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Train your brain PDF Print E-mail

By David E. Harrison

I am writing this for the parents of unmotivated students and for anyone who has no desire for mental exercise.  Persons in these categories are most in need of 'brain training' as it is an activity they tend to neglect, thereby risking atrophy of their brains.  Ideally, schools should provide the optimal combination of skills, incentives and activities necessary for brain training during education. But, for various reasons, they just don't!   Thus, adults "dulled" by their educations, and students who profess to "hate" their studies may have valid excuses for the past, but they are all at fault if they fail to take advantage of the mental exercise fun that is increasingly available on the internet.  Try or for example.  Failing that, the following is some advice drawn from the literature on brain training.

1) Make it Fun! If it's fun you'll do it for pleasure! For example, about 40% of us tend to enjoy the game Scrabble.  This word game, as played normally, certainly improves one's verbal fluency and vocabulary. One can improve the educational impact of Scrabble, without loss of enjoyment, by   providing a dictionary for each player, appropriate time limits and a "penalty for guessing" (i.e. when bluffing and successfully challenged by another player) and the vocabulary increase is phenomenal!

One can also increase vocabulary and fluency by playing "word search" games e.g. number of adjectives beginning with "r" cited in, say, one minute.  Another way of enhancing fluency is to give impromptu speeches of, say, 30 seconds to begin with, to a supportive small group.  (This is one of the techniques used by Toastmasters Clubs.)

2) Make it Relevant/Useful!
Seek out enthusiastic teachers, instructors and mentors as their excitedness about their subjects will be infectious.  You will ask yourself "why is he/she so interested in this topic?"  This form of questioning encourages the learning process, just as interaction with the text is important when one is reading.

3) Brush up the Basics
About 75% of adults have not mastered basic arithmetic.  For example the simple two digit sum of 7 + 8 should not require calculation.  The answer should come immediately!  Now, there are only 35 such combination of the digits 1 up to 9 and many of these you already know immediately, such as 1 + 6 for example.

You should learn all of the combinations that are not already automatic for you.  A total of a couple of hours of work should be all you need and you will retain and use these basics for the rest of your life.  You should also learn all of the "multiplication tables" - a more difficult but essential task.

4)Increase your Reading Speed and Comprehension
Much of the programming into your wonderful, but under-used, brain will take place via reading.  Many teachers require students to read aloud, presumably to assist the students with pronunciation and social confidence.  These are important objectives, although progress must be achieved through support, rather than scorn or humiliation of the less competent.

Some teachers believe that such training will increase reading speed.  Actually, it may have the opposite effect, because it encourages sub-vocalization (reading to oneself at the pace of speech) which severely restricts reading speed.  Reading speed and comprehension assistance should be sought from the internet, and from the Rotary Careers and Self-Development Handbook.

5)Advanced Brain Training
I have covered only some of the basics in this article.  Concentrate at first on the easier exercises and, as your skills and confidence improve, you should set yourself more advanced objectives with reference to such internet sites as those already suggested. An outstanding book which I recommend is Tony Buzan's Make the Most of Your Mind and the numerous books by the same author which have followed it.

If you over-challenge yourself early on with your brain development objectives, you might become discouraged from the exciting and fulfilling experiences of enhancing your mental capacities. So set yourself small, achievable goals in the early stages of your brain training program.

David E. Harrison is a consulting Industrial & Vocational Psychologist. Website: Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   Tel: 04-700867

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