Monday, April 2, 2012

Playing Memory Games Aids Seniors Brains

A recent study has shown that playing memory games, doing puzzles and art can aid senior’s memory and brain function. Science has discovered that keeping mentally active is shown to reduce the chance of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers did a study with 180 people aged 65 to 75 who had good eyesight, hearing and communication skills.

They randomly assigned participants to training sessions twice a week for 12 weeks or to a wait list as part of the control group. The study found that memory games and cognitive training can improve memory, reasoning and attention span. Over time this can maintain the functioning of older people’s minds and keep them sharper which will stave off mental health disorders such as dementia.

The memory games included cognitive training such as repeated practice, problem solving tasks and reasoning skills. The sessions lasted one hour for each patient in the group. They also received homework to take home to reinforce what they have learned. The repetition went a long way in keeping the information fresh in their mind and making brain functioning easier.

This training helped the participants score higher on a series of test designed to measure cognitive skills and abilities. The study showed that there were measurable benefits after the booster training sessions. The studies to measure the cognitive skills were given by technicians who had no idea which group the senior participants were in.

The study regarding memory games did have some hiccups which the researchers acknowledged. 53 participants quit during the study mostly claiming they could not remember appointment times or didn’t want to head out for sessions in the hot summer months. This particular study was done in China so it would need to be repeated in other areas around the world to see if the findings stand true.

There are many studies however that suggest the same thing that memory games and brain games improve brain function and improve cognitive skills. The healthier your brain is the less likely you are to end up with dementia or Alzheimer’s. A healthy brain is made and requires that you keep your mind busy, your body healthy and to always keep using it.

Each day you should spend at least a few minutes giving your brain a little workout with memory games. No matter your age this will improve brain function which makes it easier for you to remember things and improves your problem solving skills.

It is key to maintain and improve your brain health over time to remain healthy and cognitively fit. Today, research has demonstrated a clear correlation between overall quality of life, brain games and training and mental health. As we take care of our physical body, it is now proven that brain training and serious brain games can have a very positive impact on many aspects of life at every age and also at the later stage of life. Memory, concentration and other key cognitive skills can be training and measured. It is important to keep constantly challenging your brain to maintain your health!

Computers Boost Brain Plasticity

New studies are showing how computers can boost brain plasticity with patients who suffer from mental illnesses for example. Brain plasticity the brain’s ability to make new connections and function more efficiently, the more connections your brain makes the better it work for you. So as science identifies more ways to increase brain plasticity it can help a lot of people.

In this particular study they focused on computer training programs that are designed specifically to increase cognitive abilities. There was one study conducted on people who suffered from schizophrenia and another study focused on people who had other mental illnesses. Each set of patients did computer activities designed to focus on the front area of the brain.

The past 20 years have seen major advances in neuroscience research and we have learned much more about the mechanics of the brain and the changes it goes through in a lifetime. In the group of people with schizophrenia the doctors used 31 patients with a longstanding history with the disease as well as 15 healthy control patients so they could compare the difference.

The patients received 80 hours of intensive computer training in the laboratory. In the first round of MRI reality monitoring they did a word association test. The healthy people showed increased functionality when recalling these words. The people with schizophrenia showed no increased brain plasticity. After the training the patients with schizophrenia identified a much larger amount of words and showed significantly more brain activity when doing it.

The study was completed over a 16 week period the more computer training tasks the patients did the more they started to catch up with the healthy patients in terms of processing and brain plasticity. Also by the end of the study their social functioning was very much improved also.

The same results were found with the other patients. The scientists with this study used the Stroop test to measure attention, flexibility and functioning during an MRI. These patients as well showed an increase in brain plasticity and functioning after using computer brain training programs.

In addition one of the more startling findings was that the mind at rest also saw increases in activity. With the healthy group and at rest mind went into a decline of activity. The other unexpected finding is though there as increase in brain plasticity there was no increase in grey and white matter. The scientists attributed this to the natural decline of plasticity seen in patients.

Today we have new technique that can help maintain and improve brain health of individuals through brain training. Leveraging brain plasticity, brain training has been proven to be an important tool to have a healthy lifestyle. Through computers and online programs, you can actually leverage that plasticity of your mind to exercise the cognitive abilities that are important for your daily life. Memory, concentration and other abilities need to be maintained as long as possible and can be even further improved over time. Thanks to computer, the world today can remain healthy and even sharper!

Being Overweight May Lead to Reduced Cognition

A new study asks the question does a big belly lower your cognition. A Korean study suggests that it might. We all know being overweight is unhealthy in general. It can wreak havoc on your heart, joints and many other key body functions. Little was known before now though about how it affects the brain.

The study consisted of 250 adults age 60 or older and was designed to see if there is a link between obesity and cognitive decline. Prior to the study the researchers calculated the participant’s BMI or Body Mass Index and used scans to check cognition based tests. Subjects with the highest BMI performed the worst on the cognitive skills test.

