Margaret Lukens, New Leaf + Company LLC
There was a time when scientists believed that the adult brain had nowhere to go but down. Like a flower that develops, blooms and fades, our brains were thought to reach a peak of processing power early in life, then begin the long, irreversible march toward decrepitude.
Now research has shown that the adult brain is characterized by neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections, which continues throughout life. Several companies have entered the market with the promise that we can have a more buff brain to match the gym-toned body.
One such company is Lumosity. With a series of games played on the computer, Lumosity claims to help boost your BPI, “brain performance index,” a ranking based on over 7,000,000 uses of the Lumosity games. The Lumosity games aim to take advantage of neuroplasticity by encouraging the brain to form the neural connections that improve functions such as memory, processing speed and cognitive control.
Often feeling that my brains have drained away through my ears as I slept, and having mastered half a dozen games on Solitaire Until Dawn plus some advanced-level sudoku in an attempt to build my brain power, I signed up for Lumosity’s free 14-day trial.
While my mousing hand doesn’t appreciate the extra work, I find the games enjoyable and relaxing. I take a 10-minute break during my workday to compete against my personal best on computer games and feel virtuous about it.
The brain functions targeted by the games play a critical role in helping people be more productive, too, by helping us to attend quickly to what is necessary, to exert control over the things that command our attention, and to handle more things more quickly without feeling overwhelmed. So I’m not frittering away time on computer games; I’m improving my brain’s executive function. At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
What methods have you tried to improve your brain’s abilities? Crossword puzzles? Jigsaw puzzles? Other brain fitness products? Share your experiences here.