have been involved with a scientifically validated brain training organization for over 5 years in my partnership with Dr. Evian Gordon and My Brain Solutions. As our collaboration has developed, Dr. Gordon and his team have been the foundation on which our Synergy Brain Health and Fitness programs are based. Real science with real results.
How can I be so sure?
Dr. Gordon and his consortium established Brainnet.net, upon which over 300 peer reviewed journal articles have been published. Soon, we will be able to include a study we worked on together, looking at the impact of perceived stress on cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of the brain.
It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes more information = more problems. So how do you cut through the noise? Here are a few simple guidelines to know when to Dig it (yes please!), Doubt it (not sure yet), or Ditch it (no way).
Dig it: Similar to physical training, if mental or emotional training is going to work it must be specific, challenging, and repeated over time. Make sure that the actual tasks you’re completing represent thoughts or behaviors that you want to change in your brain. If you’re re-scripting your thought process (thoughttamer), focusing on the positive (e-catch the feeling app), or practicing relaxation (mycalmbeat app) you can easily see how they translate to real-world application. Building your memory muscle by remembering names and faces (memory games) or improving emotional intelligence through facial expression recognition (emotion match) strengthens cognitive and emotional capacities that have been shown to improve performance at work and at home.
Doubt it: There seem to be mixed results on games and puzzles such as Sudoku, crosswords, or word searches. If you have to go back in your memory to recall information, this may make your recall functioning more efficient. If you have to work hard to complete the puzzle or task, you are likely firing neurons that will strengthen them over time, even if just slightly. And, if your games are relaxing, we know there is a brain boost in decreasing stress hormones. So these all help the brain, but do they really train the brain in a way that matters? We’re not sure.
But we are certain that if you utilize these types of games and activities to reduce stress while increasing focus on what’s positive, they impact is significantly enhanced. Games like wordsmith highlight positive emotion words that non-consciously boost our brainpower over time.
Ditch it: I always say if something turns out to be a miracle, we will all hear about it immediately. If a non-surgical procedure tries to convince you in an overnight fix, use your brain and ignore it quickly.
Over the next few months, I’ll be providing you more tips and techniques for science-based solutions you can easily implement in your daily routine. Next up, a busybody’s guide to meditation. What works, and how to work it.
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