BRAIN FITNESS GAMING SITE KEEPS MINDS FIT AND MOTIVATED

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Brain games and tools at FitBrains.com stimulate and entertain the brain

VANCOUVER, Canada – Research has shown that brain health begins to lag as early as age 25. However, the same research has shown that with regular brain fitness training, the brain can create new neural connections and pathways at any age.

In response to this research, Vancouver’s Vivity Labs has created FitBrains.com, a new online brain fitness platform that hosts fun, casual games developed by brain fitness experts, specifically designed to exercise the brain and stimulate the five major cognitive brain functions – memory, concentration, language, executive functions (logic and reasoning), and visual-spatial skills.

The team behind FitBrains.com – including award-winning Neuroscientist Dr. Paul Nussbaum from the University of Pittsburgh and a board of scientific advisors – has created individual brain fitness workouts for players of all ages. More than fifteen brain games can be played for free, with daily and weekly brain fitness leader boards, a Brain Health Blog with top brain fitness tips, and a 30-day brain fitness chart for players looking to track their brain games progress and develop a competitive edge. A premium section of the site offers additional features like in-depth brain tracking charts and the ability to play against family and friends.

“FitBrains.com is designed to provide something for everyone who’s looking to stimulate their brain fitness,” Dr. Nussbaum said. “Our online brain games and tools use scientific principles to challenge the brain while providing a fun way to spend time playing casual games online.”

Michael Cole, founder and CEO of FitBrains.com, said fun and motivation were key factors in the design of FitBrains.com.

“We want to tap into as many motivational drivers that get individuals of all ages to integrate brain fitness work-outs into their daily life as we can,” Cole said. “With FitBrains.com, we provide the highest quality brain fitness gaming experience on the web. The site fuses the right balance between science and entertainment, which is critical for mass adoption. ”

For more information about how brain games can stimulate the mind, please visit www.fitbrains.com

Obesity and a Happy Brain

Brain HealthAs most of us get into middle age we might take special notice of our body’s ability to keep a few extra pounds around the waist. Most of us understand the importance of eating healthy and the disease risk associated with extra weight around the belly.

Recent research suggests the brain’s ability to sense gratification may be critical to overeating behavior. We may have a gene that assists us with knowing when we are filled after eating. Research now indicates that a brain that does not express satiation will lead to continued eating and increased risk of obesity.

We know that a healthy diet and regular exercise are very important for maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding obesity. However, genetics also plays a role in which an important neurochemical, Dopamine, may play a critical role. Dopamine is the primary neurochemical that regulates our pleasure sensation.

Eating temporarily boosts dopamine levels, but obesity may be associated with fewer Dopamine receptors which lead to less sensation of pleasure with eating. Research now suggests that the brain regions important to Dopamine expression when eating treats such as a milkshake does not get activated in those who are obese.

Interestingly, Dopamine has been studied as a primary mechanism for addiction and impulsive behavior including eating. Attempts are underway to try and understand how Dopamine might be triggered even in obesity to reduce impulsive eating so as to reduce gaining more weight. To read more about Dopamine, click here

Practical Tips for Improving Language

Language is perhaps the most important cognitive function we possess after memory. An argument can even be made that it is more critical than memory because we need language first to learn or encode any new information. Regardless, there is little doubt that language serves a fundamental neurobiological and psychological need for the human being.

It is common to experience slips in language processing including word finding and name recognition as we enter our forties or fifties. This is normal and probably relates more to stress and being hurried than anything pathologic. Our vocabulary tends to remain fixed which is nice, but we have the ability to grow our library of words at any age. Our verbal fluency or speed of expressing words also slows down with advanced age, but this is not necessarily a problem and may even be of value. Our ability to read and write remains intact, though our ability to comprehend what we read may not be as efficient.

So, what are some practical mental exercises that you can do to boost up your language skills?

1. Reading everyday including the dictionary is one good way to increase your  vocabulary. With an increased vocabulary other parts of language such as word  finding and fluency will improve.

2. Practice reviewing the names of your friends and peers by mentally associating a  name with their face. You can also engage in a fun exercise in which you place  unfamiliar pictures of faces on a table, apply a written name to each and then  repeat each association until you no longer need the written names to recall the  correct name for each face.

