The mere idea that our cognitive powers can be enhanced at any age by brain training garners a surprising amount of attention especially from individuals seeking to prevent the onset of dementia. Its lesser-used nomenclature ‘neurobics‘ is assumed by many to make it possible to improve brain function akin to the benefits of physical fitness sessions for the body.
Beginning about 2001, various members of the medical field began publishing articles geared to capture the attention of parents of ADHD children even though there were very few medical testing statistics available. By 2007, it appears that people were spending $80 million on various videos, how-to books and other so-called brain training products and procedures. 2012 saw consumer spending reaching $1 billion with no end in sight.
Prior to the digital age, many adults believed that games such as bridge and poker were the ideal way to exercise the brain and enhance their cognitive powers. For children, card games such as ‘war’ wherein the player who could remember who held which cards and quickly won the game was deemed to be an effective and enjoyable brain training method. Today, cyber technology continues to evolve and experts in the field are using their cognitive abilities to better understand how and why brain training works before down-playing or adopting the opposing point of view. Just as physical workouts contribute to body health, mental workouts tend to improve cognitive health, but only if they are done on a regular basis as opposed to a couple hours a week or every now and then.
Studies have shown that brain training works if we engage in cognitive exercises such as crossword puzzle or Sudoku solving preferably on a daily basis. While during physical workouts we can zero in on a particular part of the body such as arms, legs, back etc. we wish to target, not enough is known about the brain to allow us to decide which brain cells do what much less how to focus on a particular facet, but many studies indicate that they are effective for improving processing speed or recall memory. Reading How-To books then putting the book down and following the suggested instructions can bring us one step closer to our goal. While it won’t happen overnight, many experts conclude that surprising results can occur over an 8 week span of time.
A very recent media infomercial touts that a $200 expenditure to order and subsequently submit a DNA testing kit can reveal the potential for an individual to be afflicted with Alzheimers or some form of dementia during their lifetime. By the same token, is it not worth a portion of one’s time to attempt to improve brain function?