Archive | May, 2014

Great Brains Don’t Just Happen

29 May

One of my favorite poets died yesterday. Woven in the flurry of memorial and tribute to truly creative and expressive people like Maya Angelou, is a story of life — one where a brain grows, develops, wires, re-wires, and adapts. Lurking beneath the surface we can find those factors that allowed this extraordinary brain to generate the work of this extraordinary person — a body of work that will outlast all of us.

I talk, a lot, about how to maximize well developed brains. Be active, be social, be engaged, and be purposeful and you continue the nourishing cycle that supports long-term brain functioning.

Here is what we don’t talk about enough…. What happens when a brain, from moment one, does not have the needed stimuli and nourishment to grow and develop? How many creators of spectacular written imagery like Maya Angelou or artistic visionaries like Judith Baca, creator of the Great Wall in LA or musicians who paint scenes with words and melody like Joni Mitchell never had the chance to develop because no one helped them nourish their brains?

That happens. A lot. All over the world. I started thinking about a conversation I had a couple months ago with Michele Gran from Global Volunteers.  Her organization is on the ground floor of a movement to change a condition.  The shift is this — create an environment where brains have the opportunity to reach potential and not  “by limiting factors that limit the growing mind.”  Here is that position – in a 100 second video.

As with just about everything else, once the process has started, we all have choices and we all have a path we walk.  What Michele and I spoke about was changing that basic condition and providing the building blocks for choice to take hold and that conversation changed how I viewed my role in all of this.

We can’t all do this kind of life changing work but we can all  find a way help in some small way to ensure that the next Maya Angelou has the building blocks for the brain she needs to make every life she touches better.  Find how you can make your impact.


Game of the Week: Find the Difference in a big city

28 May

I read this stat in a SharpBrains report the other day: by 2020, the brain enhancement industry might be a  $10 billion (yes billion with a B) dollar industry.   That is huge and something those in the industry should look at with respect and exhibit integrity when developing new products.   More on responsibility later – today let’s talk about being real and honest about what a game, a puzzle, or a “training” program can do.

One of the issues that brain training critics bring up time after time is this:  training is narrow and can not be “generalized” to other situations. In other words, they claim that there is no proof that the skills that you are working on in a narrow exercise or game will work outside that exercise or game.  That may be true.

There are some things we do know.

  • Enjoying yourself is good for you because you release health promoting chemicals.
  • Challenging yourself and focusing your attention on tasks helps keep neural pathways active, open, and nourished.
  • When you practice a strategy and you succeed, you are more likely to use that strategy.
  • When you stretch your limits and succeed you gain confidence in your ability to face a mental challenge and that, without question, is good for you — mind, body, and soul.

We try so hard to remember all those things when we create puzzles.  Cranium Crunches photo based puzzles allow you to practice specific, focused, thinking skills in scenes that might just look like your life. We choose photos that summon images, emotions, dialogues — simulate what you might see, hear, and feel during the course of a day.  We insert strategies and vary the challenge.

Enough talk…let’s play.  These photos were taken in the heart of the city — the first set in San Francisco and the second in Boston.  The final set is from our nation’s capital.  In these Find the Difference puzzles, your task is to find 5 changes from one photo to the next.  If you get stuck try employing a strategy.

San Francisco Toys


Louis Hotel


Brick Storefront

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