Brain or mental training goes beyond simple mental activity. It is the structured use of mental techniques or exercises aimed at improving particular brain functions, substantially strengthening the brain areas you are training (they get stronger connections and neurons among neurons). Over the last 10 years, researchers have found that mental training can work if you use any of these four methodologies: biofeedback, meditation, cognitive training and cognitive therapy.
- Meditation has been shown to increase explicit cognitive functions such as attention. By itself it can be well-thought-out as a brain training technique. A number of researches have compared individuals who practice meditation to individuals who do not. The problem with these studies is that people in both groups can be very diverse. Therefore the assistances observed in the group practicing meditation could be due to other things. Lately, a more meticulous study was conducted that showed a particular effect of meditation on attention, one of the foremost brain functions.
- Biofeedback-based devices graphically display and measure various physiological variables such as heart rate variability and skin conductivity, so that users can learn to self-adjust. In medicine, it has been used for decades. Of late, this technology has developed in reasonably-priced applications for customers who want to learn how to manage anxiety better. Neurofeedback is a subdivision of biofeedback depending specifically on electrophysiological measures of brain activity. As, Curtis Cripe says, neurofeedback is still a tool mostly useful in highly specialized clinical contexts and research.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is centered on the idea that the way individuals perceive their experience influences their emotions and behaviors. The therapist teaches the patient behavioral and cognitive skills to modify his or her dysfunctional actions and thinking. CBT aims at improving specific behaviors, traits, or cognitive skills, such as flexibility and planning, which are executive functions, obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression, and phobias. It has been shown effective in many contexts and studies such as high levels of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. In order to achieve their goals, doctors used CT to help dieters obtain new skills. According to Curtis Cripe, it is an innovative and collaborative program that has many benefits and features, and many people in the industry are looking at the prospects of what can be attained now and in the future.
- Cognitive training: For many centuries, neuropsychologists have assisted individuals suffering from traumatic brain injuries relearn how to walk, talk or make decisions, etc. Among other tools, cognitive trainings (containing computer-assisted approaches) have been used to rehabilitate abilities.
Another significant aspect when evaluating whether a brain training program ‘works’ is to look at the extent to which the training effects transfer to amateur tasks. It is well recognized that practice generally activates development in the practiced tasks. So the first condition for a well working brain training program is to show that individuals who use the program get better at the tasks trained. The second and more significant requirement is to show that this development transfers to other, untrained, tasks, generally tasks performed during daily life. This would show that the self-regulation and cognitive abilities targeted by the program were indeed trained.