Scientists believe that brain function naturally begins to deteriorate after you turn twenty, just like our physical and muscular strength gradually weakens as we age. However, just as you can maintain your physical strength if you exercise regularly, you can keep your brain power from deteriorating by providing daily stimulation for your brain.
In order to maintain your physical health, you have to (1) exercise regularly, (2) eat healthily and (3) sleep well. Similarly, in order to keep your brain healthy, you need to (1) exercise your brain regularly, (2) eat healthily and (3) sleep well.
Neuroscientists found that the brain exercises increase the delivery of oxygen, blood, and various amino acids in the prefrontal cortex. The result is more neurons and neural connections, which are characteristics of a healthy brain.
In a research carried out by me with 23 students in the age group of 15 to 28, I found the results are really encouraging. The brain exercises included are (1) Arithmetic calculations, (2) Reverse order (alphabets), (3) Sense of Direction, (4) Most repeated letter, (5) Spatial sense, (6) Series completion, and (7) Word memory. All the tests are exercised mentally and no writing materials are used. The first test contains 20 simple arithmetic calculations involving the two mathematical operators, addition and subtraction. To pass the test the participant should score 18 correct answers. In the first attempt, 9 participants passed the test. Out of this 2 participants scored 100 percent. The best time was 1 minute and 55 seconds with 90 percent accuracy. Maximum attempts taken by a participant to pass this first level test were 4. In the first attempt, the participant (age, 26 years and 6 months) took 3 minutes and 34 seconds with 15% accuracy and in the 4th attempt the person took only 2 minutes and 28 seconds with 95% accuracy. It means not only the participant was able to pass this test but also the person improved speed. In the next 14 sessions, the participant passed the next 5 levels comfortably and didn’t take more than 4 attempts at anyone level. The participant passed the 6th level in 3 minutes and 35 seconds with 90% accuracy. Encouraged by the progress of the participant, I gave two advanced levels of arithmetic tests. The participant passed the advanced level test 1 in the first attempt in 2 minutes and 39 seconds with 95% accuracy and the advanced level test 2 in two attempts in 4 minutes and 50 seconds with 90% accuracy. In the next session, the participant improved the time with 4 minutes and 20 seconds (repeat of advanced level test 2).
Arithmetic calculations contain several levels. As the participants passed each level, they were tested with higher levels. Almost all participants hit a wall at a certain point. When the test was repeated several times they were able to get the breakthrough.
The most crucial point in any kind of training is continuity. It is ideal to train your brain, when your brain is the most active. It is also important to eat before you do the calculation exercise; otherwise, the effects will be reduced by half (don’t eat food that makes you sleep). At the onset of training your brain function will improve somewhat steadily. However, you will probably hit a wall at a certain point. You may wonder why your results are not showing any sign of improvement. But if you hang in there and continue your training, a breakthrough will come, and you will see your scores suddenly jump. If you are facing doldrums, just remember that your brain is preparing for a leap.