Brain Fitness, Day 2

Second day, first exercise session, July 26, 2012

We began with a replay of the set up exercise from yesterday, called High and Low. I was told that this exercise works to improve, through the hearing of sounds, the auditory cortex. I had read in The Brain that Changes Itself that much of brain development is dependent on a well-developed auditory cortex. It is through hearing at first, later from clear vision, that an infant determines what is safe and good. The auditory cortex at this point has very little discrimination and so is open 100% to all sounds. There is no filtering done here, kind of like being an open mike, picking up all sounds in the room, without the hearing filter that we have as adults. The auditory cortex will later develop more discriminatory properties and its “open period” will no longer be necessary.

Yet hearing is where some of the first signs of aging appear as well. The usual assumption has been that the hearing apparatus is decaying; when what Dr. Merzenich and others have discovered is that the auditory cortex just needs renewed stimulation. They have observed that for a good forty or fifty years, it has not been challenged. Over and over, it processes the same language (heard and unheard); daily it processes the same noises of travel, similar music and speech patterns in the sphere of family and friends. But by stimulating it and with mental focus, new patterns can be recognized and old patterns can be re-established as newer and more interesting.

My first day of High & Low earned me 1104 points.

I did pretty good with the first session of High & Low but I was amazed at the end of the session to listen to the progress, hearing the first sounds I distinguished compared to the last sounds I was distinguishing. They almost sounded the same due to the speed and amount of time given to the consonant’s verbalization (as determined by precision audio equipment).

It’s not that easy for me to understand the progress report: “The 60 second millisweep became harder by 6 steps. The 40 second millisweep became harder by 1 step.”

Further review of the day can be accessed by six buttons: History, Analysis, Details, Points, Benefits, and Videos. The explanation for the “Challenge Meter” reads: “When you pass a milestone in gap length and turn an arrow green, the challenge meter closes that section and opens the next one. That means you’ve taken one step forward in progress.”
For High & Low, the goal is to strengthen the auditory cortex’s ability to interpret sound details accurately, even when speech is very rapid.

Its “Benefits” are: Processing Speed

More explanations can be read according to the inquiry: Pitch, Distinction, Discrimination, Sounds.

Videos available include: Introduction, Science of High & Low. Science Overview: The Exercises, Science Overview” Design Features.

The next exercise is called “Tell Us Apart,” which is designed to process sounds more accurately. More explanation: “With age, sounds get fuzzier.” It’s how the brain processes sound, not an ear function.

One of the exercises is to distinguish the difference between the sounds of “d” and “g,” such as in “doe” and “go.” Another exercise worked on the difference between “d” and “t,” like “dah” and “tah.” The third portion challenged the auditory cortex to distinguish between “b” and “d,” like “boo” and “do.”

That’s a wrap for Day 2, the first day of brain training.

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