Archive for the ‘Optiminds’ Category

What is Short-term Memory?

July 9, 2015

Think of your short-term memory as a kind of “Post-it note” for your brain.

shortterm1Short-term memory refers to the very short time that you keep something in mind before either dismissing it or transferring it to long-term memory. Basically, it holds a small amount of information (typically around 7 items or less) in mind in an active, readily-available state for a short period of time (typically from 10 to 15 seconds, or sometimes up to a minute).

The central executive part of the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain appears to play a fundamental role in short-term memory, serving as a temporary store for short-term memory.

There are a number of causes of short-term memory loss, such as:

  • lack of oxygen to the brain
  • concussions and head trauma
  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • medical conditions such as seizures, epilepsy, heart bypass surgery and depression

One of the first signs of dementia is short-term memory loss. As we grow older, the length of time our short-term memory can store information becomes shorter, making us more likely to have trouble keeping up with certain tasks. Also, our brains have less time to successfully move new information to long-term memory, making us more likely to forget details of recent events.

Memory lapses and cognitive decline are a normal part of aging, but not an inevitable one, you can work to slow down the process by maintaining a brain-healthy lifestyle and keeping your memory active.

If you are a baby boomer concerned about memory loss, check out Optiminds’ customized, skill-based programs designed to stimulate targeted areas of your brain. Optiminds professional brain training skills center has earned a reputation for helping people of all ages improve memory and cognitive skills. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Summer Reading Ideas for Students

June 23, 2015

frogOne of the joys of having time off in the summer can be getting in some good leisurely reading without the pressure of homework and other after school activities. In fact, research has shown that children who participate in summer reading programs not only avoid the “summer slide” in learning, but they also score higher on reading achievement tests than those who don’t participate.

To get you started, there are any number of sources online that suggest good reads for your child, regardless of their age.

One group is the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)—the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. The ALSC, affiliated with the American Library Association, puts out an annual summer book list that is highly recommended by young readers from all over the country.

robotOther good summer reading sources include Goodreads (www.goodreads.com) and Scholastic (www.scholastic.com). Launched in 2007, Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations.

dragonflySome Tips to Make the Most of Your Reading
In addition to just reading your books this summer, try a few additional activities to help you remember what you read and give the book more meaning for you. Here are a few neat ideas:

• Write a letter to the author or illustrator.

• Choose two people or characters from two different books who you think would be great friends. Why?

• Write a short story about what the character(s) would be doing one year later.

• Draw a map of the setting.

• Imagine you could interview the protagonist. What three questions would you ask?

• Redesign the cover.

• Write a short book review. Remember to include a few sentences describing the book as well as a few sentences about why you liked it—or didn’t.

• Choose one book location or setting to live in for a week—it can be fiction or nonfiction. Which book would you choose and why?

• Recommend a book to a friend or family member. Which title did you choose and why did you recommend it?

In addition to getting in some great reading, check out Optiminds tutoring programs to keep your brain sharp this summer. Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping students of all ages improve study, reading, math and 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: optimindsct.com.

That Challenging Job May Be Helping Your Brain

June 16, 2015

lovejobDid you know that a job or work that is mentally demanding can actually help protect your memory and thinking skills later in life?

According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, challenges at work can be positive if they build up mental reserve over the long term. In fact, the type of career you have may be even more important than your education level for protecting brain health.

In the study, a thousand people over age 75 were given memory and thinking tests every 18 months for eight years. Researchers rated participants’ work history based on how often participants had to schedule activities, resolve conflict, develop strategies and perform other complicated tasks.

They found that those who had the highest levels of tasks that stimulated verbal intelligence and executive functions during their career had half the rate of mental decline compared to those with low levels of mentally demanding tasks.

One of the first signs of age-related cognitive decline is a decrease in executive function—the ability to organize thoughts. But just as lifting weights builds muscle, handling challenging mental tasks every day may strengthen neural processes that then build up mental reserve in old age.

So take your job and love it—it may be the ticket to enjoying a great retirement!

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping students of all ages improve study, reading, math and 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: optimindsct.com.

