Boost Your Brain Power by Maria Dorfner

O is for Occipital Lobe
Image by illuminaut via Flickr

The human brain has long been a mystery.  Suddenly, there is an explosion of books about the brain in bookstores.  A search on Amazon reveals almost 6,000 titles.  So, what’s really going on inside this extremely complex organ?  And how can you boost your brain power, so it’s working at its best?  First, let’s take a look at what each area does, and how damage to one of these areas would affect you.  Then, we’ll explore things you can do to keep your brain fit.

Let’s start with a visual.

FRONTAL LOBES – THINKING.  Biggest part of your brain. This is the most highly evolved area of your brain.  The frontal lobes, one on each side, handles ideas, concepts, feelings and judgments, interpreting what’s going on around you and how you should act in response. Problems in this area including Alzheimer’s disease, can change behavior and personality and make it hard to focus, plan or remember how to do tasks.

TEMPORAL LOBES – HEARING.  More sensory information, especially hearing, is processed in the temporal lobes, which help you make sense of spoken language and music.  These lobes also are linked to memory, and damage here can make it hard to understand speech, categorize objects or recall things you’ve seen or been told.

PARIETAL LOBES – VISION & TOUCH. Working with other areas of the brain, the parietal lobes integrate information from the senses, like vision and touch.  They’re also involved in memory, voluntary movement and spinal perception.  Damage to the parietal lobes can make it difficult to perceive objects, recognize parts of your body, do math or understand your own writing.

OCCIPITAL LOBESSIGHT.  Sight isn’t limited to one area, but the occipital lobes are largely devoted to processing visual input, and damage from tumors, trauma or strokke can cause a form of vision loss known as coritcal blindness.  Even if the eye and optic nerve are working perfectly well, a problem in the occipital lobes can make it difficult to recognize what your eyes see.

CEREBELLUMBALANCE & COORDINATION.  Smallest part of your brain.  The cerebellum is involved with balance and coordination of movement.  It also plays a role in functions such as motor memory you need for physical skills.  When there is trouble in the cerebellum, even simple tasks such as reaching for a glass of water can prove difficult.

BRAIN STEM – CONNECTS IT ALL.  Everything that travels back and forth between your body and brain via your spinal cord goes through the brain stem. It is responsible for body functions you don’t consciously think about such as breathing, heart rate, digestion, sleep and body temperature.  Problems in this area can mean big trouble, including paralysis and coma.

The Human Brain requires all parts to work together in order for your Mind and Body to function properly.  Any of those functions can be compromised by stroke, tumors, injuries and disease.

Let’s Take a Look at Ways You Can Keep Your Brain Healthy.

BOOSTING BRAIN POWER

Daily Mental Exercise

  1. Scrabble. Play Scrabble with friends in person or play online. Scrabble is a great way to get your brain thinking or do the daily crossword in a newspaper each day.
  2. News. Keep up with current events. Whether your interest is politics, world news, or your local small-town gossip, staying current with the news stimulates your mind.
  3. Read. Read anything…books, magazines, the back of cereal boxes. Reading keeps your mind pumping, and you learn new things at the same time. It’s definitely a bonus if your reading material has some depth to it, though.
  4. Puzzles. While working jigsaw puzzles, you must think about how the shapes and colors match up. The problem-solving skills of working puzzles helps keep your mind sharp.
  5. Movies. Watch a thought-provoking movie. Movies like Crash, Fight Club, and American Beauty can leave your brain pondering what you watched for days afterward.
  6. Word puzzles. Solve brainteasers such as anagrams, logic problems, or rebuses whenever you have a few minutes.
  7. Video games. Who said video games are a waste of time? Some video game playing can help fight Alzheimer’s.
  8. Hobbies. Start a new hobby or take up an old, forgotten one to get your creative juices flowing.
  9. Research. Research topics of interest. It’s one way to boost your brain power if you spend a lot of time online.

Daily Physical Exercise

Exercise increases blood-flow and oxygenates the brain, so get moving.

10.  Yard work. Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or just picking up the twigs that have fallen on the yard are all great ways to get exercise.

