General Brain Training
We all know exercise is good for our bodies; but do you know the same is true for your brain? Just like any other muscle, the brain can get in shape, be strengthened and developed just as we can improve our overall physical fitness by exercising our bodies, we can achieve brain fitness by exercising our brains.
Neuroscience research has shown that we can build brain processing efficiency and improve learning by exercising our brain through activities that focus on memory, attention, processing rate, and sequencing.
The human brain is made up of nerve cells called neurons; they are connected by synapses, which transport information from one neuron to the other. Just like other muscles and organs, the brain changes with age; synapses fire more slowly, some cells die off and the overall mass of the organ shrinks.
A baby is born with approximately 100 billion neurons and during their everyday activities, the synapses are developed. Activity, interaction and movement are like food for an infant’s brain, helping it to develop and grow.
Many parents express delight over what they consider an early or advanced milestone when a child goes straight from rolling over to walking. However, the act of learning to crawl develops synapses that cross the hemispheres in the brain. Crawling requires the movement of the right arm with the left leg and vice versa. This motion or “cross-crawling” is a physical exercise that activates the nerve cells in the brain and stimulates them to create synapses or neurological pathways between the left and right side of the brain. Crawling is as vital in stimulating brain growth as it is in helping a child be mobile; in fact, it’s more important.
Studies have found that not only can avoiding crawling cause learning difficulties in reading, writing and comprehension, but even speech can be affected if the crawling stage of development is skipped. Thus, if an infant has gone from rolling over to using objects to creep along in a standing position, it’s important to take the child down from the furniture and encourage them to crawl.
Obviously, children and pre-adolescents are going to benefit from brain games that encourage them to actually use their brains; for instance, memory games in which the children try to turn over one card at a time and match the cards. These games have been around for years, but are still beneficial. Puzzles, card games and even riddles can be equally valuable.
This age group will also benefit in the same way from physical games. Research has shown that children in this age group can best exercise their brain by playing physical games that force them to “cross the midline” and engage both sides of their bodies simultaneously. Crossing the midline is the act of taking your right arm and crossing it over to the left-hand side of the body and vice versa; in many ways this is beneficial in the same way that learning to crawl is beneficial to an infant.
Recent studies have found that today’s youth are struggling with cognitive thinking due to a lack of physical activities and brain training.