Brainercize is an integrated system for understanding and improving brain functioning. Brainercize is based on recent discoveries that have been made about the nature and operations of the brain. Because of these discoveries, a revolution has taken place that has changed entirely the way brain researchers think about the brain as well as the way clinicians work with individuals on cognitive, emotional, and intellectual levels–both the young and the old, and the fully functioning and the brain challenged. We now know, contrary to past thought, that it is not the number of actual brain cells that determine mental, psychological and cognitive health. In terms of the actual mass of the brain, only 3% of that mass is made up of cell bodies. The rest–the other 97 %–is made up primarily of connections. If connections aren’t created anew regularly, and if existing connections fail to be switched on, the brain loses its abilities: it can no longer put new information into memory, nor process thought, master skills, retrieve old memories, have new ideas, or maintain the orderly functioning of the body.
1) It’s done as a group experience and 2) It’s fun. There are many brain improvement systems; most of them are computer software programs, and you do them at home, alone. As with any new toy that you get, when it first arrives, you are excited, and with great fervor, you plan to use it. You really do plan to use it. But the best learning does not take place in the isolation of solitariness. The best learning is a social phenomenon. Various studies show that individuals who are the most content and successful–at both living and aging–are those with active social and intellectual networks. And so, despite your best intentions, the application of your brain improvement software program, or the brain puzzle book you are trying to work your way through, begins to feel like solitary confinement. It becomes tedious and boring, and the software ultimately finds its way to the closet. If we think about the process of what was probably the most challenging learning we have done in our lives, learning our native language has to be at the top of the list. It was a social event. We couldn’t have done it in isolation. A little experiment conducted in the middle ages shows us the devastation wrought when language is attempted to be learned in isolation. In the thirteenth century, Holy Roman Emperor Frederich II removed babies from their families, and gave them over to nurses who were instructed to take care of their basic needs: feeding them, bathing them. He wanted to learn what language children would speak if not exposed to a native tongue. These children in the experiment never heard speech, never heard a song or lullaby. What Emperor Frederich learned, however, was that without exposure to language and the accompanying social interaction, the human spirit is mortally wounded. All the babies died. Brainercize is fun because it is a social event. But it is fun for another reason as well. It is fun because we learn best when we move. It is not an accident that children’s learning curve begins to drop at just the age that they begin school. Pre-school children learn at the speed of light. Most instruction is far too slow for the child of even normal intelligence. If you want to know whether someone is learning anything, all you need to do is look at their blink rate. The brain takes in a new picture every time the eyes move and fixate on a new spot. If the eyes are moving, and if blinking is at a high rate, learning is taking place. When the blink rate starts slowing down, you know that the person is not really paying attention anymore. To see how quickly a toddler’s brain normally operates, just take a moment with him or her and try to write down everything the child looks at. You will find that it is impossible. Not only can you not write that fast, your eyes can’t move fast enough to follow and see what his eyes are looking at. The research of Bob Doman, founder of the National Association of Child Development, shows that virtually any untrained preschool child can take in a piece of visual information with an exposure of less than 1/100th of a second. Expose any stimulus to an adult at 1/100th of a second and most people won’t even know that anything happened much less that they saw something. One of the primary reasons why learning drops off when children start school is because they are forced to sit. According to Doman, when we insist that a child sit still in class and maintain eye contact with the teacher, we are actually blinding him. When you stare at something, you start bleaching your macula, a small spot in the center of your retina where you see detail and have color vision. Maintaining eye contact at an early age bleaches out the macula in the same way that a photographic flash does. Young children need to move to learn, and most especially, their eyes need to move. As adults, we have not entirely grown out of our sense of fun and pleasure from the act of movement. It’s why as adults we still seek out playing the games of our childhood, and take on new movement activities as well: basketball, running, yoga. We want to move, we need to move; movement is inherently pleasurable, and we learn every time we do it. Brainercizing emphasizes learning through movement. Sometimes we move our bodies, and sometimes we move our eyes. In the interactive aspect of the programs, we provide all our senses with a feast of stimuli. Interacting with people will always be more stimulating and more engaging than staring at a computer software program. Brainercize is a systematic approach, using a series of scientifically-proven exercises that increases learning by increasing the number of brain connections, neurons, and grey matter. These changes make us smarter in all ways: more efficient, better organized, more cognitively alert, better attention and focusing skills, increased flexibility to respond to experience, strong malleability to adapt to the environment encountered, and more balanced emotionally — because – yes – emotions, like all aspects of who we are, reside in the brain too. Using the techniques taught and performed in the Brainercizing classes, and written about in the companion Brainercizing book, we can continue our journey of getting smarter and more cognitively integrated throughout the entirety of our lives.