Improve Your Mindset About Studying

October 23, 2016

study4With so many things competing for a student’s attention, it’s not surprising that many students find it hard to concentrate on studying.

Here are some suggestions to make your studying more effective:

  • How you approach something matters almost as much as what you do. So try to look at studying as an opportunity to learn not as a necessary evil.
  • Think positively when you study and remind yourself of your skills and abilities. Don’t compare yourself to others. Replace self judgements like “I always mess things up” with the more positive “I didn’t do so well that time, what can I do to improve?”
  • Don’t “force” yourself to study if you are distracted by other issues; come back to your studies when you are feeling more focused.
  • Find a quiet place to study that isn’t distracting, preferably away from TV, phone, computer or friends. If you study best with your favorite music playing, make sure your iPod is with you. Study groups can be helpful for some students if they are kept small and include students of similar academic aptitude who are taking the same class.
  • Pay attention in class and focus as much on what the instructor is saying as you do on the written materials and textbooks.
  • Outline the information you are studying using words, concepts and structures that work for you. Connecting similar concepts together will make information easier to remember when the exam comes around.
  • Schedule your study time instead of just doing it when you get around to it. Commit to spending 30 or 60 minutes every day you have a class studying for that class before or after it. This will help you actually learn more of the material. And study regularly throughout the semester for as many classes as you can, rather than cramming just before exam time.
  • Chunk your studying into manageable components of time that work for you. Then reward yourself for meeting your goal with a small treat you enjoy, such as a favorite snack, game or music.
  • Strive for a balance between studying and the rest of your life. The more balanced your life is, the easier every component in your life becomes. Make friends, keep in touch with your family, and find interests outside of school that you can pursue and enjoy.
  • Make sure you understand what the expectations are for the class. Communicate with your instructor, especially if you think the course might be a difficult one for you.

You may not appreciate it now, but school is one of the great opportunities life has to offer. Studying is one of the ways you learn things, some of which you might actually care about. Try to find interesting things to take away from every experience.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

There’s Hope for the Middle-aged Mind

October 16, 2016

Contrary to popular opinion, research suggests that our brains don’t necessarily become slower and duller as we age.

Specifically, studies show that the middle-aged brain:

  • seems to be capable of rewiring itself well into middle age, incorporating decades of experiences and behaviors
  • is calmer, less neurotic and better able to sort through social situations
  • is better in terms of verbal abilities, spatial reasoning, simple math abilities and abstract reasoning skills than the young adult brain

Mental skills, such as vocabulary, character judgement and conflict resolution, improve with age. We are better at recognizing categories, sizing up situations and making financial decisions. As we get older, we tend to get better at regulating our emotions and finding meaning in our lives.

The Seattle Longitudinal Study, which has tracked the cognitive abilities of thousands of adults over the past 50 years, shows that middle-aged adults perform better on four out of six cognitive tests than those same individuals did as young adults.

Researchers have also found a difference in brain activity between younger and older people. Functional neuroimaging studies show that brain activity doesn’t actually slow down in the middle-aged brain; instead, older adults tend to use both brain hemispheres for tasks that only activate one hemisphere in younger adults.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping people of all ages improve cognitive skills. Our customized brain fitness programs take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive power and concentration. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Should You Take Both the SAT and the ACT Tests?

October 6, 2016

satactIn 2016, Michigan began offering the SAT test free to high school juniors and seniors, transitioning from the ACT which was previously the test of choice for college admission. Most colleges accept both the SAT and/or ACT scores, but some colleges will only accept one or the other. Check the application process and materials and website for the colleges you are interested in to see what their preferences are.

Of course, you can always take both the SAT and the ACT, as a growing number of schools are encouraging students to do. In fact, a recent national survey of high school juniors and seniors found that 43 percent of college applicants take both the SAT and the ACT.  Here are some reasons why:

  • Many of the test taking skills, mathematics subjects, English and grammar questions, and reading comprehension overlap on the two tests.  Solid preparation for one will usually reflect well on the other.
  • In the admissions process, more information is always better. Submitting scores from both tests gives you an additional opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants.
  • The test taking experience itself is one of the best score enhancers; and prepping for one test can help a student score higher on the other.
  • Because you can retake both the SAT and ACT, you can submit just your highest scores from each.

If you will be taking the SAT and/or ACT exam as a senior in high school, try to take them as early as possible during your fall semester so you will have enough time to retake the exam in December or January if you decide you’d like to try to improve your score.

Optiminds can help you prepare for both your SAT and ACT with our customized and individualized program designed to help you reach your target score. We even offer support and coaching for parents so they can help you utilize our programs. Just give us a call at (248) 496-0150 or visit our website at to learn more about us and our test preparation programs.

Signs That Your Child Might Have a Learning Disability

September 23, 2016

learn3A learning disability is a problem that affects how a person receives and processes information and has nothing to do with how smart a person is. Between 8 and 10 percent of children under age 18 in the U.S. may have some type of learning disability.

