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Posts Tagged ‘brain stimulating activities’

You keep losing your keys, forgetting appointments, you don’t remember someone’s name, your brain feels a bit fried.

Is this a bad sign?


The bad news is that as we get older many of us suffer from declining mental facilities.   By the time people get into their 70’s there is a pretty good chance of suffering a decline.

One in three American’s over 71 years old have some diminished mental function.

A study by Duke University Medical Center, published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that 22% (5.4 million people) of that population have begun to see their mental facilities decline.

Add that to a previous estimate of 3.4 million Americans with full dementia and that exceeds one third of the 25 million Americans over 71 years old. That’s more than eight million people.

Is one in three of us doomed to lose our mental capacities?

There’s plenty you can do to try to avoid that fate. Here’s some commonly recommended activities that can help to keep your brain fit.

Top Ten Brain Fitness Techniques:

  1. Play games. Try the challenging ones like Sudoku, crosswords, and mind teasers. Great mental stimulation and good for relieving stress.
  2. Eat the right fat. Stick with the healthy Omega-3 fats like salmon, nuts, flax seed and olive oil.
  3. Exercise. Physical exercise gets your blood pumping into your brain and feeds it healthy oxygen.
  4. Learn a new skill. Learning a language, or woodworking or how to cook can work out a different part of your brain and keep you stimulated.
  5. Change your habits. Break out of your daily routine and do something you normally don’t do like take a walk at lunch or go to the theater.
  6. Change your routine. If you are right handed, try using your left hand for simple tasks (I’m trying this now and it’s kind of hard!) Drive a different way to work. Anything that forces your brain to take notice that you are doing something different.
  7. Read. Not the same old stuff you normally read but something out of your regular area of interest. Read any history lately? Or science? It can open your mind up to new interests.
  8. Hang out. You need to be social, hang around your friends and get into lively discussions. Great for your brain and entertaining too.
  9. Write. You can write about anything – your childhood, vacations, work, dreams, or anything that pops into your head. It stimulates your mind and activates areas of the brain you may not be using. Who knows, maybe there’s a best seller locked up in that brain.
  10. Drink to your health. OK, within reason. A glass (for women) or two (for men) is the maximum recommended daily dose of alcohol. Drinking in moderation has healthful benefits such as fighting heart disease as well as relieving stress and may lower the risk of dementia. (The definition of a drink: 12 ounces (oz.) of beer, 5 oz. of wine or 1.5 oz. of 80-proof distilled spirits.)

That’s pretty easy. All-in-all, it’s kind of fun to change what you do every day and to discover new things.

Ready to start with a new game? Visit our site to see what’s new. Braingamessoftware.com

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You know that annoying song that you can’t get out of your head?

It’s one of those things about the brain that makes no sense.

Why, why, why am I humming S.O.S by Abba.

And while I’m at it -

  • Why can’t I tickle myself?
  • Why are my jokes funny (or not)?
  • Is yawning contagious?

Two neuroscientists, Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang, have written an interesting book called “Welcome To Your Brain: The Science of Jet Lag, Love and other Curiosities of Life,” which answers many of these questions.

Here’s the top ten.

Know why you remember those really annoying songs?
It has to do with the “sequence recall” capability in our brains, a useful function when we have to remember how to sign our name or tie our shoes. Generally very important to daily living.

When you think about a song, your brain may repeat a sequence that strengthens the connections associated with it. This increases the likelihood that you will recall it, which leads to more reinforcement. The cure? Think of another annoying song and that will crowd the first one out of your memory.

Your brain is an energy hog.
It’s only 3% of your body weight but uses 17% of your energy. A Hummer in your head.

High altitudes can create strange visions.

People have had spiritual experiences at high altitude, felt a strange presence or seen strange things. True? Oxygen deprivation is likely to interfere with brain regions that are used in visual and face processing, and in emotional events. So, ya, Moses probably did hear the voice up on Mount Sinai.

You can’t seem to tickle yourself.
The cerebellum region of our brain (called the “little brain”) is where we distinguish the difference between our own touch and another person’s. That helps us drown out our own cluttered sensations (like the texture of our clothes) but immediately feel someone else’s touch. The cerebellum predicts the sensory consequences of our own actions. If a prediction matches the actual sensory information, then the brain knows that it’s safe to ignore the sensation because it’s not important. If reality does not match the prediction, for example someone is tickling you, then the cerebellum is telling you to pay attention.

Jet lag is not good for your brain.
The stress hormones released due to jet lag can damage the temporal lobe and cause memory problems.

Sunlight (and sometimes orgasms) can make you sneeze.
Sneezing is a reflex that is supposed to expel something irritating in your airwaves. A signal is sent to the lateral medulla in the brain by way of the trigeminal nerve. Bright sunlight is supposed to signal your brain to contract your pupils but sometimes this overloaded signal spills over into the trigeminal nerve and triggers the sneeze. It’s just nerve overload, causing crossed wires.

