Thursday, May 28, 2009

Train Your Brain!

We had our last meeting of our Senior's group at church this week before our summer break. Our speaker was from Brain Trainers and the topic was Neurobics - exercises you can do to keep your neurons firing and help ward off age-related dementia. We learned that there are different exercises for specific parts of the brain and that just like in physical exercise you need to pay attention to all of the parts to stay as healthy as possible. There are four distinct functions that each have their own activities in a well-functioning brain: logic, creativity, language and perception. Logic exercises include tasks that require separating things into groups or finding contradictions. These include games like Twenty Questions and puzzles like Sudoku. Creativity exercises require a shift in thinking, things that make you reconsider your assumptions. That would be things like riddles, jokes and metaphors. Language exercises require recalling words from clues or communicating in alternative ways. These are the popular crossword puzzles, word searches and such and charades fall into this category. Finally there are perception exercises - things that require seeking or following details. Games that have hidden pictures, illusions and the like fall into this category.

Most folks have their favorite brain activities, usually the ones that we're "wired for" - crossword puzzles, sudoku, word search and the like. I tend to gravitate to word puzzles myself and have never been able to figure out sudoku. Some folks can solve an illusion puzzle in a snap and some can never "see" the hidden pictures. The problem is that when we only do the ones we have an aptitude for we're not really doing our brains as much good as we can. We need to get out of our neural ruts, so to speak to give our brains the workouts that they need to keep us mentally sharp and healthy. Besides games and puzzles there are other activities you can do all day long to train your brain. Most of them involve doing normal things in a different way. Use the opposite hand to brush your teeth, eat, button your shirt. Reverse your usual path at the grocery store or on your daily walk. Learn a new language, consider Braille or sign language in your choices. Sit in a different pew at church. Strengthen those synapses! For more information check out the website.

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