The hubby has always knocked me for my poor memory which has apparently gotten worse since I was pregnant with our son. Unlike what the pregnancy books claimed (that the memory comes back after delivery of the baby), I did not regain the “lost” memory and am still as forgetful as a sieve. So when I saw the Brain Trainer at Isetan, I asked hubby to get it for me.
Developed by Ryuta Kawashima, the Brain Trainer is designed to help boost your brain power, improve your memory, and stave off the mental effects of aging simply by doing a series of simple exercises on this hand-held console. The sort of exercises they have are simple math calculations, telephone number recall, card counting, pattern memory.
I was quite religious with this when I first bought it but eventually stopped using it. Yes, guilty as charged.
60 Days to a Better Brain
Then I came across another book called Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better Brain while I was looking for Kumon Books for my son.
Since reading the introduction to the book, I have discovered that the basic exercises for training your brain without having to buy the book and the fancy gadget above are simply to read out aloud and to do simple math calculations every day. Yes, that’s all there is to it.
Activities that Activate the Brain
In Train Your Brain, Kawashima explained that when they took brain scans of individuals performing different activities, such as thinking, solving simple math calculations quickly, solving simple math calculations slowly, solving difficult math calculations, watching TV, writing, silently reading, and reading out aloud. They discovered that the brain scans showed that solving simple math calculations quickly and reading out aloud activated the most parts of the brain. Surprisingly, the task of performing difficult math calculations activated very few parts of the brain. Even silently reading and writing were more effective at activating the brain than performing complex calculations.
- Reading aloud and arithmetic calculation improve frontal function of people with dementia – Kawashima et al., 2005
- Beneficial effects of reading aloud and solving simple arithmetic calculations (learning therapy) on a wide range of cognitive functions in the healthy elderly: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial – Nouchi et al., 2012
- Reading Aloud and Solving Simple Arithmetic Calculation Intervention (Learning Therapy) Improves Inhibition, Verbal Episodic Memory, Focus Attention and Processing Speed in Healthy Elderly People: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial – Nouchi et al. 2016
The book also has some other exercises which I haven’t started working on yet. Most of them are simple calculations, but they also include some other exercises. One involves looking at a sheet of words and then trying to recall as many words as you can remember. The other involves an exercise where you are supposed to say the colour that the word is written rather than the colour the word spells.
Here is an example:
So you should read the above as “blue, red, yellow, green”.
Okay, so maybe this is just me being over-analytical after the fact but I have felt my memory improving of late – even before I bought the book. It is only after reading this book that I’ve figured my memory probably started improving when I began reading stories out aloud to Gavin just before bed time. Coupled with the fact that I’ve started doing my simple calculation exercises on the Brain Trainer again, I think I’m on my way towards a healthier, younger brain.
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