Every episode of Brain Games explores the surprising ways our brains work to analyze our surroundings and help us thrive in our world. There are many aspects of brain functions that are fascinating and effective, but out of our control. However, the most surprising thing about our brains may be their ability to change. There are even aspects of our mental abilities that can be conditioned and strengthened. If you wish your brain was more effective at handling certain tasks, you may actually be able to do something about it.
The Changeable Brain
Have you ever struggled for words or memories and wished that your brain worked faster and better? The good news is that you might be able to boost your brain power with a little work. Neuroscientists believe that in some ways your brain is a lot like your muscles. When you use it, it gets stronger and better at repeated tasks. The human brain has an impressive ability to change and develop new capabilities, a characteristic called neuroplasticity. Whatever your level of mental fitness, with some work you may be able to increase your abilities because of neuroplasticity. There is evidence that with some effort you can improve your concentration, memory and mental flexibility.
Exercising Your Mind
Brain training games have become extremely popular, but do they really work? There is some controversy regarding their effectiveness, but they certainly cannot hurt you mental abilities. Many scientists believe that you at least need to make an effort to use your brain in order not to lose it. A study presented in 2009 by Mayo Clinic neuropsychiatrist Yonas Geda, for example, found that elderly people who read books, played games, used computers and did crafts such as pottery or quilting had a 30 to 50 percent lower risk of memory loss than those who didn’t do those activities. Mental exercise makes a difference.
Body and Brain
Not a fan of brain exercises? You may be able to increase your mental muscle by working up a sweat. Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey, author of the bestseller Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, says that taking up a new activity that requires hand-eye coordination or graceful foot moves is an excellent mental workout as well. So if you’ve been meaning to take a dance class or join a martial arts studio, you might also find that your memory and concentration improve. As an added benefit,studies also show that exercise helps elevate moods and alleviate depression.
Want to give exercising your brain a try? In this week’s episode of Brain Games: Use it or Lose it Jason Silva, deception specialist Apollo Robbins, and NYU cognitive scientist Scott Barry Kaufman challenge you to games guaranteed to stretch, flex, and strengthen your brain. Tune in to watch Monday June 10 at 9PM et/pt and give your brain a work out!