  1. Walk the dog. Getting Fido and yourself outside for a walk improves both your mood and your health–both lead to a stronger mind.
  2. Swim. Jump in the lake or take a swim at your neighborhood pool for a great form of exercise.
  3. Bike. A leisurely bike ride through a park or down a dedicated bike trail is not only good for your body, but you will enjoy the scenery.
  4. Yoga. Practicing yoga is an excellent way to get your body and mind moving any time of the day.
  5. Tai chi. Learn this ancient form of graceful movement and stretching for a super way to start each morning.
  6. Hike. Put on some sturdy shoes. Hiking can be as easy as exploring a city park or to a visit to a state or national park.
  7. Dance. Take dancing lessons. Learn to tango or do the latest line dance.  Read about the anti-aging benefits of dance here.
  8. Tennis. The mental and physical stimulation of this popular game will have your brain health in top form.
  9. Golf. Enjoy a leisurely round of golf for both exercise and social benefits that will help keep your mind fit.

Daily Challenges

Learning and experiencing new things does this.

20. Learn. If you hear an unfamiliar word, look it up. See a flower you don’t recognize? Find out what it is.

21. Music. Learn to play a musical instrument, learn how to read music, or take a music theory class.

  1. Language. Study a foreign language. Maybe you can revive that high school Spanish and prepare yourself for a visit to Mexico.
  2. Classes. Take an adult continuing education class and learn something new. Many universities and community colleges offer courses.
  3. Art.  All you need is an interest to learn. Study the art of photography, learn to paint, or find out how to throw pottery.
  4. Switch hands. Try using your less dominant hand for simple tasks like eating or writing. Changing hands really stimulates the brain.
  5. Chess. Learn how to play chess or find a chess partner if you already know how.
  6. Career. Either switch to a different department within your field or make a complete career change altogether.
  7. Travel. Whether you’ve always wanted to travel the now-defunct Route 66 or wanted to explore Mayan ruins, take a trip. Exploring different cultures and breaking out of your routine sharpen the mind.
  8. School. Go back to school for that degree you never got. Studying at college is a great brain challenge.

Feed Your Brain Well

The connection between what goes in your body and how your brain performs is a strong one.

  1. Antioxidants. Eating foods that are antioxidants can help improve focus, problem-solving, and memory. Supplements can help, but food with antioxidant properties work best.
  2. Fish. The ultimate brain food, eat fish a few times a week for a healthy mind. Try to avoid mercury-laden fish such as swordfish and stick with safer fish such as salmon.
  3. Avocado. Avocados have monosaturated fat (the good fat), which increases blood flow. Increased blood flow equals a healthy brain.
  4. Fruits and veggies. Your mama always said to eat your vegetables. Learn about the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables to your brain.
  5. Whole grains. Two and a half servings of whole grains a day can significantly reduce your chance for a stroke. Read about these findings here.
  6. Olive oil. This miracle elixir has been shown to break up clots in capillaries and generally help with blood flow. Consider replacing your other vegetable oil with a good quality olive oil.
  7. Organic. Eating organic foods reduces the toxins that go in your body. Your brain and general health benefit greatly with fewer toxins to process out of your body. Read the Organic Guide for news, recipes, and ideas for going organic.
  8. Superfoods. Ever heard of Goji berries? What do they have in common with blueberries? They are both part of the new group called superfoods. These are the best foods to eat for the most nutritional punch.
  9. Raw. Raw food is the latest health trend. Learn how eating raw can benefit you in this interview.
  10. Breakfast. It may be known as the most important meal of the day, but it is now considered the best meal for your brain too.

Supplements

Supplements don’t just have to come in pill form. Find out how each of these supplements to your diet will help promote a healthy brain.

  1. Omega-3. Omega-3 amino acids are one of the best brain supplements you can take. Learn about the benefits of this great supplement.
  2. Green tea. Drinking green tea is great for a healthy mind because it is full of antioxidants. Steep a cup and know you are helping your mind stay strong.
  3. B Vitamins. Vitamin B complex supplements are the ultimate brain boosters. Find out how they help and how to choose the best form of supplement here.
  4. Water. Staying hydrated benefits your body and brain by keeping you detoxified and oxygenated, so drink lots of water.
  5. Kombucha. In addition to the multiple health benefits of this unusual drink, it is primarily a detoxifier for the body. And when your body is more pure and healthy, your brain works so much better.
  6. Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that is beneficial to brain health. Take this to give your brain a boost.
  7. Vitamin C. Used in conjunction with vitamin E, this supplement may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
  8. Matcha. This stone-ground, powdered form of green tea is a super-concentrated version of the green tea that comes in tea bags. Buy the highest quality for a super blast of brain health.
  9. Grape seed extract. Studies have shown a connection between taking grape seed extract and preventing the onset of dementia.
  10. Soy protein. Soy proteins, found in soy beans and soy products, appear to help brain functions such as memory in older people.

