Saturday, December 4, 2010

Brain fitness: weight lifting for my brain

I've been working out with my Brain.  Trying to get fit by playing Posit Science's game, Brain Fitness.  My audiologist, Maxine Young, told me to use it before I came to see her for audiological therapy to remedy my Auditory Processing Disorder.

Dr. Mezernich, a leading neuroscientist,  is one of the principals of the company so the methodology behind Brain Fitness is sound.   Brain Fitness is also  used in some of the large retirement communities to help senior citizens keep mentally fit.

I have been playing three of the games within Brain Fitness and I will keep you posted as I play them.

High or low:  High or low plays different tones that start low and go up or start high and go down.
  • Improves processing speed. Targets auditory cortex by working on pitch distinction between 500, 1000, and 2000 Hz in order to improve hearing, eg bird calls are more complex or music is fuller.
  • Discriminating sounds: sweeps mimic subsounds of English consonants and vowels, e.g. Sweeping subsound of g vs d, b vs p. Helps in understanding and comprehension.
Tell us apart:  Plays similar syllables and asks you to tell the difference.
  • Retrains the brain to discriminate between similar phonemes. Targets the auditory cortex as in high or lie but also speech reception centers of Brain where brain compiles sounds to make sense of speech.
  • When you hear a word,  the brain compares each phoneme to sound models. This exercise uses synthetic speech to generate clearer models of brain. These models emphasize subtle rapid elements within each phoneme. Clearer models may help brain hear better in noise.
  • Attentional focus: you need to pay attention in all these exercised. The brain produces acetylcholine, crucial for learning and memory. The 11 phoneme pairs are "confusable pairs".
Match it!:  Match pairs of sounds by turning over the cards.
  • Sound precision: brain must recognize sounds regardless of the word or sentence in which they occur. Similar syllables like dig and big are often confused. This drill often helps to learn new things
  • Sound models: similar to previous exercise with specially processed models. Processing slows syllables and emphasizes important differences. Helps with understanding language
  • Some people feel more interested especially in other people.
  • Spatial memory: exercise spatial memory in conjunction with auditory memory. Translate what you hear into actions in a visual frame of reference.
  • Sound grids increase in size to improve ability to remember sounds based on location.
  • Some people find an increased desire to try new things.

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