Did you know you can boost your brain’s functions such as memory, logic and speed of data processing no matter your age? New science is now showing that not only is this possible, but your brain might even return functions that could have been lost to trauma, stroke or dementia! Yep! Here’s to neuroplasticity.
Read on to find out:
- Why you lose brain function
- What is Neuroplasticity and what does it mean for you
- What you can do right now to start boosting your brain power
Why Do Our Brains Degrade?
We've long been led to believe by the mainstream that our brains only grow for a limited number of years - years that span childhood and perhaps a bit of early adulthood – and that it’s pretty much all downhill from there. That’s sad... but luckily… not true at all.
World leading neuroscientists such as Michael Merzenich, professor at the University of California, San Francisco, are proving that your brain can actually rewire itself to increase its functions and even re-learn ‘permanently’ lost abilities – all the way into late adulthood – by a phenomena known as neuroplasticity.
You might know the old joke: There are two signs of aging: 1) Loss of memory; 2) I forgot the second. This joke’s more uncomfortable than it’s funny because we've sadly come to accept that as we get older, we stop making sense and our memory fades (*wrong thinking alert).
Our brains can degrade due to certain illnesses, traumatic head injury, stroke, our diets, our lifestyle choices – but definitely not simply to ‘getting older’ of itself as has become common belief. A 13 year study published in 2010 by the Rush University Medical Center concluded that even “mild age-related decline in cognitive function is mainly due to the neuropathologic lesions" (tissue damaged due to injury or disease) – and not just the passing of time. This means it's preventable! It's not your destiny as you age.
"Despite a popular view your brain is not programmed to degrade as you age"
OK… don’t panic next time you can’t find your keys – but do ask yourself – “why am I not retaining this information?”
>> Read on to learn more about neuroplasticity and what you can do right now.
Neuroplasticity to the Rescue
Simply put, neuroplasticity = your brain’s ability to reorganize itself – forming new neural connections.
The great thing is, it can be highly targeted. Once you know which brain functions to target, you can apply specific exercises and watch your brain’s processing power actually increase (even reteach itself things it has forgotten to do).
It is critical that these exercises are performed regularly, are repetitive in nature and at all times pushing the difficulty level – forcing your brain to really work for it. Just as working out at the gym builds your physical strength, this new research shows that brain exercises help build your brain.
For example, if you’ve lost the function of your right arm due to stroke, a new method of rehabilitation, is to pin your left arm and go about your day “trying” (hard) to use that right arm that is no longer functional... The idea is for your brain to eventually re-organize itself to fire the right signals to get that right arm moving again!
"Specific exercises can help you increase your brain’s processing powers at any age"
What Can I Do Right Now To Start Training My Brain
Want to boost your ability to remember names of people and places – become better at mental maths – stop misplacing those keys? All that and much more is possible thanks to neuroplasticity + the right exercises!
Do you have a smart-phone / tablet? Get onto your app-store and search for “brain training” – loads of results, right? Luckily we’ve tested them for you and here are our top 3 picks:
- BrainHQ: old-school ‘look and feel’, but has been created by a science team on the cutting edge of neuroplasticity research.
- Peak: easy to use and navigate, great selection of effective games.
- Lumosity: almost on par with Peak but we felt Peak was a little easier to use.
All of these come as free versions so why not try out all 3 and go for the one you like the most.
If you’ve only got a desktop/laptop computer head over the www.brainhq.com for browser-based games.
Good luck Bursters!
If any of this has struck a nerve, please feel free to share your story and thoughts!
References & Further Reading: