By Michael Lawrence Green
Keeping your brain challenged is vital to the preservation of your memory and brain health. People play brain games, do crosswords, Sudoku, and other endeavors to help their memory. While they’re all great ways to help, did you know that there is a set of exercises that you can do that can have a positive impact on your memory and brain health? The exercises are are called Neurobics.
The term “Neurobics” was first coined by Lawrence Katz, Ph.D. in 1998. Neurobics is a system designed to help keep your brain fit and flexible as you age. Neurobics are based on the theory that by presenting your brain with unusual and/or unexpected experiences using various combinations of physical senses (taste, touch, smell, sound, sight, etc.) and emotional sense, it creates more connections between brain cells and the production of neotrophins that help promote the development of nerve cell dendrites. And make the surrounding cells stronger.
The key is to use your five senses (sight, taste, touch, smell, sound) in novel ways to develop the brain’s natural drive to promote connections and associations between different experiences and or items. Associations are considered the building blocks of memories. Where online brain training programs primarily use sight, sound, and some touch, Neurobics gets you to use all your senses to create stronger and new neural pathways.
According to Neurobics founder Lawrence Katz, there are three steps to creating a neurobic exercise:
1)Must involve one or more of your senses in a novel way
2)Must engage your attention
3)Must break a routine activity in an unexpected, non trivial way
Try a few of these Neurobic exercises to help strengthen your brain health and memory
Shower with your eyes closed – Showering with your eyes closed will activate your sense of touch. It will also challenge your brain to relate spatially to the areas in the shower. Locating everything by feel will activate your spatial memory. Your brain will also become much more aware of textures and sounds.
Leverage Your Car – Start your car with your eyes closed. Feel the different buttons in the car. Listen to the sound of the engine. Another exercise is to wear gloves when driving. You’ll get a totally different feel. With no sensory connections with your hands to the steering wheel and other items in the car creates a totally unexpected and memorable experience. As a result, different receptors are activated creating a totally unique experience. Warning: Do not drive with your eyes closed!
Count Your Coins – Put a whole bunch of coins in your pocket. Reach into your pocket and feel each coin? Can you identify them? Try and figure out how much you have in your pocket. This strengthens your tactile, thinking, and math skills.
Change the location of your office tools – Changing the locations of your office tools (stapler, PC, writing instruments, etc.) challenges your brain to change and reactivates spatial awareness. In addition, your perceptions of touch and pressure are enhanced.
Brain storming – Regular brainstorming helps your brain create new connections and associations. It also challenges your brain to think uniquely and get beyond the norm. Ideas beyond the norm create stronger memory pods and are more memorable.
Turn things upside down – Turning things in your workspace (pictures, cups, clocks, etc.) upside down forces your brain to process differently. It has to reassess new images, shapes, and colors and relationships. As a result, your brain flexibility is increased.
Grocery Store – Go to the fruits and vegetable area. Close your eyes and distinguish the fruits and veggies by feel and smell. You’ll find that you’ll gain a whole new memorable experience.
Hold your nose as you try different foods – Holding your nose when eating changes the entire consumption experience. We forget how much our olfactory system plays into our taste experience. Holding your nose forces you to focus on your different taste buds and the textures in our mouth. As a result you utilize and strengthen different neural pathways.
Ten Things Game – Have someone hand you an item then demonstrate 10 uses for that item. This game forces you to improvise, think, and then translate those thoughts to action. The entire process challenges your brain forcing it to develop.