Neurobics: Aerobics for Your Brain
Books, videos, free-standing buildings, devices, you name it, there’s now an entire industry built around keeping brains fit. There’s also a plethora of books on the brain, many written by authors who usually write for graduate students or scholarly journals. An example is David Eagleman, a neuroscientist who’s also a best selling author, most recently of Incognito. When I put the book on hold today at the Boulder Public Library, I became number eighteen on the list.
One of Eagleman’s premises in this book is that not all brains are created equal:
Brains are shaped by genes. And they change over time; they can be cultivated by education and experience, or ravaged by abuse or disease. It’s usually obvious whose body is stronger or weaker: that’s why heavyweight boxers don’t fight lightweights. Neural inequality, however, has not been as obvious.
I’ve written similarly about listening. Listening is a habit formed over a lifetime, and some of us do it better than others. In both cases, there’s a belief that we can improve as listeners as well as thinkers. That is, if we have education, tools and time to practice.
Thus Neurobics. Some of the most popular activities are:
- Wii and similar computer games that call for physical dexterity, quick thinking, competition, and strategizing
- Yoga, tai chi, meditation and others that combine mind, body, spirit that help the brain focus
- Puzzles that require pattern recognition, memory recall and perseverance
- Reading and writing to retain sense of continuity, stay abreast of personal and current events, be able to understand and apply concepts, practice self-expression
I am positive that the more we demand of our brains, the better listeners we will be. It only stands to reason that when we are alert, focused and relaxed, there are fewer interferences to stand in the way of hearing all that is available to us.
What do you do to cultivate your brain?