Can you give your brain a workout?

The attendees of the BIST Community Meeting on January 24th were treated to a fantastic presentation on Brain Fitness Basics by Paula Hilborn, an Occupational Therapist with Beverlee C. Melamed and Associates Inc.

Brain fitness involves increasing the brain’s ability to readily create additional neurons (nerve cells that process and transmit information from one part of the body to another).  Relatively recent research has discovered that the brain can reorganize itself when confronted with new challenges, regardless of age.  When given the right kind of exercise, the brain can actually reshape itself to become more efficient and effective. This ability is known as “neuroplasticity,”

Paula went on to talk about the four pillars of brain fitness:

  1. Balanced nutrition – Maintain a diet con­tain­ing fatty fish, veg­eta­bles and sal­ads, berries, dark chocolate and nuts.
  2. Stress Management – stress can damage your brain affecting memory skills, executive functions (self-control, planning, reasoning, and abstract thought) and motor skills
  3. Physical Exercise – Through increased blood flow to the brain, phys­i­cal exer­cise trig­gers bio­chem­i­cal changes that increase neu­ro­plas­tic­ity
  4. Cognitive Stimulation – Brain fitness stimulates the same area of the brain that strengthens the connections between neurons and the creation of new ones.

How do I get started with Brain Fitness? 

  • Pick one pillar to focus on to get started
  • Sign up for a free-trial membership at www.lumosity.com
  • Use tracking sheets to record your progress

No computer?  No problem!  Sudoku games are a good way to give your brain a workout because they require logic, common sense and concentration.  You can also visit your local Toronto Public Library branch to check out books on brain fitness.

Here is a list of other resources to keep your brain fit:

http://www.lumosity.com Great online brain training activities.  Free 7 day trial.

http://www.dana.orgThe Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives They have a free publication on brain fitness called Your Brain at Work

http://www.sharpbrains.com – SharpBrains has a newsletter that you can subscribe to for the lastest research and information regarding brain fitness.

http://www.brainmetrix.com/ – An educational website dedicated to brain training programs.

http://www.braingle.com– Over 20,000 brain teasers, riddles, logic problems, quizzes and mind puzzles

http://www.happyneuron.com/ – Brain fitness program developed to challenge your mind and keep it in top gear

“The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge, M.D. – Book that talks about neuroplasticity and the specific changes that occur in the brain with physical and cognitive exercise

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