Debunking 10 Brain Fitness Myths: Is It True That Brain Training Can Reverse Your Brain Age?

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you have read by now mul­ti­ple arti­cles about the brain train­ing and brain exer­cise craze: sudoku, Nin­tendo BrainAge, mul­ti­ple online games, programs like Posit Science and Lumosity…

What works? What doesn't work? How do brain training programs compare to other popular brain health interventions such as gingko biloba? Can we somehow prevent Alzheimer's Disease or memory loss? If not, why should we pay as much attention to our brain fitness as we pay attention to our physical fitness?

Let's debunk, once and for all, ten myths about brain fit­ness and brain train­ing that remain sur­pris­ingly popular today.

Top 10 brain fit­ness and brain train­ing myths, debunked:

MYTH 1. Genes deter­mine the fate of our brains.

>> Fact: Life­long brain plas­tic­ity means that our lifestyles and behav­iors play a sig­nif­i­cant role in how our brains (and there­fore our minds) phys­i­cally evolve.

MYTH 2. We are what we eat.

>> Fact: We are what we do, think, and feel, more than what we eat.

MYTH 3. Med­ica­tion is the main hope for cog­ni­tive health and enhance­ment.

>> Fact: Non-invasive inter­ven­tions can have com­pa­ra­ble and more durable ben­e­fits, and are also free of side effects.

MYTH 4. There's noth­ing we can do to beat Alzheimer's dis­ease and cog­ni­tive decline.

>>Fact: While noth­ing has been shown to pre­vent the pathol­ogy of Alzheimer 's dis­ease, there is abun­dant research show­ing we can delay the onset of symp­toms for years -a very mean­ing­ful out­come which is often overlooked.

MYTH 5. There is only one "it" in "Use it or Lose it".

>> Fact: The brain is com­posed of a num­ber of neural cir­cuits sup­port­ing a vari­ety of cog­ni­tive, emo­tional, and exec­u­tive func­tions. Using or exer­cis­ing just one (like "mem­ory") is unlikely to be of much help.

MYTH 6. Brain train­ing can help reverse your brain age 10, 20, or 30 years.

>> Fact: "Brain age" is a fic­tion. Some brain func­tions tend to improve, and some decline, as we get older. And there is con­sid­er­able vari­abil­ity across indi­vid­u­als, which only grows as peo­ple get older.

Myth 7. Brain train­ing doesn't work.

>> Fact: Brain train­ing, when it meets cer­tain con­di­tions, has been shown toimprove brain func­tions in ways that enhance real-world outcomes.

MYTH 8. Brain train­ing is pri­mar­ily about videogames.

>> Fact: Real, evidence-based brain train­ing includes some forms of med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­apy, cog­ni­tive train­ing, and biofeed­back. Inter­ac­tive media such as videogames can make those inter­ven­tions more engag­ing and scal­able, but it is impor­tant to dis­tin­guish the means from the end, as obvi­ously not all videogames are the same.

MYTH 9. Heart health is brain health.

>> Fact: While heart health con­tributes sig­nif­i­cantly to brain health, and vice versa, the heart and the brain are each cru­cial organs with their own set of func­tions and pre­ven­tive and ther­a­peu­tic inter­ven­tions. What we need now is for brain health to advance in a decade as much as car­dio­vas­cu­lar health has advanced over the last sev­eral decades.

MYTH 10. As long as my brain is work­ing fine, why should I even pay atten­tion to it?

>> Fact: For the same rea­sons you should add gas to your car and change the oil reg­u­larly - so that it works bet­ter and per­forms longer.

Alvaro Fernandez is the Co-Author of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness, recently featured as one of the Best Books on Brain Fitness. is the leading clearinghouse website tracking brain fitness information and programs, combined with brain teasers and games.

This article was published on 28 Mar 2013 and has been viewed 877 times
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