Limit, Avoid or Have the Following in Moderation

Some things are just better left out of your body or only introduced in small doses.

  1. Fast food. The saturated fats and generally poor food quality of fast food is not something you want to keep putting in your body. Reducing fast food as much as you can will help keep you mentally fit.
  2. Heavily processed food. The preservatives, artificial ingredients, and high fat content of processed foods are not good for the body. Try to eat foods as close to their source as you can. A slice of cheddar cheese is so much better for your brain than a slice of processed American cheese.
  3. White sugar. Refined “table” sugar creates strong fluctuations in blood-sugar levels, which results in a whole host of health problems, including cardiovascular and cholesterol issues. Stick with a more natural sweetener such as honey, cane sugar, or agave.
  4. Hydrogenated vegetable oils. The oils found in margarine and other processed foods hold a direct link to higher cholesterol, which in turn, leads to less blood flow to the brain.
  5. Caffeine. Reduce your caffeine intake. But don’t worry about eliminating it altogether as this study indicates a little caffeine may be beneficial to your brain.
  6. Alcohol. Keep drinking to a minimum–one or two drinks a day at the most. Heavy drinking is directly linked to memory loss.
  7. High fructose corn syrup. This artificial sweetener may be worse for you than sugar.
  8. Saturated fat. Replace saturated fat from animal products with monounsaturated fat from healthy vegetable oils.
  9. Environmental pollutants. The toxic effects of pollutants is not healthy for the body, and especially the brain. If you live in a heavily polluted city, you might want to consider moving.
  10. Heavy metals. Heavy metals disrupt the protective blood-brain barrier and are not easily flushed from the body. Two sources of heavy metals are mercury found in many fish and lead found in places such as some job sites, in certain dishware from Mexico, and lead pipes in older homes.

Protect Your Brain from Injury

Brain injury can debilitate the brain’s functioning.

61. Sports helmets. Protect your head when bicycling, skiing, or rollerblading by wearing the appropriate helmet for your sport.

62. Smoking. Smoking robs your body of oxygen. Alzheimer’s is twice as likely to occur in smokers than non-smokers.

63. Heat stroke. If you are out in the sun, always wear a hat and stay hydrated with plenty of water. Get in the shade as much as possible.

64. Driving. Practice safe driving habits. Becoming a defensive driver reduces your chances of getting in an accident.

65. Handrails. Use handrails on steep stairs or any stairs if you are in bad weather, especially during rain or ice.

66. On motorcycles. Always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or scooter.

67. Drugs. Avoid illegal drugs. Some drugs can diminish brain capacity; overdosing can cause permanent brain damage.

68. Repetitive injury. Sports such as football, soccer, and boxing all run a higher risk of repetitive injury, so play safe.

69. Seatbelts. Always wear a seatbelt when you are in a car –front or back seat.

70. Home safety. Practice smart safety around the house – use a sturdy ladder rather than a rickety one.

Reduce Stress

  1. Emotions. Pretending you don’t have certain feelings such as anger, sadness, or loneliness will just push these feelings down until they come back out in less than ideal ways. Identify your emotions and accept them for what they are.
  2. Bath. Soak in a hot bath to feel the stress just melt away from your body. After a 15 min soak, your body & mind will feel refreshed.
  3. Meditation. For improving focus and stress relief, meditation can’t be beat. Learn why meditation works.
  4. Breathing. The deep, relaxing form of breathing used during yoga practice can bring benefits to your brain as well. It also oxygenates the body, which keeps the brain healthy.
  5. Relaxation exercises. Try some of these relaxation exercises, and you will teach your body how to feel more calm.
  6. Fun. Have fun in life. Take time away from work and family responsibilities to just enjoy life.
  7. Yes! Think positively and you will discover that your approach to life is one of much less stress. You will feel empowered to make things happen and to appreciate what you’ve already accomplished.
  8. Smile. Smile and laugh often. Not only will a happy demeanor help you feel better, it will also affect those around you.
  9. Sleep. Getting enough sleep and sleeping well contribute to a reduction in stress levels. Find out how to get a good night’s sleep without a sleep aid.
  10. Get a pet. Pet owners show fewer signs of stress and are less lonely. Think about going through a pet rescue organization to help find a home for a needy animal and helping yourself too.

