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Get Your Einstein on!

This is a review of FOCUS Factor 90 Tablet dietary supplement (90 Tablets)
Date:  September 17, 2020
Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $29.99

Get Your Einstein on

Have you seen the commercial?
You’ve probably all seen the commercial for this product.  This older lady is talking to a younger lady, pointing out to the younger one where her glasses are and where her keys are.   Impressed, the younger lady says:  “How do you know all these things?  How do you do it?”   The older lady then says:  “I put my Einstein on”, and points to Focus Factor.

According to the website, Focus Factor does the following
Increases memory
Improves brain function
Increases attention length
Natural, safe and effective
90 tablets

 

Focus Factor ingredients
Focus Factor includes ingredients like Dimethylaminoethanol, L-glutamine, L-pyroglutamic acid, Phosphatidylserine, docosahexaenoic acid concentrate, choline, inositol, N-acetyltyrosine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, and a branded electrolyte concentrate called Trace-Lyte. The recommended dosage is 4 tablets per day, to be taken on an empty stomach.  According to Factor Nutrition Labs, the manufacturer, the ingredients in Focus Factor are carefully selected for their unique properties to support overall brain function, memory, focus, and concentration.

This brain enhancement supplement contains six different herbs and herbal formulae, including Bacopin, bilberry fruit extract, grape skin extract, Activin, Vinpocetine, and Huperzine A.

A recent review of Focus Factor, published by BrainReference
states the following:
Focus Factor is a brain enhancing supplement created to support brain function with direct benefits to memory, focus, and concentration.    Manufactured by Factor Nutrition Labs, the supplement is available in two different formulations: one for children (Focus Factor for Children) and the other (Focus Factor) for adults.

According to Factor Nutrition Labs, the ingredients in Focus Factor are carefully selected for their unique properties to support overall brain function, memory, focus, and concentration.

While Focus Factor has not been the subject of clinical trials or independent investigations, Factor Nutrition Labs claim the ultimate goal behind their formula is to improve memory.

Some Factors to consider – BrainReference’s Final Take on Focus Factor
It is a well-known fact that as people age, most of them will eventually experience difficulty in focusing, thinking, memorizing things, and brain fog.   Many of these individuals seek help in the form of brain vitamins or supplements to enhance brain functions.

People must understand that memory is a very complex and delicate phenomenon. Memory is affected by several factors such as physiological changes, genetics, education, emotions and experience.  Why our memory decays as we age is largely a mystery.

Focus Factor promises excellent results, but the lack of clinical studies to support their claims is concerning. We believe that the first step in fighting memory decay is getting a medical evaluation.

Some types of dementia are reversible, while others’ evolution can be slowed down by exercising your brain. In any case, Focus Factor may be effective in some patients.

If you’re ready to improve your brain health and wellness, we believe science has the answer.

 

PROS AND CONS:

Pros:

To me, any formula that contains Phosphatidylserine, choline and  inositol, Bacopin, Vinpocetine and Huperzine A  has  to be good!  I have been taking those substances for years and can vouch for the way they make me feel:   I have a sharper memory and a sharper mind.

Focus Factor reviews are generally positive, with consumers reporting enhanced focus and an overall pleasant experience for the money they spent on the product.

 

Cons:

Yes, there might be a lack of clinical studies to support the manufacturer’s claims, but in the end the important thing should be the way the product makes you feel!

 

Click on the heading  “Brain Games” (top of page) to view the latest blogs on this website.  Enter the full or partial title of an earlier blog in the “Search” box to view the desired blog.

 

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Thinking outside the box brain games

This is a review of the book “The Little Book of Big Brain Games:  517 Ways to Stretch, Strengthen and Grow Your Brain”
Date:  October 11, 2020
Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $9.95

Think outside the box
These 517 Games are designed to stretch your mind, to make you “think outside the box”.

This little book is a pocket-size brain gym. Here are more than 500 full-color puzzles from the original Big Book of Brain Games―the book that Will Shortz praised as “the most wide-ranging, visually appealing, entertaining collection of brainteasers since Sam Lloyd’s Cyclopedia of Puzzles,” and The Washington Post called “an opus . . . mixing math with wonder.”

Here are mental games, visual challenges, logic posers, riddles, and illusions, each designed to stretch neurons and give the brain a workout―all in a format that will fit in your pocket. The puzzles (both original and mind-boggling adaptations of classics) are rated in difficulty from level one to ten, but even the easiest are guaranteed to make the solver feel smart.

This pocket-size brain gym contains mental games, visual conundrums, logic posers, riddles, illusions –  all designed to stretch neurons and shake up your usual way of thinking.  Be creative.  Be challenged.  Push your brain in new directions.  The puzzles are organized by 12 types  with 10 degrees of difficulty, each designed to make you feel more curious, intuitive, engaged, and smarter.

These mental games can change the way people see things.  They allow us to see the world in new ways.

A Few Examples from the Book
Here are a few examples of the mind-stretching exercises you’ll find in this little book:

Halving Seven (can you prove that 7 + 7 = 12?)

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Can you cut this wheel of cheese into eight identical pieces with only three straight cuts?

How did Fido do it?
DOG TIED:  Fido the dog is tied to a tree with a ten-foot length of rope.  He wants to get to his doggie bowl, which is fifteen feet away.  So Fido trots over and starts eating.  There are no tricks; the rope didn’t break and the tree didn’t bend.  Nothing of that sort.  So how did Fido do it?

 

The book’s chapters
The exercises are organized into several chapters according to the ideas they center around:

“Play Thinks” (a special type of exercise, coined by the author, designed to transfer the reader to a special state of mind where play and problem-solving coexists)
Geometry
Points and Lines
Graphs and Networks Curves and Circles
Shapes and Polygons
Patterns
Dissections
Numbers
Logic and Probability
Topology
Science
Bonus Rounds

 

What Your Goal Should Be

To become more curious, more inventive, more intuitive.

 

From the Book’s Author
Ivan Moscovich, the book’s author, says:

“Psychologists have long known that children learn about the world through play; now it is clear that adults can also benefit from games.  Even as we age, our brains continue to form neurons and make new connections. In order to encourage this growth, research has shown that you need to exercise your brain as you would a muscle – constantly challenging it in new and different ways.  As puzzlemaster Nob Yogashicara once said:  “What jogging is to the body, thinking is to the brain.  The more we do it, the better we become at it.”

“We can understand the most abstract and difficult concepts if we allow ourselves the luxury of approaching them not as work, but as fun – and as a form of exploration.”

 

Moscovich has chosen activities that span many topics and combine entertainment and brain-teasing.

 

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

The book is portable (can fit inside your pocket or handbag) – so you can take it anywhere with you, as a “Portable Brain Gym”, as it were.

The exercises in this little book pack a big punch:  They certainly force you to think outside the box!

 

Cons:

None that I can think of.

 

Click on the heading  “Brain Games” (top of page) to view the latest blogs on this website.  Enter the full or partial title of an earlier blog in the “Search” box to view the desired blog.

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Boosting Brain Power with Chocolate

This is a review of two articles on the subject of “chocolate and the brain”, published on ScienceDaily and on MedicalNewsToday.

“Boosting Brain Power – with Chocolate“
an article published on ScienceDaily.

According to the article “Boosting Brain Power – with Chocolate“ recently published by  ScienceDaily:  “Cocoa or dark chocolate may improve blood flow.  It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.  There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against heart disease.”

“Eating chocolate could help to sharpen up the mind and give a short-term boost to cognitive skills, a University of Nottingham expert has found.  A study led by Professor Ian Macdonald found that consumption of a cocoa drink rich in flavanols – a key ingredient of dark chocolate – boosts flow to key areas of the brain.”

 

Eating chocolate could help to sharpen up the mind and give a short-term boost to cognitive skills, a University of Nottingham expert has found.

Boosts blood flow to key areas of the brain
A study led by Professor Ian Macdonald found that consumption of a cocoa drink rich in flavanols — a key ingredient of dark chocolate — boosts blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours.

Increased blood flow to these areas of the brain may help increase performance in specific tasks, as well as boost general alertness over a short period of time.

 

Cocoa flavanols found in chocolate enhance brain function and help maintain good cardiovascular health

The findings, unveiled at one of the biggest scientific conferences in America, also raise the prospect of ingredients in chocolate being used to treat vascular impairment (including dementia and strokes),  thus maintaining good cardiovascular health.

The study also suggests that the cocoa flavanols found in chocolate could be useful in enhancing brain function for people fighting fatigue, sleep deprivation, and even the effects of ageing.

 

Cocoa flavanols dilate cerebral blood vessels, bringing more oxygen to key areas of the brain
Ian Macdonald, professor of metabolic physiology at The University of Nottingham, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect increased activity in specific areas of the brain in individuals who had consumed a single drink of flavanol-rich cocoa. This increased activity was linked to a definite dilation of cerebral blood vessels.  Thus more blood — and therefore more oxygen — was  able to reach key areas of the brain.

 

Flavanols found in red wine, green tea and blueberries as well as cocoa
Flavanols are not only found in chocolate with a high cocoa content — they are also present in other substances such as red wine, green tea and blueberries.

 

Cocoa Flavanoids increased grey matter flow for two to three hours after ingestion
Professor Macdonald stated: “Acute consumption of this particular flavanol-rich cocoa beverage was associated with increased grey matter flow for two to three hours… The effects of consuming this particular beverage on cerebral blood flow raises the possibility that certain food ingredients may be beneficial in increasing brain blood flow and enhancing brain function, in situations where individuals are cognitively impaired such as by fatigue, sleep deprivation, or possibly ageing”.

 

Findings presented at the American Association for the Advancement of  Science (AAAS)
Ian Macdonald presented his research at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the biggest annual gatherings of scientists from all over the world.  The AAAS, founded in 1848, is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the prestigious international journal Science. Its annual conference draws up to 10,000 attendees.

 

Health Benefits and Risks of Chocolate
According to the article “Health Benefits and Risks of Chocolate”,  published by  Medical News Today:

No-Guilt Chocolate
The next time you eat a piece of chocolate, you may not have to feel so guilty about it. Despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain, a number of health benefits may be associated with this delicious treat.

 

Health benefits of chocolate
According to a review in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine,  scientists have discovered that cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, contains biologically active phenolic compounds.

This has changed people’s views on chocolate, and it has stimulated research into how it might impact aging, and conditions such as oxidative stressblood pressure regulation, and atherosclerosis.

 

Chocolate’s antioxidant potential may have a range of health benefits
The higher the cocoa content, as in dark chocolate, the more benefits there are. Eating chocolate may have the following benefits:

  • Lowering cholesterol levels
  • preventing cognitive decline
  • reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems

 

Hot chocolate could help reduce cognitive decline
Scientists at Harvard Medical School (Lead author: Farzaneh A. Sorond) have suggested that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day could help keep the brain healthy and reduce memory decline in older people.  They found that hot chocolate helped improve blood flow to parts of the brain where it was needed.

The author states:  “As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Results of a lab experiment, published in 2014, indicated that a cocoa extract, called lavado, might reduce or prevent damage to nerve pathways found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This extract could help slow symptoms such as cognitive decline.

 

Conclusion:
I hope you have enjoyed my two reviewed articles.  Personally, I was delighted to hear that dark chocolate is good for the brain, and I eat a few pieces of it every day.

 

Click on the heading  “Brain Games” (top of page) to view the latest blogs on this website.  Enter the full or partial title of an earlier blog in the “Search” box to view the desired blog.

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9 Best Brain Training Websites

This is a review of a recent article entitled “9 Great Brain Games and Brain Training Websites”, in VeryWellMind.

The article states:  “From pen-and-paper Sudoku and crosswords to specialized brain training apps, options for brain games are plentiful. People of all ages use these games to improve mental functioning and prevent brain aging.”

It further states:  “Brain training may help improve your memory, response time, and logic skills, cognitive function is complicated.   If you’d like to give your brain a workout and have fun too, try these games and activities that may improve your mental focus and fitness.”

