Training Your Brain For Dummies is an indispensable guide to every aspect of brain fitness-and keeping your mind as sharp, agile, and creative for as long as. Allen, David. Getting things done: the art of stress-free productivity / David Allen anything fall through the cracks. Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a. Utilize brain science to train employees effectively. The Leadership. Brain * Sweepstakes not currently available in all countries; visit for official.

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Thinking, Fast and Slow Author: Daniel Kahneman 5-second summary: Your success in life depends upon mastering your brain's two systems, one of which is fast, intuitive, and emotional, and the other of which is slow, deliberate, and logical. Best quote: "When confronted with a problem--choosing a chess move or deciding whether to invest in stock--the machinery of intuitive thought does the best it can.

If the individual has relevant expertise, she will recognize the situation, and the intuitive solution that comes to mind is likely to be correct.

This is what happens when a chess master looks at a complex position: the few moves that immediately occur to him are all strong. When the question is difficult and a skilled solution is not available, intuition still has a shot: an answer may come to mind quickly--but it is not an answer to the original question.

This is the essence of intuitive heuristics: when faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution. Levitt and Stephen J.

Dubner 5-second summary: A blueprint for coming up with new solutions to old problems, accompanied by amusing examples. Even on the most important issues of the day, we often adopt the views of our friends, families, and colleagues. On some level, this makes sense: it is easier to fall in line with what your family and friends think than to find new family and friends!

But running with the herd means we are quick to embrace the status quo, slow to change our minds, and happy to delegate our thinking. Best quote: "In the past decade, our understanding of the neurology and psychology of habits and the way patterns work with in our lives, societies, and organizations has expanded in ways we couldn't have imagined fifty years ago.

We now know why habits emerge, how they change, and the science behind their mechanics. We know how to break them into parts and rebuild them to our specifications. Sign up for a class. Classes are a good way to learn the basics of any new activity, especially one that requires specific skills, like painting or music. Schedule practice time. Don't focus on the amount of time you practice at first, but rather aim for consistency. Devote what time you can, but be firm with your commitment.

Schedule it and do it.

Do the right activity No matter which new activity you choose, make sure it follows three guidelines in order to maximize brain training, according to Dr. You have to always challenge your brain in order for it to grow.

This is why choosing a new activity is so beneficial. It engages your brain to learn something new and offers the chance to improve.

This is because more and more synapses are formed in the early months of life, then they disappear, sometimes in prodigious numbers. The time required for this phenomenon to run its course varies in different parts of the brain, from 2 to 3 years in the human visual cortex to 8 to 10 years in some parts of the frontal cortex.

Some neuroscientists explain synapse formation by analogy to the art of sculpture. Classical artists working in marble created a sculpture by chiseling away unnecessary bits of stone until they achieved their final form.

The nervous system sets up a large number of connections; experience then plays on this network, selecting the appropriate connections and removing the inappropriate ones. What remains is a refined final form that constitutes the sensory and perhaps the cognitive bases for the later phases of development.

The second method of synapse formation is through the addition of new synapses—like the artist who creates a sculpture by adding things together until the form is complete. This process is not only sensitive to experience, it is actually driven by experience. Synapse addition probably lies at the base of some, or even most, forms of memory.

As discussed later in this chapter, the work of cognitive scientists and education researchers is contributing to our understanding of synapse addition.

Wiring the Brain The role of experience in wiring the brain has been illuminated by research on the visual cortex in animals and humans.

In adults, the inputs entering the brain from the two eyes terminate separately in adjacent regions of the visual cortex. Subsequently, the two inputs converge on the next set of neurons. People are not born with this neural pattern. But through the normal processes of seeing, the brain sorts things out. Neuroscientists discovered this phenomenon by studying humans with visual abnormalities, such as a cataract or a muscle irregularity that deviates the eye.

If the eye is deprived of the appropriate visual experience at an early stage of development because of such abnormalities , it loses its ability to transmit visual information into the central nervous system.

When the eye that was incapable of seeing at a very early age was corrected later, the correction alone did not help—the afflicted eye still could not see. When researchers looked at the brains of monkeys in which similar kinds of experimental manipulations had been made, they found that the normal eye had captured a larger than average amount of neurons, and the impeded eye had correspondingly lost those connections.

This phenomenon only occurs if an eye is prevented from experiencing normal vision very early in development. The period at which the eye is sensitive corresponds to the time of synapse overproduction and loss in the visual cortex. Out of the initial mix of overlapping inputs, the neural connections that belong to the eye that sees normally tend to survive, while the connections that belong to the abnormal eye wither away.

When both eyes see normally, each eye loses some of the overlapping connections, but both keep a normal number. In the case of deprivation from birth, one eye completely takes over. The later the deprivation occurs after birth, the less effect it has.