Yawn. I’m not bored, I’m waking up my brain.
Yawning expands our pharynx and larynx, sucking air into our lungs. The oxygen enters our blood, pumps into the brain thereby making us more alert. Is yawning contagious? Perhaps. The authors say it could be a way for individuals to transmit the need for increased alertness to others.

It’s hard to hear a phone conversation in a noisy place.
That’s because the noise in the room is going into your speaking piece, traveling through to the phone on the other end and being sent back to you mixed together with the speaker’s voice. Stick your finger on your mouthpiece. Or get off the phone.

There’s a “Comedy Central” in your brain.
Some people with damage to the right side of their frontal lobe often don’t get jokes, because they have difficulty interpreting the “surprise” that makes a joke funny. Of course it could also mean your jokes aren’t funny. No, it must be the joke recipient.

Video games can actually help you multitask.
Video games require sustained multitasking (guns, bombs, enemies shooting at you, scores, bonus points – there’s a lot going on) which can increase your ability to pay attention to many things at the same time.

Speaking of playing games, our site has a lot of brain stimulating games, which may not improve your multitasking abilities but they are fun to play.

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Nearly nine out of ten people think that it is possible to improve brain fitness.

That comes from an interesting study recently released by the American Society On Aging, called the Attitudes and Awareness of Brain Health Poll.

What did people think was useful for keeping their brains fit? These are the top eight activities that they think are good for the brain:

  • Avoiding tobacco (70%)
  • Eating fresh fruits and vegetables (67%)
  • Doing crossword puzzles (67%)
  • Reducing stress (64%)
  • Limiting alcoholic drinks to one per day or fewer (63%)
  • Spending time with family and friends (62%)
  • Seeing the doctor regularly (61%)
  • Working with numbers (60%)

By the way, you can see that your mum was right about the veggies.

They also enthusiastically support the idea of brain check-ups.

Nine out of ten people interviewed say that it is important for people to have their thinking abilities checked just like they have physical health check-ups.

This study is a good read. In addition to details about how people feel about keeping brain healthy, there are reports from experts in the field that articulate the research supporting the benefits of keeping your brain fit.

The poll, sponsored by the MetLife Foundation, surveyed a total of 1,000 residents of the United States who participated in telephone interviews conducted by Harris Interactive between April 10 – 21, 2006. (OK, just because Snoopy is their spokesdog, it doesn’t reflect on the quality of this poll.
_____________________________________
Einstein weighs in on mental fitness.

When it comes to mental fitness, just ask this brainy guy how he keeps his noggin’ in shape.

 

Albert Einstein showing off one of his “brain fitness” techniques. Note to Al: You should be wearing a helmet!
Pedal over to our website sometime: braingamessoftware.com

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Have you heard of the “brain plasticity movement?”

I just read this article in the US World Report about keeping your brain fit. I thought this article had something to do with credit cards, but no, it’s the plastic in your head they are talking about.

For decades, scientists assumed that humans were born with all the brain cells they’d ever have. Then, in the 1970s, researchers showed that new brain cells and neural pathways form through the end of life.

“This was the beginning of the brain plasticity movement, the understanding that when we challenge our brains, the brain cells sprout new dendrites, which results in increased synapses, or contact points.” according to Dr. Gene Cohen, director of the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University.

The Incredible Shrinking Brain

Here’s a fact you don’t really want to think about too much : your brain is shrinking.

The article points out that this inevitable physical changes starts in early adulthood but become especially marked after about age 60 or so. Gradually, the brain shrinks, losing around 0.5 percent to 1 percent of its volume each year after that age threshold.

That explains why I can’t remember where the heck I left my car keys.

In any case, the story points out there is a growing consensus that there is plenty that can be done to slow the age-related declines in memory, mental speed, and decision making that affect most people.

Like many experts say, a healthy diet (fruits and veggies have lots of antioxidants), physical exercise (anything except watching TV) and mental stimulation (like playing brain games) is what you need.

Here’s the plan:

1. Run to the market

2. Buy these yummy looking antioxidants

3. Play Sudoku while you are eating them

 

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memo2.jpg

Memo

To: The Staff

From: The Boss

Re: Mandatory activities

At 2 p.m. every day you will shut down your spreadsheets, close up your email and turn off your Blackberrys.

And for the rest of the day, you will play video games on your computer.

That’s an order.

The Boss

OK – it would seem that productivity in that company would plunge. Time to sell the stock short? I don’t think so, or rather Prevention Magazine would beg to differ.

As they point out in an article about brain games, brain challenging activities are highly recommended for maintaining mental agility.

“When we mentally challenge ourselves on a regular basis, we can maintain good intellectual potential as well as reduce our risk for age-related memory loss.”

The article encourages you to “find out what mental stimulation and brain games can do for your memory and other cognitive functions.”

And, my advice is, email the article to your boss.

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