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Your Brain is a Muscle, Make it Strong with “Lumosity” Today

Your Brain is a Muscle, Make it Strong with “Lumosity” Today

By now you have undoubtedly heard about how important it is to keep your brain healthy and active. In order to prevent issues as you age, such as Alzheimers, you should try to exercise your mind. This can be done through many different types of brain-training games, but unfortunately they can often be a bit boring or repetitive. For example, Sudoku or other puzzle games can be fun at first, but once you get the hang of them it can feel a bit robotic.

Some apps claim to be brain-training, but often focus on one specific goal such as focus or logical thinking. Plus, those apps tend to ignore progress reporting which can present challenges when trying to monitor any type of improvement.

Why You Should Care about Brain Health

When discussing mental fitness, your mind may conjure up memories of school exams or even IQ tests, but it’s actually more about your physical and emotional health. When your brain is healthy it’s easier for you to slow down, decompress and even boost a flagging memory [1].

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Now think about the way your mind and body are connected. Do you remember the last time you had a really great workout? Maybe you ran a mile or biked through your neighborhood. That physical activity increased your oxygen flowing up to your brain and triggered a response of released endorphins. These are the chemicals that make you feel happy. When you have a constant stream of endorphins, you tend to be a happier person and maintain a balanced lifestyle. Mental exercise is just as important! Brain games like those found in the Lumosity App can increase your ability to reason and solve problems.

Sometimes it can be hard to turn your brain off. Maybe after an especially stressful day you couldn’t wait to sleep, but despite how physically tired you were, you couldn’t stop thinking. In this instance, brain health and fitness is crucial. If you’re mentally fit enough to be able to visualize something peaceful, you can physically reduce tension in your body and mind. Lumosity can help you achieve that state faster.

The Right App for Brain-Training

Luminosity is an innovative app that excels where the other apps lack. The impressive amount of thought that went into this app was no coincidence. In fact, it was created by a team of real-life scientists and designers who wanted to explore new ways to challenge the brain while simultaneously pushing cognitive research forward.

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What Makes Lumosity So Different From Other Brain Training Apps

Over 85 million users already enjoy challenging their brains with cognitive games, and they’re never bored; you can access a new brain workout every day of the month. The creators of the app made sure the experience seems fun and not at all like a chore.

Lumosity’s scientists took common cognitive and neuropsychological tasks, along with some new challenges, and partnered with designers to they transform these tasks into fun games that challenge core cognitive skills. They accomplished this though game-like memory training, attention training and more all while monitoring and tracking progress.

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    Along with a training calendar (showing days you have played at least one game), users can also access a performance trend. This feature monitors performance from the previous four weeks and tells you how many points you are in either direction. Performance categories include speed, memory, attention and flexibility.

      This free app can be used by almost anyone, as it comes in English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish [2].

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      Don’t Wait and Start Your Training Now

      The app is available for Apple devices from the App Store. Not only is it free, but it’s easy to use and fun, too! What’s holding you back from having a healthier brain that gives you the ability to take charge of your life and also extend it? Try Lumosity today.

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      Brian Lee

      Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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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

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