Cognitive Training Builds Better Brains

Your child’s intelligence is not something that is fixed at birth. It can go up—or down—depending upon the type and amount of stimulation to which he or she is exposed. The brain is plastic, it can be molded. Children who train diligently on the violin or piano form more neuropathways in the music centers of the brain than those who don’t practice. And most of us would agree that the more one practices a sport, the better one gets

Yet despite overwhelming evidence that Practice Builds Better Brains, the idea has persisted that intelligence is fixed—measure a child’s IQ and you can predict that child’s academic and professional future.

To understand why this is not true it is necessary to understand a little bit about how the brain supports learning. For example, for a child to read the brain must perform many functions, each of which is called a cognitive ability. First, the child must be able to recognize the letters and words—visual processing. Then these visual symbols must be translated into sounds and words—auditory processing or “phonics”. These words must be held in short-term memory until the reader reaches the end of a sentence or paragraph. The brain must then transfer important information to long-term memory to be stored for later use (visualization may play a role in this process). And finally, higher order reasoning abilities are used to extract the meaning from the stored information and use it to solve problems, etc.

Cognitive training works by strengthening these cognitive abilities (and others) through a series of mental exercises that stimulate areas of the brain that are often overlooked. Furthermore, this is done at a high level of intensity both in terms of time and effort expended. The term “mental boot-camp” has been applied to such training. You don’t become a concert violinists practicing 30 minutes twice a week, and you don’t develop an enhanced intellect by playing an occasional game of Scrabble. An expanded intellect is the result of knowing what to practice, how to practice, and then practicing intensely.

The MindBlaster Program takes a cognitive approach toward making children better students. MindBlaster is not only for children with problems. It is for anyone who wants to improve the effectiveness of his or her brain and thus become a more efficient learner. Some students have taken MindBlaster to avoid failing, while others have their eyes set on prestigious colleges and want to improve their SAT scores. Everyone has the potential to benefit from MindBlaster training.