5 Books to Become an Expert Enough in Brain Training

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Brain training upgrades your experience of life!

Brain training exercises can improve your brain in a wide range of cognitive abilities. By upgrading your brain to a faster, stronger and more powerful one you will be able to learn mode, do more, be more.

Now, if you want to master brain training you need to do two things: first, learn the proper techniques, and second, practice those techniques. This post points you to 5 basic sources of information where you will get a good view of the main techniques. The rest is at your hands…

The subjects

In order to learn enough about how to train the brain you must learn at least about the following subjects:

  • What is brain fitness
  • Stress relief
  • Body training
  • Brain training techniques
  • Optimal brain nutrition

Here, there is my list of the 5 key books that will teach you the basics about those subjects.

1. General Brain Fitness

The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness

by Alvaro Fernandez, Elkhonon Gold­berg and Pascale Michelon

SharpBrainsGuide_3D-248x300What is brain decline? Why does it happen? Is there any chance of avoiding it or at least minimize and delay its effects?

The book answers all those questions and introduces the concept of brain fitness, why is it important and what are the characteristics of a good brain training program.

Basically, the book stresses the necessity of training the brain in order to stay mentally fit for the rest of your life, and to clearly understand that mental activity  does not imply mental challenge.

It also describes the myths that surround the subject and explains from a scientific point of view (what are true facts of brain training and what is just exaggeration from the media).

By reading this book you will get a clear idea of the whole field.

The book also explains the following key subjects:

  • Why body exercise is necessary for the brain
  • How nutrition affects the performance of your brain
  • Why mental challenge must be a part of your daily life
  • The beneficial effects of social interaction for maintaining a brain fit
  • How important is to manage stress for a healthy brain.

Mastering this book will allow you to: create your own brain fitness program.

2. Stress Reduction

Buddha’s Brain

by Rick Hanson

Buddha's Brain

Any complete brain training program must start with management of the stress.

Stress is one of the most harmful things for the brain. This book explains with a very clear language how we generate stress and psychological pain, and which are their effects in the brain. The author uses neurological evidence and explanations to make us understand why the brain has an innate tendency to stick to the bad things that happen to us, and to quickly forget about the good things that we experience.

Worries and suffering provoque stress. And stress destroys the neurons of the brain. But, as the book explains, all this suffering can be reversed with proper brain training.

The hypothesis of the book is that Buddha achieved liberation from suffering by training his brain with different techniques of meditation. Nothing more, nothing less. No gods. No spirits. Just plain brain neuroplasticity here.

The book suggests that you can too train your brain to avoid such pain, and provides a complete set of exercises that you can practice at home everyday.

Mastering this book will allow you to: live a life without stress.

3. Body Training

Super Body, Super Brain

by Michael Gonzalez-Wallace

SuperBodySuperBrain_cover1

A complete training of the mind should not forget the training of the body. Body and mind go together.

The main idea of the book is that consciously doing complex body exercises improves your brain in several cognitive areas.

The author of this book, a personal body trainer, observed how his older clients improved cognitively when he exposed them to very uncommon exercises that required them to be fully engaged in the exercise to perform them right. That is, the exercises challenged the brain.

The book contains a set of challenging exercises that benefit the brain at the same time that the body. Furthermore, the benefits for the brain are also twofold:

  • One, as the first book of the list indicates, body exercise improves the health of the brain because removes cortisol from neurons. Hence, just by doing the exercises explained in the book your brain will benefit of the exercise activity.
  • Second, the kind of exercises described, will improve your neuronal circuits since it will make you grow new paths in your brain required to master the exercises.

Mastering this book will allow you to: stay fit and challenge your brain at the same time.

4. Brain Training

How to Read Better & Faster

by Norman Lewis

howtoread

The number of books about brain exercises is uncountable. Most of them only show specific exercises for each one of the cognitive skills that one wants to train: memory, attention, processing speed, etc.

The Insanity Mind approach to brain training differs from other brain training programs, in the sense that it uses brain training exercises that improve cognitive skills, and at the same time, make you learn a useful skill for your daily life.

Hence, instead of typical brain training games, I propose a book that teaches how to speed read.

Learning speed reading improves several cognitive skills at the same time, plus, you will acquire the ability of reading fast (what about reading a 200 pages novel in one sitting in less than 2 hours?).

This book is one of the most complete in the field. It contains many training exercises that you can do without nothing more than the book, a pencil and a timer.

Mastering this book will allow you to: upgrade your brain main cognitive skills. Also you will enjoy reading books 100 times more than before!

5. Brain Nutrition

Power Foods for the Brain

by Neal Barnard

Power_Foods_for_the_Brain

To obtain the maximum benefit from training, the brain needs a constant supply of specific nutrients. Doing weights training is useless if you don’t feed your body with the correct proteins that make it grow. The same happens with brain training. If the brain doesn’t receive the nutrients necessary to build new neurons and connections, the training will not produce the expected results.

On Power Foods For The Brain, Neal Barnard describes all the nutrients your brain needs to perform optimally. It also contains a list of which foods affect negatively the brain and decrease its performance.

Supplements have too their own section as well as how some medicines and health conditions may affect the brain.

The book ends with a section containing different menus and recipes that you can use of the shelf.

Mastering this book will allow you to: feed your brain for optimal performance.

How to take the most out of the books

There you have the list of basic titles for brain fitness. Now, a couple of advices about how to proceed with them in order to become an expert (enough) in the shortest amount of time:

  • Start by picking a book, reading it, and immediately start practicing it. (Deliberate) practice is the only thing that will actually make you an expert in this subject.
  • I recommend the following reading order:
    • First, start reading book number 4 to learn how to speed read. Then use the knowledge of that book to read the rest of books.
    • Second, speed read book number 1 to get a clear idea about what brain fitness is.
    • Third, move to book number 2 and start applying meditation to your life.
    • Then move to book number 3 and define your daily body workout.
    • Finally, complement all your training with the knowledge of book number 5, and begin changing your diet for a healthy one.

Now, you have all the knowledge to become an expert enough in brain fitness. Your next move should be to practice it…

…go for practice!

photo credit: brewbooks via photopin cc

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