 

Sudoku

See my blog entitled “15 Board Games that will make you Smarter”.

Sudoku is a number placement game that relies on short-term memory.  To complete a Sudoku puzzle, you have to look ahead and follow trails of consequences.  This type of planning helps improve short-term memory and concentration.

Sudoku can be played online, on an app, or on paper.  Look for a regular Sudoku puzzle in your newspaper, buy a book with a collection of puzzles (see Amazon.com[link – see below) or download a free app for your phone or tablet (I know that there is a free Sudoku ad on the Apple store).

You can get Sudoku from Amazon.com for $6.99, or you can get the free version of Sudoku, as stated in the VeryWellMind article, from www.websudoku.com.

Sudoku puzzles are available in varying degrees of difficulty. When you’re starting out, play the easy games until you learn the rules. If you’re playing on paper, use a pencil!

 

Lumosity

See my blog entitled:  “See What Your Mind Can Do.  The price for the subscription service is explained there.

Lumosity is one of the most established brain training and mental fitness programs. You can sign up for a free account to play three games per day, or choose the subscription service for more offerings. Either way, you can keep track of your results and improvement.

Lumosity’s fun brain training and mental fitness games, tests, and activities are backed by science. You can play them on the website, or download the free apps for iOS, Apple and Android. Lumosity also has a meditation and mindfulness app called Lumosity Mind.

 

Crosswords

See my blog entitled “15 Board Games that will make you Smarter” 

Crossword exercises are classic brain trainers, accessing verbal language as well as memory from many dimensions of knowledge. There are many ways to do crossword puzzles, both online and off.   If you subscribe to a daily newspaper, you’ll almost always get a crossword there. Or you can pick up a book of crossword puzzles specifically suited to your skill level and interests.

You will also find many options for crossword puzzles online or via free or inexpensive apps. The AARP website offers a daily crossword.

The daily crossword  is free to everyone, whether or not you’re a member of the group.

 

Elevate

Although the VeryWellMind article states that this is free, there is a cost of  $9.99/month to subscribe for 35+ games.  When I was downloading the app, I could not finish the downloading unless I subscribed for $9.99/month.

You’ll need to download an app to play Elevate‘s 35 (and counting) different brain training games, which have a strongly educational feel.

Elevate’s games center on reading, writing, speaking and math.  You can customize your training to focus on whichever areas you prefer. You can track your progress to see how your skills are improving.

I personally don’t like the Elevate games because I don’t think they add anything to my brain capacity and they are difficult to play in this form because it’s hard to determine what the right answers are.

 

Peak Brain Workout

Peak is another app-only option (available for iOS, Android and Apple)  that provides brain games to help you work on focus, memory, problem-solving, mental agility, and more cognitive functions.  If you’re a competitive type of person, you might be motivated by seeing how well you perform against other users. The app is free to use, but an inexpensive subscription unlocks more features.  One good feature is that you get your score and a performance evaluation at the end of each game.

 

Happy Neuron

Price:   You must create an account and purchase a membership in order to use: $6.65/month.  This is a monthly subscription fee.    Although the article states that “Happy Neuron offers a free trial so you can see if you like the approach”, I was not able to find that anywhere.

Happy Neuron divides its games and activities into five critical brain areas: memory, attention, language, executive functions, and visual/spatial. Like Lumosity, it personalizes the training to fit you, tracks your progress, and the games are based on scientific research.

Happy Neuron’s simplified app version is available for Android users only.

Good thing about Happy Neuron:  It has a feature called “Let’s do a bit of physiology – Do you know the essential features of brain training?”

“Increasingly, scientific evidence tells us that we can dramatically increase the probability of staying mentally and physically fit throughout our lives.  Physical exercise, good nutrition, social connection with others, and mental stimulation all play important parts in insuring that our brains remain sharp and agile.”

The following section, on their website, is very helpful:
There are several physiological mechanisms to keep your brain healthy:

  1. Stimulated and therefore active neurons get more oxygen and nutritive elements.
  2. Neural stimulation multiplies the number of connections between synapses.
  3. Keeping your neurons active is the key to generating new ones, as well as developing them and helping them survive.
  4. Even in adult life, neurons can regenerate with stem cells.

Another section, called “Building your Cognitive Profile”, is also quite helpful.  Here are Happy Neuron’s  instructions for this section:  “Complete it by playing at least 10 games in each cognitive sector.  It will also help you get familiar with the coach and the games before you start the training.”

 

Braingle

Price:  Free to play on www.braingle.com

With over 15,000 brain teasers, riddles, logic problems, optical illusions, codes and ciphers, trivia quizzes, and mind puzzles submitted and ranked by users like you, Braingle has the largest collection anywhere on the internet!  It also has an online community of enthusiasts.  You can even create your own puzzles to give your brain a super workout.   You can even create your own puzzles to give your brain a super workout.

 

Queendom

Queendom has thousands of personality tests and surveys. It also has an extensive collection of “brain tools”—including logic, verbal, spatial, and math puzzles; trivia quizzes; and aptitude tests—for you to exercise and test your brain. If you’d like to save results and scores, you’ll need a free account. Some tests give you only snapshot results for free, and charge a fee for full reports.

Free to take tests.  However, there is a fee if you want a copy of the report.

Tests include:  emotional intelligence test, classical IQ test, verbal-linguistic intelligence test, scientifically developed tests, fun tests and quizzes, mind-stretchers, trivia quizzes.

I tried (unsuccessfully) to create an account and am still waiting for their email confirmation.  That function doesn’t work from this website.

 

Brain Age Concentration Training

This is a brain training and mental fitness system for the Nintendo 3DS system. It includes a huge number of games to hone your concentration, memory, calculation, and other brain skills. It’s fun, portable, and challenging. Brain Age is also available for the Nintendo Wii U, but not for the Switch, Nintendo’s most up-to-date gaming system.

Cost:  $29.99 for the Brain Age Concentration Training program.

In order to play the games,  you must buy one of the Nintendo games ($59.99).

 

I hope that my review of the VeryWellMind article has been helpful to you.

 

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The best brain supplement for brain health and memory

This is a review of “Nootropic Brain Support Supplement – NEURIVA Original Capsules (75 Count in a Bottle) Phosphatidylserine, Gluten Free, Decaffeinated – Supports Focus, Memory, Learning, Accuracy and Concentration”
Date:  September 28, 2020
Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $62.28

What’s in it
Here is a breakdown of the two most important, clinically-proven, ingredients in Neuriva:

Phosphatidylserine (100 mg)
Phosphatidylserine is a foundational ingredient in a lot of nootropics, and for good reason. It already lives in high concentrations in our brain and is very important for cognitive function.    Studies have shown that, as we age, we start to lose the amount of phosphatidylserine in our brains and therefore could benefit from supplementation.   It is claimed that Phosphatidylserine can help protect against this degeneration and promote the brain’s ability to learn and retain memory.   Clinical studies have shown that plantsourced  Phosphatidylserine has a positive effect on brain performance. It supports focus, memory, learning, accuracy and concentration.  

Coffee Cherry Neurofactor  (Non-caffeinated)  (100 mg)
What is coffee cherry?  It’s Coffee fruit extract.    Schiff, the company that makes Neuriva, tells us that coffee cherry is the skin/rind that houses coffee beans. When the coffee cherry is ripe, it turns red and the coffee bean is extracted and the coffee cherry skin is then used for supplementation.  The coffee cherry that Neuriva uses is non-caffeinated and  is sourced from farms that are certified by the Rainforest Alliance, which maintains standards for environmental, social, & economical sustainability.   Whole coffee fruit powder has been shown in double-blind tests to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor, also known as BDNF.  BDNF is a protein that is associated with cognitive improvement.   Coffee cherry is a very important brain protein that is essential for the health of our neurons. In short, it helps keep our brains young and healthy despite us getting older and less sharp.

Start assessing your skills and building your brain fitness routine
Download the free Neuriva Brain Gym (an app powered by Cognifit) from the App Store or Google Play to start assessing your skills and building our brain fitness routine.   (I downloaded it from App Store on Apple.)

Following  is some additional research that I have done on Neuriva, to help you make up your mind about Neuriva.

According to an article on Neuriva.usNeuriva is the best brain supplement for brain health and memory,   one of the best nootropic supplements that are available on the market today. Every nootropic supplement, which includes Neuriva, is used to enhance the mental functionality and improve the factors like the concentration level. In particular, Neuriva is introduced to support brain functions in terms of memory, learning, concentration, and precision. Neuriva is a natural nootropic and comes in capsule form.

The best brain supplement for brain health and memory
Neuriva is one of the best nootropic supplements that are available in the market. Every nootropic supplement, which includes the Neuriva, is used to enhance the mental functionality and improve the factors like the concentration level. In particular, Neuriva is introduced to support brain functions in terms of memory, learning, concentration, and precision. Neuriva is a natural nootropic and comes in capsule form.

Do you want to provide your brain an extra boost?
If you want to provide your brain an extra boost, try Neuriva’s brain supplement for a few months to get the best results. Neuriva, which was introduced by Schiff Vitamins, promotes these indicators of mental performance (improvement in concentration level, as well as improvement in memory and learning). The natural ingredients of the supplement are GMO-free and help improve brain functions. This supplement is used by millions of people and they have noticed a considerable improvement in their mental functionality.

Accompanying Brain Training Program
Neuriva Brain Supplement comes with an individual brain training program that identifies certain areas of cognitive improvement based on personal reviews. Then 14 mind games and five training programs are specifically selected to satisfy the individual needs. The supplement also includes score information and analysis, which helps the consumers to monitor the progress of cognitive ability compared to the supplement and a benchmarking with other users.

Why Neuriva?
There is a wide range of health supplements available in the market. You must be thinking why should you go for Neuriva? Well, have a look at the major reasons to use this excellent mental health supplement below:

  • The supplement has been delivering the best results when it comes to improved concentration for the people of all age groups.
  • Enhanced memory.
  • Better “precision”.
  • Increase in the concentration level.

This is the standard set of benefits that each and every consumer expect from a nootropic. Obviously, some stacks go on and provide mood support, protection for brain cells, or long-term support for brain adaptation. But only the most complete nootropics cover all these aspects. And, Neuriva has been delivering the same for a good time now.

 

According to another article, entitled “Neuriva Brain Performance: Exclusive Review & Rating (2020)” on supplementstephen.com/neuriva, the author gives Neuriva a high rating, stating the following:

Neuriva Is An Overall Solid Product
Neuriva is an approachable introduction into the world of nootropics. With straightforward ingredients & a credible company that makes it, Neuriva is an overall solid product.

Neuriva’s Ingredients and Benefits
Neuriva is an overall solid product, and an approachable introduction into nootropics because it  combines:

Phosphatidylserine  [described earlier in this blog]
Coffee Cherry)  [described earlier in this blog]
Non-caffeinated ingredients (stimulant free)
Clinically proven ingredients
Small number of ingredients
Produced by a Reputable company
Comes in both gummy & pill form
GMO Free & Vegetarian

Brain Training
What is unusual about Neuriva Brain Supplement?

The company offers the customers a free individual brain training that identifies certain areas of cognitive improvement based on personal reviews. Then 14 mind games and five training programs are specifically selected to satisfy the individual needs. The supplement also includes score information and analysis, which helps the consumers to monitor the progress of cognitive ability compared to the supplement and a benchmarking with other users.

Neuriva Brain Performance Experts
To educate and spread awareness among the people regarding brain health,  NEURIVA  has created a network of respected, multidisciplinary experts in brain health and nutrition. The team is composed up of holistic doctors, researchers, dietitians and cooks,  who want to offer ongoing support and resources, from simple tips to brain-healthy recipes.   As part of its efforts, the group will also help identify additional research opportunities to better understand the role of vital nutrients in the brain.

