Posts Tagged ‘brain training software’

USA Today: MindSparke Brain Training In The News

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

USA Today Brain TrainingIn an article titled Brain-training games are new exercise craze USA Today’s Rachel Roubein discusses the growing interest in brain training software through the lens of a boxer’s new-found success in the ring. Roubein gives the high-profile Lumosity a look of course, but MindSparke makes her very short short-list as a brain fitness program to check out.

“MindSparke is another Web-based brain-fitness program that works to increase memory and the ability to multitask. Play the game 30 minutes a day for about a month, and your memory and attention span will jump more than 40%.”


Increase IQ: New Study Shows Long Term Gains

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

The brain fitness researchers Suzanne Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl who first demonstrated cognitive gains from n-back training back in 2008 have now published follow up research showing that the gains hold long term.

Using n-back brain training software for a group of school children, the researchers tested the children’s IQs before and after training and then again after three months.

In a recent interview, the senior brain fitness researcher, Dr. Jonides, who supervised the study made the following observations:

“These new studies demonstrate that the more training people have on the dual n-back task, the greater the improvement in fluid intelligence,” Jonides said. “It’s actually a dose-response effect. And we also demonstrate that the much simpler single n-back training using spatial cues has the same positive effect.”

In addition to a gain in IQ the researchers found that the training made children less likely to be distracted by invalid or irrelevant information.

“Psychologically, training made them more conservative,” Jonides said.

They also studied how the training affected brain activity.

“We found two effects of our training regimen,” he said. “After training, people had reduced amounts of blood flow in active brain regions when they were doing training tasks. And they had increased amounts of blood flow in those regions when they were not doing training tasks.

“In some ways, this is much like training a muscle in the body, and in some ways, it is different. When new muscle fibers have been grown as a result of training, they require greater blood flow when they are not being used. However, by contrast, when the new muscles are in use, they require more blood, unlike the trained regions of the brain.”

Working Memory Capacity & Emotional Control

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Various brain fitness studies have shown that working memory capacity plays a key role in our ability to control our impulses. Now brain fitness researchers from Case Western Reserve University have published a fascinating study that ties our working memory capacity to our resilience in the face of criticism.

The CWRU brain fitness team measured working memory capacity by asking the study participants to solve math problems while remembering words. The researchers followed this with a test, and gave either negative feedback or no feedback. Negative feedback took the form of commentary on the individual’s character such as “your responses indicate that you have a tendency to be egotistical, placing your own needs ahead of the interests of others” or that “if you fail to mature emotionally or change your lifestyle, you may have difficulty maintaining these friendships and are likely to form insecure relations.”

Immediately after delivering negative or no feedback, the researchers asked the participants to rate their familiarity with a list of people and places — some real, some fictitious. By measuring the participants’ likelihood to claim knowledge of the fictitious items, the researchers were able to determine how well they were coping with negative criticism. While such “over claiming” in a normal social environment would be considered boastful and immodest, over claiming after being criticized or demeaned is a natural and effective tool for assuaging heated emotions.

The brain fitness researchers found that participants with higher levels of working memory capacity over-claimed the most and reported fewer negative emotions such as shame or distress.

Or, put another way, with working memory training we can improve the tools we naturally possess to respond resiliently in stressful situations. Yet another great reason to stick with the brain training software!

Brain Fitness Training And Learning: Neuroplasticity

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

After my “test prep review” post a couple of days ago I came across a piece in The Journal arguing the case for the use of brain training software to build critical brain structures in struggling learners. The story’s author, Dr. Martha Burns, emphasizes how much we now know about neuroplasticity, learning, and the impact of brain fitness software on cognitive function.

“Neuroscientists like Stanislas Dehaene, for example, provide evidence that specific brain structures in the temporal lobe are required so that learning to read happens easily and effortlessly,” Dr. Burns points out. “Research is helping us understand the reasons why that brain architecture may not be strong enough to support the learning process–for example, a home environment where there is not a great deal of oral language experience may have negative impact on brain architecture.”

But we can rewire the brain with specific brain training interventions. Neuroplasticity, even adult neuroplasticity, is now a well accepted process by which the brain changes in response to new stimulii.

Dr. Burns cites the work of John Gabrieli with dyslexic children. Reviewing new neuroscience approaches to dyslexia in the journal Science in 2009, John Gabrieli of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology noted that after six weeks of targeted brain training, the dyslexic children showed dramatic improvements on standardized reading assessments and increased brain function in previously weak regions of the left hemisphere. The brain function in the weak areas had reached levels associated with non-dyslexic children.

Further, Dehaene’s research report published in the December 2010 issue of Science shows that learning to read changes the brains of children as well as adults. Learning to read stimulates organization of the visual cortex and the brain functions associated with speech. Similarly brain training for children can also lead to improvements in math, social studies, and science.

Dr. Burns closes: “Neuroscience is helping educators understand how the brain learns, what causes learning disabilities, and what we can do about them. Moreover, neuroscience is developing technology-based interventions that can ameliorate the root cause of reading failure and, by enabling nonreaders to read, build brain capacity for other types of learning.” Well said.