The Brain Initiative Holds Promise for Treating Brain Disorders

June 9, 2015

brain1With nearly 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections, the human brain remains one of the greatest mysteries in science and one of the greatest challenges in medicine. In the last decade alone, scientists have made a number of landmark discoveries that now create the opportunity to unlock the mysteries of the brain.

Recently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued its first research awards for what’s been called America’s next moon shot: the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative is part of a new Presidential focus aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain.

By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a revolutionary new dynamic picture of the brain, giving us new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders.

The hope is that the Brain Initiative will result in the development of innovative technologies to capture dynamic pictures that reveal how the brain’s cells and complex circuits interact at the speed of thought. This in turn will enable scientists to transform how we diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression and traumatic brain injury.

Sources: National Institutes of Health and AARP

Optiminds is a cognitive-based, professional brain training skills center that has earned a reputation for helping students of all ages improve study, reading, math and cognitive skills. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Optiminds Can Help with the NCAA Eligibility Process

April 16, 2015

NCAA2If your son or daughter is planning to play sports at a Division I or Division II college, they will need to register with the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Eligibility Center.

Optiminds can help you begin the process through our Athletic College Prep Counseling Division, headed by Aaron Fields. A former Division I baseball player, Aaron is responsible for the NCAA Eligibility Center portion of Optiminds’ College Counseling Division.

The NCAA Eligibility Center, formerly known as the NCAA Clearinghouse, is the body that determines a student-athlete’s eligibility to play a sport at the NCAA level—based on factors including academic record, SAT or ACT scores and amateur status.

Through parent/student workshops and individualized sessions, Aaron can assist you with the recruiting process, course planning and meeting NCAA and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) eligibility requirements.

Playing college sports can be a major opportunity for a student, with benefits ranging from completion of a college degree to access to scholarships, travel and experiences that prepare a student for life in the real world.

Did you know, for example, that student-athletes as a group have a higher graduation rate than their peers in the general student body; and that NCAA schools have awarded more than $17 billion in athletics scholarships in the past 10 years?

Help your student take advantage of the NCAA experience. Call Aaron at (313) 590-4788, or email him at afields@optimindsct.com to get more information about Optiminds’ athletic college prep counseling program. Be sure to visit our website at: optimindsct.com.

MSU Researcher Working on Natural Treatment for Alzheimer’s

April 9, 2015

Berries2A plant that has been used for hundreds of years in Indian, Ayurvedic, Unani and African medicine may hold the secret for stopping the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and maybe even preventing the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Muraleedharan Nair, a natural products chemist in the horticulture department at Michigan State University, has patented a botanical compound called withanamides. This compound is derived from the ancient plant known as Ashwagandha, which is an herbal remedy used to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, alter the immune system and calm the brain.

Withanamides is believed to work by neutralizing the damaging effects of a byproduct of the protein that triggers plaque buildup that signals the early stages of Alzheimer’s. It is this plaque buildup that starts to kill brain cells in the frontal lobe and erase memories before it moves deeper into the brain. Withanamides would help prevent Alzheimer’s at an earlier stage than some of the solutions currently being worked on by pharmaceutical companies.

Withanamides has been tested in mouse trials and is currently in clinical trials, after which it will hopefully be submitted for FDA approval. Because it has already been deemed a “food safe plant,” it should require fewer hurdles to meet compliance.

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: optimindsct.com.

Optiminds Offers Customized Tutoring Programs

February 23, 2015

BoyManTutor3Optiminds specializes in customized tutoring programs for students of all ages. Based on a student’s unique requirements, these programs include brain fitness exercises designed to help improve cognitive skills and concentration.

If your child has a learning disability or needs to improve math or reading abilities—and even if he or she is getting good grades—tutoring can provide a powerful supplement to a child’s education.

If your child is struggling in school or has a learning disability, tutoring can help your student with their homework and with test preparation. A little extra one-on-one attention from the right tutor might be just the thing your child needs to learn or relearn important foundational material, or to reignite a spark for learning if your child is less than motivated.

