Brain Fitness Blog, Day 14

Day 14, Brain Fitness Blog, August 15, 2012

“High or Low” got tougher today. So, I tried a new strategy: smiling at each animal picture (reward) I earned. To further impress my brain with its engaged response, I tried to imagine really being there, like the photographer, in its habitat, intent on a connection and awed by the animal’s striking features and unique intelligence. Then I tried smiling at every correct answer I made, which was often. I think it helped my concentration. (I wonder if consciously smiling while I am doing my work would help in a similar way?)

My score for High or Low” was up again! 6496. Yes!!

The last “heat” was intense because I started scoring 40 for each correct answer, up from 30, 24 and 18 per correct answer. But an incorrect answer would take my scores back down. As I approached my last high score, the 40’s really helped me to boost past my best.

“Tell Us Apart” began with the goal of finishing 2 more “emphasis levels” to complete the “boe/ doe” exercise. Sadly, I was unable to complete “boe/doe.” About 5 times I finished level 13, but could not finish level 14, the highest and last level. Then I was sent back to level 13. I tried turning up the volume and using the noise reduction feature on my headphones. But on level 14, I still could not tell the difference between these significantly altered sounds.

So, it was with relief that I went on to the next sound, “gee/ kee.” I got through levels 10, 11 and 12. I tried smiling more, too. It wasn’t easy, but I smiled nonetheless.

Next up was “baa/daa,” which is another version of the “b” and “d” sounds. This series started at level 1 and I quickly and easily got to level 7 before the time ran out for this exercise.

At the end, I was instructed that “In ‘Tell Us Apart,’ the pairs of sounds were chosen to help your brain improve its reception of even the subtle differences in sound. This can help understanding, thinking and memory.” This made me reflect that perhaps the most perfect use of computers is how they can repeat exact sounds to help us think more clearly. On a computer, this can happen without human interference, such as pressure to do better or to influence the result.

My points for “Tell Us Apart” today were 1018, my best yet.

For “Sound Replay,” I did much better in level 4 than before. Then I entered level 5, where 5 sounds are given, where I was asked to identify them in the original order. I did better than previous attempts to complete level 5, though I didn’t quite get there. My mind felt clearer this time and my points showed the improved response: 1288, a new high. The daily summary indicated that the difficulty today was higher than ever.

For “Listen and Do,” I was moved from level 1 to level 2, where the speech is faster and less emphasized. (Thank heavens!) Level 2 has its own set of levels of difficulty starting with listening to one instruction on up to 5 and more using this new level of altered speech. I got to level 5. At one point, however, I made an incorrect response that I was sure was right. Then I made another and another incorrect answer. I got so frustrated! I was sent back to level 4, following four instructions. At that point, my stress response was still firing and I  chose incorrect answers on level 4, a level that was previously easy.

I saw how this is how it goes with me when I try to learn a new piece of software. I get going, but then I might make five or six attempts to finish a project and it doesn’t work like I expected it to. My frustration level escalates and I can’t think my way out. Perhaps my choices to make it work were not approached as clearly as I imagined. Also, I could think of it as a game, where “not working” isn’t anything like ruining a shirt I was wearing or missing an appointment with a client. Additionally, it would help to take time off to settle down, center and/or call for help before proceeding with the stress response still active.

My points for “Listen and Do” today amazed me: 1020, almost two times my last score of 556.

Now for the “Brain Fitness Breakthrough” that I promised in Day 12. It happened today and in more than one way. It was a real-life experience (not just in game results) that proved to me that this program is making a difference.

The first breakthrough was in doing my recording of receipts. I do this about every two weeks; I record in my excel file the charges that are printed on the register receipts. Every two weeks since the beginning of the year, I try to look at the receipt and remember five things: the date, the amount, the card used, the place of business and the category of expense (business, food, gas, etc.). I usually remember two or three, but not five.  Today, for the first time, I was able to do that for about thirty receipts. I took one look to find the information, then focused on the laptop to record it in that set order. I amazed myself.

The second breakthrough incident was going to the grocery store. I consulted some other family members for their requests, compiled a list and went to the store. Once I was in, I imagined where everything was and planned a route. Then I did my shopping without looking at the list. I remembered 10 of the 11 items. Ok, one other item might have been forgotten, but I remembered it when I was in the correct aisle, but that’s not consulting the list, is it? This makes shopping less stressful and less stress means less aging. I am in!

Thank you, Posit Science. You have helped me cross barriers I had not been able to cross on my own!

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