Posts Tagged ‘brain fitness exercises’

The Importance of Critical Thinking

July 5, 2013

If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless. Research has found that the more often a student is exposed to critical thinking, the greater the probability the student will transfer critical thinking to other areas of his or her life. 

Simply put, critical thinking is looking at both sides of an issue, then weighing your position based on factual evidence you have gathered on the subject matter. It requires a person to draw inferences from information they’ve been given, and to use deductive skills from all of the gathered facts in order to make an informative decision or to take a position on the subject.

The cornerstone of critical thinking is the ability to ask questions. Teaching children to ask “What if?” and “How can?” questions, for example, sparks exploration and encourages them to think. Critical thinking development can be improved through reading books that both enrich and challenge the mind to ponder on issues or to engage in discussions with other people that provide stimulation for the mind and allow such individuals to test their critical thinking ability during arguments.

Puzzles and other types of games that require the use of logic and reason to solve problems can help in the development of critical thinking skills. There are plenty of opportunities in the course of our daily activities at home and work that can help develop critical thinking skills.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

Everyday Tips for Maintaining and Improving Your Brain

March 25, 2013

Spring is here and it’s a great time to sweep out the mental cobwebs and get your brain in shape. Here are some tips you can implement every day to keep you and your brain on track.

  • Appreciate your brain as a living, constantly changing entity.
  • Nourish your brain with good food. The brain weighs only 2 percent of body mass but consumes over 20 percent of the oxygen and nutrients we take in. The benefits of eating well extend to your brain as well as your body.
  • Your brain benefits from physical activity. Physical exercise enhances neurogenesis, which is the growth of new neurons in the brain.
  • Think positive, future-oriented thoughts. Eventually, they will become your default mindset. Stress and anxiety can kill neurons and subdue the growth of new neurons.
  • Challenge yourself mentally. The point of having a brain is to learn and adapt to new environments. Once you grow new neurons, where and how long they survive in your brain depends on how you use them.
  • Aim high. Always keep learning. The brain keeps developing , no matter your age, and it reflects what you do with it.
  • Be an explorer and traveler. Adapting to new locations forces you to pay more attention to your environment and make new decisions.
  • Don’t outsource your brain to media personalities, politicians or other people. Make your own decisions and your own mistakes—and learn from them.
  • Develop and maintain stimulating friendships. Humans are social animals and need social interaction to thrive.
  • Laugh often, especially to cognitively complex humor.

Above all, practice. Practicing these suggestions every day will turn them into internalized, unstoppable habits.

Concerned about maintaining your mental capacity? Check out our Optiminds Brain fitness programs that take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, plus improving cognitive and concentration power. Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Call us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Try These Mind Games for Mental Fitness

February 15, 2013

brainexercising1If, like many of us, you are a little nervous about your ability to remember things or stay focused on a project or activity, here are a few exercises you might want to try to keep your brain’s cognitive functions—memory, attention, language, visual/spatial skills and executive function—in good shape.

  • When listening to music, choose a song you don’t know and memorize the lyrics. This boosts the level of acetylcholine, the chemical that helps build your brain.
  • Shower or get dressed in the dark, or use your opposite hand to brush your teeth. These changes help build new associations between different neural connections of the brain.
  • Change your route to work or reorganize your desk. These simple changes will force your brain to wake up from habits and pay attention again.
  • Combine activities like listening to an audio book with jogging, or doing math in your head while you drive. This will force your brain to work at doing more in the same amount of time
  • Walk into a room and pick out five items and their locations. When you exit the room, try to recall all five items and where they were located. Wait two hours and try to remember those items and their locations.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at www.optimindsct.com.

Holiday Gifts to Improve Cognitive Function

December 22, 2012

If you’re looking for gifts this holiday season that might help a loved one who is trying to improve their cognitive skills, you might want to look into some of the ideas that follow.

  • Crossword puzzle or Sudoku books
  • Hand-held video games such as Solitaire, or Bingo
  • Board games like Tri-ominos, Scrabble, jigsaw puzzles with large pieces, or games such as Life Stories or Reminisce.
  • Books on Tape or MP3 players

You can also go a step further and treat a loved one to an Optiminds program in 2013.

If you have a senior citizen on your list to Optiminds’ Senior Brain Fitness Classes, which we conduct weekly at our Southfield location. The price is a mere $10 per session. Give us a call at 248-496-0150 for current times and days.

Each summer, Optiminds holds its popular Cognitive Camp at Royal Oak’s Addams Elementary School. Camp sessions are available by the day or week beginning in late June through mid-August. Check with our office for prices and schedule for 2013.

