I think increase your brain power has been removed from the comic book back pages and into the national consciousness in the last few years, as a result of the work of folks like Michael Merzenich, Ph.D., Simon Evans, Ph.D., Paul Burghardt, Ph.D., Martin Bueschkall,Ph.D. and Susan Jaeggie,Ph.D., and Richard Davidson,Ph.D, Norman Doidge,MD, and author Sharon Begley, among others.
They are authors of work that I have found interesting.
They are amplifying our understanding of and magnifying our ability to develop two recently discovered capacities of the human brain, neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
Neurogenesis is the term used to describe the fact that our brain grows new neurons daily, and those neurons can become part of our existing brain circuitry if we fertilize the neuronal soil with exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and novel, challenging learning experiences.
The good news is that the exercise does not have to be of the world class variety and the novel learning experience does not have to be learning nuclear physics or quantum mechanics.
(A novel learning experience could be as simple as learning to use your non-dominant hand to work your computer mouse. However, that might exacerbate the stress issue).
Neuroplasticity is the term used to describe our brain's constant rewiring and reconnection of itself depending on what we are paying attention too.
If I am paying attention to a novel learning experience, like learning a new language, or a new musical instrument, or a computerized brain fitness program, the neurons in my brain will form new connections, increasing the number of neurons I can bring to bear on that task, which is a very good thing when your brain gets to be my age.
The result of all that rewiring is called cognitive reserve and it means that my brain has some side streets created to bypass circuits which are damaged by the oxidative stress, for example.
While I understand the rewiring that happens with learning the vocabulary of a new language, I am also very intrigued by the impact of computerized brain fitness programs, like Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, which is a commercial adaptation of the Bueschkall and Jaeggi research, and the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, which has been developed by Michael Merzinich's Posit Science company.
They both provide a platform which challenges my brain in the most effective way with the appropriate amount of positive feedback in a convenient and efficient practice.
It can take some practice to learn a language or an instrument, but the Mind Sparke program takes 1/2 hour for 19 days, and then maintenance practice as needed. The Posit Science Program takes an hour per day, five days per week, for eight weeks, and the research on the program, especially the IMPACT study, is very positive.
Mind Sparke increases IQ, and there is apparently no upper limit to what can be accomplished. The more you practice the more IQ you get. (It is important to understand that high IQ does not translate into fame and fortune, however it can certainly help in the quest for fame and fortune).
And those are not the only computerized brain fitness tools available to increase your brain power.
The Lumosity tool is a favorite of Simon Evans, Ph.D., author of Brainfit for Life which is the book laying out an excellent background of what research is revealing about the human brain and its capacity to increase its neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
The co-authors of Brainfit for Life, Simon Evans, Ph.D, and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. are neuroscientists at the University of Michigan.
They suggest that there are four areas we need to attend to for maximum brain power; physical exercise, nutrition, sleep, and novel or challenging learning experiences.
An important nutrient is omega 3 fatty acid, which we do not get as much of in our diet anymore. They address the need to keep omega 3 fatty acid in balance with omega 6 fatty acids, for the best brain health.
They report that the neurons are mostly omega 3 fatty acids and if the neurons are not resupplied, they become brittle and do not receive or send signals very well, resulting in garbled communication.
So do not forget your
omega 3 fatty acids. Please be sure to check your supplement, if you are taking one, to make sure it has been processed to eliminate mercury. (They explain how to tell).