Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why Brain Training Works

With all the thinking your brain does for you in a day, how much time do you spend thinking about your brain? Truth is your probably don’t think about it much at all. Brain training and brain fitness are essential to your overall health and if you aren’t currently doing it you should be.

So what is brain training? Cognitive brain training consists of a variety of exercises that are meant to improve brain functioning. You can also refer to it as brain fitness. These types of activities can help you have a better attention span, help you think clearly before and acting and help you with processing information.

Brain training has benefits for a whole range of people. It can help an average healthy adult’s mind stay fresh and in top operating condition. It can seriously decline the onset of dementia for older individuals. It also has benefits for people with attention disorders such as ADD and ADHD. It seems pretty obvious if you think about it for a minute but keeping your brain healthy is good for everyone.

One of the main breakthroughs recently in the brain fitness industry is using computers as a tool to train the brain. Cognitive brain training is usually a one on one activity which can be time consuming and expensive. However with computer programs that do the same activities that a therapist would do it makes this type of brain training available to a much larger audience.

Most computer brain training software includes activities such as puzzles that are designed to stimulate thinking skills and help you to be a better problem solver. In addition these activities can also improve reasoning, memory, attention and response times. To get the best benefit most programs say that you should spend a few minutes each day doing brain fitness activities.

There are other types of brain activities you can do at home as well. You can find many guides online that give lists of activities to help grow certain functions of the brain. These are definitely effective as well. The main difference between these types of activities and brain training software is that the software is designed with a scientific method as a basis.

The Causes Of Dementia

Dementia is a difficult problem and is typified by a loss of brain function which occurs with a number of different diseases. It can affect memory, language, judgment and overall behavior.

Most kinds of dementia are irreversible. This means that the mechanism which causes the dementia cannot be reversed. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition lewy body disease is the leading cause of dementia in elderly patients. For some reason the patients which suffer with this disease have abnormal protein structures in their brains.

Dementia can also be caused by strokes. This type of problem is called vascular dementia. There are a number of other medical conditions which can lead to dementia. This can include: Parkinson’s disease; multiple sclerosis; Huntington’s disease; Pick’s disease; and Progressive supranuclear palsy.

Some of the causes of dementia can be stopped or even reversed if they are caught soon enough. This can include: brain tumors; changes in blood sugar, sodium or calcium levels; low vitamin B12 levels; or the use of certain medications.

Dementia usually occurs in people over 60 years of age. It is rare for younger patients and risk for dementia increases as people grow older.

The most common symptoms for dementia include: difficultly with language; memory problems; problems with perception; emotional behavior or changes in personality; deterioration in cognitive skills such as abstract thinking, judgment or calculation.

As the symptoms of dementia worsen, it can interfere with the ability to take care of oneself. These people may also: forget details about current events; forget events in your own life; lose awareness of who you are; changes in sleep patterns; poor judgment and an inability to recognize danger.

Severe dementia symptoms may prevent people understanding language; recognizing family members or even the ability to eat, dress and bathe.
The symptoms of dementia can often be identified through a number of different tests. Your doctor may perform some of these tests if they feel there may be a potential risk of symptoms. A typical test is called a mental status evaluation.

It is important to eliminate other factors which may be making the symptoms worse. In general the symptoms of dementia cannot be reversed and there is no cure. However there are some treatments available to slow the progression and improve the patient’s quality of life. These range from drug treatments to mental exercises. By applying some of these treatments, the progression of dementia can be slowed and the patient spared further deterioration of brain function.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Functions Of The Brain

The brain is one of the most important organs in our body and the brain functions are essential. They controls a whole vast range of activities and is key to our emotions and thought processes. It basically makes up who and what we are. The brain function are designed to serve us well for many years but like other parts of our body, they can respond well to some type of stimulus and exercise. We call this brain fitness and it will be discussed in more detail here.

Brain fitness essentially entails challenging our brain and brain fucntions to think in certain ways. It forces our brain to think beyond what it is normally required to do. In this way enhanced brain functions can result.

For example techniques can be applied to help people to increase their memory capabilities. This can be important for a number of reasons. A student may have a strong need to retain information he/she learns more clearly. This will help the student to learn more thoroughly and effectively.