The biggest association seemed to be with people with large amounts of visceral fat which is fat found around the torso otherwise known as belly fat. The results suggest that with extra belly fat people could be at a higher risk for brain diseases such as dementia. Oddly there was less of a link with obesity and lower cognitive skills in the people over 70 compared to the people between 60-70.

Although researchers are not 100% sure the difference about the age groups they believe is based on the fact that people by that age who have dementia likely would have lost a lot of weight. The conclusion is that by decreasing obesity you decrease your chance of cognitive decline or risk of dementia.

The more the loss of cognition goes on the more likely people are to suffer long term problems. There are many reasons to not be obese but considering how important the brain is for day to day functioning keep your brain fit may be the best reason of all to lose weight.

There have been many general health activities that have lead to a healthier brain and better cognition. Some of those other things include physical activities and eating right. Overall the healthier you are the more likely you will not deal with a loss of cognition or dementia later in life.

Cognition refers to mental processes the brain goes through. These processes can include things like remembering, producing or understanding language and solving problems and making decisions. Cognition can be conscious or unconscious and can also be called cognitive process or cognitive skills.

The better your cognition is improved with things such as being a healthy weight, eating right and physical activity. When your cognition is improved you will become a better thinker and processing information will be easier for you.

Leveraging existing brain games and other serious brain training tasks, you can actually also assess yourself and all your important cognitive abilities. When you know where you are standing, you can then decide to train on these core cognitive skills and improve them over time. This is a key part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a sharp brain over time. It is proven that you can improve your quality of life by remaining sharp and maintaining a good level of cognitive health and development.

New Ways To Treat Mental Health Disorders

In your lifetime you have a 46% chance of suffering from some kind of mental health disorder. It can come in many various forms including anxiety, depression, psychotic disorders or even an eating disorder. More than 50% of the people in this country that seeks mental health help from a professional go to their primary care doctor.

When someone sees a primary care physician for a mental health disorder the information and treatment they will get is very general. If you have a mental health problem then you should really see a doctor who specializes in mental health disorders.

This is easier said than done for a huge population of the United States that live in rural communities. Many rural areas around the country don’t have access to mental health specialists for hundreds of miles. The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska has come up with a creative way to fill the need for mental health help in rural communities.

They have created new online training modules that help primary care providers treat patients with mental health issues. They realized that it was easier to bring the pertinent information to the primary care providers than to expect the mental health professionals to show up in rural areas.

One of the main components of the program focuses on treating depression in adolescents, adults and older people. The UNMC has been recognized many times in its work with primary care providers. The adolescent module was the first to be released and has been viewed by hundreds of doctors all around the world. The goal is to help primary care doctors become comfortable with mental health treatment and medications and also knowing when a referral to a psychiatrist or therapist is necessary.

This has been helpful to get into the care providers hands because there is a lot of controversy with teens and mental health drugs. As a result without feeling confident the medication is the right treatment a doctor may not prescribed it and the mental health issue goes untreated. Untreated mental health disorders such as depression are the main reason for suicides in the United States.

One primary care physician from Howard County Medical in St Paul said that it is estimated up to 35% of all primary care visits have some kind of mental health component. In rural areas there is also a stigma associated with seeing a counselor or having a mental disorder. This means treatment is usually delayed and very far progressed by the time the person seeks help.

With advance in technology and online software, there is as well many new possibilities for patients to assess and train themselves from their home comfort and for doctors to track their patients and other individuals at distance (what is known as telemedicine). For example, an online brain training program allow individuals to get some information about their mental health and even improve some of their key cognitive skills all from their computers in their home. These new types of applications offer great benefits for these users who can get rapidly an overview of their mental state.

Research Show Mind Games Improve Your Thinking

When most people think about computer games the last thing they think about is brain health. However thanks to recent research we now know many computer games are actually mind games. There are many different types of mind games or brain games on the market.

These games are designed to be fun but entertainment is not their main goal. The main goal of these mind games is to improve cognitive skills and make you more focused and a better thinker. These types of games usually fall into a couple categories and are preventative in nature. The same way some games are mind games and focused on the brain other games promote physical activity.

There are many new studies that equate mind games with a healthy brain. One such study was conducted by Stanford University on children who have suffered from brain damage as a result of cancer. These children had issues with memory and thinking skills and had issues with organization, behavior, regulating emotions and evaluating success and changing course if necessary.

The children were subjected to 40 sessions of mind games over an 8 week period. All of the children showed higher brain function after the training sessions than they did before they started. The children showed improved problem solving, quicker processing speeds and memory which were measured using standardized tests.

The fundamental message of this study and many brain studies is you can improve the brain even after an injury. The brain is very resilient and can grow with knowledge and stimulation. Another recent study looked at the affects of mind games on self esteem.

In a small scale pilot study at the University of California Berkeley they looked at how playing mind games can help people manage their emotions. Participants took part in a half hour a day training session for 30 days. Those that completed the mind games saw a boost in self esteem that the control group did not.

