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10 Amazing Tools For Brain Enhancement

10 Amazing Tools For Brain Enhancement

The old saying is true, if you don’t use it, you lose it. It is especially true of our brains, which need to be worked out as much as our bodies do. For decades, one of the main ways that people exercised their brain was to do word puzzles, such as crossword puzzles. Today, the internet has changed how we look at enhancing our brains, and there are some amazing online tools that can really help. Here are our top 10 picks.

1. NeuroNation

neuronation

    This site offers exercises for brain training that will help to improve your working memory so you can process information faster, ignore distractions, and make better decisions. Because the working memory is related to intelligence, you are going to become smarter.

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    2. Fit Brains

    Fitbrains

      This is similar to Luminosity, but the games are designed to help you get better at the areas that you are weak in, and it is more like playing a video game. This makes it fun, and you will likely be more interested in playing because it is fun. The more you play, the more you learn.

      3. Elevate

      elevate

        Here is a tool that will help you to process information a whole lot faster. This is a free brain-training tool that will boost your brain through games that are easy to play but mentally stimulating at the same time.

        4. Khan Academy

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        Khan

          This site offers instructional videos, practice exercises, and a dashboard for personalized learning so you can learn at your own pace, without having to be in a classroom. Topics covered include math, science, history, art history, computer programming, and many others. Lessons range from kindergarten level to calculus, and this site is partnered with The Museum of Modern Art and NASA.

          5. Pearls in School

          Pearls

            The process of pearl culture is an incredible one, and something that kids can learn about in school from Pearls Only. This program offers a series of lessons that are geared for children in various parts of the world, as well as for different age levels. Students will learn about oysters and how they create beautiful pearls, and all lesson plans are easy to download. There are also lesson plans for UK and Australian curriculum.

            6. Cognifit

            Cogni

              This tool works with you and your own personal cognitive needs. The training will be based on your own performance and what you need to improve your performance.

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              7. Happify

              happify

                Negative thoughts can really affect your overall brain performance. This is a site that will help you turn those negative thoughts into positive ones, which will help you to become a much happier person. The personalized tracks are extremely effective, and can do a lot for you.

                8. Eidetic

                eidetic

                  iOS users will love the spaced repetition learning from Eidetic. The spaced repetition technique will help you to learn how to memorize anything, whether it is something you actually want to remember or something that you have to remember but may not be overly interested in.

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                  9. Brain HQ

                  brain hq

                    Do you have trouble remembering names of people you have just met? This tool will change all of that. You will find a series of exercises that are designed to improve your eye for detail and help you to process visuals better. You will learn how to effectively divide your attention, improve brain function, improve reaction times, and a lot more.

                    10. Lumosity

                    lumosity

                      If you are looking for a great workout for your brain, this is it. The app and website both feature online games that have been created to increase brain power, improve memory, improve the attention span, and so much more. You will be better at remembering names, and you may even start driving better than ever.

                      Featured photo credit: Tony Delgrosso via flickr.com

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                      Jane Hurst

                      Writer, editor

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                      Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                      What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                      Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                      Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                      According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                      Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                      Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                      Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                      The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                      Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                      So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                      Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                      One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                      Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                      Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                      The Neurology of Ownership

                      Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                      In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                      But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                      This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                      Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                      The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                      So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                      On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                      It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                      On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                      But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                      More About Goals Setting

                      Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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