By about 6 months of age, closing one eye for weeks on end will produce no effect whatsoever. The critical period has passed; the connections have already sorted themselves out, and the overlapping connections have been eliminated. This anomaly has helped scientists gain insights into normal visual development.

By overproducing synapses then selecting the right connections, the brain develops an organized wring diagram that functions optimally. The brain development process actually uses visual information entering from outside to become more precisely organized than it could with intrinsic molecular mechanisms alone.

This external information is even more important for later cognitive development. The more a person interacts with the world, the more a person needs information from the world incorporated into the brain structures. Synapse overproduction and selection may progress at different rates in different parts of the brain Huttenlocher and Dabholkar, In the primary visual cortex, a peak in synapse density occurs relatively quickly.

In the medial frontal cortex, a region clearly associated with higher cognitive functions, the process is more protracted: synapse production starts before birth and synapse density continues to increase until 5 or 6 years of age.

The selection process, which corresponds conceptually to the main organization of patterns, continues during the next 4—5 years and ends around early adolescence.

This lack of synchrony among cortical regions may also occur upon individual cortical neurons where different inputs may mature at different rates see Juraska, , on animal studies. After the cycle of synapse overproduction and selection has run its course, additional changes occur in the brain. They appear to include both the modification of existing synapses and the addition of entirely new synapses to the brain.

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Research evidence described in the next section suggests that activity in the nervous system associated with learning experiences somehow causes nerve cells to create new synapses. Unlike the process of synapse overproduction and loss, synapse addition and modification are lifelong processes, driven by experience.

This process is probably not the only way that information is stored in the brain, but it is a very important way that provides insight into how people learn. Animals raised in complex environments have a greater volume of capillaries per nerve cell—and therefore a greater supply of blood to the brain—than the caged animals, regardless of whether the caged animal lived alone or with companions Black et al. Capillaries are the tiny blood vessels that supply oxygen and other nutrients to the brain.

Using astrocytes cells that support neuron functioning by providing nutrients and removing waste as the index, there are higher amounts of astrocyte per neuron in the complex-environment animals than in the caged groups.

Brain Training for Dummies

Overall, these studies depict an orchestrated pattern of increased capacity in the brain that depends on experience. Other studies of animals show other changes in the brain through learning; see Box 5.

The weight and thickness of the cerebral cortex can be measurably altered in rats that are reared from weaning, or placed as adults, in a large cage enriched by the presence both of a changing set of objects for play and exploration and of other rats to induce play and exploration Rosenzweig and Bennett, These animals also perform better on a variety of problem-solving tasks than rats reared in standard laboratory cages.

Interestingly, both the interactive presence of a social group and direct physical contact with the environment are important factors: animals placed in the enriched environment alone showed relatively little benefit; neither did animals placed in small cages within the larger environment Ferchmin et al.

Thus, the gross structure of the cerebral cortex was altered both by exposure to opportunities for learning and by learning in a social context. Are the changes in the brain due to actual learning or to variations in aggregate levels of neural activity?

Animals in a complex environment not only learn from experiences, but they also run, play, and exercise, which activates the brain. The question is whether activation alone can produce brain changes without the subjects actually learning anything, just as activation of muscles by exercise can cause them to grow. To answer this question, a group of animals that learned challenging motor skills but had relatively little brain activity was compared with groups that had high levels of brain activity but did relatively little learning Black et al.

There were four groups in all. What happened to the volume of blood vessels and number of synapses per neuron in the rats?

Both the mandatory exercisers and the voluntary exercisers showed higher densities of blood vessels than either the cage potato rats or the acrobats, who learned skills that did not involve significant Page Share Cite Suggested Citation:"5 Mind and Brain.

The objects are changed and rearranged each day, and during the changing time, the animals are put in yet another environment with another set of objects.

These two settings can help determine how experience affects the development of the normal brain and normal cognitive structures, and one can also see what happens when animals are deprived of critical experiences.

After living in the complex or impoverished environments for a period from weaning to rat adolescence, the two groups of animals were subjected to a learning experience. The rats that had grown up in the complex environment made fewer errors at the outset than the other rats; they also learned more quickly not to make any errors at all.

In this sense, they were smarter than their more deprived counterparts.

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And with positive rewards, they performed better on complex tasks than the animals raised in individual cages.Ready to chase the monkey inside your brain?

Within each Skill there are several games that can be played. The brain development process actually uses visual information entering from outside to become more precisely organized than it could with intrinsic molecular mechanisms alone. This book is here: My advice is to try it first, but that is good advice for any game you are considering downloading.

More from Inc. Learning adds synapses; exercise does not. The rats that had grown up in the complex environment made fewer errors at the outset than the other rats; they also learned more quickly not to make any errors at all.

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