What is Brain Training?

Sarah Valek
Sarah Valek

Brain training is the act of doing mental exercises to stimulate brain functioning and cognitive development. Puzzles, logic games, video games, flash cards and thinking exercises are all a part of brain training. If practiced consistently, they are thought to improve memory, increase concentration, reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s-related symptoms, improve visual reasoning, slow the mental effects of aging and generally improve your mental capabilities. According to research using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), people who do daily mental exercises have improved memorization skills.

The human brain.
The human brain.

Brain training operates under the concept of brain plasticity, that the brain is always learning and changing. Scientists used to think the brain’s networks became fixed with aging and assumed older people couldn’t learn new information. Today, scientists know the opposite to be true; the brain can be molded and changed, even in the elderly. Humans have a lifelong ability to change the brain’s neural pathways as a result of new knowledge and experiences. This new knowledge changes the brain and makes brain training possible.

Crossword puzzles are good brain exercisers.
Crossword puzzles are good brain exercisers.

There are many products on the market claiming to increase brain functioning. Nintendo makes a video game for Nintendo DS called “Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day.” This game features math, logic and reading games designed to be a “treadmill for the mind.” Other companies offer brain training programs complete with their own set of games.

By studying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results, researchers have found that people who do daily brain exercises can improve their memorization skills.
By studying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results, researchers have found that people who do daily brain exercises can improve their memorization skills.

Alternatively, you can make your own routine. Do daily crossword puzzles, Sudoku, logic board games or word scrambles. Practice better memorization, visualization and reasoning skills. Make connections with new knowledge. Put past memories together to create a vivid scene. Recall sights, smells and sounds of a past event. Take a cue from children and ask “why?” about everything in your surroundings to practice reasoning and logic skills.

Playing board games is a form of brain training.
Playing board games is a form of brain training.

Lawrence Katz, Ph.D., came up with exercises called “neurobics.” To practice neuorbics, simply change your daily routines. Do you always sit at the same spot at the dinner table? Sit elsewhere. Do you use the same hand to flip on a light switch? Use your other hand.

The brain's plasticity allows it to change, remap, and even heal itself over the course of a lifetime.
The brain's plasticity allows it to change, remap, and even heal itself over the course of a lifetime.

The key to reaping the benefits of brain training is to practice consistently and regularly. Do a few exercises every day. You also want to be sure to have good nutrition and get plenty of physical exercise. If your brain doesn’t get the proper fuel and nourishment, it can’t be expected to learn new tricks.

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Discussion Comments

wesley91

There are many free brain-training games on the internet. They aren’t as easy as I thought they would be, either. One of them gives you the first three letters of a word, for example, “pro”. Then, you name all of the words that you can think of that start with that. The longer your word is, the more points that you obtain. It’s not quite as easy as it seems. They gave me the three letters “moo” and not only could I not get a vision of a cow out of my head, I couldn’t think of any words that started with “moo” at the time!

It’s a great way to exercise your brain.

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    • The human brain.
      The human brain.
    • Crossword puzzles are good brain exercisers.
      Crossword puzzles are good brain exercisers.
    • By studying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results, researchers have found that people who do daily brain exercises can improve their memorization skills.
      By studying magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results, researchers have found that people who do daily brain exercises can improve their memorization skills.
    • Playing board games is a form of brain training.
      Playing board games is a form of brain training.
    • The brain's plasticity allows it to change, remap, and even heal itself over the course of a lifetime.
      The brain's plasticity allows it to change, remap, and even heal itself over the course of a lifetime.