Brain aerobics software?
At any rate, as a youth, I probably scoffed at the idea of aerobics, but I do not scoff anymore, and I am of the age where I take my brain exercise very seriously.
Saturday afternoons at the Pub have been replaced by leading workshops and going to Little League games, and I do not want to miss a moment of it.
So I exercise daily now, at the YMCA, or doing the lawnmowing, to get the heart rate up, and defend against all that nasty alzheimers plaque in my brain.
And just like aerobics of the 1970's variety were designed to keep my heart healthy, new discoveries about the human brain have been followed by "brain aerobics software" designed to keep my brain plastic, which means growing real time connections between neurons, and also birthing new brain cells daily, which is called neurogenesis.
From what I am reading about neurogenesis, my brain does create new neurons daily, but it does not just import them to existing circuitry as replacements. I have to provide some kind of novel learning experience for those neurons to get locked in, and they usually go to the area around the hippocampus, which is where memory is stored.
Novel learning experience, and you can get a very clear sense of all this information from Paul Burghardt, Ph.D. and Simon Evans, Ph.D. in their book, Brainfit for Life, can involve learning a new language, taking up a new hobby, like painting, or learning a musical instrument, or finally learning how to program the DVD player.
(I managed to never learn how to program a VCR).
Since I have a 14 year old boy, I now will need to learn how to follow him around on the internet and soon I will need to plant a chip in his ear lobe or buttock to keep track of his whereabouts.
Those will be novel learning experiences.
In the meantime, though, I am reading Brainfit for Life, and books like The Brain That Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge, MD, and learning about software which is being designed to challenge the brain.
Those authors describe some very interesting developments in regards to software now which could be likened to brain aerobics software.
They are saying and the research is beginning to support the idea that utilizing certain commercially available brain aerobics software, and some positive lifestyly changes, will enhance my neuroplasticity and neurogenesis during this decade of my life and beyond.
So I bought some of those programs and tried them out, Lumosity, Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, and the The Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, and I am quite pleased with the personal impact of them.
I like that I can use a tool and notice a helpful improvement even at age 61, because I had been led to believe that once past a certain age, my brain would begin a slide into senility.
All of the programs which I am calling brain aerobics software, and I have certainly not tried all of them, have been useful for me.
The Posit Science program demands the most time and is the most expensive, and with use, I noticed an immediate improvement in short term memory. Lumosity is the easiest to use. It is an online subscription program, which I can keep open on my computer while I work and use as a brain brightener between phone calls or tasks. It is fun and bright, and provides the necessary increasing challenge level important to neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
The Mind Sparke program is in the middle in terms of time and expense, but is superb in terms of working memory improvement.
The nice thing about these programs is that I do not to compete, get it right, ect, I need to practice for the improvement to happen.
It is not a job application, it is a tool I can use to sustain my level of functioning, and once I am in the loop where I am looking at the research, new developments and new versions will be readily available for me. And another key piece of the brain fitness puzzle is omega 3 fatty acids. The best source is from fish, ocean going, cold water fish, not the farmed stuff.
The risk from fish is mercury pollution, and that can happen even in OTC supplements which have not been distilled appropriately.
I do not like to cook fish, so I am going to use a supplement for my omega 3 fatty acid, since it is good for my heart and my brain. You knew that neurons were mostly omega 3 fatty acids, didn't you? Neurons which have the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, et al, are neurons which talk to each other much more effectively, meaning a fun and lively life.
And you can check out what Evans and Burghardt have to say about omega 3's in their book.