There are a variety of techniques and even fun games which can be used to assist people in increasing their memory and Brain Function. Some techniques may use word association or other association techniques to help them to remember people, places or things. When the mind is trained to think in a certain way it can make a big difference in how it operates.

Brain fitness techniques can also be used to improve how a person reacts to situations and events. This can also be important to change behaviors in people and the ways in which they respond to different kinds of stimuli. If a person tends to react violently to certain things, it may be necessary or desirable to teach that person how to react in a less violent or stressful manner.

However for most part these techniques are used to improve the brain function and efficiency of the brain. They say that we use only a small portion of what our brain is capable of so it’s important to try to maximize our thought processes and cognitive functions.

You can find many effective techniques to apply which can have great benefit in terms of improving brain fitness. By typing the search term brain fitness into Google, you’ll be able to evaluate a number of helpful sites and resources.

By treating the brain like other parts of body which respond well to exercise, improving our brain fitness will have significant benefits in memory retention, emotional stability, cognitive processes and many other aspects of our lives.

The Importance Of Neuroscience

Neuroscience entails the study of the nervous system. This field of study was originally associated with biology but it has been found to also tie in with chemistry, engineering, linguistics, engineering and others. We’ll discuss a little more about the history and details of this field of science.

Neuroscience dates back to the days of ancient Egypt. As surgeries related to the brain were performed even back to the Neolithic times. This included drilling of holes in the skull to relieve pressure on the brain caused by injury and disease. There are ancient texts written by the Egyptians as far back as 1700 BC which indicates that they had some knowledge of the symptoms of brain damage.

The ancient Greeks, especially the father of medicine Hippocrates believed that the brain controlled emotions, intelligence and the essence of our being. This was further supported by scientists later on. It was originally believed that the heart controlled mental functions and was central to our consciousness.

Neuroscience really developed following the invention of the microscope. At that time techniques were developed to uncover the structure of neurons. It leads to the development of the neuron doctrine which states that the functional unit of the brain is the neuron. This doctrine was supported by experiments related to the electrical excitability of muscles and neurons.

It was found that certain regions of the brain were responsible for certain functions. Mathematical models were developed in the 1950’s to show how transmission of electrical signals in neurons could occur.

Neuroscience progressed significantly during the second half of the twentieth century. This was largely due to advances in research techniques. It became possible to understand is great detail the processes which occurs within a single neuron.

At the same the study of how networks of neurons interact to produce complex behaviors requires more study and investigation. It is poorly understood at this time.

However there is a great deal of emphasis and investigation related to better understanding how the neurons work together to manage cognitive activities, emotions and thinking in general. There has been a great deal of effort placed on understanding how the brain functions and then developing treatments for various diseases and injuries which may be impacting peoples lives.

Neuroscience plays a vital role in studying the function of the brain and then developing techniques and treatments for different problems. It will continue to advance our understanding of these functions and help develop effective treatments.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Brain And Mind Training

Your brain is the most complex creation in the Universe. Every day we are unraveling new secrets about our brain and mind. We are on a journey to unlock all of the secrets of the brain. That journey is still not complete but we have already stated understanding the importance of mind training and how it can help your overall health. Before discussing mind training, let’s share here some interesting and fun brain facts.

Your brain is made up of more than 100 billion brain cells.
Approximately 20% of the blood that flows from your heart is pumped into your brain.
There are more connections in your brain than there are stars in the universe.

The average human brain weighs around 3 pounds
There is no pain within the brain itself.
Your brain contains 80% water
The brain uses 20% of the oxygen we breath
The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body while the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body.
There are approximately 100,000 miles of blood vessels in your brain.
Our working memory can hold seven digits.
Your brain uses 25 watts of power while you’re awake. This is enough energy to illuminate a light bulb.

Another fun brain fact is the discovery that as your brain grows older, it can recreate new brain cells. Your mind has the ability to rewire itself as you experience more of life and mind training can help you train specific cognitive skills. You are learning new memories and thoughts throughout your life. As we age, we make new brain connections, as we acquire new knowledge and skills. The brain can form new neurons and connections throughout life.

What we do every day can influence our brain’s functions. Consequently, we are actively and consciously rewiring our brain. Mind Training can be the extra step by helping you assess precisely and accurately your cognitive level and train the skills that need the more improvement.