A person with a learning disability may see, hear, or understand things differently, which causes difficulty with things such as reading, writing, mathematics or understanding directions. It’s important to note that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders are not the same as learning disabilities.

Some typical learning disabilities include:

Dyslexia, probably the most well-known and common learning disability. Dyslexia affects how someone processes language, making reading and writing difficult, among other things

Dyspraxia, which affects a person’s motor skills

Dysgraphia, which can result in poor handwriting, trouble spelling and difficulty putting thoughts onto paper

Dyscalculia, which affects a person’s ability to do math including recognizing numbers, counting, solving math problems and memorizing multiplication tables

Auditory processing disorder which affects the ability to read, follow spoken directions and remember things a person has heard

Visual processing disorder, which makes it hard to read or tell the difference between two objects that look similar and is often accompanied by poor hand-eye coordination

What to look for if you suspect your child has a learning disability:

  • Lack of enthusiasm for reading or writing
  • Trouble memorizing things
  • Working at a slow pace
  • Trouble following directions
  • Trouble staying focused on a task
  • Difficulty understanding abstract ideas
  • Lack of attention to detail, or too much attention to detail
  • Poor social skills
  • Disruptiveness

If you think your child may have learning difficulties, start by talking to your pediatrician or teacher about having your child evaluated.

With the right tools, people with learning disabilities can overcome any challenge. Optiminds professionals can help you determine if your child has a learning disability. We’ll design a customized program to help improve your child’s cognitive skills for success in studying, reading, math and more. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Healthy Foods for Young Brains

September 16, 2016

brain1The human brain is hungry for more than just information. The brain is the first organ to absorb nutrient from the food we eat. So choose wisely what nutrients you are feeding your children if you want to boost their brain function, concentration and memory.

Following are some great choices for “brain foods” including the nutrients they contain for optimum brain performance:

Fatty fish, especially salmon—lean protein, high in omega-fatty acids DHA and EPA essential for brain growth and function

Eggs—good source of protein and also choline, which helps memory development

Peanut butter—contains vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that protects nervous membranes; and thiamin to help the brain and nervous system convert glucose to energy

Whole grains—they provide a constant supply of glucose thanks to the fiber they contain. They are also a good source for B-vitamins which nourish the nervous system.

Oats—This energy-packed “grain for the brain” contains vitamin E, B-vitamins, potassium and zinc

Berries—a great source for antioxidants, especially vitamin C

Beans—In addition to providing energy from protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber, beans include lots of vitamins and minerals.

Colorful vegetables–Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, spinach are packed with antioxidants that keep brain cells strong and healthy.

Milk and yogurt—The protein and B-vitamins in dairy foods promote the growth of brain tissue, neurotransmitters, and enzymes.

Lean beef (or a meat alternative)—Lean beef is one of the best absorbed sources of iron and also contains zinc, which helps with memory. For non-meat eaters, black bean and soy burgers are iron-rich alternatives, especially when accompanied by foods with vitamin C, which helps iron get absorbed.

If you are looking for ways to keep your brain healthy, Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Age-related Memory Loss Is Quite Normal

September 6, 2016

forget5Memory is the ability to normally recall the facts and events of our lives.

Memory takes place in three stages:

  • Encoding—when we take in information
  • Consolidation—when the brain takes the information it encodes and processes it so that it gets stored in certain areas of the brain
  • Retrieval—when we recall information that has been stored in the brain

Time is the memory’s worst enemy. Shortly after we take in information, memory traces start to deteriorate, followed by different rates of forgetting depending on factors such as the nature of the material, how important it is for the person, their stress level, etc.

Other reasons for memory loss, most of which are reversible, include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Metabolic diseases such as thyroid gland diseases, diabetes, and lung, liver, or kidney failure
  • Alcoholism
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency
  • Infections
  • Drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter

While memory loss can happen even before we hit our 50s, research shows that up to half of people over age 50 have mild forgetfulness linked to age-associated memory impairment. Signs of age-related forgetfulness include:

  • Forgetting parts of an experience
  • Forgetting where you park the car
  • Forgetting events from the distant past
  • Forgetting a person’s name, but remembering it later

If you are concerned that your memory loss is more than just age-related, here are some things to look for that might signal more serious memory conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Forgetting an experience
  • Forgetting how to drive a car or read a clock
  • Forgetting recent events
  • Forgetting ever having known a particular person
  • Loss of function, confusion, or decreasing alertness
  • Symptoms become more frequent or severe

Be sure to talk to your doctor if you are concerned about memory loss. If you are looking for ways to keep your brain healthy, give us a call at Optiminds. We have earned a reputation for helping adults and baby boomers improve cognitive skills and memory. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Interesting Facts About the Human Brain

August 23, 2016

bulbThe average human brain weighs about 3.3 pounds and represents three percent of the body’s weight. The human brain is the largest brain of all vertebrates, more than three times as big as the brain of other mammals that are of similar body size.

