Brain Training Research
|The science of brain change|
|How to improve mental ability|
Changing Your Brain
In 1998, Dr. Fred Gage published research upending the traditional belief that adult brains don't change. In fact, as Gage and his team demonstrated, our brains grow new neurons throughout our lives! It's what we do with those new neurons that matters.
Changing your brain requires Focus, Challenge, and Reward.
|Focus||When you focus on a particular task or problem your brain releases a substance that triggers it to remember what you're focusing on. The more you focus, the more you remember.|
|Challenge||When you focus on a challenging task, your brain devotes more resources to the neural pathways that you are using.|
|Reward||When you succeed at the task, the sense of satisfaction triggers the release of dopamine (the "happy" chemical,) strengthening the pathways being used.|
Training Your Brain - What Works?
Following on the work of Gage and others, researchers Martin Buschkuehl and Suzanne Jaeggi set about trying to discover whether it was possible to improve mental ability with targeted training. They knew from prior research that problem-solving ability and working memory (holding a few things in our mind at once) are closely connected. So they devised a training task that would challenge a person's working memory, automatically increasing in difficulty as the trainee improved.
In a groundbreaking study pulblished in 2008, they tested two groups of graduate students with a standard intelligence test.
They then trained just one of the groups for 19 days using their newly designed working-memory training method.
At the conclusion of the training the researchers retested the students. Both groups showed gains, but the group who had been trained showed significant gains above-and-beyond the group that hadn't been trained!
MindSparke adapted the Jaeggi / Buschkuehl training method to develop the very first commercially available training using this revolutionary protocol. With the benefit of real-world results and further research, we have continued to refine and extend the training to remarkable effect.
Long-Term Brain Change
The more you train, the more benefits you enjoy. In 2011, Jaeggi and Buschkuehl followed up with a study on the long-term impact of brain training. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this research shows that intensive working memory training increases IQ long term.
In a similar study at the prestigious Karolinska Institutet, researchers demonstrated that a period of working-memory training increased the average working-memory capacity of the trainees well above the norm.
MindSparke's assessments of real-world results indicate working-memory increases that exceed those projected by the Karoliska Institutet (see yellow line), more than compensating for the reduction in working-memory capacity with normal aging.