How Does Neuriva Work?
Cambridge gives us an idea of ​​how this product could benefit the brain of the consumers. They conducted a study on one of the ingredients of this product: coffee extract. They found that coffee extract can effectively affect the brain protein termed as a neurotrophic factor (BDNF for short). BDNF is necessary and an important element for learning and memory.

If more plasma BDNF is introduced into the brain from which neuropathic factor has been removed, this can lead to better cognitive function. Cambridge tested 4 extracts: Whole Coffee Concentrate Powder (WCFC), Green Coffee Caffeine Powder, Grape Seed Extract Powder, and Green Coffee Bean Extract to determine and know the blood levels of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

Is Neuriva Safe To Consume?
The ingredients in Neuriva are purely herbal and are usually considered safe.
   Very few side effects have been reported.  Although reports of side effects are rare, a few users have reported some degree of jitteriness.

There are hundreds of positive reviews for Neuriva.

 

PROS AND Cons:

Pros:

There is a wide range of health supplements available in the market. You must be thinking why should you go for Neuriva?  Well, have a look at the major reasons to use this excellent mental health supplement below:

It includes two of the best nootropics around, ingredients of very high quality:

Phosphatidylserine, which supports focus, memory, learning, accuracy and concentration,

Whole coffee fruit powder (which has been shown in double-blind tests to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor, also known as BDNF).   BDNF is a protein that is associated with cognitive improvement. Coffee Cherry helps keep our brains young and healthy despite us getting older and less sharp.

Studies prove that the phosphatidylserine ingredient does not produce noticeable side effects to consumers of any age.

Neuriva has been delivering the best results since the first day of its introduction to the market.

The supplement has been delivering the best results when it comes to improving  concentration for people of all age groups.

I have been taking Neuriva for some time now, and notice improvement in concentration and memory.

 

Cons:
Some of the things to watch out for when consuming this supplement:

The coffee ingredient in the supplement (coffee cherry), although from a pure source, may cause some people to feel a little jittery, although the makers of Neuriva claim to use only non-caffeinated ingredients. 

 

Click on the heading  “Brain Games” (top of page) to view the latest blogs on this website.  Enter the full or partial title of an earlier blog in the “Search” box to view the desired blog.

 

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Does Playing a Musical Instrument Make You Smarter?

Material for this blog comes from a recent article I just read entitled  “Does Playing a Musical Instrument Make You Smarter?” – written by Christopher Bergland for Psychology Today.

Albert Einstein began playing the violin at age 6.  By age 13, he was playing Mozart’s sonatas.

 

Musical Training Improves Executive Functions
A new study from Boston Children’s Hospital found a correlation between musical training and improved cognitive abilities in both children and adults.  Previous studies have identified a link between musical training and cognitive abilities, but few have looked specifically at the effects of early musical training on executive function (which includes cognitive flexibility, working memory and processing speed).

Adult musicians and musically trained children in the new Boston study showed enhanced performance on several aspects of executive functioning.

 

As stated in the Psychology Today article:  “Executive functions (EF) are described as high-level cognitive processes that enable people to quickly process and retain information, regulate their behaviors, make good choices, solve problems, plan, and adjust to changing mental demands.  Another component of EF is having cognitive flexibility as represented by the ability to adjust to novel or changing tasks on demand.”

The Boston study concluded that children and adults with extensive musical training showed enhanced executive function when compared to non-musicians, especially for cognitive flexibility, working memory, and processing speed.

 

Musical Training Might Improve Academic Achievement
The neuroscientists used functional MRI brain imaging in their controlled study to reveal a possible biological link between early musical training and improved executive functioning.  Executive functioning is a strong predictor of academic achievement.

 

Three Brain Benefits of Musical Training
1.  Musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight.

2.  Beginning musical training before the age of seven has the greatest impact. The age at which musical training begins affects brain anatomy as an adult.

3.  Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, resulting in less reliance on working memory and more extensive connectivity within the brain (the  supplementary motor area, pre-supplementary area, and right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex).

Scientists have found that musical training can increase the blood flow in the left hemisphere of the brain, suggesting that the areas responsible for music and language might share common brain pathways.

 

Musical Training Increases Blood Flow to the Brain
A study from the University of Liverpool  (conducted in May 2014) found that musical training can increase the blood flow in the left hemisphere of the brain.  This finding suggests that the areas responsible for music and language might share common brain pathways.

The researchers noted that children who play a musical instrument may already have executive functioning abilities that somehow attract them to music and predispose them to stick with their lessons.

 

Pros and Cons: 

Pros:   Having been a pianist all my life, I can attest to the fact that musical training improves the brain, from executive function to academic achievement.  I’m in total agreement with the article in Psychology Today.  My advice would be to learn a new musical instrument, or learn a new musical composition on the instrument that you already know how to play.  And enjoy all your firing neurons!  Neuroscientists in another recent study have shown that all your brain neurons fire when you play a musical instrument!  So why not impress all your friends and do your brain a big favor at the same time?

Cons:   None that I can think of.

 

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15 Board Games That Make You Smarter

Material for this blog comes from a recent scientific article I just read entitled  “15 games that might make you smarter just by playing them”, written by the Insider Picks team for Business Insider.

To this article, I have added knowledge from various other research sources, to make this blog into a research report you can really truly benefit from reading.

Note:  The Business Insider  article refers to them as “games that rely on your strategic, critical-thinking, and imaginative abilities, games that challenge you to develop your mental skills in a fun and engaging way”.

These are board games that challenge you to think differently, imagine and solve ever-changing problems.  They are a particularly valuable use of your time because they sharpen your mental abilities.

Here they are:

Lumosity Brain-Training App, free to download

To find my review of Lumosity, see my blog entitled:  “See What Your Mind Can Do”.

As stated in Business Insider, “Lumosity is a well-known name in the ‘brain-training’ game. It’s used by over 85 million people worldwide and offers 30+ brain games to give your mind a workout. You can track your scores to see improvement over time and compare your own against the scores of other people. The ease of the app is supposed to make building a brain training habit easy.”

Lumosity challenges you to think differently, imagine and solve ever-changing problems, a valuable use of your time. It sharpens your mental abilities.

 

Mose Cafolo – Chinese Mahjong Game Set

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $57.99

Mahjong is a cognitive game. Researchers in Hong Kong say that mahjong is a viable treatment for dementia, according to the Tech Archive website. Mahjong requires players to use attention, memory, planning and calculation skills.

This game of intelligence requires concentration. Mahjong is a difficult game to learn and master, but once you do, your ability to excel in the game is limitless, according to the University of Maryland.

 

Hasbro Scrabble Crossword Game

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $15.97

As stated in the Business Insider article:  “If you want to increase your confidence with words, quickness of thought, or you just want to expand your vocabulary, Scrabble is a shoe-in for the job. The ever-changing mix of words available to you in addition to those made by your opponent can sharpen your thinking and turn you into the sort of wordsmith who doesn’t need to check the dictionary to see if they really did just play a real word or not. “

The following are 10 other benefits from playing Scrabble, according to an article in Aha-Now – Discover Happiness.

Scrabble teaches you the vocabulary.
Scrabble helps develop your intellectual abilities.
Scrabble teaches you strategy.
Scrabble encourages social cooperation and bonding.
Scrabble helps improve your emotional well-being and personal confidence.
Scrabble improves creativity. Scrabble develops concentration.
Scrabble fosters learning through creative play. Scrabble helps boosts the immune system. Scrabble makes you happy.

Research has shown that playing word games also aids in developing cognitive capacity and that regular cognitive exercises have been proven to delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease as well as other types of dementia.

 

400+ Sudoku Puzzles

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $6.99

 

Sudoku is one game, like crossword puzzles and riddles, that increases neuroplasticity and makes you smarter. With increased neuroplasticity, you are better able to view something from multiple angles, better able to anticipate and understand new patterns.

Here are a few observations from an Article Entitled:  “Surprising Benefits of Playing Sudoku for Brain Health”, published by DrHealthBenefits:

Sudoku Improves Memory:  It is known that playing Sudoku is good for improving the memory health. It is based on a research done at Trinity College in Dublin found that mental stimulation over puzzles like crosswords and Sudokus can help ward off the decline in brain function.

Promotes Brain Cells:  It is known that playing Sudoku is good for improving the memory health. It is based on a research done at Trinity College in Dublin found that mental stimulation over puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku can help ward off the decline in brain function.

Promotes Thinking Skill:  One of the benefits of playing Sudoku for brain health is to promote thinking skill. You can get this benefit while you practicing your logical thinking process when you are solving a puzzle.

Keeps Your Mind Sharp:  Sudoku can give a positive effect to the brain health. Indeed, this game makes your mind sharp. It allows your brain to exercise.

Boosts Concentration: Many people feel it hard to concentrate.  By having to concentrate on how to fill in the blanks, Sudoku let you think strategically and solve problems creatively.

Makes You Happy:  One of the ways of creating happiness is by playing games.  You can play this game with friends, families, and colleagues.

Reduces Risks of Alzheimer’s:  Alzheimer’s is a chronic disease that attacks the brain.  Research has shown that playing Sudoku can help reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s due to the brain training and exercise it provides.  Sudoku improves memory and concentration.   It gives you the ability to think, learn, and remember, thus preventing the risks of brain problems.

Boosts Energy:  Having more energy to do daily activities can be achieved by playing Sudoku.

 

The Business Insider article mentions the  “FitBrains Trainer App by Rosetta Stone”,  but it is no longer available.

 

Of course!  The greatest collection of  Riddles and Brain Teasers for Expanding the Mind

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $9.95

Riddles are another great way to increase neuroplasticity and help your brain recognize new possibilities. Thinking creatively and dexterously to solve a word puzzle only helps you keep up with your own creativity.

 

Rubik’s Cube Game

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $12.99

Billions of combinations, only one solution.

World’s best-selling and most famous puzzle.

To keep your brain active in a productive way, play with a Rubik’sCube.   It will improve your concentration, allow you to process your own thoughts faster, improve your hand-eye coordination and help you improve your short-term memory.

 

Ultimate Mind Games: With Over 400 Puzzles

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $5.99

Fun games like puzzles and crosswords are a great way to relieve and mitigate stress, by providing similarly challenging situations popping up in real life.  Puzzles like these help you develop critical thinking, improve memory, and enhance visual perception.

 

Adacio Latice Board Game

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price: $99.93

Latice is a new classic strategy board game for 2-4 players: you win by being the first to play all of your tiles.  Perfect for adults, small parties, kids (ages 6+ years) or families, fun for everyone!

Simple rules that combine into surprisingly deep strategies as you learn the game. 3 minutes to learn, 20 minutes to play, a lifetime to master

Strategy board games like Latice help develop cognitive and spatial recognition, as well as planning and interpersonal skills.

 

Family Classic Chess

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $8.99

Chess is a two-player strategy game played on a checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an 8×8 grid.  It is a game that can help bolster strategic thought and critical thinking in any age group, keeping the mind deft and nimble for older players and honing young kids to use critical skills with ease.

 

Monopoly Board Game, classic edition

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $15.97

Monopoly presents  real-life problems and challenges without any of the real-life stress. Improve your creativity and strategy by buying, selling and trading across the board in competition with others.

Buy, sell, dream and scheme your way to riches.

Players buy, sell and trade to win.

Build houses and hotels on your properties and bankrupt your opponents to win it all.

Chance and Community Chest cards can change everything.

 

Ticket to Ride United States of America

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $69.99

Bundled with the Again Products Guarantee:  An authentic, real, and new product.
For 2 to 5 Players

Like Monopoly, Ticket to Ride gives you the ability to make real-life decisions without pressure, ensuring creativity and helping you develop your mental abilities. The game enacts a 7-day cross-country train adventure with all its challenges.

 

Codenames  Board Game

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $38.99

Codenames is a challenging social word game. Two Spymasters who alone know their agents’ real names give one-word clues to their respective teammates in the hopes that the team will be able to correctly coordinate a list of code names to their real names.