Stimulate Your Senses

The following activities will provide you with plenty of sensory experiences you will enjoy while strengthening your mental acuity.

81. Sculpt. Pick up some modeling clay and play with some simple sculpting.

  1. 82. Aromatherapy. Learn about aromatherapy and essential oils.
  2. 83. Massage. Get a massage and enjoy the tactile sensation of a professional working out the stress and tension in your muscles.
  3. 84. New food. Try a new type of food, especially if it is a different ethnic food than you are accustomed to eating.

85. Garden. Reach your hands into the earth and plant some herbs and flowers. Gardening is a great multisensory experience.

86. Sex. Enjoy sex with your partner.  It has also been shown to sharpen your mind through its cardiovascular benefits.

87. Concert. Listening to music, whether it’s a small chamber music ensemble or a full-out rock show, will stimulate your brain.

88. Bake. The feel of the dough, the smell of the baking is a good multisensory experience.

89. Yarn. Play with yarn or thread as you learn to knit, crochet, or embroider as a new learning experience.

90. Vocabulary Words.  Increase your vocabulary by learning a new word each day & using it in a sentence.

91. Socialize

Having a strong social network reduces isolation and stress and stimulates the brain through shared learning experiences and emotional connections. Good friends are good for  your brain.

92. Email. Be sure you actually send a message, though, and don’t just forward jokes.

93. Letters. Rediscover the lost art of writing letters the old-fashioned way.

94. Clubs. Join a club. Find a group of folks with similar interests as you.

95. Volunteer. Volunteering can be a great way to socialize while making a difference.

96. Phone. Pick up the phone and talk to someone.

97. Dinner group. Start a dinner club with six or eight people. Have each person bring one dish and alternate homes for hosting.

98. Book group. Combine reading with the social aspect of discussing your book to gain two benefits to brain health.

99. Cooking class. Taking a cooking class will not only get you out, but you will learn how to eat more healthily, too.

100. Cards. Playing cards is a fun and social experience. Find some card-playing partners and set up a weekly or monthly card date.

101. Online. Find a topic about which you are interested in learning or you are already an expert and join in a discussion.

102. Read Great Books about Brain Health.  There are thousands of books available. I recommend some below.

MY FAVORITE BRAIN BOOKS:

I tend to rave about things to everyone within earshot when I love them –and that’s  how I felt after reading, “The Brain Mechanic” by Spencer Lord. I brought it to the beach and it had me “think” differently about things I already knew. I had a question after reading it and contacted the author.  We’ve since become good friends.  I publicly endorsed  his book, and I’m not the only one who thought it a GEM.   See the reviews below. Then, make sure you pick up a copy.  You’ll want to share what you learn with friends. I’m actually due to re-read it. The title is fitting because just like a car –we do need to service our brains too.