While the obvious reason for seeking a tutor for your child is to help improve grades, tutoring can also help your child develop more effective study habits, including organization, creating a productive study space at home and using time effectively. Even if your child is doing well in school, tutoring can help him or her move ahead to more challenging material outside of the school’s curricula.

Sometimes children resist a parent’s well intentioned efforts to tutor them. With a tutor, the student gets an outsider’s perspective on material, which may be easier for the student to accept. Also, because most tutoring takes place outside of the classroom, it provides a less threatening environment that is more conducive to learning. For example, students who are quiet in the classroom are more likely to ask questions when working one-on-one with a tutor.

A good tutoring program grows with the student. Some children will need occasional tutoring after their grades improve and others may need extra help throughout their school career.

In addition to tutoring, Optiminds offers parent coaching and parenting programs designed to instruct parents on how to handle their child’s behavioral or educational issues. Giving parents the tools they need to make positive strides in their relationships as well as tools to steer their child in positive directions.

To learn more about Optiminds and our tutoring and parenting programs, call us today at (248) 496-0150 or visit us at: optimindsct.com.

Facts About Alzheimer’s

February 16, 2015

AlzRise2The number of Alzheimer’s cases continues to increase every year as our population grows older. Following are some basic facts about this devastating disease as reported in a recent AARP Bulletin:

  • Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia, a collective term for a number of conditions marked by a loss of mental abilities.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Alzheimer’s sufferers are women. While young people can develop Alzheimer’s, the disease is most common among people over 65.
  • Alzheimer’s currently costs the U.S. some $214 billion annually. One study estimates that 42 percent of families that include someone with Alzheimer’s spend more than $20,000 a year for care.
  • Recent studies show that the cost of caring for Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias has surpassed the cost of treatment for cancer patients or victims of heart disease. One reason is that the disease can linger for years, meaning extremely high long-term costs for both government insurance programs and families.
  • The number of Alzheimer’s cases continues to increase every year as the population grows older.
  • Alzheimer’s lags behind other diseases when it comes to federal funding for research on prevention and treatment.

Optiminds offers adults and seniors customized brain training programs designed to stimulate targeted areas of the brain. Our programs include mental/emotional exercises, visualization techniques and computerized drills along with recommendations on diet and physical exercise tailored to older adults.

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

Does Handwriting Matter?

January 23, 2015

cursive1Psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep.

Here are some findings from recent studies on handwriting:

  • Children learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand; and they remain better able to generate ideas and retain information.
  • Writing activates a unique neural circuit in the brain. There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation that seems to make it easier to learn.
  • Printing, cursive writing, and typing on a keyboard are all associated with distinct and separate brain patterns — and each results in a distinct end product. When children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas.
  • It now appears that there may be a difference between printing and cursive writing — a distinction of particular importance as the teaching of cursive disappears in curriculum after curriculum.
  • For adults, typing may be a fast and efficient alternative to longhand, but that very efficiency may diminish our ability to process new information. Not only do we learn letters better when we commit them to memory through writing, memory and learning ability in general may benefit.
  • New research suggests that writing by hand allows students to process a lecture’s contents and reframe it—a process of reflection and manipulation that can lead to better understanding and memory encoding.

Optiminds offers customized tutoring programs for students, including students who are home schooled. We have earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Researchers Still Don’t Know If Cognitive Benefits of Playing Brain Games are Long-Term

January 9, 2015

Brain research has been a very active field in recent years and we continue to learn new things about our brains all the time.

braingames1Scientists now know, for example, that the brain remains malleable even into old age, taking in new information, processing it and sparking new neurons. We also know that any mental workout—from learning a new language to playing computer games—produces changes in the neural systems that support acquisition of the new skill.

But while there is data to support that people who play brain games, for example, get better and faster at playing them the longer they participate, what is not yet known is whether or not these abilities are able to be transferred to everyday, real-world tasks.

As researchers continue to study whether or not activities such as playing brain games have long-term cognitive benefits, it’s good to know that if you find brain games enjoyable, playing them certainly can’t hurt. The best way to keep minds sharp is to remain active and engaged—and that includes physical activity, reading and socializing with friends.

Optiminds offers customized tutoring programs for students, including students who are home schooled. We have earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.


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