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Improve Your Brain

posted 2 Sept 2010, 06:15 by Mpelembe   [ updated 2 Sept 2010, 06:17 ]

Improve your brain how? Does improve your brain mean a better
memory, a higher IQ, less chance of Alzheimers, better
spelling, quick insights, witty retorts, mind reading,
superiority, Nobel Peace Prizes, greater wealth?

Most of us who want improved brains also want the things
that go with it in the external world, and most of us think
that all I need to do to improve my brain in pour in
knowledge, and at some point there is a tipping into
superiority, I guess is the phrase to use.

Actually that kind of expectation for improving your brain
is a pipe dream.

However, there are some things we can do now to increase
neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, two recently discovered
capacities of the human brain which underlie an improved

Your brain grows new neurons every day, which is
neurogenesis, and your brain is incredibly plastic, which
means it grows new connections each time you learn
something, and if those connections are fired enough they
will remain available for work.

Until about ten years ago, no one knew our brains could
rewire so profoundly or so rapidly, and now we are working
on developing tools to enhance neurogenesis and

In fact, in April of 2009 the IMPACT study was published
which put the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program to the
research test, and both the participants and the researchers
were impressed by the rigor of the results.

If you are curious about what the brain fitness folks are
saying about improve your brain research, and counseling,
then you should read Brainfit for Life by Simon Evans,Ph.D.
and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. who are neuroscientists at the
University of Michigan. Evans and Burghardt have culled the
neuroscientific research looking for tidbits that you and I
can use to keep our brains improved.

They write for the layperson and also write with a sly sense
of humor, and they say that we can all improve your brain if
we attend to the the pillars of brain fitness, which are
physical activity/exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress
management, and novel learning experience, and novel
learning experiences might include using a computerized
brain fitness program.

So now maybe you can see why I said that the phrase improve
your brain might not mean what you thought it would mean.

Improve Your Brain Through Physical Exercise

The most important pillar of brain fitness according to the
experts is physical activity/exercise. There is both good
news and bad news. The good news is that the level of
activity/exercise is not required to be Ironman Triathalon
level, it can be more of what you already do. So if you walk
around the block, walk enough to develop some deep breathing,
deep enough that it is hard for you to talk and breathe at
the same time.

The bad news is that if you want neurogenesis and
neuroplasticity you have to do it.

Improve Your Brain Through Nutrition

You can find a tremendous amount of information about
nutrition and your health and immune system, but I bet you
had not given too much thought to how nutrition impacted
neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.

Evans and Burghardt go into great detail about micro and
macro nutrients and what they are, and they emphasize the
tremendous importance of omega 3 fatty acids to your
neurons. It turns out that our neurons are mostly omega 3
and if there is not a regular supply of replacement omega 3
our neurons get brittle and do not communicate with each
other effectively. That looks and sounds like confusion and

The best source of omega 3 is fish, which runs the risk of
mercury poisoning, so perhaps you want to get that part of
the improve your brain puzzle through a supplement which has
been appropriately processed to remove mercury.

Sleep Your Way to an Improved Brain?

According to Evans and Burghardt the improve your brain
process requires a good nights rest so your brain can
consolidate the days learning and complete some hormonal
tasks. If we cut our sleep short, our brain improvement

Same goes for stress management. Stress hormones like
adrenaline and cortisol kill those new neurons, so managing
stess is a very important part of the improve your brain
game plan.

Improve Your Brain Through Novel Learning Challenge

Most of the brain fitness folks indicate that to improve
your brain, you must challenge it with novel learning
experiences like learning a new language or learning a new

We cannot do more of the same old same old and expect to get
more neuroplastic connections in our brain. So I cannot read
another counseling book and expect any improvements because
my brain knows counseling.

However, I can get some neuroplasticity going if I give my
brain a challenge that involves an increasing level of
challenge and an opportunity for an appropriate number of
correct responses, like around 80%.

The improve your brain writers report that the best novel
learning challenge is the kind of challenge involved in
learning a new language or a new musical instrument.

Not sure about you, but I do not have time to do that even
though I am inching towards retirement, so I have looked at
using computerized brain improvement tools.

I have enjoyed them, and if you are considering them for
your novel learning experience, then look at the IMPACT or
the PNAS study to see what researchers are saying about a
couple of the computerized programs.  Please let me know
about your experiences. Thanks. Mike with the improved

About the Author:

Michael S. Logan is a brain fitness expert, counselor, a
student of Chi Gong, and a licensed one on one HeartMath
provider. I enjoy the spiritual, the mythological, and
psychological, and I am a late life father to Shane, 10, and
Hannah Marie, 4, whose brains are so amazing.