 

Yuekon Metal IQ Puzzle Set

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  7.99

These metal wire puzzles are satisfying fun for everyone.  Use your logic, creative thinking and patience to work on the puzzles. Much like the Rubik’s Cube, you’ll be working quickly with your hands in conjunction with your thought, improving your short term memory as you work.

 

SEQUENCE- Original SEQUENCE Game

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $16.97

Play a card from your hand and place a chip on a corresponding space on the game board.  When you have five in a row, it’s a SEQUENCE.

Each player or team tries to score the required number of five-card SEQUENCES before their opponents.

For 2-12 players.

Sequence is “easy enough for children, challenging for adults”!

Sequence uses a sequence to outsmart opponents. You’ll learn to block opponents and employ strategy and luck, as well as create multiple backup plans throughout the course of the game.

 

Snippets – The Fast Paced, Anything Goes Word Game

Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $19.99

Snippets is a fast-paced word game.  Write down as many words as you can in 60 seconds that contain the round’s snippet! A “snippet” is a short sequence of letters that can be found as a whole within one or more words.

Unlike other word games that limit answers to dictionary words, anything goes in Snippets!  Proper nouns, slang, and even non-English words are all fair game! And with only 60 seconds to think, everyone’s answers will be equally hilarious.

 

Pros and cons:

Pros:  My readers know me well enough to know that I’m all in favor of any games that strengthen the mind.

Cons:  Personally, I prefer games that I can play by myself, because I don’t always have another person(s) available to play.   But this is an individual preference.

 

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Working From Home Online Stimulates The Brain

Attention all retirees or about-to-retire individuals:  Want to hear the best way to work from home, create a passive income stream, and keep your brain active at the same time?      

How does working from home online sound to you?  All you need is your computer and an internet connection.   Pretty good, huh!   It’s called “Affiliate Marketing”.   The objective is to create a passive income stream while  keeping your mind active, and a lot of retirees are doing it successfully.

 

What is Affiliate Marketing
Here is the definition of affiliate marketing, according to Investopedia

“Affiliate marketing is an advertising model in which a company compensates third-party publishers to generate traffic or leads to the company’s products and services. The third-party publishers are affiliates, and the commission fee incentivizes them to find ways to promote the company.

The Internet has increased the prominence of affiliate marketing.  Amazon popularized the practice by creating an affiliate marketing program whereby websites and bloggers put links to the Amazon page for a reviewed or discussed product to receive advertising fees when a purchase is made.  In this sense, affiliate marketing is essentially a pay for performance marketing program where the act of selling is outsourced across a vast network.

Fast Fact:  According to Business Insider, 15% of e-commerce revenue can be attributed to affiliate marketing.”

 

If you want to explore this further, you might want to check out the Wealthy Affiliate program.  Wealthy Affiliate trains you to become a successful affiliate marketer.  The web is full of affiliate marketing opportunities, now more than ever, because 6 million people at any one time are searching for stuff all over the internet.

Read all about it on their website.

Conclusions:
Following my three-year search for true, time-tested ways to create a passive income stream,  I have come to the conclusion that Affiliate Marketing is the way to accomplish this, and Wealthy Affiliate is the best training program for affiliate marketers  (it teaches you how to be a successful Affiliate Marketer, and teaches you Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well as WordPress website building).  In other words, everything you need to know to make good money as an Affiliate Marketer.

Creative endeavors and learning stimulate the brain
In addition to providing me with a way to create a passive income stream, the fact of creating a continuous content-rich online blog keeps my brain stimulated.

Furthermore, any new learning is a new neural connection, and Wealthy Affiliate offers all kinds of new learning experiences related to internet marketing, social marketing, website building, SEO optimization, etc.

A winning combination, to say the least!

Learning the Wealthy Affiliate course has been a godsend.  It has kept my brain active and has kept me occupied during this coronavirus pandemic.

Working stimulates the brain
Wealthy Affiliate is perfectly suited to the intellectual and emotional needs of the retired or about-to-retire person.  The Wealthy Affiliate training is very comprehensive, and very stimulating, which is good for the brain.  Working makes you feel like a contributing member of society.  Plus the extra money from commissions is always welcome, especially for retired people on a fixed income.  Emotional needs are satisfied thru the many opportunities to communicate with other Wealthy Affiliate members.

 

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COVID-19 and Chronic Stress

This is a review of a recent scientific article I just read entitled  “COVID-19 and your brain:  6 ways to control the damage to your mental health”, in World Economic Forum.

The scientists at PMHW (Primary Mental Health Workers) have identified 6 biotypes (each distinctive biotype indicating the ways that different brain circuits get disrupted or stuck.)  Because of the involvement of brain circuits, the identification of Biotypes can be a step toward learning how your brain functions.  Because of COVID-19, you might be stuck in one of 6 “biotypes”.

  • Our brain circuits have been affected by COVID-19, with some functions under strain.
  • Chronic stress is most damaging, resulting in tendencies to ruminate, have negative bias and an alarmist sense of threat, emotional numbness, inattention and cognitive fog.
  • These patterns can be broken by training the brain to behave differently.

As demonstrated by this scientific study, there is no doubt that the stress associated with COVID-19 has a deleterious effect on your brain.   Brain circuits are like sections of an orchestra; they are composed of many individual brain cells and perform diverse functions on their own, yet must operate in concert with each other to create a harmonious mind. Among the most damaging influences on these circuits is chronic stress.

How to Deal with chronic stress on your circuits
Chronic stress on your circuits can be the first step toward clinical depression or an anxiety disorder. Scientists at the Stanford Center for Precision Mental Health and Wellness (PMHW) have discovered cutting-edge techniques to understand how brain circuits make us who we are – and what happens when they go awry.  They have identified 6 “biotypes” (indicating the different ways that brain circuits can get disrupted or stuck.)  If you recognize yourself in a biotype, it doesn’t necessarily indicate a diagnosis of clinical depression. But it can be a step toward learning how your brain functions.  Following are the six biotypes, together with tips on how to deal with their deleterious effects.

Rumination
Characterized by a general tendency to worry and “ruminate” on negative thoughts from your inner voice. Limit exposure to news and other information that causes cycles of worry.

Tips:  If you find yourself overwhelmed by news, limit yourself to a single, trusted news digest.
Schedule “worry time”, creating a sense of control and limiting impact on activities important for mental health, including sleep, meaningful discussion and exercise.

Negative Bias
A tendency to dwell on the negative aspects of your experience associated with the over-activation of the brain’s negative affect circuit that, when functioning optimally, helps us detect risk and appraise negative emotion but does not generate negative biases.

An inability to take pleasure in activities that usually give you joy and purpose or feeling like you’re “going through the motions”.  Surround yourself with positive stimulation to engage your brain’s reward network.  Light your favorite scented candle, surround yourself with images of loved ones, and look for opportunities to connect with others.

Tips:
Make a conscious effort to seek out good news. After reading grim statistics, take a moment to recall a positive memory.

Threat Response
 Automatic reactions that are activated when the brain’s negative affect circuit is put into “alarm mode” by threatening situations (real or perceived, immediate or remembered, physical and social) and which are hard to switch off when the sense of threat persists.   Characterized by the body going into “alarm mode” and having difficulty switching it off.

Tips:  Try limiting exposure to stimuli that are overwhelming and focusing on normal routines to establish a sense of control and create stability.  Avoid stimuli that are activating, such as alarming media sources. Over time, gradually increase exposure to necessary stimuli.

Emotional Numbness
Unable to take pleasure in activities that usually bring you joy, associated with reduced activation in the brain’s positive affect circuits that previously responded to rewarding events, activities and memories.

Tips:
Use sources of stimulation to engage the brain’s reward network – finding pleasant smells for the home, playing favorite music, and surrounding oneself with positive images.

Inattention
Difficulty concentrating and staying focused associated with disruptions in the connectivity of the brain’s attention circuit.

Characterized by an inability to stay focused.  Break down your to-do list so you can focus on one item at a time.  Write down the one you want to accomplish first and only expand the list once the item is complete.

Tips:
Break down your tasks and decide which you want to achieve in that hour or day. Write it down. Expand the list only once that task is done.

Cognitive Fog
Brain may feel foggy, reflecting reduced activation in the cognitive control circuit (the brain’s “executive”).  Characterized by the brain felling foggy, rather than sharp.

Tips:
Give yourself permission to rest, and allow your brain plasticity to catch up, acknowledging that it’s normal for your brain to get tired amidst the rapid changes COVID-19 has introduced into your lifestyle.

 

There is no doubt that COVID-19 is causing chronic stress for many of us.  It is hoped that the tips contained in this article will be of some help to anyone experiencing it.

 

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Left Brain and Right Brain Puzzles

This is a review of “Brain Games – Puzzles:  Left Brain Right Brain”
Dated:  September 4 , 2020
Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $8.00 (spiral-bound)

What This Book Is All About
This book contains a good deal of information about how different parts of the brain work and how to stretch different parts of your brain.

How accurate are left-brained and right-brained categories?
Do you consider yourself left-brained or right-brained?  Like most people, you’re probably familiar with the concept – the left brain is associated with logic, reasoning and math skills, while the right brain is associated with creativity.  A musician or artist is expected to be right-brained, while an accountant is expected to be left-brained.  These are simple categories to understand but are they accurate?  As it turns out, the way your brain works is pretty complex – and fascinating:

The Way The Brain Works
We know that, while the various parts of the brain work together, each seems to have its areas of expertise:

The hindbrain is in charge of essential, automatic body functions (hearbeat, blood pressure, and breathing).

The cerebellum also controls and coordinates voluntary movements, balance and posture.

The midbrain controls reflex actions involving vision and hearing.

The forebrain (the largest part of the human brain) consists of the cerebrum and important structures such as the thalamus, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland attached to it.  Because the pituitary gland controls most of the hormones in the body, the hypothalamus is thought to have a major influence on hormone-regulated drives such as hunger, thirst, and sexual desire.

It is the cerebrum part of the brain that distinguishes us from all other living creatures on the planet.  It makes us better problem solvers and decision makers.

The Technologies Used to Get Knowledge of the Brain
We the following technologies to thank for our current understanding of the brain:

fMRI:   functional magnetic resonance imaging

PET:   positron emission tomography

Both fMRI and PET scans work on the theory that blood flow increases in areas of the brain that are currently most engaged (cells that are hard at work need more oxygen and glucose).

In fMRI, a strong magnetic field is used to identify the parts of the brain that are using the most oxygen.  In a PET scan, a trace amount of radioactive glucose is injected into the bloodstream, that the brain cells that are working hardest take up more of the glucose.  In both cases, the most active brain areas appear highlighted in bright colors.

About The Cerebrum
The cerebrum’s thin, gray, convoluted outer layer is called the cerebral cortex.  Its gray color comes from the nerve cells in this layer of tissue.  The majority of the brain’s information processing goes on in the cerebral cortex.

The cerebrum is divided into two hemispheres by a deep fissure.  These two halves are often referred to as the right and left sides of the brain, and they constantly communicate with each other via the corpus callosum.  The nerve fibers  that lead out of the two hemispheres, cross one another in the brain stem on their way to the spinal cord.  Because of this, each of these cerebral hemispheres controls functions on the opposite side of the body.

Each of the cerebral hemispheres can be divided into sections referred to as lobes, and each of these lobes controls a different group of functions.

Frontal lobes control self-awareness and personality.  They are the primary seat of reasoning, planning and problem-solving ar.  They also keep behavior in check.

Parietal lobes  accept and process input from the body’s senses, these are important for written language skills.  They allow us to perceive spatial relations.

Occipital lobes  process information from the eyes.  They allow us to see and recognize we’re seeing, to perceive color and depth, and to track objects in our visual field.

Temporal lobes  allow us to perceive and recognize sound, give us the ability to understand spoken language and appreciate music.  They are also vital to regulating emotion, remembering, reasoning and learning.