What other people say about The Brain Mechanic by Spencer Lord

 A ‘must-read.’  I feel brighter and better having read it!”
  • Carole Bayer Sager: singer, painter, Oscar & Emmy-winning songwriter
  • Concise, accessible, and indescribably powerful.”—David Geffen: cofounder of Dreamworks SKG
  • Great book.”—Sheri Salata: executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey                Show, and president of Harpo Studios
  • I was using The Brain Mechanic cognitive skills the very same day I read the book. The elevator in my building was under repair, and I used a Brain Mechanic “alternate positive scenario” to avoid feeling angry about the inconvenience, and actually be happy about taking the stairs. I love Spencer’s book, and highly recommend it for everyone.”—Sally Kirkland: Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning actress, Minister
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the gold standard of psychotherapy. I am happy that Spencer Lord has written a book about it which is easily read and comprehended by people from non-psychological backgrounds.”—Crown Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil: humanitarian, and founder of Lakshya Trust
  • Spencer Lord is a not only a Mechanic of the brain but a life enlightener and surgeon of the soul.”—Mario Cantone: writer, comedian, Tony-nominated actor
  • Spending one night with The Brain Mechanic can change your life.”—Lori Andrews: legal chair for the Human Genome Project,                and author of “The Silent Assassin”
  • A work of preternatural genius.”—William Cole, Ph.D.: former president of Lake Forest                 College, and chairman of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations
  • A good brain mechanic is hard to find. Usually you wind up in a chop shop. And the replacement parts are inferior. Spencer Lord has changed all that. He offers a one-stop service and you’re out and running smooth before lunch. This may sound glib, but you’ll feel the same way when you realize how simple it is and how stupid you were not to have realized it before you drove into that wall.”—Bruce Vilanch: six-time Emmy winner, and head writer for the Academy Awards Show, and “Hollywood Squares”
  • ‘The Brain Mechanic’ is Spencer Lord’s personal journey and interpretation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy through his life. He has developed an easy to read and understand blueprint for others to “tune up” their lives. This book should be read by any adult who has ever felt depression, anxiety or unresolved emotional pain. It is a self help bibliotherapy that can be used as an auxiliary to individual therapy or perhaps a path to personal solutions to negative thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. I suggest that we look at the results of “The Brain Mechanic” in the life of the author. He is focused, energized, and resiliently engaged in life, learning, and service to humanity. He’s setting a shining example of the power and effectiveness of ‘The Brain Mechanic.'”—Dr. Jack Apsche: board certified clinical psychologist, founder and director of the Apsche Clinic, program director for forensic psychology at Walden University, and author of “Mode Deactivation Therapy to Treat Aggression and Oppositional Behavior in Adolescents” (New Harbinger Press)
  • Mr. Lord uses letters like words, words like thoughts, thoughts like tools, tools like dreams, and dreams like reality…”—Christopher G. Ciccone: artist, director, author of “Life With My Sister Madonna”
  • Spencer is the ultimate connector – of our friends, our dreams and our brains.”—Hilary Rosen: editor-at-large for The Huffington Post, and CNN political contributor
  • Your brain can’t run without a good mechanic. Spence is mine.”—Howard Bragman: founder of Fifteen Minutes, publicist, and author of “Where’s My Fifteen Minutes”
  • An extraordinary practical guide that contains exercises and insights educators can readily integrate into courses analyzing peacemaking, conflict resolution, and ethnic conflicts in the broader context of peace education. ‘The Brain Mechanic’ is a wonderful read as we experience transformative learning and utilize communications technology to develop innovative pedagogy across cultures.”—Colette Mazzucelli, Ph.D.: NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, author of “France and Germany at Maastricht Politics and Negotiations to Create the European Union”
  • Well, I thought I knew everything. Apparently not. This book has, if I say so myself, made me brilliant. I have only two words for anyone who wants to unlock the potential of his/her brain: You. Should. Read. This.”—Elayne Boosler: comedian, writer, and founder of Tails of Joy
  • Brace yourself: ‘The Brain Mechanic’ is the best brain candy to gobble up at the moment. Spencer Lord weaves together a simple, easy-to-read guide to understanding your emotions and your behavior. More importantly, he provides the tools needed to create the possibility for real transformation. Delicious!”—Greg Archer: San Francisco Examiner
  • This is heavyweight psycho-spiritual guidance doled out with a ladle of honey.  Spencer is the quintessential affable guru—friendly, approachable, flexible.  His ‘emotional algebra’ provides an invaluable formula for liberation, empowering each of us to be our own brain mechanic instead of a sniveling victim to the false self.  A ‘must read’ for spiritual seekers—one which I will be using at Columbia College with my Mystical Consciousness students.”—Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, Ph.D.: author, and professor at Columbia College
  • This book will change your outlook and your life!”—ANT: comedian, and VH1 host
  • The Brain Mechanic empowers its readers with a simple, straightforward “equation” for change. Perhaps EV + B = EM should be offered to all middle-school youngsters as part of the standard curriculum. How skillfully they would navigate through life learning this tool early on!”—Rhonda J. Noonan M.S., L.P.C.; clinical director
  • Spencer Lord has provided us with a user’s manual to the human brain. By applying the material in ‘The Brain Mechanic’ one has the tools to positively change their life. I see this book as a step in the right direction to powerfully merge science and spirituality.”—Jesse Brune: founder of Project Service L.A., personal trainer, and reality television star
  • ‘The Brain Mechanic’ by Spencer Lord empowers people to take control of their own thoughts, emotions and behaviors by understanding how their own belief system is responsible for how they react in certain situations. I have recommended it to friends who write to tell me what it a powerful impact it has had in their lives during challenging situations. Spencer Lord is a genius when it comes to simplifying cognitive behavioral therapy that may have confused you in the past. It’s a gem of a tool for your mental health and overall well-being.”—Maria Dorfner: founder/CEO of NewsMD Communications
  • In an easy to read, and simple way, Lord explains the science & dynamics of Cognitive Behavioral Theory and how our spurious beliefs can be changed via ‘self-enhancement.’ This is the must read book to create self-change and build a sustained life balance.”—Meghan Stabler: HRC board of directors
  • The how-to guide for taking control of your emotional life. A great read!”—Richard Dowling: recording artist, and founder of Dowling Music
  • I’m not sure which sexologist once quipped that the average man utilized the clitoris in much the way an orangutan might play a violin, but I thought of him when I read “The Brain Mechanic.” Not, of course, because I have a clitoris (that is NOT what is in my jar by the door), but because most of us use our brains as ineptly and as rarely. I do know that Neil Simon used to read “How To Be Your Own Best Friend” twice a day with a glass of water, because it got him back in his best frame of mind, flushed out the toxins. Nora Ephron thought the book might be magical. That was more than thirty years ago. Today, I think they would find this book to be their magic pill. I like how the book distills a lot of knowledge that we are SUPPOSED to know and think we already know, but rarely utilize. I want to quip some more (because the book gets your engines going and the synapses aflame), but to be as clear and as precise as the book, let me just say that it allows you to begin living the examined life we always thought was a myth. Like that clitoris. And that musical orangutan.”—Jim Grissom: HBO, writer/editor; author
  • Imagine that… THINKING actually does play an important role in how we feel and what we do… The Brain Mechanic not only reinforces that causal link, but it arms readers with tools to apply cognitive behavioral therapy techniques in their daily lives.”—Joe Zuniga: president/CEO, International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care
  • An indispensable interdisciplinary tool for taking back control from the demons that plague us – anxiety, depression, drug addiction, etc.”—C. Cryn Johannsen: founder of Education Matters
  • Thank you Spencer Lord for writing this book. The benefits of learning how to control our beliefs independent of our thoughts are crucial no matter what your situation. Thus this book could benefit anyone just as it has me! He has made something profound quite simple to do.”—Corey Spears: actor, blogger, movie star