The largest portion of the brain is the cerebrum, which is divided into two hemispheres and performs all of the higher cognitive functions. The outermost layer of the cerebrum is the cerebral cortex, which consists of four lobes: the frontal lobe, the parietal lobe, the temporal lobe and the occipital lobe.

Underneath the cerebrum lies the brainstem which is dedicated to involuntary functions such as breathing. Behind the brain stem is the cerebellum which controls motor functions such as coordination of movement and balance.

The brain contains about 100 billion microscopic cells called neurons—so many it would take over 3,000 years to count them all. While a single neuron generates only a tiny amount of electricity, all of the neurons together can generate enough electricity to power a low-wattage bulb.

The brain is protected by the skull (cranium), a protective casing made up of 22 bones that are joined together.

The brain uses 20 percent of the body’s energy, most of it to power the rapid firing of millions of neurons communicating with each other. Scientists believe that this firing and connecting of neurons is what gives rise to all of the brain’s higher functions. The rest of the energy is used to control other activities—both unconscious activities, such as heart rate, and conscious ones, such as driving a car.

Evidence shows that throughout the course of a day, we use 100 percent of our brains. All of the brain’s regions are not concurrently firing at any given moment, but most of them are continually active over a 24-hour period.

At Optiminds, we love to work with your brain. If you are looking for ways to keep your brain healthy, Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Right Brain Versus Left Brain: Fact or Myth?

August 6, 2016

brainYou’ve probably heard of the popular theory that ascribes different functions to the left and right hemispheres of the human brain. It suggests that left-dominant thinkers tend to be problem-solvers with right-hand control are more analytical and logical, while right-dominant thinkers with left-hand control are artistic, creative and intuitive.

Well according to a number of studies, the evidence is just not there to support that individuals tend to have stronger left- or right-sided brain networks.

In the 1800s, scientists discovered that an injury to one side of the brain often caused a loss of specific abilities. For example, spatial abilities seemed to reside in the right side of the brain, with language in the left. In the 1960s, Roger W. Sperry, a Nobel laureate neuroscientist at the California Institute of Technology and the renowned cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga discovered that the two halves of the brain act like independent entities, with contrasting processing styles. These findings were adapted by pop culture for books and quizzes and led to the thinking that different characteristics could be attributed to the two different hemispheres.

But recent brain scan technology has revealed that the hemispheres’ roles are not quite so cut-and-dried as once thought. The two hemispheres are in fact highly complementary. Humans actually use both hemispheres of the brain for all cognitive functions. For example, language processing, once believed to be left- hemisphere-only, is now understood to take place in both hemispheres: the left side processes grammar and pronunciation while the right processes intonation.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping people of all ages improve cognitive skills. Our customized brain fitness programs take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive power and concentration. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Suggestions for Enhancing Brain Health

July 23, 2016

dementia1As baby boomers age, researchers around the world continue to search for keys to preventing and reducing the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and improving memory loss.

Doctors and scientists are finding that there’s no one explanation or answer to protect our brains as we age, and that the best we can do is to follow multiple steps to lower risk. Here are some basic recommendations:

  • Control blood pressure and cholesterol with diet, exercise and (if necessary) medication
  • Maintain a healthy blood sugar level
  • Lose or don’t gain excess weight
  • Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day
  • Follow a healthy diet, such as the DASH diet
  • Stay mentally and socially active
  • Get your hearing checked
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Get enough vitamin D

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is designed to lower blood pressure, which may in turn protect the brain’s blood vessels. The basic DASH diet recommends the following:

  • Vegetables and fruit (11 servings)
  • Grains (4)
  • Low-fat dairy (2)
  • Legumes and nuts (2)
  • Poultry, fish and lean meat (1)
  • Oils and fats (2)
  • Desserts and sweets (2)
  • Wild card—poultry, meat, fish or oils and fats or grains or desserts and sweets (1)

In addition to these recommendations, why not explore an Optiminds training program? Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Reading Tips for Children with ADHD

July 22, 2016

ADHD3If your child has ADHD, paying attention for long periods of time can be a challenge. There are some things you can try to make reading a fun activity for you and your child.

  • Choose a quiet spot to sit down and read with your child–away from TV, radio, and video game noise.
  • Choose books that interest your child, such as books on animals or sports and let your child be part of choosing books to read.
  • If your child is already reading, encourage them to read with you and praise their efforts.
  • Read for short periods at a time. Start with just a few minutes and build up to longer periods. Put the book away if your child loses interest. Pick up the book later and read for another short time period.
  • Break up short periods of reading time with play time to give small children a chance to move around. If your child squirms, continue reading for a few minutes because your child may still be listening to the story even though he is moving around.
  • Reading time can help a highly energetic child gear down for naps and bedtime. Reading together for 10 minutes in the morning is a nice way to get the day started on a positive note.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages, including children with learning disorders. Give us a call today at (248) 496-0150 and learn more about us by visiting:

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