Brain exercises have been around for a long time – from ancient puzzles and memory games, to Sudoku and Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training. Nowadays, we use and improve our concentration, memory and cognitive behaviour thanks to everyday responsibilities like solving problems at work, researching new subjects at school, or facing new challenges at home… but have you ever heard of neurobics (*like aerobics)?
Cognitive training: What are neurobics exercises?
Firstly, neurobics – the new science of brain exercise – were devised based on extensive scientific evidence conducted by Larry Katz and Manning Rubin, a professor of neurobiology and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society, respectively.
While Katz was leading experiments on adult brain cell growth at the Duke University Medical Center, Rubin was collecting and absorbing floods of scientific research on the brain. Together they wrote Keep Your Brain Alive, Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness. (1)
In essence, neurobics are a scientifically-backed exercise programme for the brain that helps the brain to produce neurotrophins. They are designed to help the brain to produce its own nutrients and grow, maintain and strengthen brain cells. Neurotrophins are a family of proteins that induce the survival, development, and function of neurons and help fight off the effects of mental ageing.
The exercises use the five physical senses of sight, smell, sound, touch, taste, alongside the sense of emotion. It encourages us to do things outside of our usual habits that can easily fit into our daily routines. The exercises can be done anytime and anywhere which makes it a convenient way to train our brains.
Neurobics brain exercise example
A typical neurobics exercise is to block off one of your senses and rely on the others. For example, close your eyes and use your sense of touch and memory to locate your keys in your bag, unlock your front door, put away your jacket, and enter another room.
Why is exercising your brain important?
The brain is a muscle just like any other in the body, therefore it should be flexed to help you maintain healthy memory and cognitive function.
Exercising the brain has been an interesting development in the science of ageing. Researchers are finding that regular brain or mental fitness can play a massive role in an individual’s later stage of life. This essential practice can increase overall wellbeing and help combat or slow down the neurological deterioration process.
Neurobics challenges your memory, logic, attention and verbal skills through a variety of brain exercises based on scientific research. With regular practice, you’ll start to notice positive changes and improvements to your health and wellbeing – for example, you may find yourself to be more efficient with organisation issues, your vision and hearing might improve, and you may develop quicker reactions. With a sharper mind, you’ll feel more comfortable as you age and you may even help yourself fend off serious old-age-related health issues.
Benefits of brain training and neurobics exercises
Every day we are bombarded with new information, stimuli and changes in our environment. From how we deal with stress to constant rushing and feeling overwhelmed, our mental states have adapted to the way of this new digital world. However some of these changes may not stimulate our nerve cells enough to produce neurotrophins. A big part of neurobics is the use of our left and right brain hemispheres for actions that we usually use the opposite side of the brain for – if you are right-handed this is controlled by the cortex in the left hemisphere so by trying to write with your left hand it activates the right side of your brain which engages and challenges this side of the brain because it has to use or build new circuits to complete the action.
If you want to be more creative, neurobics tells you to look at pictures, cards, letters and calendars upside down and you’ll see it’s not so easy to mentally label the item, which is what the left side of the brain usually does, what happens here is the right side of the brain kicks in, and this is thought to unleash latent creativity which comes from the right hemisphere.
There are many available methods for us to train our brains to improve our concentration, memory and cognitive function these days, so do yourself a favour and push the limits of your brain training – your future self will thank you for it.