Monday, April 19, 2010

Brain Training & Speed Thinking

Brain Training & Speed Thinking

The popular Brain Training games used in Nintendo DS were developed by Dr Ryuta Kawashima, a Japanese neuroscientist (see for more details). 
He also wrote a best selling book called Train Your Brain-60 days to a better brain, Penguin, 2007. Although there is some controversy about his work his research suggests the activities that tend to activate the brain most effectively are:
- Solving simple calculations quickly
- While you are reading aloud particularly when you do this faster; and
- While you are writing
Note how much emphasis Dr. Kawashima places on doing these activities quickly. This resonates with my work on speed thinking. I do not have access to brain imaging but participants comment on how more energised they feel when they do exercises similar to these. In my work i encourage participants to think as fast as they can in two minutes with a goal of trying to create at least nine ideas or solutions to a problem or challenge.
Some of the exercises we use are:
-What are nine things that make you smile (in this case we do this in 60 seconds)?
- What are nine surprising things about yourself?
I also obtain remarkable results when i ask people to draw quickly. For example, draw nine features of the worst meeting that you have ever been to in the next two minutes.
 People are often amazed at what they can produce. The drawings are insightful, expressive (a picture can tell a 1000 stories) and often quite emotional.
If Dr. Kawashima and my work on Speed Thinking is correct, these sorts of activities can help train your brain, keep you mentally sharp and make you more productive. It also makes you feel good. This sounds like a wonderful investment for a few minutes of your time each day.
Ken Hudson


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