3. Take any letter of the alphabet and try and state aloud as many words as you can  that begin with that letter in 60 seconds. With practice you may notice that your  list of  words generated gets longer.

4. Write a short segment on your day’s experience in a journal. This will help your  articulation and emotional skills while practicing the motor skill of writing. Some  research suggests that writing with passion have been known to live a longer  life.

5. Write with a focus on increased ideas per sentence as research suggests this is  good for the brain.

6. Work on your public speaking as this is a wonderful exercise to stimulate the  brain and engage it in a complex, but fun language exercise. Talk about what you  love and your anxiety will be reduced. Most let the anxiety prevent them from  trying!

7. Crossword puzzles are fine as they promote reading and vocabulary. The same is  true for word search games.

8. Name objects that you see on your way to work or the store. Object naming is a  good mental exercise.

9. Work on the art of story telling.

10. FitBrains.com offers some good mental exercises for language. These include

Brain Better than Calculator

books.jpgI have the wonderful opportunity of traveling the nation and internationally to speak about the wonderful miracle of the human brain. During my public presentations I always describe the brain as the most complicated, integrated, and miraculous system ever designed in the history of the Universe! I then scream from the mountaintops that we need to understand that our greatest moments of innovation, creativity, cures for illness, and ability to communicate in ways we only dream about now will be accomplished by learning how to tap into the greatness of our brain!

It is from this context that I read my local newspaper to find the following headline “Brains beat buttons for learning mathematics.” New research finds that third graders learn multiplication better when they use their brains before they use a calculator. The results of this study can be found in the next issue of the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology and the article is published in The Pittsburgh Tribune Review (Sept 4, 2008).

We have known for some time that learning is enhanced when the person doing the learning “does it on his or her own.” This is another way of saying “uses his or her brain.” We also know that the more one is exposed to a particular stimulus the more deeply they will remember or encode it. This again reflects the ability and efficiency of the human brain. The calculator is an external device that appears to have a secondary and reinforcing purpose to what the brain has already learned.

From a brain health perspective, we as a society will be better off when we use our brains first and rely on technological devices (invented by the human brain) in secondary roles. The former involves stimulation of the cortex that will develop brain reserve. A reliance on technologies such as a calculator will cause the brain to use the subcortex which is more rote, passive and procedural in its processing.

By using our cortex in complex pursuits we will always be on a path to brain health (brain fitness, brain games). Reliance on passive behaviors such as using a calculator will put us on a path to rote processing with less health benefit.

So… tonight I will remind my sons to use their brain first to solve the math homework as I have a personal interest in their learning and in their brain health!

Try the Fit Brains brain games.

Brain Health in our Home

couch.jpgBrain health can occur wherever brains exist! The home is a setting that is often neglected regarding brain health. Ask yourself the question….is my home a setting for brain health?

Turning to Dr. Nussbaum’s brain health lifestyle we know there are five factors or slices of the brain health pie. These include (1) socialization, (2) physical activity, (3) mental stimulation, (4) nutrition, and (5) spirituality. You can apply the activities within each of these brain health slices in your home and a brain health residence will be born.

Consider the following brain health for the home tips:

1. Increase the number of social events in your home. This includes meetings, parties, and simply having friends or family over. Remember brain health is a lifespan issue so all age groups need a little attention and love (Socialization).

2. Increase the number of meals that include fish (salmon, herring, sardines), unsalted nuts including walnuts, fruits and vegetables. Eat at least one meal a day when the family and friends sit down and spend quality time together. Eating with utensils also promotes healthier food consumption and less caloric intake (Nutrition).

3. Get the family on a regular exercise program that includes daily walks, some form of aerobic exercise, dance, gardening and even knitting. You want to promote physical activity and increased cardiovascular activity (Physical Activity).

4. Have everyone in the family engage in mental exercise on a daily basis. This should involve something that is novel and complex (not passive and rote). Play a family board game, complete a Fit Brains game online, write a short story, talk and debate world affairs and even take a trip as a family to a new area of your region (Mental Stimulation).

5. Make sure the family is getting plenty of sleep, take time to slow down and simply have time to be rather than to complete some task. Relaxation procedures, meditation, prayer and yoga can help slow the world down. Give yourself 30 minutes a day to do what you want. Remove some of the stress from your life (Spirituality).

These are some simple tips for turning your own home into a brain health residence!

Try the Fit Brains brain games.