Advanced Mental Training to Maximise your Success

“Dreams can help with learning” – The importance of Theta…

Research has shown that people who dream about a task perform it better on waking compared to those who do not dream about the task. (BBC News)

This reinforces the knowledge shared in our brain training courses, where the importance of theta brainwave activity in learning is discussed.  For optimal functioning, new information is received in a high-alpha state.  That is then memorised or integrated in a theta state.  The theta brainwave is an important brainwave for a healthy sleep cycle, as well as delta.

During our training courses, like the Mind Maximiser,  you learn how to access this state by increasing the amplitude of the theta brainwave at will. For anyone wishing to learn information at an accelerated rate, it is essential to be able to control the levels of high-alpha and theta brainwaves.  Some people talk about the “super-learning state”.  

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“Brain Training” games don’t work

At last there is the evidence that brain training games don’t boost brain power. (BBC report)

When doing radio interviews, the most common question I am asked is how good are these electronic games recently promoted to improve brain function.  My reply is always the same…doing lots of sudoku puzzles simply makes you good at doing sudoku.  There is no wider neurological benefit which can be applied to other tasks.

If you want to train your brain, you need to

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Can you multi-task? Are women better than men?

French scientists have researched the brain’s ability to multi-task.  The reported research suggests that the brain can do two things and only two things simultaneously. And more tasks and our brains start making irrational decisions.

This backs up the training at The Brain Training Company where people are taught that their brain’s like to perform two functions and they learn to control that process for optimal performance.

It is interesting that the brain imaging showed that the primary task is controlled by the left frontal lobe and the secondary task is help by the right frontal lobe.  The brain switches the focus between the two hemispheres during the tasks.

It is known that women have a larger corpus callosum, the part of the brain connecting the two hemispheres, with more neural pathways.  So women are hard wired to have a better connection between the two sides.  It has been hypothesised that this maybe why women are generally better at multitasking than men.

This research would seem to back this up, as women can switch between the two tasks in the two side more easily.  Men are better at focusing on a single task, in general.  Someone once said to me that this comes from our hunter-gatherer evolution – men go and hunt for food, women manage the tasks at home.

Funding boost for Australia’s Olympians

Australia is always serious about winning medals at the Olympics.  Recent news shows that they are putting their money where their mouth is as they prepare for the London Olympics.  Today I heard that athletes in Australia’s elite performance programme will receive a funding boost of AUD$120 million in the run up to London 2012 Olympics.

The view as reported in the media is that winning Olympic gold medals give an important boost to National moral.  The cost of $120 million shared by 20 million tax paying people in Australia is seen as a fair price to pay for success. $6 / person is surely a great value price to contribute to bringing home more medals.

I would agree, but then perhaps I am biased being so involved in the Olympics. I see that any support given to athletes is a good thing. As long as the funding gets to the coaches and athletes; not sloshed around management.

In contrast, it was reported that last year Team GB was struggling to reach a £15 million ($20 million) funding target for Elite Performance training.  But this was in the depths of the recession and the funding is now in place. However this funding is in contrast to Australia with a cost per person in the UK of only £0.25 ($0.40).

It is not just about the money, but the quality of the coaching is a key factor in my opinion.  Team GB has made huge advances in this area since Beijing 2008.  As this all plays out in the years ahead, it is going to see what the balance of results are in the end.

If you are interested in reading more about the number of Olympic medals won at Beijing 2008, versus population size and GDP of countries, then this post will interest you.

P.S. many in Australia are disappointed with the announcement of this funding.  They had hoped for $100 million per year, in the run-up to London 2012!

Exercise Builds Brain Volume in Schizophrenia

From MedPage Today:

Three months of aerobic exercise significantly increased the volume of the hippocampus in patients with chronic schizophrenia, researchers said.

The increase was accompanied by “modest” increases in short-term memory and markers of neuron production, according to Frank-Gerald Pajonk, MD, of Dr K. Fontheim’s Hospital for Mental Health in Liebenburg, Germany, and colleagues.

But it’s too early to say whether incorporating aerobic exercise into treatment programs might reduce the disability associated with schizophrenia, the researchers said in the February Archives of General Psychiatry.

Among schizophrenics, the hippocampus, which plays important roles in memory and spatial navigation, is known to be reduced in volume, Pajonk and colleagues noted.