And of course, you can always treat yourself or students in your family to Optiminds’ tutoring services to give you and them an academic boost that will pay off for years to come.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at http://www.optimindsct.com.

Brain Plasticity

October 8, 2012

You may have heard that the brain is “plastic.” Actually, brain plasticity or neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change throughout life. Our brains have the amazing ability to reorganize by forming new connections between brain cells (neurons).

Factors that play a role in plasticity include genetic factors, the environment in which we live and our actions.

Neuroplasticity occurs in instances such as: the beginning of life when the immature brain organizes itself; in the case of brain injury when the brain compensates for lost functions or to maximize remaining functions; and throughout adulthood when we learn and memorize new things.

One of the consequences of neuroplasticity is that the brain activity associated with a given function can move to a different location, such as when the functions of brain areas killed as the result of a stroke transfer themselves to a healthy region of the brain. The brain compensates for damage by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons, usually when the neurons are stimulated through activity.

Research shows that the brain never stops changing through learning. And when you become an expert in a specific domain, the areas in your brain that deal with this type of skill will grow. Examples: the left inferior parietal cortex is larger in people who are bilingual than in people who speak only one language; the cortex volume is larger in professional musicians compared to non-musicians.

It’s never too late to boost your brain’s plasticity. Dr. Stewart and staff help students of all ages improve their study, reading and cognitive skills—now at two locations: The Brain Development Center in Novi and Optiminds in Southfield. Contact Dr. Jane Stewart at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com.

You can learn more about the Brain Development Center at: http://novipsych.com/brain_development and Optiminds at: www.optimindsct.com.

Aerobics for Your Brain?

September 15, 2012

If researchers and neurologists are correct, doing certain types of mental exercises just might buy you a bit more time with a healthy brain.

Simple things, such as playing memory games on your mobile device or jotting down letters backwards, may help our gray matter maintain concentration, memory and visual and spatial skills over the years. Even tweaking every day routines can help—for example, brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand; or crossing your arms the opposite way you’re used to.  You might even try flipping pictures of your house upside down. The exercise forces your brain out of its familiar grooves because every time you look at the upside down image, your brain has to rotate it. This gets your brain out of its ruts and shakes things up.

The idea of mental workouts marks a dramatic shift in how we understand the brain these days. We used to think that we were stuck with what we were born with, but now we understand that the brain is a lot more plastic and flexible than we thought. Challenging the brain stimulates neural pathways and boosts the brain’s chemistry and connectivity, refueling the entire engine.

Research shows that people who engaged in mentally challenging games do, in fact, show improvement in cognitive functioning. They get faster at speed games and stronger in memory games, for example. What’s less clear is whether this improvement transfers to everyday tasks, like remembering where you parked the car or the name of your child’s teacher.

Like diet and exercise, mental maneuvers may boost brain health in ways science still doesn’t understand. Hopefully a mix of these factors just mix might stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s and other age-related diseases.

Dr. Jane Stewart specializes in helping people of all ages improve their study, reading and cognitive skills at two locations: The Brain Development Center in Novi and Optiminds in Southfield. Contact Dr. Jane Stewart at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com.

You can learn more about the Brain Development Center at: http://novipsych.com/brain_development and Optiminds at: www.optimindsct.com.

Dr. Jane Stewart Opens the Brain Development Center

August 5, 2012

Dr. Jane Stewart, owner of Optiminds, an educational and cognitive training service in Southfield, is proud to announce the opening of her second location, The Brain Development Center, in Novi. The Center is located at 23985 Novi Rd., Suite B-104.

“With the opening of the Brain Development Center, we hope to make our proven cognitive training techniques and tutoring services available to an even wider audience,” says Dr. Stewart. The Center offers customized programs designed to improve the cognitive abilities of students of all ages and ability levels. Some areas of focus include improvement of speed reading, visual stamina, visual attention, organization and home school support. The Center even offers daytime programs for seniors to improve cognitive functioning and working memory.

For more information about The Brain Development Center , contact Dr. Jane Stewart at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com.  You can visit The Brain Development Center online at: http://novipsych.com/brain_development, and Dr. Stewart’s Optiminds website at: www.optimindsct.com.

Using the Summer to Boost Body and Brain Health

June 26, 2012

The brain is a part of the body and is affected by simply taking better care of our overall health. What better time than summer to engage in activities that boost booth physical and brain fitness, with benefits that can help you all year long.