In the last 15 years, scientists have made many new discoveries about our brain and mind. It is interesting to note how much power we have in shaping and changing our brain. One of the many problems we encounter during the day is the direct result of a lack of focus or concentration. In this high-tech digital age, information comes at us at a fast and furious pace.

It is easy to get distracted and lose sight of the goals we set and find it is harder to keep on task. While there is little to be done to slow down our daily lives, there are simple and fun Brain Training activities that can help individuals focus better and improving their brain concentration.

Brain Games And The Brain

There are many fun and educational brain games available. What is important is to make sure that your brain game has a scientifically validated basis so you don’t play for nothing!

Brain game scan take many forms. You can think for example about puzzle. Jigsaw puzzles were first invented in 1767, by an English mapmaker. He mounted a map of Europe on wood and sawed around each country. The puzzle soon caught on for entertainment purposes. Interlocking puzzle pieces became popular when power tools were invented. Increased readership was enjoyed when newspapers and magazines began publishing crossword puzzles.

There are many types of puzzles to enjoy in different brain games. We have mental games, riddles, brain puzzles, crossword, word search, Rubik’s cube, among many others. Puzzles are fun ways to test your skill and have family time together but be careful because they don’t always really train your brain.

Puzzles are a great to give your kids. The more difficult the puzzle is, the more exciting the challenge. Even toddlers enjoy puzzles. This is a good way for them to learn shapes and sizes. Adults really enjoy crossword puzzles. Since the invention of crossword puzzles, they’ve appeared in almost every newspaper and magazine in the world. There are even books devoted to them.
Jigsaw puzzles come in a variety of ways. They now make double-sided and 3-d jigsaw puzzles! Jigsaw puzzles are a cheap and fun entertainment.

We have seen that there are many different tkind of puzzle. Now let’s move back to Brain Games as a whole.Brain games are a wonderful way to stimulate your mind. Although there are a number of ways to preoccupy yourself, brain games are the best way to go if you are looking for mental activity and having fun at the same time. There are many tasks that involve testing your logic or memory. You will not only strengthen your mental capabilities, but you will also add to learn a lot of new information.

Some people are left brain dominated and others as right brain dominated. We have left and right brains that manage different types of tasks. Our left-brain conducts linear tasks while the right brain deals with emotional and holistic functions. When you play with scientifically validated brain games, the both sides of your mind work together and become creative. This increases mental capacity, concentration and alertness.

The word puzzle as been around for centuries. Crossword puzzles are relatively new, and have only been around for about 100 years. Crossword puzzles are guessing what a word is when given clues or a definition. Words are then placed into a number sequenced box of black and white squares. This results in a creation of interlocking vertical and horizontal patterns.

You can get huge benefits from doing brain games. It sharpens your memory, and improves your brain function and cognitive abilities. Still, make sure to alternate between brain games that can really train your brain and mind and simple puzzle that are a fun way to occupy your time!

The Brain And Its Cognitive Abilities

The brain is the most important organ in your body. It is “you”…all of your other organs can be transplanted and you would still be the same person. Once your brain is removed from your body, you no longer exist. Besides using your brain to “think” it also does many other jobs for the body.

All the data you get from the world around you through your senses is interpreted through your brain cognitive skills. Your brain and brain abilities controls your body’s temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. Your brain takes care of all your automatic functions, like swallowing, walking, and running, without even having to think about them. Our brain and cognitive skills does all of these functions quicker and more effectively than some of the largest and most powerful computers in the world.

For all of these functions and skills, our brain is small and only weighs about 3 pounds. Even though your brain makes up only 2% of your body, it uses over 20% of your total blood supply.

There are three main parts to the brain. The largest is the cerebrum which is on the top of your brain. The cerebral cortex is the convoluted surface of the cerebrum. This is the part that enables you to learn, reason, and remember.

The cerebrum is divided into two halves, which are named the right and left hemispheres. These halves are responsible for different tasks. When the two halves share information between them, they use the corpus callosum.

No one really understands the process that your brain uses to store and retrieve information. Scientists believe it works because of the way individual brain cells, called neurons, are connected to each other. Each neuron has a covering called dendrites, which are long channels that can receive electrical signals from other neurons. Each neuron is connected to thousands of other neurons.

