Earlier this year, researchers behind a study in Archives of Neurology say they had a found a link between “brain-stimulating activities” and levels of protein thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Showcased in the presentation are the results of two previous studies that seem to indicate an increase in cognitive processing as well. The following presentation walks the learner through a better understanding of the physical systems in the brain that are most affected by learning. Associated with each system is a glimpse of the games that were developed by educational game developers to stimulate brain activity. Towards the end of the presentation, there is a surprise twist! It turns out that there may be a more effective and even simpler way to increase cognitive processing. Can you guess what it is?
For fun, try out a few games for yourself at: http://www.lumosity.com/
You can also visit my learning blog at: http://arupert.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/561/
Archives of Neurology reference:
Today we will be exploring the topic Brain Games. We will take a closer look at what they are and explore the systems they claim to exercise and whether they work.
Brain games are a series of mental exercises designed to improve cognitive functioning.
Brain Games are a multi-million dollar industry and endorsed by many leading neuro-scientists.As consumers grasp for packaged solutions & medication alternatives to slow down Dementia & Alzheimer's, game makers theorize that that we can strengthen neural connections by engaging in activities that stimulate brain systems. Parents of ADHD are also big consumers of Brain Games in hopes to increase cognitive potential in learning.
Neuroplasticity research, the core idea surrounding brain games, refers to the susceptibility of neural processes due to changes in behavior. Brain neurons have the tendency to rewire themselves to accommodate changes in the environment and to what extent these changes effect brain processes is still hotlydebated.
Like a gym workout, we exercises specific muscles. We bench press forpectorals, do squats for our quadriceps. And naturally, smaller support muscles also play a role. The brain is more complicated, so a visual perception/physical map was created to emphasize some of the specific processing systems highlighted during brain game exercises. Lets look at some of the major mental muscles exercised.
High profile systems such as memory, processing speed, attention, logic and multi-tasking are at the center of game design.
When our brain uses logic to calculate and deduct reasoning MRI’s indicate that the cerebral and parietal lobes play an active role.
Luminosity was selected for this demonstration as the games fall into line with the research studies that will be shown later in the presentation. A free account can be set up if you are interested in trying the games at luminosity. Logic Raindrops uses mental math and reasoning exercises to enhance cognitive plasticity exercises.
The attention systemis relatively sophisticated. It incorporates several brain muscles to function properly.
Sustaining attention is a high interest in ADHD studies. Some games use brain waves to optimize attention span. Interestingly, Lost in migration trains learners to pay attention to small details, they might normally overlook.
When memory is activated during an MRI, the sides & brain stem light up. These are affiliated with the temporal lobes and amygdala. Alzheimer's and schizophrenia patients have a noted deterioration in the temporal lobes near the auditory cortex. Sadly, the deterioration location may explain why victims often complain of hearing voices in their head.
Memory matrix is a short term memory game. It creates a snapshot of a square placement in a grid. The learner remembers where it was placed. The game was designed to intuitively adjusts grid size according to individual levels of readiness.
Multi-tasking is unique in that it receives and sorts information. The working memory shifts between tasks and filters distracters through the cerebral cortex.
Although studies on the effectiveness of brain games on multi-tasking are few and far between, Word bubbles are a challenging and fun way to exercise our multi-tasking processing system.
Processing speed is perhaps one of the most fascinating systems to study since it seems to stem from our corpus callosum. Our brain processing system acts like high speed cable wires and effects the rate at which we retrieve information.
Speed match game is another free game by luminosity. It systematically workson information retrieval speeds and clocks how fast it takes to match symbols.
In general, little research on the effectiveness of brain games exercises have been done to date. The IMPACT Study in 2009 showed promising results. The Impact Study was a cognitive training program based on the principles of brain plasticity . The results indicated that our brains are more flexible then previously believed.
487 Seniors from retirement homes in California and Minnesota participated in a the IMPACT Study. The double blind study investigated efﬁcacy of a computerized cognitive training program 1 hour per day, 5 days per weekfor a total of 8 weeks.
The results showed improvement in processing speed, attention and memory. Information was processed more quicklythen control group.
Auditory memory & attention appeared to signify improvement over the control group.
The memory training study used word lists to recall digits backwards. Improvements were indicted after administering letters and number sequencing exercises.
In 2002, the ACTIVE study published a single-blind trial of 2832 seniors. The clinical study spanned four years and measured cognitive training interventions. The desired findings might improve daily mental abilities in older adults.Participants were randomly assigned training for memory, reasoning, processing speed or a control group. The training wasclassroom based and spanned over 10-sessions.
87percent demonstrated improvement in processing speed after training.
75 percent of seniors demonstrated improvement in reasoning.
Most experts argue that brain games evidence have mixed results. In general, a slight increase in cognitive functioning was attributed to the game exercises. Several other studies have indicated that the key to truly improving and extending our cognitive functioning is regular physical exercise. A University of Illinois study indicated fast daily walks help increase our brain size by 3%. The Meta-analysis of several studies indicated that average individual can increase cognitive processing 25% with exercise as compared to a 10% increase in brain games alone.
Brain Games: What really works?
Brain games are a series of mental exercises designed to improve cognitive functioning.Exercise Your Brain With Brain Games uwaterloo.ca/~jorchard/mri/rotating_jeff.gif
PROCESSING SPEED 13% Improvement 87% No Improvement ACTIVEStudy,2002http://spacesuityoga.wordpress.com/
REASONING thefinancialblogger.com talkincblog.com3 of every 4 seniors improved in reasoning ACTIVEStudy,2002
PHYSICAL EXERCISE VS BRAIN TRAINING Aerobic based physical exercise can better increase brain power then brain training alone! 60% 75% Brain Trained Exercise Alone Average 25% 50% 75%
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