Increase Mind Power
To increase mind power, that is the question, to paraphrase the bard, and that phrase can mean so many different things to so many different people.
To a kid with ADD, it could mean staying focused, to a kid with ADHD, slowing down, to a Senior Citizen, it might mean remembering a grocery list, or sustaining the visual acuity to drive to and from the grocery store, to an individual beginning the recovery process from an addiction, it might mean switching into the meditative physiology, and opening up to those insights, to a parent of an autistic kid, it might mean an emotional response from your child.
To someone recovering from a stroke, the ability to use one side of the body again would be an example of mind power, and if you have read the book by Norman Doidge,MD, called the Brain That Changes Itself, you would read about folks who are doing just that using innovative treatment strategies.
To Michael Merzenich,Ph.D., increasing mind power is something that is a side effect almost of his research into neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, two capacities of the human brain which were unknown until recently.
Neurogenesis means we grow new neurons and that happens every day. Neuroplasticity means we rewire the connections in our brains in a matter of minutes, according to what we pay attention to.
Want my source for that information? Read the e-book called Brainfit for Life by Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D., neuroscientists at the University of Michigan.
That rewiring means I am building what is called a cognitive reserve, lots of connections in the brain which can reroute signals around trouble spots. Lots of connections and cognitive reserve is a good thing for 61 year old brains.
It turns out that increasing mind power in terms of IQ is very doable these days if you practice a computerized brain fitness program called Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, and the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program has helped Senior Citizens recover about 10 years of memory, among other things.
Computerized brain fitness programs are sprouting up all around us, and can help us tune up aspects of mind power like our short term memory, reaction time, and visual acuity, all of which translate into a mind power of a kind.
The Four Pillars of Increasing Mind Power
So far though, there is no pill or potion or magical practice, done in a moment or two that increases mind power.
Increased mind power takes regular attention to several aspects of our lives; physical exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences.
When we weave attention to those aspects of our life into our daily activities, neurogenesis and neuroplasticity are enhanced.
If we use computerized brain fitness programs, then we may enhance memory and IQ, which could translate into increased mind power if you need increased IQ to achieve your life's goals.
Physical exercise appears to be the key to your brain increasing its power.
Both neurogenesis and neuroplasticity are enhanced by exercise.
According to Evans and Burghardt, in Brainfit for Life physical exercise can be as simple as more physical activity, doing more of what your are already doing. No massive barbells or prodigious sweaty workouts required, so a little extra walking or walking up and down the steps is a great place to begin, and as you build in terms of physical activity, then a workout regimen can be added in, which can be done at home using an exercise ball and dumbells.
For an example, take a look at what Angie and Scott Tousignant advocate in their More Love, Less Fat couples workout. They look sculpted now, but that is not where they began. Evans and Burghardt speak extensively about the importance of nutrition for increased mind power.
The brain cannot store energy, so it has to have a constant supply of high quality nutrients including phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, glyconutrients, ect., all of which come from real food, grown locally, vine ripened. Increasing mind power means putting an end to eating processed foods filled with msg and high fructose corn syrup. No way around that folks. The brain uses 20% of the fuel the body burns even though it is only 2% of your weight. One of the vital ingredients for increased mind power is omega 3 fatty acid. Neurons are composed mostly of omega 3 fatty acid and without replacement, neurons can become brittle which means they do not receive or send communications effectively. Remember that old computer term programmers still use, GIGO? Garbage in, garbage out. Very appropriate for your neuronal communication.
Stress management and sleep are also important aspects of increasing mind power.
During sleep, according to Evans and Burghardt, those newly minted neuronal connections are evaluated and kept or pared by the brain, which is an important energy conserving process, and hormonal activity important to brain health also happens during sleep. If that activity is cut short, our brain health suffers.
Novel learning experiences can be as involved as learning a new language, a new musical instrument, or doing a new career, or as simple as one of the computerized brain fitness programs.
The important aspect of novel learning challenges is that they must be new, and challenging, and deliver the right kind of feedback, or they just cement what we already know, which we can call crystallized intelligence.
Michael Merzenich, instigator of the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, says the challenge must increase with your increasing effectiveness, so the program must track your progress and deliver a challenge that you can get a correct answer to about 80% of the time. That is the level which sustains increasing neurogenesis and neuroplasticity across time. Some of the reseach that computerized brain fitness programs are basing themselves on has not been published even a year yet.
For example, the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro is based on reseach on the dual n back task published in the summer of 2008, and that reseach says that daily practice of the dual n back task for 1/2 hour for 19 days increases IQ and that there is apparently no upper limit to what can be accomplished in terms of IQ score.
Just a caution. High IQ, according to Daniel Goleman, does not do much for life success if it is not accompanied by emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence can be learned too, rather easily actually. Now you are talking life skills
For a look at the Mind Sparke, click here. I bought it and experienced a wonderful increase in my ability to keep my ADD brain focused on tasks.
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