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Redesigning your brain

26 November 2013


In the popular recent ABC TV series Redesign Your Brain , advertising executive and now TV personality Todd Sampson “trained his brain” to enable him to undertake new (for him) and demanding mental challenges, such as memorising the sequence of a shuffled pack of cards and doing a Houdini type of escape trick.

Demonstrating what the experts call “brain plasticity”, Sampson shows that anyone can train their  brain to be faster, stronger and more responsive – and counteracting the natural slow down of our mental faculties as we age.

If you missed the series it is out on DVD and the series can be viewed on YouTube:

On the back of the series, the ABC has launched its own subscription “braining training” website, developed in collaboration with the Florey Institute of NeuroScience and Mental Health at the The University of Melbourne.

Five tips on improving your brain power from a pioneer in the neuroplasticity revolution, Michael Merzenich of the University of California, San Francisco.

  1.  Spend 20-30 minutes each day on a brain-training website such as http://www.brainhq.com
  2.  Spend at least 30 minutes each day on a vigorous walk or run or bike ride  and, most critically, while you walk (or run, or pedal along), record the details of your local neighbourhood/landscape and aggressively commit them to memory. Reconstruct your walk, in as much detail as possible, a time or two or three later each day. In time, become a real master of the details of the world that you live in!
  3. If you play ping-pong or tennis or juggle, get better at it.  If you don’t, take it on.  Fast vision leading to fast action with exquisite control will get you on the path to a faster, stronger and more reliable brain!
  4.  When you play a card game (or operate in a social setting) where there are a lot of cards (or people) to remember, work aggressively every day to develop strategies for tracking and remembering the details of all of the actions and actors that are performing on your own human stage. You’ll know that you’re improving when you realise that you remember everyone’s cards and names, even after the hand or the party is over!
  5. Hone your skills of active listening.  In music, this is all about understanding the details of composition, arrangement and nuance that are the essence of true music appreciation and understanding.  In conversation, it is all about really listening, on a level in which any conversation can be repeated verbatim, in your mind, well after that conversation has ended. Remember that better habits of “mindfulness” in which you hear, see and feel the details of your world and continuously look for variations and surprises in it – just as if you are a child again – can help you grow and retain your brain power.
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