The group that showed the biggest boost was people who came into the study with a negative view about themselves. As a result these participants reported they showed less depression symptoms and could handle stress better. The people who had showed depression symptoms began to think in a new way and were more problem focused.

Studies have shown that mind games and brain fitness program may also improve will power which can help with addiction. The more science learns about the brain and how it works with all of this research the sooner we can have solid ways to treat brain disorders and keep brains healthy.

This is really important in a society that is rapidly aging. The changes in demographic due to the increasing number of seniors and baby boomers arriving to retirement age will create an important change in the dynamic of our society. It is key to maintain people at their peak in terms of brain health for the maximum time possible, as it will change how our society deals with aging and how we take care of our seniors.

Mind Quiz Games Can Help With Brain Health

The reality is that maybe we have become a pill popping society. No matter what problem you have a doctor somewhere can provide you with a pill to cure what ails you. We are learning though those with mind quiz games your brain can be “hacked” drug free. That basically means changing the way your brain thinks and works can be fixed with no magic pills or potions.

Some people believe that technology could be making us dumber but many studies have proven that doing brain games or a mind quiz can go a long way in improving cognitive function of the brain. Cognitive function is basically your brains ability to do tasks. The quicker and more efficiently your brain can do these tasks the healthier it is.

Recently at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin there was a panel that discussed this particular topic. Megan Miller, one of the moderators, said “You can improve your reflexes, your athleticism, your attention span and even your sex life” with improved cognitive function. A healthy brain really does have an extremely positive effect on many aspects of your life.

A healthy brain can also stave off mental health disorders such as depression, dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease. The brains games and mind quiz games that currently exist on the market are effective but the more science learns about the brain and how it functions the better these games will get.

In a recent unpublished study that surveyed 75,000 people on brain activities and lifestyle there were some very interesting findings. The people who did the best on the mind quiz were people who got 7 hours a sleep per night, exercised 2 or more days per wee and didn’t drink. These people also usually read books often or played a musical instrument. You don’t need a ton of activity to keep your brain in shape you just have to be consistent in doing stuff to stimulate it.

One of the speakers at the SXSW event mentioned that in the future he sees people carrying around their mind quiz games on mobile apps in their pockets. The programs will be able to learn their owners habits and lifestyle which will allow for very targeting brain training activities that are customized for individuals.

All of this innovation and research will create many new products and services that are built on mind quiz and brain games. When we have programs that are individualized to a person it is very reasonable to imagine we can do a little hack on someone’s brain through a specific activity and have less of a need for drugs to change the brain.

The thought that one day we can reduce the number of pills people take is great. We can find new solutions to treat and help people have a better life without taking treatments that can have strong secondary effects on their health. This is really important, as there is a need for the society to shift its habits of consumption to new technologies such as brain training and healthier solutions.

Monday, March 26, 2012

How Mind Training Happens With Mind Games

Mind training takes place 24/7 due to a barrage of stimuli that settles in our minds. We do not have control over a greater percentage of it. It is essential to be cognizant of what causes it and be able to monitor and take control of that which we can.

Infants come in touch with a lot of information that their minds must be able to organize then understand. This type of mind training takes place automatically – using the faces we see, sounds we hear, the voices we get to hear and the tones of these voices and their meaning. We do not have control over this initial mind training. When early development occurs in an enriching environment and in accordance with well developed natural order, it proceeds in a manner that effectively supports growth and development later on.

Several direct forms of mind training also start early. Parents deliberately portray certain information and experiences, and establish opportunities and experiences. At very initial stages, age mates also determine what is learned. We go to school, get coaching and receive artistic tuition to deliberately attain mental training.

Incidental mind training continuously occurs as we live. Things that we had not sought out just pop out and we proceed to learn from them. This kind of mental training is normally the main source of phobias and fears including those amazing experiences that give us a better understanding of the world and elevate some to greatness.

Intentional mind training is for the people who have lives that at are most satisfying and successful. They set goals, develop interests and learn what is essential in supporting those things. Someone may choose to set his mind on becoming a teacher, a musician, a doctor, a beautician or a writer. One may also decide to learn more about sewing, fishing, dancing, crafting, hunting and parenting. These endeavors are all forms of intentional mental training.

There is a unique type of brain training that relates to the modification or improvement of the mind’s functions. A good example that falls under this category is happiness. Social workers, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists dedicate their professional lives to providing the types of mind training that helps people to become more competent, effective and happier. When we first hear of the phrase mind training, what comes into our mind is working in order to influence the basic functions of the brain through brain games.

This type of mind games normally focuses on adjusting negative mind training that occurred in other ways such as incidental, directly from others and automatic. When an infant begins to learn that the world cannot be relied on to keep him cool and warm as required, that it lets him stay messy and wet, that it lets him to be hungry and that it causes physical pain to him, the platform has been set early enough to grow the child into a maladjusted person. The early training was detrimental to his later stages in life. The training becomes harmful at the single acquisition of fear.