Lateralization of brain function
The tendency for cognitive processes to be specialized to one side of the brain or the other.

Do the lobes on the left side of the brain lend themselves better to logical thinking?  Do people tend to use one side of their brain more than the other?  Yes and no.  Sometimes one hemisphere processes things differently than the other hemisphere.  This specialization is called lateralization.   However, it’s also true that both sides of the brain are constantly working together, communicating over the corpus callosum.   Some of the characteristics we think of as “left brained” or “right brained” don’t correlate neatly with a specific hemisphere.

For instance, math skills are popularly associated with the left brain.  However, the right brain is also important for math, particularly when it comes to measuring quantities.

The left brain is commonly considered the verbal side of the brain.  However, the right brain also plays a crucial part in understanding language (interpreting tone and intonation, for example).

To Sum It Up
In a healthy brain, both parts of your brain work together on a wide array of cognitive skills, both logical and creative, verbal and non-verbal.  In a healthy brain, there is a lot of communication between the two hemispheres of the brain.

Plasticity and Change
Plasticityis defined in the dictionary  as  having  the quality or state of being plastic, having the capacity for being molded or altered” In other words, Plasticity refers to the way the brain is able to change as a result of experience.    The brain as a whole is not static:  It changes as you learn!

By experiencing  something repeatedly – saying a name or phone number, for instance, seeing a face, making a recipe over and over again – we learn it.  How does the brain commit something to memory?  When we experience something, a specific pattern of nerve cells, synapses and neurotransmitters activated.  With each repetition the participating cells and synapses begin to change, becoming better at  relaying the signal.  In time, the pattern becomes encoded in a well-worn path through the forest of neurons in the brain.  Research has shown that actual physical changes occur in the brain as a result of learning:

As a result of learning, there is an Increase in
The development of new nerve cells;

The number and size of synapses;

The amount of myelin insulation protecting the axon of nerve cells, especially in the bundle of nerves allowing the right and left sides of the brain to communicate;

The number of tiny blood vessels that supply certain areas of the brain.

The lesson for us
By exposing ourselves to new things and actively seeking more varied experiences on an ongoing basis, we can maintain and even enhance our brain’s mental resources and our cognitive abilities.

Modern neuroscience has established that our brain is a far more elastic organ than was previously thought.  In the past it was believed that an adult brain could only lose nerve cells (neurons) and couldn’t acquire new ones.  Today we know that new neurons (and new connections between neurons) continue to develop throughout life, even well into advanced age.  We can harness the powers of plasticity to protect and even enhance our minds at every stage of life.  Recent scientific research demonstrates that the brain responds to mental stimulation much like muscles respond to physical exercise.  You have to give your brain a workout.     The nature of your mental activities influences where in the brain this growth takes place.  Different cognitive challenges exercise different components of the brain.

What these research findings show…
Our behavior directly influences and changes the structure of the brain.  It is true that any more or less complex cognitive function – be it memory, attention perception, decision making, or problem solving – relies on a whole network of brain regions rather than on a single region.

Conclusion
It is imoprtant to have a rich, challenging, and diverse mental life.  The more vigorous and varied your cognitive activities, the more efficiently they’ll protect your mind from decline.

What You’ll Find in this Book
As you work on the puzzles in this book, pat yourself on the back!  The book has a wide variety of puzzles to stimulate both your left brain and your right brain.  You’ll tackle puzzles that focus on:   Memory puzzles, language puzzles, number-based puzzles, visual mind-stretchers.   You’ll exercise your logic, creative thinking, verbal skills, and more.

Pros:  I like the idea of exercising both my Left Brain and my Right Brain.  With Brain Games – Puzzles:  Left Brain Right Brain, I give my brain a workout.  I find the idea very intriguing.

Cons:  I can’t see any.

 

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How To Lower Your Brain Age

Review of “Brain Games #1:  Lower Your Brain Age in Minutes a Day (Volume 1)
Date:  August 29, 2020
Best place to buy:  Amazon.com
Price:  $8.69  (spiral-bound)

This book was developed to help readers increase their memory, sharpen their reasoning, and expand their creative thinking.

Your mind is your most important asset
It is more important than your house, your bank account, and your stock portfolio…  What can you do to sharpen your mid and protect it from decline?…We turn to cutting-edge research for the answers to this question.

Protect and enhance your brainpower
As discovered by modern-day neuroscience, our brain is a far more elastic organ than was previously thought.  In the past it was believed that an adult brain could only lose nerve cells (neurons) and couldn’t acquire new ones.  Today we know that new neurons – as well as new connections between neurons – continue to develop throughout our lives and even well into advanced age.  This process is called neuroplasticity.   The brain is a very complex organ with different parts in charge of different mental functions.  Thus, different cognitive challenges exercise different components of the brain.   We know this from research experiments  created from real-life circumstances and neuroimaging.  Some say that such technologies  as MRI  have  done for our understanding of the brain what the invention of the telescope has done for our understanding of the planetary systems.

Did you know…?
Research has demonstrated that certain areas  of the brain exhibit an increased size in those who use those parts of the brain more than most people.   For example, researchers found that the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for spatial memory),  was larger than usual in London cab drivers who have to navigate and remember complex routes in a huge city.  Similarly, studies revealed that Heschl’s  gyrus,  a part of the temporal lobe of the brain involved in processing music, is larger in professional musicians than in musically untrained people.  And the angular gyrus, the part of the brain involved in language, proved to be larger in bilingual individuals than in those who speak only one language.   See my blog entitled “The Origins of Brain Training“.

The size of the brain enlargement was directly related to the amount of time each person spent in the activities that rely on the part of the brain in question, showing that cognitive activity directly influences the structures of the brain by stimulating the effects of neuroplasticity.

Diversify your mental workout
It is also true that any more or less complex cognitive function – memory, attention, perception, decision-making, problem-solving – relies on a whole network of brain regions rather than on a single region.

The more vigorous and varied your cognitive challenges, the more efficiently and effectively they will protect your mind from decline.  Your cognitive workout will benefit more from a greater variety of exercises than from doing only crossword puzzles and Sudoku.

The puzzle selection in this book has been guided by these considerations – the roles played by the brain’s different  parts in the overall orchestra of your mental life.   Diverse mental activity is the best treatment for protecting and enhancing your mind.

The publishers of this book have assembled as wide a range of puzzles as possible, offering your mind a full workout.  There is a range of difficulty for every puzzle type, producing an ideal  Cognitive workout regimen.  In any one cognitive workout session, have fun by mixing puzzles of different kinds.  This book offers enough puzzle variety to make this possible.

Research has proven
…that people engaged in mental activities as a result of their education and vocation are less likely to develop dementia as they age.   In fact, many of these people demonstrate impressive mental alertness well into their eighties and nineties.

It is important for you to find the “challenge zone” that is appropriate for you.

Stretch your mind
The degree of effectiveness of puzzles as brain conditioners is not the same for all types of puzzles.  Some puzzles only test your knowledge of facts.  Although such puzzles may be enjoyable and useful in conditioning your brain, they are not as useful as those requiring you to transform and manipulate information or do something with it by logic, multistep inference, mental rotation, planning and so on.   These  are more likely to give you the feeling of mental exertion, of “stretching the mind”, thus better for your brain health.

Stay Sharp
Cognitive decline frequently sets in with aging, often affecting  certain kinds of memory and certain aspects of attention and decision-making.  So it is particularly important to introduce cognitive exercise into your lifestyle as you age to counteract any possible cognitive decline.  Cognitive exercise is also important for the young and the middle-aged.  We live in a world that depends increasingly on the brain rather than the brawn.  It is most important to be sharp in order to get ahead in your career and to remain at the top of your game.

How often should I exercise my mind and for how long?
Think of it as in terms of an ongoing lifestyle change and not just a short-time commitment.  Regularity is key .  Do these exercises regularly.  The results are best when cognitive exercise becomes a lifelong habit.

Exercises increase in difficulty
The exercises get increasingly more difficult as you progress through the book.  Included in the collection are puzzles of every type:  anagrams, crosswords, cryptograms, drawing exercises, language, logic and math puzzles, mazes, memory, observation and perspective puzzles, sequencing, visual logic puzzles, and word searches.    Puzzle solutions are provided in the book’s final section.

Have fun doing these puzzles
Now that you’re aware of the great mental workout that awaits you in this book, the publishers hope that you’ll find these puzzles FUN.    You’ll discover that, by cracking them, you have been training and improving your mind. 

ENJOY YOUR BRAIN WORKOUT AND GET SMARTER IN THE PROCESS! 

Pros:  I’m a firm believer in exercising my mind and I have obtained great results doing that!  Brain Games – Lower Your Brain Age in Minutes a Day contains printed exercises, which some might prefer to online exercises.

Cons:  None that I can think of.

 

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Can Brain Training Work?

Material for this blog comes from a recent article published on SharpBrains.com entitled “Can brain training work?  Yes, if it meets these 5 conditions“.   It is an adapted excerpt from the new book  “SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Optimize Brain Health and Performance at Any Age” (April 2013; 284 pages).  This user-friendly and thought-provoking how-to guide cuts through the clutter of media hype about the latest “magic pill” for better brain health, offering proven, practical tips and techniques that anyone can use to maintain and enhance brain function throughout life and even ward off cognitive decline.

Under what conditions can brain training work?
In a modern society we are confronted with a wide range of increasingly abstract and interconnected problems. Successfully dealing with such an environment requires a highly fit brain, capable of adapting to new situations and challenges throughout life. Because of this,  we expect cross-training the brain to soon become as mainstream as cross-training the body is today.

How is brain training different from mental stimulation?
Anything we do involving novelty, variety, and challenge stimulates the brain and can contribute to building capacity and brain reserve.
For instance, learning how to play the piano activates a number of brain functions (attention, memory, motor skills, etc.), which triggers changes in the underlying neuronal networks. Indeed, musicians have larger brain volume in areas that are important for playing an instrument: motor, auditory and visuospatial regions. However, we need to recognize that such an activity may take thousands of hours before paying off in terms of brain fitness.   It constitutes a great and pleasurable mental effort, and helps build cognitive reserve, but it is different by nature from more targeted, efficient, and complementary brain training interventions.   I should know.  I’m a musician, and although the mental effort that I expended learning to play the piano to perfection helped build my cognitive reserve, it was certainly different from any targeted, efficient, and complementary brain training interventions that I ever experienced.

Under what conditions can brain training work?
This is the million dollar question.
Why do we still often hear that brain training does not work? Because of the different understandings of what “brain training” and “work” mean.

Brain training must transfer to benefits in daily life
The most critical factor in determining whether a brain training method or program works is the extent to which the training effects “transfer” to benefits in daily life. For instance, practice usually triggers improvement in the practiced task. Based on analysis of dozens of documented examples of brain training techniques that “work” or “transfer,” it is proposed that five conditions must be met for any kind of brain training, from meditation to technology-based programs, to translate into meaningful real world improvements:

Specifically, for brain training to work, it must meet the following  five conditions:

It must engage and exercise a core brain-based capacity or neural circuit identified to be relevant to real-life outcomes.  Three examples of Core brain-based capacities
:  executive attention, working memory, speed of processing and emotional regulation.  Many supposed “brain training” games fail to provide any actual “brain training” because they were never really designed to target specific and relevant brain functions.

It must target a performance bottleneck
A critical question to ask is:    Which brain function do I need to optimize?   The question becomes: Is the goal to optimize these cognitive skills?   Concentration? Memory?   Regulating stress and emotions?  If you need to train your executive functions, for example, but use a program designed to enhance speed of processing, you may well conclude that this program does not “work.” However, this program may work for somebody whose bottleneck is speed of processing (as often happens in older adults).

A minimum “dose” of 15 hours total per targeted brain function, performed over 8 weeks or less, is necessary for real improvement
Training only a few hours across a wide variety of brain functions, such as in the “BBC brain training” experiment, should not be expected to trigger real-world benefits.