When your brain thinks, feels sad, or does something, millions of neurons are sending messages to and from one another. Each neuron has a different shape, depending on what they do. However, all neurons share the ability of linking others in order to pass electrical and chemical messages.

Every time the brain learns something, your neurons grow more dendrites to become attached to other neurons and your cognitive skills are working. The more you repeat learning, or practice what you have learned, the strong these connections between neurons become and the more your cognitive abilities retain that information. This is why the human brain is more powerful than any computer that has ever been made.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Brain Training Becomes A Development Enabler

In the history of human development, it has been intensively studied what are the main conditions and factors answering a simple question: why do some countries thrive while others don't? What are the biggest challenges of developed nations to move forward? This article will unveil the importance that enhancing the society brain power has on our future, and namely the effect of brain fitness in our future.

By now it would be expectable that a consensus would exist about the reasons for the success of some when compared with others. But the expectations aren't always as clear as they seem. Many studies, analysis and books have been written about this subject, while a clear consensus, almost like a roadmap, doesn't yet exist. But there are a few common conclusions worth noting, and one structural condition that explains the developments all along: the brain power.

If we go back in time, in the XV century it would be rather unlikely that the biggest revolutions and developments in the world over the coming centuries would come from a tiny continent called Europe. At the time, it would be much more likely that this revolution would occur in Asia, namely in China. What has made the difference? Military power in Europe was one of the reasons, more specifically, the adoption of gunpowder and firepower at the service of war. It gave an edge, but it wasn't the decisive factor. The main influencer was technological development through the development of an educational system (mostly in Northern Europe). The developments in technology which were important for sailing and warfare were also crucial for the development of mercantilism and the creation of a manufacturing economy in parts of the continent.

Later came the industrial revolution, starting in the United Kingdom. It is widely accepted that the UK had specific and unique conditions to be the first one to develop the industry. First it had access to capital, through trade and the domination of the seas. It had natural resources, namely coal, essential in the first phases of the revolution. But it had one very particular advantage which became instrumental: perhaps the best educational system and educational standards in the world at that time. This was a very difficult advantage to copy, it took a long time for others to follow its steps. It was indeed the brain power that created this competitive advantage. That was the condition then and it remains so nowadays.

More recently we can think of other countries which have gone through important revolutions, taking them out of the underdevelopment. Some of them have natural resources, some of them even have access to capital... but all of them have first developed a structured educational system which would support their development. A few examples: Japan, South Korea or Finland. These countries score amongst the highest levels at the international PISA study (which compares the educational knowledge of 15 year olds in many countries). All of them haven’t been part of the first phases of the industrial development, but they have quickly recovered after the WW2, based on the economy of knowledge.

The brain power has been in all cases the disruption factor, the one that has define "who was in, and who was out". As we look towards the future and towards an even more impressive globalization in the world, the question remains: have the countries and the people really understood that it is within themselves, their brains and their ability to develop their own cognitive capabilities? Some have, some haven’t. The fact remains, that education, but mostly, the increase in the effectiveness of the brain usage of a whole society is what will separate, today and in the future, the ones who are in and the ones who are out. Learning how to develop the brain functions is the next step for those who are in. This is where Brain Training plays a role as a development enabler, on top of quality of life improvement. This is where Brain Fitness becomes the center of our own future.

Not Only The Body But The Mind Needs To Remain Healthy

Brain training has become popular over the years because experts now understand that brain health plays a very important role in an individual's overall health. In order to live a fulfilling and happy life, you need to have a healthy brain. You need to use your mind regularly if you do not want to lose it. It is just like any other muscle in the body therefore it needs regular training. If a muscle is not used for an extended period of time, it becomes weak and this can happen to your mind if you do not undergo any mental training. The brain cells need to stay alert, strong and active at all times if you want to achieve good mental health. There are various programs and exercises that you can take part in to keep your mind fit and improve your cognitive skills.

If you want to achieve brain fitness, you need to exercise every part of your mind. There are some exercises, which are designed to improve the memory. As body builders do not focus on a single part of the body but try to have an overall training regimen, you should not concentrate on training only one part of your brain if you want to achieve a sharp mind. You can determine what your strengths and weaknesses are by using a scientifically cognitive assessment and then train the right amount on the cognitive abilities that are important for you to improve your cognitive function. You may have a problem with your short-term memory or difficulty in solving arithmetic problems that you want to work on.

