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As the New York Times reported recently, surfing the internet boosts brain activity. Scientists from the UCLA specifically studied the effect of internet surfing on the brains of people between the ages of 55 and 76. From their results, they concluded that “emerging computerized technologies may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults.”
But anyone can do something for their brain’s fitness. Here’s a small selection of things you can do online:
1. Search the internet
Apparently, searching the internet requires decision-making and complex reasoning, which is a challenge for the brain and keeps the respective key centers in a top notch condition. But instead of using Google all the time, try something new. There are hundreds of search engines out there and you’ll find some of these have been covered on MakeUseOf. Don’t be lazy, give them a chance!
If you can’t do without Google, at least try another interface, such as Sputtr for example:
2. Read blogs
But don’t stick to the same old, variation is what counts. So discover and read a new blog every week, for example by following links in Blogrolls or from interesting comments. You can also search randomly or by category using the Find Blogs search engine. There is quite a selection to enjoy. Interestingly, MakeUseOf is not listed…shame on them!
3. Read news
And not just those that are obvious. Try to find out about what’s going on in another country. Keeping the brain active is all about feeding it with information. Not just any information, but rather things you have a natural interest in, including things you may find difficult to understand at first. News is a door opener to many topics, for example politics, international relationships, history, landscape, the local food or language.
I am not going to recommend any mainstream site as I’m sure you all know CNN and the BBC and whatnot. For a bit of a different view in 43 languages, try World News. And remember, if you were not curious about anything at all, you would not be reading this in the first place!
4. Play Games
Games where you have to use your mind that is! Sudoku, crossword puzzles, riddles, all great ways to challenge the mind. But after some time you’ll need to increase the difficulty or switch to another stimulus to avoid monotony.
Braingle is an excellent source for different brain teasers! Besides that, the trivia, games and community, I found the Mentalrobics section very inspiring. Within the categories creativity, vocabulary, memory, and stress you’ll find lots of useful information on how your brain works and how you can take advantage of that, for example to master stress.
Also have a look at Simon’s article on web games for Brain fitness and Games for the Brain for a broader spectrum of games in different languages. Other than the same old, there is Guess the Flag, Crime Scene where you have to identify people, Memocoly where you memorize colors, and many more. The twist is that while you’re playing games, an IQ score evaluates your achievements.
5. Can you raed, Tihs?
Ins’t it urtlety cnosufnig waht the mnid can do? We otefn do not raielze jsut how mcuh our biran is cabalpe of. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig!
And the truth is, recruiting the potential your mind actually has is key to brain fitness. So never tire to try new things, especially if they may seem difficult. Maybe you can even see the 3D image in this:
For more 3D Stereogram Images and other illusions check out Eyetricks.
Interactions with other people stimulate the brain. Even if these interactions happen online. So if you’ve been avoiding social networks (like myself), pull yourself together and give it a try. Everyone will find a community they can benefit from. Who knows whom you will meet, the world is only a fingertip away. And besides, connecting with other people brings happiness. The challenge is to figure it all out!
7. Listen to music
On MakeUseOf we have shown you tons of ways to discover music. While most music recommendation engines go by what you already like to suggest new things, to stimulate your brain cells you should actually try to listen to something completely different. Use your newly developed social skills and follow the musical likes of random strangers. Did you know music can trigger emotions?
8. Learn a language
When you search MakeUseOf for “learn language” you’ll find several websites that will teach you foreign languages for free or in a community based setting, where you can teach someone else at the same time.
One Minute Languages is a new one that has not been covered before. With all the things we have to pack into our lives today, One Minute Languages gives you an opportunity to sneak peek into a language. There are ten lessons to each language and each lesson is only a few minutes long. So it’s actually more than a minute, who would have thought!
Once you have completed the ten lessons you’ll be far away from actually speaking that language. However, you may be encouraged to study it in depth. And nothing is more challenging for the brain than to learn, speak and think in a foreign language. Think big, but start simple.
9. Make her turn the other way around…
Is she turning clockwise or counter clockwise? Try to make her turn the other way around. It really works, but don’t interpret too much into it!
10. Learn more!
If all of this made you curious about your own brain, check out Sharp Brains, a website that provides plenty of brain-related information. As “the brain fitness authority” they present the latest news and research on brain-related matter, including studies on exercises, improving memory, stress management and they feature interviews with the leading experts in the field.
Other websites to consider are The Brain from Top to Bottom and Your Amazing Brain, both of which offers detailed background information in Wiki-How style. The Brain from Top to Bottom is especially fascinating. You can select your level of understanding from beginner to advanced, learn about the brain from different points of view, even in French and I just love the overall concept of the site.
Taken together, the secret of brain fitness is to constantly challenge the brain. Doing crossword puzzles or playing Sudoku is great, but in the long run it’s monotonous. To keep your brain fit, you should learn something new every day. What did you learn today?