Training must adapt to performance, require effortful attention, and increase in difficulty
Consider the number of hours you have spent doing crossword or Sudoku puzzles, or mastering any new subject for that matter, in a way that was either too easy for you and became boring or way too difficult and became frustrating.

Continued practice is required for continued benefits
One-time brain training activity will not yield lifelong benefits.  Remember that “cells that that fire together wire together” .   A minimum dose of brain training activity is a threshold to start seeing some benefits.  Continued practice is a final condition for transfer to real-world benefits over time.

Conclusion
From my own experience, I can attest to the fact that brain training most certainly does work.  When you improve these cognitive skills:  concentration, memory , stress-reduction and emotions, executive functions, you can better function in life.

 

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Boost Cognitive Function At Any Age

This is a writeup on the  article that was recently published in “Being Patient” and entitled  “It’s Never Too Late:  Brain Exercise to Boost Cognition at any age”.

Age-related cognitive decline is as normal as loss of muscle mass
But just as regular exercise can keep aging bodies in shape, healthy lifestyle habits and brain exercises can slow cognitive decline and even improve cognitive functioning.    Like muscles, the brain becomes stronger with exercise even later in life.   Good sleep, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help maintain brain health as well as body health.

Does exercising the brain work?
Being Patient” spoke with Dr. Majid Fotuhi, a neuroscientist and the medical director of NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center in McLean, Virginia, about his research and work on brain rejuvenation and rehabilitation.

Dr. Fotuhi has over 25 years of research and clinical experience at John Hopkins and Harvard Medical  School in the field of memory, aging and brain rehabilitation.

What actually happens to our brains when we make them stronger?

Your brain and its neurons
According to Dr. Fotuhi, your brain is made up of cells called neurons, and neurons have extensions which connect with other neurons. Your brain has thousands of blood vessels and capillaries that feed the neurons and the connections between them. We know for a fact that you can improve your brain function by a number of ways.

First, increase your number of neurons. When you exercise a lot, you have more neurons.  It is really incredible that you can create more neurons through vigorous exercise.

Secondly, you can make more fiber bundles, the little highways from one side of the brain to the other. The more you use your brain, the more you solidify those different parts of the brain.

Thirdly, you can have more synapses. When a neuron approaches another neuron and touches it, it provides support for communication. And the more of these synapses you have, the stronger the communication will be between neurons in different corners of your brain. If you have a lot of synapses, you can think better, you can solve more problems, you can remember better.

Grow Your Brain
As you exercise or meditate, you actually create more of these branches of blood vessels that carry more oxygen and nutrition to your brain. So those are four ways that you can literally grow your brain and make yours a healthier and stronger brain. And these things don’t require years of work to get there. “With our brain fitness program”[link], says Dr. Fotuhi, “which is actually a brain rehabilitation program, you can get results within three months.

Make Your Brain Strong
When we say that we’re making our brains stronger, what does that mean? Are we getting smarter. does it mean that our memory will be enhanced? 

Keep reading. . .

How Does Exercising the Brain Work?
According to Dr. Fotuhi:  “Your brain has different corners, different areas.  There’s a part of your brain in front that’s important for attention, concentration, and there’s a part of the brain on the side that’s important for memory.”

You can work out these different brain areas just like you can work out different muscles. When you exercise you increase blood flow, synapses and fiber bundles throughout your brain.  Therefore, exercise is helpful for all brain areas. But if you have issues with attention, then you can focus on doing targeted brain games that challenge your attention and concentration.

For example, you can memorize a deck of cards. Or you can play brain games that require you to think fast, solve problems fast, and respond fast…. Your brain has different components, and different components are related to different brain functions. If you do targeted brain training, you can improve those areas of the brain.  Dr. Fotuhi adds:  “That’s what we do here.”

How Important is Age in Rehabilitating the Brain?
Can these targeted brain games be used across all ages? Can you improve memory function and processing in kids with attention problems?

Measuring the effects of Brain Games:  do they really help?
According to Dr. Fotuhi: “Yes.  The problem with the lack of sufficient evidence that brain games help is due to the way we measure cognitive function.   Your brain is such a complex organ with so many functions that unless you look specifically as to which part of the brain you’re targeting, and which brain functions actually improve, then you won’t see results. You need to be more targeted in the deficits and the results you’re looking for.

Dr. Fotuhi adds:  “We’ve found that in our patient population of people in their 60s and 70s, 84 percent of patients had statistically significant improvements in their cognitive abilities.”

I completely agree with Dr. Fotuhi.  I have had many friends in that age group take such brain training and found that they benefitted from it.

The brain has a lot of malleability
and that malleability exists throughout life, and if you do targeted brain training in the setting of everything else—diet, exercise, sleep—you see better results.”

Are there things we can do to improve our memory today, and is there a point at which it’s too late?
According to Dr. Majid Fotuhi: “It’s absolutely not too late at all. There are lots of things that can improve your brain health and brain function. A lot of people assume that when they get older, they cannot improve their brain function, and that’s absolutely wrong.”

Your brain has a high degree of malleability, your brain has what’s called neuroplasticity, and there are many things you can do to make your brain younger by six or even 10 years.

How much of a difference does age make in the success of the program? Is it harder to improve if you start at a later age?
Dr. Fohuti’s says that his clinic obtained the best results in younger patients with milder problems. So a 63-year-old with a 30 percent decline in memory and a 40 percent decline in processing speed would have much better results after three months than an 84-year-old with 80 percent decline in memory and a 90 percent decline in processing speed.  The best time to reinvigorate your brain and develop healthy habits if you don’t have cognitive decline already is in your 40s and 50s,  says  Dr. Fotuhi.   He continues:  “But it’s never too late. I had a patient who was 79 years old, and she could memorize a list of a hundred words. So we do have patients who are older, and they may require more than three months, but their brain has plasticity. It’s not that they can’t, it just takes more effort.”

Can Brain Rehabilitation Help People with Dementia?
Is it possible to work against the disease and somehow slow it down and improve memory?  
Dr. Fotuhi states: “We have had some patients come and take part in the program even though we don’t recommend it for people with significant cognitive deficits, and the results have been interesting. We see patients become calmer.  They smile more, they sleep better.  So there are some small benefits in patients with severe cognitive deficits. But people who benefit the most are people in their 50s and 60s who have started to show cognitive deficits.”
I completely agree with Dr. Fotuhi there.  I have friends in that age group who have greatly benefitted from brain rehabilitation.

Pros:

I completely agree with Dr. Fohuti that brain training can be a great help.  I have friends in that age group (40 to 50) who have greatly benefitted from this type of brain rehabilitation, feeling that they “started brain training in the nick of time” .

Cons:

None that I can see.

 

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Coronavirus Pandemic’s Effects on the Brain

This is a review of a few scientific articles I have read lately about the Coronavirus pandemic’s effects on our brain,  and what to do about it.  Please pay particular attention to what it says about brain training.

The main article can be found by clicking this link:

http://thenextweb.com/syndication/2020/08/17/the-pandemic-has-changed-your-brain-heres-how-to-overcome-that/

According to a few articles in scientific journals,the stress associated with Coronavirus pandemic is causing changes to the hippocampus and amygdala.  But don’t let that discourage you. 

Brain training:
As stated in the main article:  “The good thing about the brain, however, is that it is incredibly plastic, which means it is changeable and can compensate for damage”.  Even serious conditions such as memory loss and depression can be improved by doing things that alter the brain function and its chemistry.  The article suggests mindfulness training as part of brain training.

The paper looks at promising solutions to combat of stress, anxiety and depression—in COVID-19 patients and others.

The article further states:  “We already know that exercise and mindfulness training—techniques that help us stay in the present—are helpful when it comes to combating brain stress. Indeed, studies have shown beneficial functional and structural changes in the brain’s prefrontal cortex (involved in planning and decision making), hippocampus and amygdala following mindfulness training.”

The article further discloses the following:
One study showed an enhanced density of gray matter – the tissue containing most of the brain’s cell bodies and a key component of the central nervous system—in the left hippocampus after eight weeks of training (in comparison to controls).

Yes, these are all regions that are impacted by the COVID-19 virus. Suggested brain games:  …”gamified cognitive training can also help improve attentionmemory function and increase motivation. Those who have persistent or severe mental health symptoms may require clinical evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist. In such cases, there are pharmacological and psychological treatments available, such as antidepressants or cognitive behavioral therapy.”

The article further states that these techniques are likely be beneficial to everyone, and may help us to better promote cognitive resilience and mental health—preparing us for future critical events such as global pandemics. As a society, we need to anticipate future challenges to our brain health, cognition and wellbeing. We should be utilizing these techniques in schools to promote lifelong resilience starting at an early age.

 

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Brain Health Assessment

Review of Brain Health Assessment, by Daniel Amen, MD
Date:  July 28, 2020
Best place to get:  BrainMDHealth
Price:  Free
If you sign up for the recommended  BrainFitLife Program
the price is:  $29.95/month or $99.00/year

Your brain makes you who you are. Get to know yourself!

Why get a free Brain Health Assessment?
Find out what your brain type is.  Based on your brain type, you get a report with recommendations on what to do to improve the health of your brain.

I took the scan.  I’ll read you the message that I received after I took my brain heath assessment:
“Thank you for taking the time to complete the Brain Health Assessment!  You’ve just taken a BIG step toward optimal wellness and brain health.  One of the unique aspects of our work at Amen Clinics is the use of brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging.  SPECT measures blood flow and activity in the brain and allows us to provide patients with targeted treatment plans.  Sadly, due to time or resources, many people are unable to get a brain scan at one of our clinics.

If that describes you, don’t worry.  The test you just completed is the next best thing to getting a scan.  My colleagues and I developed the Brain Health Assessment to help predict what your brain might look like if you got a scan.

Based on the world’s largest database of brain scans related to behavior (160,000 and growing), this quiz helps to determine your Brain Type – we’ve identified 16 unique brain types.  Knowing your Brain Type can help you understand more about how you think, act, and interact with others.”

My brain type is 5.   Now I’ll read you what my brain heath assessment said specifically about my brain type:  “The SPECT scans of individuals with Brain Type 5 often show heightened activity in the anxiety centers of the brain, such as the basal ganglia, insular cortex, and/or amygdala.  This is often due to lower levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps calm the brain.  People with this brain type tend to be motivated toward a goal.  They can feel intense pleasure, but also struggle with feeling anxious or nervous, which causes them to be more cautious and reserved, but also more prepared.   Soothing this brain type with meditation and hypnosis along with supportive supplements such as B6, magnesium, GABA, lemon balm, and theanine is the best strategy for balancing Brain Type 5”.

Well, I can assure you that this is SPOT ON!    Especially the part about my brain type having “heightened activity in the anxiety centers of the brain”.   People with Brain Type 5 can feel intense pleasure but also struggle with feeling anxious or nervous, causing them to be more cautious and reserved, but also more prepared.

Highlights of the Brain Health Assessment report:

YOUR BRAIN TYPE:   What your Brain Type says about you

YOUR BRAIN FIT SCORE:  What your Brain Fit Score says about you  (brain health, sleep, memory, executive function, inner peace, mood, flexible thinking)

YOUR PERSONALIZED ACTION PLAN:  Quick recommendations (brain healthy nutrition, brain supporting supplements).                                     

There are a few other recommendations worth noting in the Brain Health Assessment:  Mental Workouts (brain games particularly suited to your Brain Type), stress reduction exercises, physical workouts, goal-setting, and exercises to maintain control over your thoughts.

 

Why not get the BrainFitLife membership?
After taking the Brain Health Assessment, I was curious, so I looked into membership in the BrainFitLife program.  This is a program that is tailor-made to your Brain Type as determined by the Brain Health Assessment.

About The BrainFitLife Program
Strengthen you brain anytime, anywhere:
Train your brain with a personalized plan to boost memory, mood, focus and energy
Start training….