Here are some things to consider to boost your overall fitness this summer, and positively affect your brain fitness as well:

Exercise—Physical activity increases blood flow and the release of serotonin into the bloodstream. More importantly, exercise promotes neurogenesis—the creation of new neurons. You might want to combine lots of team sports with an Optiminds brain training program to maximize neuron growth.

Drink water—They say approximately 60 percent of our body weight is water. It makes sense that consuming water is essential to keeping our bodies functioning well. And the brain is no exception. Keep all your tissues hydrated by drinking at least 64 fluid oz. of water per day.

Take a class—Acquiring a skill is different from learning in a classroom and uses different parts of our cognition. Take an art class, guitar lessons, or learn to play a new sport to give your brain a chance to stretch in a new direction.

Read a book—A great way to train your own brain is to read a book on a subject you are not familiar with. Your brain will get used to the subject matter and the author’s style, and by the end of the book you’ll find it’s easier to read than it was at the beginning.

Go outside—One of the best things about summer is that you can spend more time outside. Sunlight generates vitamin D which both the body and the brain require to work at their best.

Get a partner—Performing any exercise or healthy endeavor is always more fun and easier to stick with when accompanied by a partner, a coach, a trainer, or a friend.

Call Optiminds—Summer is a great time to take advantage of an Optiminds brain fitness program. Many of our clients have told us that our summer programs were the best thing they could have done for their child to help them do better in school. Be sure to check out our Cognitive Camp 2012 schedule on our website.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

 

Misdiagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

June 16, 2012

Alzheimer’s disease is difficult to diagnose, even by well-meaning doctors. There is no blood test, no telltale brain scan. Even the brain anomalies common in Alzheimer’s patients are shared by those who have no symptoms at all. It is no surprise that researchers are finding as many as one-third of Alzheimer’s diagnoses are incorrect.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s is about ruling out other problems, such as an undetected stroke or brain tumor, and relying on changes observed over time. Health issues such as a common urinary tract infection, a sudden change in blood pressure or depression can quickly short circuit the brain. Additional possible culprits include overmedication, reaction to medications or vitamin deficiencies. The result is acute confusion or delirium that could mistakenly be perceived as Alzheimer’s.

Some things to look for:

Delirium—This is a temporary but acute mental confusion. It involves sudden onset of symptoms such as anxiety, disorientation, tremors, hallucinations and incoherence.

Dementia—Dementia is a more permanent medical condition that disrupts brain function. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It proceeds in stages over months or years and gradually destroys memory, reason, judgment, language and the ability to carry out simple tasks.

There is no single test that can show whether a person has Alzheimer’s. While physicians can almost always determine if a person has dementia, it may be difficult to determine the exact cause. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s requires careful medical evaluation, including:

  • A thorough medical history
  • Mental status testing
  • Tests (such as blood tests and brain imaging) to rule out other causes of dementia-like symptoms
  • An expert evaluation by an interdisciplinary team that includes a geriatrician and neurologist

If you are concerned about your cognitive skills as you get older, check out Optiminds’ brain fitness programs, designed to take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, and improving cognitive and concentration power.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.

Brain Training to Get More from Your Brain

May 2, 2012

Over the last 10 years scientists have found that mental training—meditation, biofeedback, cognitive therapy, cognitive training—can help improve specific brain functions. Mental or brain training physically strengthens the brain areas; that is, they get more neurons and stronger connections among neurons.

Here’s a brief look at some key brain training techniques:

Meditation—Meditation has been shown to improve specific cognitive functions such as attention. It employs techniques ranging from concentration, mantra, and mindfulness to body relaxation, breathing practice and mental imagery. Scientists continue to research what elements of meditation may help manage stress and improve memory. Preliminary results in terms of the impact on brain functions seem promising.

Biofeedback—Biofeedback has been used in medicine for decades. Biofeedback-based devices measure and graphically display various physiological variables such as skin conductivity and heart rate variability, so that users can learn to self-adjust and manage stress better.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—CBT is based on the idea that the way people perceive their experience influences their behaviors and emotions. The therapist teaches the patient cognitive and behavioral skills to modify his or her dysfunctional thinking and actions. CBT aims at improving specific traits, behaviors, or cognitive skills, such as planning and flexibility. It has been shown effective in many studies and contexts such as depression, high levels of anxiety, insomnia and even to help dieters acquire new skills in order to achieve their goals.

Cognitive Training—For many years, neuropsychologists have used cognitive exercises (including computer-assisted strategies) to help individuals suffering from traumatic brain injuries. Cognitive training methods are accessible to the public through programs and services like Optiminds, which focus on improving areas such as working memory, speed-of-processing and auditory processing.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit our website at www.optimindsct.com.


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