Brain Training Part 2 – Increasing your Brain’s Speed
If you’ve ever worked hard at bettering your physical health, then you know that increasing speed can lead to better wellness, stamina, and muscle tone. You time your lap on the quarter-mile track, you shoot for a personal record in a distance race, or you aim for completing that bike ride faster…
Well, bettering your brain health is no different. Faster brain function is a direct result of ongoing training. In a previous blog we focused on improving your attention. Today, let’s address the “need…” the need for speed!
Increasing your Brain’s Speed (Plus… Why Speed Matters!)
If your brain is channeling its inner Maverick, take heed! There are several reasons why increasing the processing speed in your brain is important. Faster processing leads to better recall as well as better decision-making abilities, especially where split-seconds count.
#1 Eye for Detail
As you drive, your eyes are constantly scanning your surroundings, processing data in as little as 13 milliseconds, according to one MIT study. These jerky, rapid, involuntary eye movements are called saccades. The data collected includes:
- the street name or interstate mile marker
- exits or turns
- surrounding vehicles
- surrounding pedestrians or bike riders
- observations of others turning, continuing straight, or merging
Your brain is then asked to process and make decisions about all of this information very quickly in order to arrive safely at your destination. As you age, your saccades’ speed and accuracy decline.
As with many other age-related changes in brain processing speed, there are exercises that may help improve and restore speed and accuracy.
In the Eye for Detail exercise, a series of images flash briefly on the screen in different positions. You must then determine the positions in which the two identical images were shown. As you improve, the images will flash more briefly, the differences will become more subtle, and the images will blend more into the background. Eventually, the number of images that flash will also increase.
The ability to rapidly see images in various positions and recognize similarities and differences helps train your brain to process information faster in real-world situations.
#2 Fine Tuning
Your brain is rather creative – not to mention brilliant. Even if the ears do not hear every consonant, syllable, letter, or sound, the brain can guesstimate what was likely said based on the context of the conversation, the surrounding words, and even lip reading and facial and vocal cues.
With noisy background sounds such as traffic, restaurants, parties and small children, training your brain to distinguish “confusable pairs” of sounds (sounds that are very similar such as “t” and “d”) is imperative.
Fine Tuning is an exercise in which your neurons are trained to turn on and off at appropriate times in order to accurately perceive, transmit and represent each consonant sound when combined with a vowel sound.
The better and more accurate you become, the more challenging the exercise becomes, speeding up the consonant sounds, as well as making the consonant sounds more similar.
Training your brain to hear sounds quicker will also increase accuracy, which will result in better recall and memory of conversations. The fuzzier the hearing at the time of the event, the hazier the recollection will be.
#3 Hawk Eye
You’ve already trained your brain to look for similar objects in Eye for Detail. But is that really enough? If you’ve ever gone house hunting, then perhaps you’ve had the experience of a days-worth of house showings all running together in your memory.
Distinguishing differences is as important as finding things that are the same. The good news is, you can train your brain to remember the differences. Improving your visual precision will help you recall minor details that can make a major impact in your decision-making.
In the Hawk Eye exercise, birds appear across the screen briefly. Your task is to choose the area of the screen in which the different bird appeared. As you improve, the images of birds will flash more quickly, while also appearing on more complex backgrounds. The birds will also become less distinct, which makes choosing the unique bird more difficult.
#4 Sound Sweeps
We have all misunderstood the meaning intended from written communication. Oftentimes, we put our own emotions or bend on words. Verbal communication relies on so much more than simply the words, as miscommunications from texts or emails frequently exemplify.
One of the cues we get from verbal communication is tone and inflection. These up and down frequency “sweeps” also help us distinguish consonant sounds in similar words. When you read “muddy” v. “muggy,” for example, it’s easy to know which word is which. But when hearing these words, an upward or downward frequency sweep is the only auditory cue.
Being able to quickly and accurately identify these minute distinctions in milliseconds helps maintain correct context and establish accurate memories.
Sound Sweep challenges the brain by improving the speed and accuracy with which it recognizes and processes frequency sweeps. A variety of frequencies and the speed at which the exercise moves through the frequencies sharpens your brain’s ability to distinguish the sweeps. As you progress, the gap between the frequencies shortens, becoming more challenging.
#5 Visual Sweeps
As with verbal and vocal inflections, the faster your brain can process visual “sweeps” and changes to determine the direction an object is moving, the quicker you can determine the best course of action. If you are playing a sport, such as tennis or baseball, the speed with which you can visually process the ball and its trajectory and velocity, the better you can position yourself or time your swing to respond.
Different neurons respond to different visual stimuli. One group may respond to horizontal direction, another to vertical motion, and still another group to diagonal movement.
In this exercise, the neurons in your brain are challenged in several ways to maximize results. The visual changes include:
- Color and luminance. Five specifically chosen colors are used in this exercise to enhance neuron response.
- Orientation. Four different directional sweeps are used: vertical, horizontal, and two diagonals. Each direction targets a different set of neurons.
- Spatial frequency. The width of the bars ensures your brain responds appropriately to the variety of sweeps we encounter in daily life.
The changes in the visual sweeps speed up throughout the exercise as you progress.
Ready for More Speed?
If this excites you and you’d like to learn more about brain training for speed, call us at (888) 549-5519 or contact us via our online chat portal.