Talkin Bout Neuroplasticity

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Talkin Bout Neuroplasticity 2013-06-25T11:45:22+00:00

The Forums Forums Tools, Techniques & Treatments Alternative Therapies Talkin Bout Neuroplasticity

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  • #120653
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    sdwa
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    Apparently the concept of “neuroplasticity” is trending lately – the idea that people who’ve suffered various forms of brain damage (from, for example, stroke, illness, accident) can retrain their brains to do things formerly done by another brain…and/or that the brain itself is adaptive, and if you work at doing what you are bad at (in the right way) you can eventually improve things like memory, attention span, and cognition.

     

    Supposedly there is a lot of research behind this concept. Some of which led to the proliferation of “brain training” websites like Lumosity. Or, more recently, PositScience. They seem to say the type of brain exercise makes a huge difference – that it is not enough just to sit around doing crossword puzzles. That exercises have to be targeted and specific. Of course, if they are selling something, they WOULD say that, so who knows?

     

    There is a book called “The Brain That Changes Itself” by Dr. Norman Dodge. You can find videos of him on YouTube. This is one such link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3TQopnNXBU

    Make of it what you will – this may or may not be of interest or use.

    I don’t know how much truth there is to this stuff, or if it would work for people with ADHD, but the theory, in general, seems to be twofold: 1) Use it or lose it, and 2) What you habitually do will influence your brain function and wiring, and you can accidentally reinforce functions that are not what you would want.

    Has anyone had a positive experience (outcome or progress) from doing those “brain training” things, or other efforts along those lines?

    From experience, I would guess that diet and exercise are somewhat non-negotiable features of an effective ADHD treatment package, but am still not sure how to optimize.

    Sometimes I worry that relying on medication is actually making my mind more wimpy. But at the moment it seems I really can’t function without it.

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    #120661
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    kc5jck
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    SDWA – about two weeks ago I got the cell phone app version of Lumosity.  The main benefit so far seems to be that now I don’t have to be at my computer to waste time playing games.

    There are probably ten or twelve different games geared to improving the player’s brain. I don’t think I’ve had enough time to notice a difference.  There are bar charts to show how the player’s brain is performing in areas such as memory, problem solving, speed, attention, and flexibility.  There is also a chart for comparison to “other Lumosity users in your age group.”  I range from 80-93 percentile.

    The cost is about $10 a year.  I don’t regret the purchase.  If I win the Nobel prize because of it, I will definitely sign on for another year.

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    #120677
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    jdo1984
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    I’ve used Luminosity. I’m not sure about the post above, I thought I paid $200 for 1 year of access. I definitely improved with games on the site but I’m not sure that improvement carries over to other non-Luminosity tasks.

    Google shows a lot of skepticism over the value of Luminosity’s brain games. Even if they are benefitial, you can obtain similar benefits by exercising you brain in other ways at a much lower cost.

    I am obsessively competitive, so it turned into kind of an addiction for me where I ignored work responsibilities for several hours a day until I reached the 99.5th percentile. Sadly I have now replaced that addiction with Ruzzle (at least it is $97 less!).

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    #120681
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    kc5jck
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    You’re right jdo1984.  There are cheaper ways.  The $10 wasn’t for their main site, just their cell phone app.  Their regular site is much more expensive.

    And you could probably have better and longer lasting effects by shutting down the computer and TV and learning to cook, play an instrument, learn a language, practice in-the-field sobriety tests and the like.

    I also am of the impression that benefits if any, gained with Lumosity are lost fairly quickly unless you keep playing their games.

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    #122063
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    blackdog
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    I was going to ask if anyone else here had tried Lumosity. I have been playing the free version off and on for a couple of weeks now, when I feel like I have the concentration to be able to do it. I was thinking about paying for the full mobile version, since it’s not that expensive, but I’m not sure. There are other games that are very similar that I am sure exercise the same parts of the brain and don’t cost a dime.

    It is not really a new concept. They have  been using “brain training” for stroke victims and dementia patients for a long time. It’s just not something that has been widely used by the general public before. And there has been a lot of news about it recently.

    I saw one report about a new study where they gave seniors a simple video game to play where there is a car on the screen driving down a road and every time they see a certain symbol come up on the screen they have to press a button. They found an improvement in their brain function after playing the game for awhile.

    I believe it does work, to a point. Physically, our brains begin to deteriorate with age and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  We can only slow it down.

    What I don’t believe is that it is only certain specific activities that help to improve brain function. Some things may work better than others, and you can target specific areas by doing certain activities, but overall the main thing is that you just use your brain as much as possible. And never stop learning new things and trying new challenges.

    Like the posts above point out, playing Lumosity games really only makes you very good at playing Lumosity games. It may help to improve your brain function at first, but then you need to move on to doing other things that challenge your brain more.

