Dear Health-conscious Friend,
Accelerate Your Brainpower the Fun and Easy Way
As a kid I really liked Mary Poppins. Who wouldn’t love a nanny who made even the worst jobs – like cleaning your room or taking medicine – fun? It’s too bad we couldn’t apply some of her lessons to fighting the effects of age.
Well, as it turns out, we can. At least that’s the conclusion of two recent studies. You can actually boost your brainpower by having fun.
The first study looked at your brain’s “plasticity. That’s the ability to adapt and be flexible, which is key to learning.
Imagine if there were a way to learn a new skill faster. To make it easier for you. A way that was even fun.
In this study, two groups of people were assigned to take on simple tasks – such as handling coins. But first, the researchers tested the volunteers for hand strength and dexterity. They also gave them two weeks of “training.”
One group watched videos of landscapes for 40 minutes, five days a week. The other group watched videos of their assigned tasks being done during their 40-minute sessions. After two weeks, both groups were set to their tasks.
The group that watched the task videos showed far greater abilities than the landscape group. In fact, they showed an improvement in motor skills that was 11 times greater than the others.1
Just sitting back and watching videos of the tasks had increased their brains’ plasticity. Without any hands-on practice, they’d developed a far greater ability to do the tasks than the landscape group.
The 2nd study also looked at plasticity, but from a different angle. Here, the benefit didn’t come from videos… but from video games.
An international team headed by the Max Planck Institute used a popular “off-the-shelf” video game to measure changes in people’s brains after playing 30 minutes a day for 2 months.
Volunteers playing the game developed more gray matter in brain areas linked to fine motor skills, strategic planning and memory formation. A similar group of volunteers who didn’t play the game showed no brain changes.2
The researchers chose a popular game that combines exploration, problem solving and cartoonish “battles.” But it’s important to note the game wasn’t designed to stimulate the brain. It was made just for fun.
And having fun paid off. The people who developed the strongest desire to play saw the biggest gains. In other words, the more fun players were having, the more benefit they got.
These brain-building tricks may not be quite as easy as taking a nutritional supplement… but they can make fighting the effects of age a lot more fun.
Yours in continued good health,
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
1 “Can You Boost Your Brain Power Through Video?” American Academy of Neurology. Feb 12, 2014.
2 Kühn, S., et al, “Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: gray matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game,” Molecular Psychiatry. Feb 2014; 19: 265-271.