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Debunking 10 Brain Fitness and Brain Training Myths during Brain Awareness Week

brain fitness mythsIn honor of Brain Aware­ness Week, let’s debunk ten myths about brain fit­ness and brain train­ing that remain sur­pris­ingly popular.

Top 10 brain fit­ness and brain train­ing myths, debunked:

Myth 1. Genes deter­mine the fate of our brains.
Fact: Life­long brain plas­tic­ity means that our lifestyles and behav­iors play a sig­nif­i­cant role in how our brains (and there­fore our minds) phys­i­cally evolve.

Myth 2. We are what we eat.
Fact: We are what we do, think, and feel, more than what we eat.

Myth 3. Med­ica­tion is the main hope for cog­ni­tive health and enhance­ment.
Fact: Non-invasive inter­ven­tions can have com­pa­ra­ble and more durable ben­e­fits, and are also free of side effects.

Myth 4. There’s noth­ing we can do to beat Alzheimer’s dis­ease and cog­ni­tive decline.
Fact: While noth­ing has been shown to pre­vent the pathol­ogy of Alzheimer ’s dis­ease, there is abun­dant research show­ing we can delay the onset of symp­toms for years –a very mean­ing­ful out­come which is often overlooked.

Myth 5. There is only one “it” in “Use it or Lose it”.
Fact: The brain is com­posed of a num­ber of neural cir­cuits sup­port­ing a vari­ety of cog­ni­tive, emo­tional, and exec­u­tive func­tions. Using or exer­cis­ing just one (like “mem­ory”) is unlikely to be of much help.

Myth 6. Brain train­ing can help reverse your brain age 10, 20, or 30 years.
Fact: “Brain age” is a fic­tion. Some brain func­tions tend to improve, and some decline, as we get older. And there is con­sid­er­able vari­abil­ity across indi­vid­u­als, which only grows as peo­ple get older.

Myth 7. Brain train­ing doesn’t work.
Fact: Brain train­ing, when it meets cer­tain con­di­tions, has been shown to improve brain func­tions in ways that enhance real-world outcomes.

Myth 8. Brain train­ing is pri­mar­ily about videogames.
Fact: Real, evidence-based brain train­ing includes some forms of med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­apy, cog­ni­tive train­ing, and biofeed­back. Inter­ac­tive media such as videogames can make those inter­ven­tions more engag­ing and scal­able, but it is impor­tant to dis­tin­guish the means from the end, as obvi­ously not all videogames are the same.

Myth 9. Heart health is brain health.
Fact: While heart health con­tributes sig­nif­i­cantly to brain health, and vice versa, the heart and the brain are each cru­cial organs with their own set of func­tions and pre­ven­tive and ther­a­peu­tic inter­ven­tions. What we need now is for brain health to advance in a decade as much as car­dio­vas­cu­lar health has advanced over the last sev­eral decades. 

Myth 10. As long as my brain is work­ing fine, why should I even pay atten­tion to it?
Fact: For the same rea­sons you should add gas to your car and change the oil reg­u­larly – so that it works bet­ter and per­forms longer.

–> To learn more, order and read the new book “The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: How to Opti­mize Brain Health and Per­for­mance at Any Age” (April 2013; 284 pages). This user-friendly, how-to guide cuts through the clut­ter of media hype about the lat­est “magic pill” for bet­ter brain health, offer­ing proven, prac­ti­cal tips and tech­niques that any­one can use to enhance and main­tain brain func­tion through­out life and even ward off cog­ni­tive decline.

 

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