What does mental aerobics bring to mind? I know when I think of aerobics, I think of the classes I see at my YMCA, which looks like a fun dancing type of movement, led by an instructor with a microphone, and disco or dance music playing.
When I think of mental aerobics, I experience a sinking feeling and a thought about drudgery, and research and libraries, and writing term papers.
But wait, I am not in school anymore! I do not have to do term papers anymore.
Interesting association of mental aerobics with drudgery.
Now I am 60 years old, and graduate school is behind me by 12 years, and I am not so sure where they went, except I am married, and I have a 10 year old son, and a 4 year old daughter who expects a ration of tickling each day.
As a Boomer, moving rapidly towards a Senior classification, and one who has always enjoyed working out, and as a counselor looking for the best tools for my clients, I am now exploring a different version of mental aerobics.
Technological developments like fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) have allowed to explore inside the human brain in new and fascinating ways, and the results are providing some interesting ideas for enhancing our Boomer and Senior Brains, let alone the brains of our children, or our clients.
Ten years ago, there were discoveries made about the human brain that overturned all neuroscientific dogma in regards to the growth of new neurons. We do grow them and that growth can be encouraged.
(Want to check it out? Look up Norman Doidge,M.D., Helen Fisher,Ph.D., Simon Evans Ph.D, or Paul Burghardt,Ph.D.)
In fact, here is link to the e-book written by Evans and Burghardt called
Brainfit for Life which talks about how to keep your mental aerobics rhythmic, metaphorically speaking.
Norman Doidge and Sharon Begley talk about the potential of the brain to overcome issues like stroke, and how regular practice changes brain maps, which the brain is ok doing anytime, in fact the brain is a data craving organ, and loves a stream of new experiences. It thrives on that, so if you are a musician, take up a foreign language, if you are a counselor, take up an instrument to change your brain maps.
Mental Aerobics of the Computer Kind
There are brand new brain fitness programs out there that you can download to your computer which have research to back them up in regards to their effectiveness.
In fact, I believe that a combination of physical and mental aerobics is synergistic for the brain at any age.
We do not have to waste away sitting on the front porch and grousing about the neighbor kids on our yards.
In fact the Mayo Clinic and University of Southern California have just released new research about the Posit Science program, and Norman Doidge interviews Michael Merzenich about Posit Science in his book, which indicates (they say 'shows definitively') that "computerized brain exercises can improve memory and attention in older adults."
I have been using the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program since last summer, and I have been very pleasantly surprised by the experience. I noticed my short term memory and attention to task got better. That is important an easily distracted ADD brain in a noisy household with two small children.
What to see what all the excitement is about?
Two Other Computerized Programs Which Train the Brain-
Research Available Too
Evans and Burghardt discuss the research that this program adopts. Very challenging, and remember, you are after progress, not perfection. I do not even worry about the score, I do the practice because I know it works.
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