Monday, 27 February 2012

I have decided to start training my brain!


Hi all, 

I thought you might like to see my 'Brain health report' which I had produced on Lumosity. It is a pretty cool website and this report was produced for free. If you decide you want to go further and start doing one of their training programmes then you need to pay a fairly low subscription to access the rest of the content.

The originators suggest that the brain is trainable and that regular practice can develop our neural capacities. They argue that... 
"...Until quite recently, most neuroscientists and psychologists believed that core aspects of cognitive processing were essentially fixed from a young age, with little or no room for improvement. Capacities like memory, attention, and sensory processing were thought to be largely determined after a relatively brief period of early development.  In this worldview, those endowed with strong cognitive capacities through genetics and early development were destined to operate at a high level throughout much of their lives.  Those not so fortunately endowed were out of luck".  

"The emerging science of the brain is dramatically changing the way we view these issues.  We now understand that, with the right kind of stimulation and activity, the brain can dramatically change and remodel itself to become more efficient and effective in processing information, paying attention, remembering, thinking creatively, and solving novel problems". 
I quite like the look of it and the relatively low cost means that I am willing to give this a go and see if I can't sharpen myself up cognitively. I will let you know how I get on from time to time. 

Brain Health Report

Your Grade: B+

Your brain grade is a summary of your overall cognitive health today. Based on your lifestyle choices, we have compiled a complete brain health report with personalized analysis and suggestions for improvement from our neuroscientists.

You’ve completed the Brain Grade test! Now take the next step to better brain health with Lumosity.com's Brain Training Program.

Start Training

DIET ANALYSIS

  • You're drinking too much coffee or tea. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Drink less coffee or tea, or switch to decaf.
    Drinking too much caffeine can have negative consequences for heart and brain health. While some previous research has shown some neural benefits to drinking coffee and tea –- perhaps because of the antioxidants they contain -- our research suggests that drinking too much coffee and tea is associated with slowed processing speed. You might consider cutting back a bit or switching to decaffeinated instead.
  • You're eating enough fish or shellfish to have a positive effect on your brain. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Keep eating fish.
    You’re eating 3 or more servings a week of fish, shellfish, flaxseed oil, walnuts, or cooked soybeans and that means your brain is getting a good amount of the omega-3 fatty acids that are critical for communication between brain cells. Be careful not to overdo it, however. Certain types of fish have been shown to be high in chemical such as mercury, which can have negative effects on the brain.
    DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a particularly important omega-3 fatty acid that is a component of the structure of brain cells.
  • The antioxidant-rich foods you're eating are good for cognitive fitness. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Keep eating foods with lots of antioxidants.
    You have a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods. That’s great! Certain types of berries, beans, and vegetables are high in antioxidants and are highly beneficial for cognitive function.
  • You picked chocolate, a good choice for brain health. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Chocolate can be good for the brain!
    Dark chocolate is a good dessert choice for your brain. Dark chocolate contain high levels of antioxidants, which have been shown to be helpful in maintaining cognition.
    The higher the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate, the healthier it is.
  • You consume alcohol in moderate amounts that can keep your brain healthy. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Maintain moderate alcohol consumption.
    Several recent studies have shown that drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol can have a positive effect on brain health. Remember that it’s important to keep your consumption to no more than 3 alcoholic drinks per day for men or no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day for women.

EXERCISE ANALYSIS

  • You're getting regular aerobic exercise that can improve your brain health. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Maintain or increase your aerobic exercise.
    You reported getting aerobic exercise about 2 times a week. Aerobic exercise leads to the growth and development of brain cells, and may even stimulate the production of new brain cells. Research shows that in order to realize most of the benefits of aerobic exercise for brain (and body) health, you should engage in at least 20 minutes, 3 times a week.
    Lack of aerobic exercise is associated with declines in cognition, and may increase the risk of dementia.
  • You're not getting regular strength training. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Do more strengthening exercise.
    Strength training is an important part of overall fitness and a key to keep your brain healthy. Adding some strength training to your exercise regimen will increase your brain grade.
    Strong muscles improve balance and reduce frailty, making it less likely that you will experience a serious injury that could restrict your movements and throw your brain-healthy lifestyle out of balance.

HEALTH ANALYSIS

  • You don't have too much stress, and that's good for your brain. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Keep avoiding stress.
    An absence of severe life stressors improves your brain grade. Keeping your brain healthy in other areas can help you prepare for when times get tough.
  • You're getting enough sleep to keep your brain in good shape. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Maintain good sleep habits.
    Getting enough sleep is critical for proper brain function. The brain consolidates learning and memory during sleep. Maintaining regular sleeping habits is critical for cognitive function and brain health in general. While you are sleeping an amount that is within the recommended range, you may still want to explore if you could be more effective with a little bit more or less sleep. Everyone is different in this regard.
  • You abstain from smoking. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Continue to abstain from smoking.
    Smoking can be detrimental to your cognitive function in a variety of ways, and has been linked to an increased incidence of cognitive decline. By not smoking, you're keeping your brain, and body as a whole, in much better shape.

LIFESTYLE ANALYSIS

  • Your brain health can be positively affected by your strong social network. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Connect with your social network.
    Your social network is improving your brain grade.
    Having a close and active social network has been shown to be associated with a reduced risk of cognitive problems in aging.
  • You're doing cognitively stimulating activities that are good for your brain. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Keep doing cognitively stimulating activities.
    While there has been little rigorous study of the benefits of particular leisure time activities, many scientists believe that engaging in cognitively stimulating activities is good for keeping the brain sharp.
  • You're improving your brain health by taking on new challenges. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Continue to challenge yourself.
    Continue to challenge yourself. Taking on new challenges is an important part of keeping your brain functioning its best. Brain plasticity, the ability for the brain to reorganize itself, is spurred on by new challenges.
  • Training your brain isn't part of your weekly routine. Close.

    Neuroscientist's Tip: Start training your brain.
    Doing some cognitive training will improve your brain grade.
    Studies have shown that doing cognitive training exercises can improve attention, memory, and fluid intelligence. These types of exercises have also been shown to have benefits for driving performance and health-related quality of life.

COGNITION ANALYSIS

  • You have few problems with cognition, but should still take care of your brain. Learn more.

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