Unlike other forms of psychosis, they added in the journal, schizophrenia is characterized by persistent disability, perhaps because the production of new neurons is impaired.

As well, they noted, in healthy humans it has been shown that exercise stimulates the production of new neurons.

For those reasons, they speculated that aerobic exercise might increase the volume of the hippocampus in people with chronic schizophrenia, perhaps leading to clinical benefits.

Full, original report here

Theta brainwaves essential for memory

From Reuters:

Scientists find how relaxed minds remember better.

Stronger and more lasting memories are likely to be formed when a person is relaxed and the memory-related neurons in the brain fire in sync with certain brain waves, scientists said on Wednesday….

…Synchronization in the brain is influenced by “theta waves” which are associated with relaxation, daydreaming and drowsiness, but also with learning and memory formation, the scientists explained in the study in the journal Nature.”

Accessing the theta brainwave is an integral part of the memory training I provide.  Memory techniques on their own are not enough. During both the memorisation and recall process, you need to increase theta brainwave activity and get both hemispheres balanced.

This research reinforces that The Brain Training Company is teaching cutting edge techniques.

You can only develop a really powerful memory with integrated brainwave training.  See the popular Mind Maximiser training course for more information on this subject.  Here you learn the techniques of memory and how to control your brainwave activity.

Have you tried a memory  training system or attended a course?  Did you learn how to access the theta state on demand and have this shown to you on an EEG system?

On a separate yet related matter, did you know that you need to be able to access a high-alpha state for speed reading?  So for effective learning skills, it is critical to be able to shift between the high-alpha and theta brainwave states (as well as other elements taught in the training course).

Be Happy, stay Healthy

In the news today, a recent study suggests that by keeping happy you may ward off heart disease. Does this mean that there is truth in the saying that someone is “heart-broken”?

(This is another story along the similar line on which I blogged last year – Meditation eases heart disease)

“US researchers monitored the health of 1,700 people over 10 years, finding the most anxious and depressed were at the highest risk of the disease. They could not categorically prove happiness was protective, but said people should try to enjoy themselves.”

“Essentially spending a few minutes each day truly relaxed and enjoying yourself is certainly good for your mental health and may improve your physical health as well.”

What do you think about this?  I think any adult who has faced stress or unhappiness will know intuitively that these states of mind are bad for their health.

This article brought to mind the fact that my alma-mater, Wellington College, introduced “Happiness lessons” a few years ago;

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Brain Training Gold at Winter Olympics

Canada’s first gold medallist at Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics used brain training.

The first few reports are starting to come out of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, about those athletes who have utilised brain training technologies.  Various brain training systems are used by an increasing number of National teams.  However for many it is a closely guarded secret to gaining that competitive edge.

Sports Psychology has been applied for many years and is now seen is essential for any top athlete, whatever their sport.  The brain training I refer to is the Sports Neurology – a new field of peak performance giving athletes an extra edge.  This encompasses the maturing field of neurofeedback as well as more cutting edge systems as used by The Brain Training Company.

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NSCA 2010 All American Teams

It is interesting to see that 4 of the top 10 members of the USA “NSCA 2010 All American Team” in sporting clays have learnt mental training skills with The Brain Training Company.

What are your goals in 2010 for your sporting clays, trap or skeet shooting?  Do you need to gain that mental edge?  Perhaps you should also be thinking about attending the same training course as these top level shooters?

Mental Training for Sporting Clays

What happens in an actor’s brain?

This is a fascinating article from the BBC.  It looks at what an actor’s brain is doing during a performance.

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By Nick Higham
Today programme

Original article here with additional video and images.

For an actor, the performance conditions weren’t exactly ideal: flat on her back in a large machine, under strict instructions to lie as still as possible, speaking in short bursts interspersed with the shrill sound of a magnetic resonance imaging scanner.

But last week Fiona Shaw, one of Britain’s leading actresses – who has in her time played everything from the tragic heroine Medea to Shakespeare’s Richard II – volunteered in the cause of science to spend an hour having her brain scanned while “acting”.

Professor Sophie Scott of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London wanted to know what happens physically in an actor’s head when they pretend to be someone else.

She hoped that scanning Fiona’s brain in action would be able to tell us.

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