You can change your brain and thus change your life.  A healthy brain leads to a healthy body.  A BrainFitLife program membership is a personalized plan to boost your memory, mood, focus and energy.  It’s a comprehensive brain program unlike any other.  Brain games are great  but a complete Brain Health Tool Kit is even better.

Included in your BrainFitLife membership:
Personalized Brain Training Plan:

Kill the ANTs Exercise (designed to get rid of negative thinking patterns)
Web-neuro Assessment (a sophisticated and scientifically validated brain health assessment that measures 17 areas of your cognitive and emotional function)
12-hour video course
Community forum
Brain-healthy recipes
Brain Games specifically for your brain type
Meditation and Hypnosis videos

As for the Personalized Brain Training Plan itself, it includes:
Brain type report
Increase memory, mood and attention
Decrease stress
Monitor your progress
Personalized meal and fitness plans
Know your motivation
Master positive thinking
Relaxation resources
BrainFit community support
Access to BrainFit coaches comprehensive Brain Program unlike any other.  Based on your brain type, you get a report with recommendations on what to do to assess the health of your brain.  

As Dr. Amen says:  “We’re not just playing games with your brain”:

 

Pros and Cons:

Pros:  The free Brain Health Assessment was fun and turned out to be very informative.
The BrainFitLife program that I bought is quite comprehensive.   Both the free Brain Health Assessment and the BrainFitLife program are unique in what they offer.  I like it because the Personalized Brain Training Plan includes exercises designed to improve my mental health as well as my cognition.

Cons:  None that I can think of.

Recommendation:  I highly recommend both the free Brain Health Assessment and the BrainFitLife program.

 

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Memory Rescue by Daniel Amen

Review of book “Memory Rescue”, by Daniel  Amen, MD
Date:  July 18, 2020
Best place to buy:  BrainMD Health
Price:  $25.99

This may be the most important book of this decade, because it presents in clear terms the simple choices  (nutrition, exercise and habits)  that we need to make to heal our brains and improve our health and happiness in the future.

Why is it important to check on your brain health?
Because, as we get older, changes happen to our brain, causing  memory to become less sharp and judgment to decline.

 Your Memory is Your Most Important Asset
“Memory Rescue” – this is a tremendously important book for anyone who wants to increase brain capacity and strengthen memory.    It’s never too early to check on your brain health.  Your brain will thank you when you get older.  In this book, Dr. Amen reminds us all that our ability to remember is a precious gift.   He uses brain scans and science-based insights to help protect our precious asset.   In addition to boosting our memories, he  suggests  a comprehensive program for healthy aging and a happier life.

When to begin worrying about brain health and memory
To quote Dr. Amen:  “Memory problems are common at every stage of life, and they can impair learning, working, relationships, and even self-reliance.”  Therefore,  it is most important to start now to take care of your most important asset.   As Dr. Amen states:   “Your brain’s history is not its destiny.  Even if you have brain fog or trouble remembering now, it doesn’t mean you always will.”

Dr. Amen’s Approach
According to Dr. Amen, “the ability to identify and address each of the potential causes of memory problems has enabled us to develop a plan to prevent and even to reverse these devastating issues”.

Here are some of the changes that gradually happen to our body and mind (and memory) as we age, as determined by medical tests such as described below, and SPECT scans (a nuclear imaging test that produces images showing how your organs work):

Low blood flow:
Risk Factors:  Hypertension, severe concussions with loss of consciousness, trauma

High iron level:
Risk factors:   retirement and aging.

Inflammation:
Risk factors: High CRP and homocysteine

Genetics:
Risk Factors:  One or more parents with Alzheimer’s

Head Trauma:
Risk Factors:  Contact sports, motor vehicle accident with loss of consciousness

Toxins:
Risk Factors:  alcohol abuse, marijuana use

Mental Health:
Risk Factors:  Taking medications for anxiety

Immunity/Infection Issues:
Risk Factors:  Low vitamin D

Diabetes or pre-diabetes:
Risk Factors:  High fasting blood sugar; obesity

Neurohormone deficiencies:
Risk Factors:  Low testosterone

Sleep Issues:
Taking medications for insomnia (such as Ambien)

Enlist the help of your doctor
Have all of the above conditions tested thru the lab tests recommended by Dr. Amen.  His recommendations include these blood tests:  Complete Blood Count (CBC),  Lipid Panel  to test the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood, Fasting Blood Sugar, Fasting Insulin, Hemoglobin,  General Metabolic Panel, Thyroid panel, to name a few.   Here’s one you can do  at home:  “Balance test:  how long can you stand on one foot?”

The wonders of brain imaging
At Dr. Amen’s clinic, patients are tested using SPECT scans for functional brain imaging.  These scans are primarily used to view how blood flows through arteries and veins in the brain.  Why is this important?

Because brain imaging with SPECT is able to reveal abnormal patterns in the brain related to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias years or even decades before symptoms develop. Early detection allows you to make lifestyle changes that can delay the progression of cognitive problems and engage in treatment when it is most effective. The sophisticated imaging technology is also able to rule out dementia by detecting other issues—such as traumatic brain injuries, exposure to toxins, or brain infections- that may be the root cause of memory loss or other cognitive problems.  Conclusion:  In spite of the natural process of aging, you actually have a choice in how fast your brain ages.

It is possible to reverse brain aging
Dr. Amen recommends his Bright Minds program, whose primary  goal is to reverse brain aging.    His recommended medical interventions have proven that the Bright Minds program can reverse or slow down the aging process.  As he says, “mental decline is normal with age, but it’s not inevitable.”

Dr. Amen provides scientifically-based measures that can prevent or slow dementia in older patients.

Vitamins and Neutraceuticals
The American diet of processed and genetically-modified foods, transported long distances and stored on shelves for months before being eaten,  coupled with our breathing of polluted air, requires that we supplement it with the proper vitamins and neutraceuticals.  He makes recommendations on the proper vitamins to take, as well as what neutraceuticals to add to your diet.

Good habits for your brain health include:  increase physical exercise, cutting out the fats and sugars  from your diet, and many others.

Sharpen Your Memory – Whole-brain  Combination Workouts
Use it or lose it.

“Grow Your Brain”.  Become a “memory athlete”:
Acquire new knowledge and do things you haven’t done before (acquire new knowledge, such as memorizing zip codes, learning a new game or learning to play a musical instrument).   Ideas for “whole-brain combination workouts” are included on pages 289-290 of the book.

The Pros and Cons
Pros:  I highly recommend Memory Rescue by Dr. Daniel Amen, if you care about your brain health.  It’s chock full of great ideas and recommendations.

Cons:  None that I can think of.

 

Click on the heading  “Brain Games” (top of page) to view the latest blogs on this website.  Enter the full or partial title of an earlier blog in the “Search” box to view the desired blog.

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Top-rated Brain Supplements

Review of Dr. Daniel Amen’s Brain Supplements:
Date:  August 13, 2020
Best place to get:  Dr. Daniel Amen’s Brain Supplements.
Prices:  various  (see below)

Good brain health requires good supplementation.  The brain is an organ that serves as the center of the nervous system, thus is the most important one in the body.

Since several of you have asked me to recommend brain supplements, I’m reviewing below the 8 products that I found to be most beneficial for my brain health.   I have been taking vitamins for over 20 years and these are the best that I have found.

I would strongly suggest that you first do the Brain Health Assessment before purchasing supplements.  Dr. Amen will tell you exactly what you need.

 

Brain and Body Power Max:  $139.95
Contains NeuroVite Plus, a powerful combination of 50 vitamins, minerals  and plant extracts, plus Brain & Memory Power Boost and Omega-3-Power.

What’s in it for my brain health?  The Brain & Memory Power Boost supports brain health and helps in the following areas:   Memory, Focus, Mood and Vitality.

 

Brain & Body Power:  $99.95
(in packets:  The easiest way to get your daily mind and body essentials.  Contains Omega-3 Power, Brain & Memory Power Boost, Neurovite Plus).
What’s in it for my brain health?  
The Brain Memory Power Boost.

 

Bright Minds Memory Bundle:  $149.95
(in addition to Bright Minds, the bundle includes Omega Power, and Omega-3 power)
What’s in it for my brain health?
Bright Minds:   helps us address the following challenges:  Blood Flow, Retirement/aging, Unrestrained inflammation, Genetic factors, Head accidents, Toxins, Mental health, immunity, neurohormone balance, Diabesity, Sleep problems.  Boosts energy, promote brain capability by enhancing brain blood, brain connectivity and contains antioxidants for protection.

It enhances brain and body vitality for healthy aging, supports enhanced recall and retention, Promotes concentration and attention, supports healthy blood flow to the brain and body.

 

A favorite of mine:  Gaba Calming Support:  $39.95
What’s in it for my brain health?
A help to calm your brain waves and slow down your anxious or fretful thoughts.  You’ll sleep like a baby, thus providing a welcome rest for your brain!

 

Brain and Memory Power Boost:  $59.95
What’s in it for my brain health?
Dr. Amen’s best-selling memory formula is the Brain and Memory Power Boost.  It contains powerful nutrients that will help protect brain circulation, boost mental connectivity, sharpness and sustained focus.

 

Focus and Energy:   $39.95
Better than caffeine:  A non-habit forming blend of adaptogens and energizing herbs for mental focus and concentration.
What’s in it for my brain health?
Mental sharpness and concentration:  Focus and Energy gives you clean energy that promotes mental sharpness and productivity all day long.

 

NeuroPS:    $29.95
What’s in it for my brain health
?
It contains high-potency PhosphatidylSerine, a powerful brain nutrient that will improve your memory of names, faces, numbers and words critical to everyday success.

 

Attention Support:  $39.95
What’s in it for my brain health?
Attention Support
is the perfect solution for those of us who have trouble concentrating and can’t sit still.  These natural  ingredients will help you relax, stay calm, even increase your attention span.

 

Pros and Cons:

Pros:
As I said earlier, I have been taking vitamins for over 20 years and these are the best on the market.

Cons:
There aren’t any, as far as I’m concerned.

 

Click on the heading  “Brain Games” (top of page) to view the latest blogs on this website.  Enter the full or partial title of an earlier blog in the “Search” box to view the desired blog.

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Virtual Mental Gymnasium

This is a review of  MyBrainTrainer.com (“world’s first virtual mental gymnasium”)

Best place to buy:  MyBrainTrainer.com
Date:  July 12, 2020
Cost of Subscription:   $9.95 for a 3-month membership, and $29.95 for a 1-year membership).

My recommendation:  If you want to give your brain a real workout, I highly recommend  MyBrainTrainer.com.

Brain Training from MyBrainTrainer.com:

The Human Brain

Yes, it has been proven that the brain has a proven ability to change its structure and function in response to external stimuli.  Together with its capacity for neurogenesis,  the brain’s cognitive function can be improved at virtually any stage in life.  This is a significant finding.

MyBrainTrainer’s exercises can improve your cognitive function by increasing your ability to do the following:

  • Process information quickly
  • Increase your decision-making skills
  • Perform multiple tasks simultaneously (multi-tasking)
  • Retrieve old information more rapidly
  • Learn new information more easily and more quickly
  • Concentrate even when distraction is present

You can keep yourself mentally alert by working, volunteering, reading, as well as doing crossword puzzles and brain teasers.   Recent studies, however, have shown that there might be an even more effective way to improve your brain processing speed  by using  highly interactive mental challenges called Elementary Cognitive (ECT)  tasks, as offered by  MyBraintrainer.com.  Each ECT isolates the specific region of the brain that is being exercised and, by responding as rapidly as possible to its random stimuli, delivery of oxygen and blood flow to your  particular brain region is increased.   More neurons = more neural connections = increased brain processing speed.

 

Scientific Study:

Findings:  A month-long pilot study was conducted by a research facility associated with the University of Texas and Open International University, using  MyBrainTrainer exercises as well as  Pre/Post testing for IQ, cognitive efficiency and speed, and anxiety.

