Monday, December 29, 2008

Brain Games

I found some games online that are supposed to keep one’s brain able to "leap tall buildings at a single bound"—Superman-like, you know. Believe me: at some point you, too, will begin to worry about the health of your own brains.
Alzheimer’s researchers seem to think that certain kinds of games are the mental equivalent of doing push-ups and sit-ups and lifting weights. These games are supposed to actually create new brain cells or neurons to make up for those that are lost due to aging.

Since I value my intellect, I decided to try out a free trial offered by Luminosity.com. I explored several of their games. One game was like Concentration which requires you to remember what is hidden beneath the tiles on a grid. Another game was called bird watching and required you to pinpoint a bird that appeared briefly on screen and simultaneously remember a letter that appeared briefly in a box at the same instant, and then reproduce both, and then deduce the name of the bird.

Although these games were entertaining, I quickly became bored. My trial membership expired after a week. Good riddance, I thought. I next tried out the free games found by Googling “brain games.” One game called “colored lines” was quite addictive, and I quickly became pretty good at it. In all, I have probably invested at least a dozen hours to “exercising my brain” with these so-called mental calisthenics. I probably won’t continue. Here is why:

Today I read two lengthy articles by David Berlinski. One of them was called, “On the Origins of the Mind.” (You can read it yourself at http://www.discovery.org/a/2676 ). In this ten page article, Berlinski discusses three similes that have been used to scientifically describe or explain the human mind. Berlinski is a mathematician and a philosopher. He is at ease with and quite proficient at vigorous mental calisthenics.

It was not the content of Berlinski’s articles that dissuaded me from playing brain games anymore, although the content helped me come to my conclusion that the brain games were a scam. It was the mental sensation I got as I read and contemplated and analyzed what he was saying. Talk about vigorous mental calisthenics!

I concluded that I will better utilize my time, as well as exercise my brain and add new neurons, by reading challenging material and learning new things. The plus side: Doing so is exhilarating! In the process, I may even add to my stores of wisdom and discernment. Sounds like a win-win to me!

New Year's Resolution number four . . . .

: D

4 comments:

shydandelion said...

That's awesome! I want to read that article, but I am afraid that since you mentioned it was 10 pages long, my brain cringed and imploded. I will have to try another day...

Katscratchme said...

Awww.. and I was just about to tell you that they have found that simulation games (I.E. THE GAMES EMILY LOVES) help keep the brain active and "Old-Timers" free... My sails deflated when you said you didn't need them...
You... you... don't NEED my games...

Trillium said...

I am sure that the games you love, Emily, ARE probably helpful. But for me, they aren't the only or the best solution to "Old-Timers." Studying and learning (for me) have the added bonus of making me feel that I am using my time wisely (no guilt about wasting my "limited" time). :D

DebbieLou said...

I second that statement! I have also read, and heard on the news, that physical exercise invigorates the brain too because it supplies it with extra oxygen.