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Language, Meaning, Games, & Boosting Brain Power

8 Dec

Big myth:  language is processed in one specific area of the brain. Actually, language, in general, and word recognition, in particular, is a “whole brain” process that involves lots of cooperation between regions in the brain.

We see, understand, and process words so quickly that we often don’t recognize this as a “process” – we just do it.

How about an example?  

Read this out loud:  APPLE.

You see it; recognize it as a real word; give it meaning; pull up an image; and then say the word based on what you have heard and know – all in a millisecond. I count at least 6 different tasks here that all rely on the library of words, images, meanings, contexts, and sounds stored in multiple locations of your brain. The word APPLE also brings up a sensory experience that fires up those areas that help you understand smells, taste, and feel. Huge impact from one word.

I love the following non-traditional word game. It is a great vocabulary and recall workout but you can also vary it and bring in other brain processes to expand the impact.

Find as many words as you can using the letters in the wheel. Every word must include the letter in the middle of the wheel. Let’s make it more interesting and involve a few more areas in your brain. Identify a word. Say it out loud. Then use it in a sentence  that gives it some kind of context – one that triggers either a sensory or emotional experience. Here is your example.

My word is GRANT. My sentence is:  I grant you permission to have fun as you build a better brain today! (Did you smile when you read that sentence?)

Word Wheels Rolling


Wednesday’s Word Puzzle: Analogies and Reasoning

6 Feb

Reasoning and Analogies

Just the word analogies brings up nightmarish memories of sweating through the SATs or GREs and, of course,  #2 pencils!   The type of reasoning we use, however, when solving analogies is grounded in the brain’s ability to form patterns by association.   The brain is able to understand new concepts more easily if those ideas are seen as being part of a pattern.   Analogies force you to consider relationships, compare them to other relationships, and find familiar, common ground.    Familiar things are comfortable and easy to process so if a new concept is compared to something you already know, the brain will grasp it more readily and store it more easily for future retrieval.

Problem solving by analogy is a skill that definitely gets better with practice.   So, stuff the nightmares and try to think of this exercise in a new light — just another means to improve your memory by practicing the process!

Analogies and Reasoning

Thanks for playing!  If you enjoy the Wednesday’s Words, you might also be interested in our weekly Crunch Time e-mails.  Once per week we send out an e-mail with a few puzzles from one of our games.  Sign-up for Crunch Time here!

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