Is Brain Training Real????

Happy child learningWe’re well into the new year and many of us are trying to cling to our New Year’s resolutions. A new year often brings with it a desire for renewal and sparks a motivation towards improving our lives. Weather we make goals for better health or behavior, success in business or school, or a more active social life, we look the world in the eye and make a promise for change. Though the majority of us seek to improve our home and bodies, many times we forget about our minds.

A great deal of research and snake oil has been published promising how we can amplify mental abilities and improve processing speed, memory, logic and reasoning and even our ever narrowing attention spans. For years now there have been several books, websites and programs that espouse the ability of a person to improve these skills by using a “self help” approach to achieve the desired results, but, as is often times the case, these programs offer no physical support and, much like our New Year’s resolutions, interest drops off around the first signs of difficulty.

One buzzword that seems to be everywhere these days is Neuroplasticity. Nuroplasticity or brain plasticity is the idea that brain structures are not unchanging but constantly adjusting meshes of neurons that reposition themselves daily. Everything we do can affect our brain’s physical makeup for, and mostly it adjusts to how we use it. Because of this there has been a rising trend towards focused activities that work to guide how our brains change state through “brain training.”

With a seemingly endless supply of articles and websites alleging the use of brain training to strengthen individual parts of the brain associated with areas related to memory and motor function it is easy to fall prey to exaggerated claims and general misinformation. Research does show that brain training can be effective at changing how the brain processes and expresses information and shows noticeable changes in the structure of the brain. It’s a promising idea that through simple brain training exorcises we can increase our IQs and think better than ever before. Sadly this is not how brain training works. Brain training doesn’t build what the brain is lacking so much as it refurbishes what the brain already has.

Where a lot of brain training operations are truly negligible is support. Much like working with a personal trainer, working with a brain trainer who shows proper application of the skills covered, results in greater overall success than going at it alone. Brain training is fundamentally limited to the part of the brain which is actually trained. Task that train memory are not going to help a person’s motor skills, however research does show that coached cross training can help bridge the separations between targeted areas

Though most of us can make it through the first month, less than twenty percent of us keep our resolutions after just two years time! Don’t let this be you this year. If your goal is to better your mind and you think brain training might be right for you avoid throwing money at program and expect prime results. Work with a trainer. Having a trainer who understands your goals and can see where you are having difficulty can make all the difference. It is possible to do a self directed approach, but knowing how to apply this can make all the difference.

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