Brain games for adults is a bit of misnomer, if by games you mean something to pass the time, because we adults can do much more with brain games these days than pass the time.
Ever heard of neurogenesis? Neurogenesis is a term used to describe the daily growth of new neurons, which is a capacity of the human brain that no one new about until about 10-15 years ago.
Ever heard of neuroplasticity? Neuroplasticity is the term used to describe how our brains form new connections when our brains are exposed to a novel learning experience.
According to Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D., authors of the Bible of Brain Fitness, Brainfit for Life, those new connections can be formed within minutes.
But here’s the rub, those new connections must be reinforced with practice and those new neurons must be nurtured before they migrate to circuits in the brain, particularly memory circuits, where replacement parts are needed.
How Do You Nurture the Brain?
Well, Evans and Burghardt give us a model for making the brain a hospitable place for new neurons and help us reinforce the new connections between neurons formed when we experience a novel learning experience, which just might come from an adult brain game.
The brain fitness model taught by Evans and Burghardt has several components; physical exercise, nutrition including lots of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences, which just might include brain games for adults.
The brain fitness writers and researchers say that the best neurogenesis and neuroplastic novel learning experiences are those which we experience when we learn a new language or a new instrument.
When it comes to brains, I am a firm believer in bigger is better, but I do not have time to regularly devote to learning a new language or a new instrument, so I was delighted to come across research in several new books which evaluates the efficacy of computerized novel learning experiences, and that experience can take the form of a brain game for adults.
Brain games for adults can take as little time as a few minutes between phone calls, or clients, or as long as one hour for forty days program put together by Michael Merzenich,Ph.D.
And the research is beginning to roll in which backs up the efficacy of brain games including the IMPACT study published in April of 2009, and the PNAS study first made public in 2008 or 2009.
The PNAS study evaluates the impact of doing a regular workout on the dual n back task, which means focusing in on a computer for 1/2 hour for 19 days, and the measuring stick on the dual n back was and IQ test.
So completing the dual n back adult brain game increases IQ? Yes it does, and you can show the results to your incredulous children, who may think that no adult brain can ever master the intricacies of electronic devices.
So there you have it, adult brain games which make possible increased neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, and do not take hours of tedious practice on the piano or language coaching.
In fact, computerized brain games for adults are so cool that I cannot get my 11 year old son to do them, which is another point in their favor as far as this ‘old dawg’ is concerned.