Updated Post: In this day and age it seems very easy to get into a brain fog. Too little sleep, performing mind-numbing tasks for hours on end, addiction to social media, anxiety over life’s uncertainties… all these factors can have a negative impact on anyones brain function. Keeping your brain sharp requires work and that’s something teachers do every day.
One quality I love about good teachers, which can help all of us, is that they want to keep their minds fit and active for a lifetime. They do this not only by teaching others, but also through continued self-education and life-long learning pursuits. Teachers (and non teachers) have you considered adding brain training to your cognitive fitness plan, making your brain even more powerful, both at home and in the classroom, and after retirement?
The question: should we make an investment in new technology that may help maintain and enhance our brains, or is it better to rely on old, low-cost and low-tech standbys?
The Investment Approach:
Training your brain with Luminosity. Luminosity has a broad marketing strategy from radio to Internet ads, as well as charts and graphs of compiled user information that claims to demonstrate how their products are successful. They claim brain-training games, like the ones they offer, may improve brain activity for adults and for students in the classroom. This article from Pando Daily, focuses on Luminosity’s ability to rehab the brain. For $14.95 Luminosity will be your personal brain trainer and help your brain get fit. However, not everyone in the science community will sign off on Luminosity’s claims just yet, as noted by Sarah Kessler in this Fast Company article.
Luminosity is not the only company out there that offers brain-training technologies and programs. NeuroAD and CogMed are two others in a growing field that you may want to check out. These types of programs may be enticing and worth recommending to struggling students and for enhancing your own brainpower. However, if paying lots of money for brain health is not your thing, there are some low to no-cost ways that have reportedly improved brain function and health and you might already be doing them.
Low to No-Cost Approach:
According to this CNN article; neuroscientists are just starting to understand the correlation between enjoyable hobbies and how these activities may help improve brain activity, mood, and ability to deal with strong emotions and chaotic situations. Call yourself a “hipster” but the resurgence of homemade goods and DIY craft ideas are easy to come by and usually at low-cost. Many knitter’s even share or exchange products with each other. In the end, you may have created a non-ugly sweater for your next holiday party and challenged your brain peacefully while doing it.
Reshaping Your Biology With Exercise
Exercise to improve the way certain proteins interact with your DNA may help with some health issues, as noted in this NPR article from 2012. Healthy foods and regular exercise have been a tried and true formula for improving mood and clearing out brain fog. You could purchase expensive equipment and gym memberships, but all you really need to work out is you.
Crossword Puzzles and Sunshine
My grandparents are well into their eighties and still independent. It may be luck or good genetics (which I hope I will catch) or is it because my grandfather still does his newspaper crossword puzzles regularly? My grandfather has his regular routine of filling out newspaper crosswords, which is a great low-cost activity for a long-term Medicare recipient. Could this be keeping his brain healthy, or maybe it’s the regular walks that he takes and the exposure to sunlight that is really helping him sustain a good brain? (Perhaps it’s both activities?) This Quartz article, argues that music and crosswords may help on the temporary side of memory enhancement, but staying physically active outdoors and getting some sun may be the best keys to mental success in the long run.
What are your thoughts? Do you think it is a worthy investment to pay for brain training games on the Internet? Or is it better to rely on old-fashioned low-tech ideas in order to stay mentally fit? Would you encourage your students to participate in such programs or do you share with them any of your crafts and hobbies that are fun, challenging and enjoyable? Share your comments with TeacherCents below.
Melissa Heule, Freelance Writer