READ MORE REVIEWS AT AMAZON.COM!

ANOTHER FAVORITE BRAIN BOOK:

I agreed to serve on the board of Super Body, Super Brain because I believed in the concept before it was executed —before all the copycat books popped up on shelves.  Michael has spent a tremendous of time studying neuroscience, the brain and fitness –and you’ll be surprised to learn after reading how it’s not a gimmick. He is a good friend and he’s dedicated to making a difference in the way people approach fitness.  You can’t have a fit body without having a fit mind.  I would start with Spencer Lord’s book, which will show you how to be mindful. Then, move on to Super Body, Super Brain.

Prevention

QUOTE FROM AN INTERVIEW FEATURING SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN IN PREVENTION

But it wasn’t enough to know the change was there. Gonzalez-Wallace wanted to know why. “When I started seeing these unusual results, I found that no matter how much I was reading, I needed a professional opinion,” says the trainer. John Martin, PhD, a neuroscientist at Columbia University, immediately recognized the brain benefits of Gonzalez-Wallace’s workouts.

“Michael’s exercises require new coordination patterns,” says Martin. “They seem to mix a challenging posture requiring balance together with a limb movement. This may be similar to creating a cognitive reserve by learning a new language later in life, or learning to play a musical instrument. The exercises likely drive more neural activity in more parts of the brain. This can strengthen neural connections in the action systems of the brain. Perhaps, the more you need to think during a complex movement, the more you recruit connections in the cognitive systems of the brain. While speculative, this may be a way for exercises that require you to think about your moves to benefit parts of the brain for memory and for learning facts.”