The mental training you undergo should be challenging for your mind. If it is not challenging, it will not be effective. It is the same as working out in the gym where you have to use the right weight at the right time n order to work for your muscles to train efficiently. Too little is not useful and too much will not really make you progress. For your mind it is similar. If the activities are too simple, your mind will not benefit from them. You need to constantly challenge your brain with the right level of difficulty if you want to improve it. To enhance your memory, you need to try and memorize various things. To become better in arithmetic you need to solve more difficult math problems. The more you use a particular cognitive skill the more your brain cells are connected to that specific part of your brain. The existing connections will become reinforced if you challenge them sufficiently. Mind training is key for that.

Brain training should include a variety of activities in order to make it useful and worthwhile. If you are presented with several tasks, it keeps your mental training interesting and fresh. This will require you to use your cognitive functions in different combinations. If you are trying to solve a math problem for exemple, you can try to use objects instead of numbers. If you love reading, you need to try a different genre. You need to find activities that keep your brain fresh by discovering new activities. By constantly repeating an activity, your brain only creates patterns and habits, which are not asking your mind to push itself adequately. This is the reason why you should always be looking to do new activities.

Real and scientifically brain training software are designed to enhance your brain health and overall vitality. People go to gyms to work their bodies but they usually ignore their minds. In our aging society, this is rapidly changing. You cannot live longer a fulfilling life if your brain is not functioning as well as it should. You want to stay sharp for many years to come. Give your brain something new to do each day if you want to get a sharp mind and make sure you follow an efficient training program!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Musicality And The Brain

Several interesting studies about Music and the Brain have been conducted to better understand their relationship and show how music can effectively train the brain.

One study of the brain’s electrical and magnetic signals showed that musical training changes the auditory cortex-the part of the brain where the processing of sound takes place.

Researchers at the University in Ontario compared preschool aged children who took music lessons to those who didn’t. The children who took music lessons showed larger brain responses on a number of sound recognition tests than the children who didn’t take music lessons.

The researchers also looked into the question of whether musical training can change thinking or cognition in general. The researchers found that even those children who had only a year or two of music training had enhanced levels of memory, attention and executive control.

They hypothesize that musical training (but not passive listening to music) “affects attention and memory, which provides a mechanism whereby musical training might lead to better learning across a number of domains”. The motor and listening skills that are needed to play an instrument with other people involve “attention, memory and the ability to inhibit actions.” Passively listening to music does not bring about the same changes in attention and memory.

It is also interesting to see the effect that music can have on tone deafness and dyslexia. Researchers at Harvard University also studied the cognitive effects of musical training. They also found a correlation between early-childhood musical training and enhanced motor and auditory skills, as well as enhancements in verbal ability and non-verbal reasoning. This type of brain modification depends on the type of musical training. Singing is a specialized form of music training and changes locations in singers’ brains that are different from those changed in people who play a keyboard or other instrument.

But what was more striking was the connection between music training and language development among dyslexic children. Results suggest that music intervention that “strengthens the basic auditory music perception skills of children with dyslexia may also remediate some of their language deficits.”

People who are tone deaf-those people who cannot sing in tune and who can’t differentiate pitches, often have a reduced or absent arcuate fasciculus (AF)- a fiber tract that connects the frontal and temporal lobes in the brain. A reduced or damaged AF has been associated with people who have language problems and also in children with dyslexia.

In another study conducted by Antoine Shahin, it was shown that musical training gives a child the same acoustic responsiveness as someone two to three years older. It does not necessarily show that musical training leads to a higher IQ but neurons respond more to music.

When a person listens to a sound over and over, especially music or a voice that is harmonic or meaningful, the specific neurons get reinforced, and then respond preferentially to those sounds as opposed to other sounds. The researchers were studying the degree of auditory cortex responsiveness to music and non-familiar sounds as children age when they observed the neural response to familiar sounds.

They found that the ages of 10-13 are most likely a sensitive period for music and speech acquisition as this is when neurons were most responsive to sounds.

In another study, by Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto, it was found that passive listening to music seems to help you perform better on certain cognitive tests in the short run, but that actual music lessons for kids, leads to longer lasting cognitive success. The effect of musical training for adults was harder to determine. So, musical training seems to make children smarter!!

In conclusion, music is great for your brain!