Weighty Matters

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Brain Training Games

A little more than a week ago, I signed up for Lumosity.  I figured that while I’m spending so much time and effort getting physically fit, I should also not forget to keep my brain fit, too.  Now, one would think that working a full time job and being involved in other things would be enough to keep me in good cognitive shape.  I’m sure I’m doing okay, but I have noticed that my memory isn’t always quite as sharp as it used to be a few decades ago.

So, between television ads, Facebook ads, and one of my bosses, Lumosity hit my radar.  I finally checked it out.   I won’t say I’m obsessed, but I am compelled and eager to do a mental workout every day.  Different games work different abilities – spatial memory, working memory, vocabulary function, number tasks, directional planning, and so on and so on.

The goal is to keep improving at the tasks over time.  I haven’t been doing them long enough to know whether I’m making significant progress, but I have discovered some things about myself and, in some cases, have rediscovered things about my personality.

First realization:  I am competitive, even with myself.  Now these aren’t games that you win or lose, you just keep trying to do your best and increase your score.  Still, if I don’t feel that I’ve done well enough, I immediately want to try the game again.  Now that I’ve been doing it a week, I’ve repeated some of the games, so I actually have a score in those against which to measure my performance.  If I don’t beat my previous score in one of the games, yes, I have to try it again, find a way to improve, do a better job of concentrating.  I take on the challenge.

It’s a good thing that I’m a gracious loser and a non-gloating winner when I play games against other people.

Second realization:  I definitely feel more stress on a timed game.  Oh how I hated the standardized SATs and other big tests when I was in high school.  It was difficult enough to have the pressure of needing a good score.  Having to perform well on the questions and do so in set periods of time was a double-shot of freakout-inducing stress.

I can feel myself getting clear performance anxiety on the Lumosity games that are timed!  I want to hit a pause button, take a deep breath and tell myself to snap out of it.  The games are intended to help.  It’s not like the fate of my life hangs in the balance or that I fail if I only get to a certain score.  In thees games, like in much of life, it’s progress not perfection.

Third realization: At this age, I’m able to more quickly and easily get over my own foibles.  When I was a kid, these things would eat at me.  Then I’d eat over them.

Now I look at them, take note, laugh at myself when appropriate and, like tonight, even write a blog post.  Then, tomorrow, I go back and try the mental workout again.

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