QUOTE FROM AN INTERVIEW FEATURING SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN IN CHICAGO TRIBUNE Chicago Tribune

When Gonzalez-Wallace was developing the workout, he talked it over with Jack Martin, a neurobiologist at Columbia University. Martin thought it made sense. Brain activity is more limited for motor tasks produced without much thought compared with movement that has to be coordinated on the fly, he said.

“Some of Michael’s exercises require new coordination patterns; odd combinations of movements that people don’t normally do. Like mixing a challenging posture requiring balance together with a leg movement,” Martin said in e-mail.

“Getting more of the brain to work to produce a complex movement is plausibly beneficial for overall brain function. Maybe it is the motor equivalent of building a cognitive reserve by learning to play the cello at 55 years old or doing crossword puzzles.

In any case, by combining balance and limb movement or other combination patterns, he is forcing the person to use multiple distinct motor systems of the brain. To my mind, that is a lot like an integrative cognitive task, but for the action systems of the brain.”

PROFESSIONAL ENDORSEMENT, GREGORY LOMBARDO, MD

Dr Lombardo is board certified in adult, child and adolescent psychiatry and is a diplomate of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology. He is the author of “Understanding the mind of your bipolar child”

According to Dr Lombardo, The benefits of implementing SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN may fall into three major groups:

Motor Skills:

Motor skills refers to the abilities which involve the use of hands, develop over time, starting with primitive gestures such as grabbing at objects to more precise activities that involve precise hand-eye coordination. Fine motor skills are skills that involve a refined use of the small muscles controlling the hand, fingers, and thumb. The development of these skills allows one to be able to complete tasks such as writing, drawing, and buttoning. *

SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN incorporates an active use of motor skills. The importance of exercising balance and coordination may help improve children’s brain functioning in the following areas: attention, memory, multitasking, spatial memory and decision-making. For example raising heels and arms at the same time will improve kids’ attention and multitasking skills. This could correlate to listening to the teacher and writing in a piece of paper)

*Wikepedia, Encyclopedia. Search: Motor skills. Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine_motor_skill

Psychiatric Benefits and Benefits in Academic Function

Improving children’s brain functioning through specific exercise movements.

Regarding brain functioning, it is important to refer to the cerebellum, the area of the brain responsible for voluntary physical movement is connected by neurons to all parts of the cortex, the area of the brain responsible for higher order thinking.  Nearly 80 studies have suggested a strong link between the movement and memory, spatial perception, language, attention, emotion, nonverbal cues, and decision-making (Jensen, 1998).

A number of studies also indicate that children suffering from even subtle forms of Bipolar Disorder have difficulties integrating the cognitive function of the left with the right hemisphere.  This is also thought to be true for children with dyslexia and dysgraphia, conditions that powerfully affect a child’s scholastic function and their self-esteem.

An essential feature of SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN is to improve the integration of motor activity carried on between the left and right hemisphere.  This cannot help but improve problems with visual integration and with fine motor coordination and sensory-motor coordination, yielding improvement is some children’s reading and writing (both in the sense of handwriting and in the sense of composition).

Cardiovascular Benefits

Cardiovascular benefits seen with any regular aerobic exercise are particularly important in school age children.

Among children Type II Diabetes caused by decreased physical activity and poor nutrition leading to obesity has reached epidemic proportions.  When a child experiences improper weight gain (because of larger amounts of circulating growth hormone) the child increases the number of fat cells rather than their size (as is the case with adults).  Consequently, hyper-cellular obesity is especially hard to reverse later on in life.

SUPER BODY, SUPER BRAIN improves cardiovascular function and glucose metabolism while a child is focused on another goal, removing the burden of shame that can accompany explicit attempts at weight management

This section has been reviewed and endorsed by Gregory T. Lombardo MD, PhD, Adult, Child and Adolescent psychiatrist; author Understanding the Mind of Your Bipolar Child, St. Martins 11/2006; doctor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University; and former teacher of writing and English literature at Columbia College and at The Trinity School N.Y.C.

Human Brain Evolution
Image by hawkexpress via Flickr

6 thoughts on “Boost Your Brain Power by Maria Dorfner

  1. Thank you for following my blog, Creative Musings. Also, you have a very fascinating article about the brain. You must have done a great deal of research on the subject.

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