The study found that the MyBrainTrainer.com exercises increased IQ, reduced anxiety and improved cognitive efficiency and speed.

 

The MyBrainTrainer.com offers:

21-Day Basic  Training Program:  These exercises are designed to improve reaction time, short-term memory, executive function, visual/spatial acuity, information processing, visual spatial memory, visual scanning/discrimination, and working memory.

Additional features

Advance training consists of application-specific training modules (special one-day programs designed for special interests, for example: athletics, executive decision making, test taking).

Personalized Training based on your own training schedule based and your personal cognitive enhancement goals.

Downloadable Memory Game:  You can download this game for $4.95 (after 3-day free trial), configure it and play it with multiple players.

Try an exercise for free.

Become a member of an exercise group.

Brain Master Challenge:  This gives you an overall assessment of your Brain Processing Power.  MyBrainTrainer keeps track of where your name is posted in the BrainMaster Circle.  To reach that level, you must excel at all the exercises measuring reaction time, accuracy, concentration, inspection time, perceptual threshold, and memory.   Your scores and lets you progress all the way from Beginner to BrainMaster .

 

The Pros and Cons:

Pros:

The exercises are well designed and I don’t doubt that they help my cognitive functions.  They do what they promise:  they improve my cognitive function and brain processing speed.

Cons:

Personally, I don’t like to wait between exercises to find out how I did.

 

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Discover What Your Mind Can Do

This is a review of Lumosity.com
Date:  July 7, 2020
Best place to buy:  Lumosity.com
Cost:  $14.95 per month for subscription
Free membership provides access to a limited number of the games and features on Lumosity

I have used Lumosity.com for the past two years and can vouch for their brain training.   When I play their games, I can “feel” myself getting smarter.

Lumosity encourages you to discover  where you are strongest.  They offer “Brain Training Games Backed by Science”.  Their scientifically designed games include:

  1. Speed games that improve your processing speed
  2. Memory games designed to put your recollection abilities to the test
  3. Attention games that train your focus
  4. Flexibility games that test your ability to quickly switch between tasks
  5. Problem-solving games that improve your planning, special reasoning, and logical reasoning skills
  6. Word games that improve your vocabulary and reading comprehension
  7. Math games that present you with mathematical challenges that you must solve rapidly (Raindrops is one of my favorites.)

While you’re playing the games, Lumosity tracks your progress.  Lumosity also compares your performance with those in your same age group, as well as your progress over time.

The science behind Lumosity.com

According to Lumosity, their “in-house science team is committed to translating cognitive science into accessible brain training”.  They are always developing new games.

The Lumosity in-house science team are busy constantly researching their brain training’s effect on cognitive performance.  There have been 10 peer-reviewed publications in academic journals using Lumosity games or assessments.  The scientists concluded that, after ten weeks, the Lumosity-trained group had improved in performance across a battery of cognitive assessments.  In fact, they had improved more than twice as much as the control group did.

According to Lumosity’s Game Design team, their goal is to design their games to train their clients’ cognition.

As stated in their literature, Lumosity’s scientists research well-known methods of training cognitive abilities like memory and attention.  In addition, their Science and Games teams work together to design game mechanics that effectively challenge a particular cognitive ability.  For each game they create, they give it a fun theme and add features that bring it to life.  This keeps brain training both fun and  challenging.

Lumosity.com supports trailbrazing cognitive research, working with 100 researchers from around the world on such subjects as genetics, chemofog and education.   They provide their research partners with guidance on data analysis as well as free access to their tools.  All this helps to advance research in human cognition.  According to a recent article by Medical News Today, Lumosity is considered one of five best apps to train your brain.

The cost of the subscription to Lumosity.com is well worth it, in my opinion.  Money spent on your brain is always money well spent.  I highly recommend Lumosity.com.

 

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The Utmost Brain Training Program

A review of Cognifit.com
Date:  August 4, 2020
Basic plan (20+ games):  $19.99/month
Medium plan (40+ games):  $24.99/month
Premium plan (60+ games):  $29.99/month
CAB Assessment:  $49.99 each assessment

How does CogniFit improve memory?
CogniFit, like other brain fitness marketers, claims its brain games improve intelligence and cognitive skills like memory, attention, processing speed, and problem solving ability by tapping into your brain’s plasticity — that is, its ability to change.

Working memory, like our other cognitive abilities, can be trained and improved, and CogniFit makes it possible to do with a professional tool.  It offers a battery of clinical exercises designed to recover and improve problems with working memory and other cognitive functions.

What is Working Memory
What is working memory? Working memory, or operative memory, can be defined as the set of processes that allow us to store and manipulate temporary information and carry-out complex cognitive tasks like language comprehension, reading, learning, or reasoning. Working memory is a type of short-term memory.

Working memory is an essential part of decision making and for the proper functioning of the executive functions.

Two examples of  CogniFit’s Working Memory exercises
Sequencing Test WOM-ASM:  A series of balls with different numbers will appear on the screen. The user will have to memorize the series in order to repeat it later. The series will become longer and longer until the user makes a mistake. The user will be asked to repeat the series after each presentation.

Recognition Test WOM-REST:  Three objects will appear on the screen. First, the user will have to remember the three objects presented on the screen as quickly as possible. After four sets of three images will appear on the screen and the user will have to choose which is the correct series from the first screen.

Your Brain and Its Cognitive Skills
CogniFit’s brain games improve intelligence and cognitive skills like memory, attention, perception, executive function, processing speed, coordination and problem solving ability, by tapping into your brain’s plasticity.

What is Brain Plasticity and why is it so important?
Neuroplasticity  (or brain plasticity)  is the ability  of the brain to modify its connections or rewire iself.   Without this ability, any brain, not just the human brain, would be unable to develop from infancy through to adulthood or recover from brain injury.

The CogniFit methodology
This methodology consists of a battery of scientifically based  tasks that measure powerful  brain functions.  How well the brain performs  these functions could indicate the presence of different pathologies and disorders.   recognized and validated by the scientific community.  Cognifit works to assess and train more than 20 cognitive abilities,  which represent a complete image of human cognition.

How does Cognifit calculate my cognitive skills?
Your cognitive score depends of multiple factors and variables that are measured each time you do an assessment task.  The CogniFit system tracks more than 150 different variables.

Here is an example of Cognitive Skills tracked by Cognifit:

Your cognitive score depends of multiple factors and variables that are measured each time you do an assessment task.  The CogniFit system tracks more than 150 different variables.

What is the Cognitive Assessment Battery?
The Cognitive Assessment Battery (CAB) from CogniFit is a complete cognitive test designed to help detect the cognitive state in people with and without pathologies through online cognitive tests.  This cognitive assessment battery evaluates cognitive  functions, has been validated in multiple studies and is used by millions of users over the last 15 years.

This neurocognitive assessment tool helps evaluate a wide range of cognitive abilities and health habits that are closely related to correct cognitive functioning.

The automated report from this cognitive evaluation provides conclusions on the functioning of the different brain areas and functions.

My recommendations
Pros:  These brain games really work your brain!   There have been criticisms in the past about the fact that Cognifit did not properly state their prices, but these are published on the Cognifit Help Center webpage.

Personally I would rather pay $19.99 a month and have a set of really good brain games that thoroughly exercise my  mind, rather than rely on the “free” brain games available online (many of which don’t work half the time and are a huge waste of time).

The CAB assessments are really worth the price.   So far, I have taken two CAB assessments and have been able to view my progress from the first to the second assessment, thanks to the Cognifit training.

Cons:  A little pricey, perhaps, but well worth the money in my opinion.

 

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Attention Brain Game Lovers

Brain Training Software Market Size And Forecast

According to the report Brain Training Software Market Size and Forecast, recently published by Verified Market Research, the brain training software market is growing at a faster pace with substantial growth rates over the last few years and it is estimated that the market will grow significantly in the forecasted period (between 2019 and 2026).

What is Brain Training software?
Brain training software consists of fully automated applications designed to enhance and build cognitive abilities. These applications provide various exercises and tools to exercise the brain’s different structures and skills by continually responding to performance and incrementally increasing the difficulty. These software applications are available online while some are available for devices such as cell phones.

In the report, the software market outlook section mainly encompasses fundamental dynamics of the market which include drivers, restraints, opportunities and challenges faced by the industry.

Increasing cases of Alzheimer’s, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia or stroke-related vision problems, together with the evolvement of digital healthcare, are factors that have driven the growth of the brain training software market. Brain training software and apps are considered a useful aid for mental stimulation. People are using this software to identify possible cognitive alterations and deficiencies, as well as create a personalized brain training regimen for their particular needs. Research says that older adults who took part in brain training sessions over five weeks are less likely to develop decline or dementia.

Furthermore, a study published by PLOS Medicine found that adults who engaged in the brain training sessions demonstrated improvement in working memory, speed, and executive functions.

Who are the Major Producers of Software Brain Games?
Global Brain Training Software Market Competitive Landscape:  The “Global Brain Training Software Market” study report provides a valuable insight with an emphasis on global market including some of the major players such as Sudoku, Lumosity, Happy Neuron, My Brain Trainer, Crosswords, Braingle, Queendom, and Brain Age Concentration.

Covered in the Report:
This study report covers the following areas:
• Memory
• Attention
• Language
• Executive Function
• Others

The entire report is available upon request from: https://www.verifiedmarketresearch.com/ask-for-discount/?rid=34703

 

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Memory Exercises for your Brain

   Did you ever experience a “Tip of the Tongue” memory problem?  It happens to all of us at one time or another.  A few good exercises to do to reduce or eliminate “Tip of the Tongue” memory problems include:

To remember names:
Associate someone’s name with a prominent feature possessed by that person.  You might have to use your imagination for that one.  For instance, Rosa might have round eyes and that could remind you of rose buds.  So you’ll remember Rosa when you see her “ rosebud-like” eyes.

To recall any fact or word:
Most of us, at one time or another, forget a movie title or a movie star’s name, or any word or fact.   “It’s just on the tip of my tongue”, you exclaim.  If you go thru the alphabet letter by letter, something should trigger your memory before you get to Z.  The other day, for instance, I was trying to remember the word “paranoid” but, when I got to P it triggered my memory and I remembered the word.

Some of these ideas were taught to me lately by the UCLA Longevity Center, as part of their very interesting class entitled “Brain Boot Camp”.

 

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The Origins of Brain Training

Where did the interest in brain training begin?

According to authorities, what spurred the interest in brain training was a study conducted by neuroscientist Eleanor Maguire of University College London on London taxi-drivers.   The study’s initial goal was to determine whether the cabbies, world-renowned for their remarkable knowledge of London’s complicated streets and the test they needed to pass in order to get their taxi license, had larger hippocampi than other people. As stated in Science Daily, the hippocampus is the part of the brain known to be crucial to long-term memory and spatial navigation. After confirming that fact, the study continued on to determine whether it was the cabbies’ larger hippocampus that qualified them for the job and whether their memory centers had expanded in response to their growing knowledge of the city’s streets.  Maguire found that the drivers who successfully learned the city’s streets and passed the required knowledge test performed far better on the same memory tests they had taken earlier. They also did better than those who failed the knowledge tests.  Their brains had grown as a result of their intensive study and activity.

 

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Do you want to be sharper?

If you want to be smarter, have a sharper memory and better judgment, get a brain game.  The following pages contain a complete selection of brain games of all types:  “Brain Games for Adults”,  “Brain Games for Seniors”, and “Advanced Brain Training”.

 

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Brain Health Is Important

Just as physical health is important, so is brain health.  A healthy brain in a health body should be everyone’s goal.  In this blog you will find many suggestions to improve your brain health, from playing brain games to delving into advanced brain training.

It could be something as simple as reading a brain game book, finding and playing brain games on Google, or signing up for brain training courses.  I will cover all of these in my blogs, so stay tuned!

 

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