Neuroplasticity – Can We Upgrade Our Brains?

November 17, 2014

Tech Support came back from a work trip recently, excited about a documentary he’d watched on the airplane.* It’s an Australian production called Redesign My Brain, and if you can find all three episodes, it is well worth a watch. The host of the show offers himself up as a human guinea pig – over the course of three months, he spends 1 hour per day doing exercises (everything from memory drills to juggling) to see if he can change the way his brain functions. The exercises are designed by neuroscientists and other experts, who also conduct a number of in-depth physiological tests (such as functional MRIs) to measure his brain activity before and after the training. And the results are amazing. With a relatively modest investment of time – about as much as an adult is supposed to spend physically exercising each day – the host manages to dramatically increase his focus, memory, creativity, and mind-body connection.

The series is absolutely riveting, and I spent most of it thinking how badly I wanted to try this myself. My grandfather died of Alzheimer’s a few years ago, after all, and in the last ten years I’ve often felt that I’m not as quick or as focused as I was when I was a kid. My knowledge has increased, but I suspect my intelligence has actually declined. I know my attention span has (I’m looking at you, social media!).

So I did some digging, and managed to track down an online brain training system that, near as I can tell, mimics the one modelled in the show.** A year’s subscription is only $8 per month, and in the spirit of scientific enquiry (and jump starting my own brain) I’m thinking very seriously of signing up in January. If I do, I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

What about you? Have you noticed a change in your focus and thinking as you’ve aged? Have you ever tried a brain training system? If so, how did it work for you?

* Yes, he’s the kind of guy that watches the documentaries. Me, I go for movies. And also novels. I think it’s because I spend so much time reading nonfiction for book research that I want my entertainment to be free of learning.

** BTW, producers of Redesign My Brain, this is info you really should have included in the show itself – or at the very least, on your website.

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