    I can tell you from personal experience that if you don’t use it you lose it. And also that doing the wrong things can have a negative affect on brain function. I used to be a lot smarter than I am. Honest, I really was.

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    #122170
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    sar316
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    The idea is that the brain has a capacity to rewire and add neurons when there is a new deficit of sensory input. This is like when amputees experience the sensation of the amputated limb being toughed if you touch a place that has never stimulated that feeling before. For example if and amputee has lost their hand and now if you touch their forehead they say they feel as though you have touched their missing thumb. Neurons in the brain that stimulate the feeling of facial touch kind of take over the very near area in the brain that use to experience the feelings in the amptuated hand. They sprout what are called ‘axon collaterals’ and try to make up for the deficit of sensory input.

    I think the idea of mind improving games can help everyone in the sense of using your mind makes it ‘stronger’, but I don’t know how much it can help with a lot of the ADHD symptoms in the neural plasticity sense. There is a strong mind, but then there is an ADHD brain. You can have all the neurons you want, but if there isn’t enough fuel (neurotransmitters) to go around then I don’t see how it really matters how many new neural pathways are created. There will still probably be the ADHD symptoms, but now you are really fast and accurate at saying if two images are the same or not.

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    #122352
    Rick Green - Founder of TotallyADD
    Rick Green – Founder of TotallyADD
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    I’ve heard mixed reviews of the value of games in rewiring the brain. One of the top people said that doing games makes you better at doing games. In fact, the way to get the whole brain involved, or a lot of it, is actually to socialize. As in, hang out with other people. And don’t just sit lost in thought but actually get involved with the conversation, ask questions, and so on.

    Yeah, I know. Sudoku is easier.

    But the concept of neuro-plasticity is well documented. You mentioned the Brain That Changes Itself, which I have read. I’d also recommend My Stroke of Insight by neuro-scientist Jill Bolte Taylor. Ava was riveted and I absorbed the book as she  would read aloud one section after another.

    The brain is somewhat set, and who you are is partly due to genetics. But the brain is remarkable at rewiring itself after severe damage. Creating new neural pathways, all the way through your life. Which makes sense. Otherwise how would a senior citizen remember anything they have done today?

    And even things like IQ are remarkably changeable. One of the scariest statistics that lead us to make our video on Marijuana and ADHD is from a 25 year follow up study on some 13 year olds who smoked a lot of weed. A quarter of a century later the follow up study found that at age 38 they had lost on average, 8 IQ points. Man, what would you pay to have 8 extra IQ points?

    Or for the people you work with to have 8 extra? Okay, now I’m getting off topic.

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    #122556
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    caper
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    No amount of brain training will change your genetics. ADHD has a significant genetic basis (thinks like the DRD4 allele differences discovered by Robert Moyzsis), so those things won’t change.
    However, diet, exercise & meditation will help anyone, ADHD or not.
    When it comes to medication, I wouldn’t worry about moderate doses of Methylphenidate messing up your brain. High doses (i.e. 80+mg) haven’t been well studied over long periods, and the drug has a plateau effect, so I’d avoid the high doses.

    Instead of lumosity, I’d recommend the free site http://cognitivefun.net/
    I used it for a few months, logging my scores in a spreadsheet to try to measure the effect of medication. 40mg MPH (2x 20mg Ritalin SR) made a small but statistically significant (~5%) improvement in my PASAT.

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    #122561
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    blackdog
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    Oooh, Shiny. I’ve been looking for something new and fun to do. I got bored with Luminosity pretty quick. The free app doesn’t have enough games in it. I still take a stab at it every now and then and try to improve my scores.

    It’s true you are stuck with the genes you’ve got. But genetics aren’t everything. And since the brain does have a remarkable ability to rewire itself  it makes sense that it would be possible to build new neural pathways to compensate for what the ADHD brain lacks. It could partially explain why in many cases ADHD does not seem to carry into adulthood. And why some adults with ADHD do better in life and seem to be better able to compensate for their deficiencies.

    I think a well rounded approach is best. Do as much as you can to keep your mind active and constantly challenge yourself. Maybe not something as challenging as going out and socializing and actually get involved with the conversation. But not so easy as Sudoku.

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    #125354
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    Anonymous
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    In many worst cases, pertaining to similar brain issue and other related problems, many found out that one of the best way to redevelop brain functions to its normal stage is to try improving brain stability and functionality which some puzzle and mind games can help boost the brain. Along with the mind and brain games, there are also physics games that are made to help brain recovery, just like the construction physics games of http://www.iphysicsgames.com/construction, these are brain games that will also help rebuild brain from its previous damages.

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    #125357
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    blackdog
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    There was a piece on CBC news a few days ago about Lumosity. It seems one of the doctors who supposedly contributed to developing the games didn’t even know they were using his name. And he does not believe that the games are really beneficial.

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