Three Tips to Keep Your Brain Alive

October 18, 2007

So today, I discovered a very interesting concept called Neurobics. Brain aerobics, I suppose. Anyway, it’s great. So, I thought I’d share.

Basically, Neurobics, developed by Lawrence C. Katz and Manning Rubin, is all about harnessing the power of “new” to sharpen your brain functioning. They wrote a book called Keep Your Brain Alive which talks about several ways you can help your brain satisfy its urge to form connections by helping it form new connections.

Here’s what they say on their website: “Making multi-sensory associations, and doing something novel that is important or engaging to you – these are the key conditions for a genuine Neurobic exercise.”

The keys seem to be to involve your senses, keep your attention, and break a routine in an unexpected way. Read here for more on this.


Anyway, I fell in love with the idea. I’m a big advocate of engaging your brain, playing, of doing whatever you can to continually learn and stay sharp. But I also don’t have a ton of time to spend in that area. Which is why I love their simple tips. Check out a few:


1. Try something with your eyes closed. For example, walking from your car to your house when you get home from work. I did a version of this, years ago, when I visited a concept restaurant in Berlin with a friend. We ate an entire meal in the absolute, utter darkness. We were served by blind servers who didn’t have trouble getting around in the dark. We listened and wondered how close all the tables were, because our ears were so tuned in without sight, everyone seemed to be mere inches away. We smelled and tasted and wondered what we were eating, drinking. Their menu doesn’t specify, instead using riddles to describe each meal (vegetarian, poultry, meat, etc.) It was brilliant. It was compelling. It certainly engaged my brain.

2. Use the other hand. Maybe not the best tip for the practiced ambidextrous citizens out there, but for me, along with probably most of the population, the simple task of brushing my teeth would be a challenge with my left hand. On occasion, I’ve tried scribbling my name this way. But I’ve never gone a whole day that way, like they suggest. Sounds like a learning experience to me. And definitely something new. Also try out using a can opener, a hammer, who knows, the options are endless.

3. Do normal a new way. Anything is up for grabs with this, really. They recommend driving a new way to work or eating an entire meal with your family in utter silence – the idea is to rely on visual cues to indicate what you need. Essentially, making small changes in your routine can help you grow your brain. Which I love to hear! I’m rearranging my desk right now so that my calendar’s on the opposite side and things are all in new places. Isn’t is wonderful that something like that counts?


So, maybe it’s not a reset button, but it’s a start.


9 Responses to “Three Tips to Keep Your Brain Alive”

  1. presh Says:

    I’m not convinced of the science behind it (best I could see is mixed evidence), but it sounds like some thing fun to try.

    During the summer I was in charge of watering plants, which I didn’t find too engaging, so I spiced it up by using my weaker left hand to hold the hose. It was indeed fun.

  2. Wait. I can’t even do normal right and you want me to go and switch it up? Ha! 😉

  3. Sounds like a fun diversion. I like this post.

  4. Tiffany Says:

    Presh – I honestly didn’t dig too far into the technicals on the science, but it’s such a fun idea, I thought why not give it a try anyway? The few experiences I’ve had with it have certainly been challenging and fun, not to mention memorable. So, that’s good enough for me! May have to check the book out in person to see if it’s worth the buy – there’s not a ton of information online. But we’ll see

    Rebecca – I know, right? Well, you know what that roast beef places says about different, right? In this case, I definitely agree.

    Chuck – Thanks! I was in need of a good diversion yesterday – the piles were just getting too tall and I wanted a bit of change. Glad you enjoyed as well.

  5. I find this kind of stuff fascinating. As I sit here with my crutches after knee surgery, you’ve got me thinking that I shouldn’t look at it like the whole thing is a pain in the ass, but instead a chance to learn to walk a whole new way without falling on my face. Great post!

  6. Tiffany Says:

    Thanks, Anita. Sorry to hear about the knee surgery – that’s never fun. Glad you found it inspirational! Hope your recovery is quick and even meaningful, in light of this!

  7. Tiffany,

    Just found your blog by way of Ryan Holiday and am intrigued. I’m going to experiment with a new one of these exercises twice a week for the next month. Thank you.

  8. doing things with my eyes closed – i should try that for more things than just trying to walk a few yards with my eyes closed, which i sometimes try, and it’s scary enough.

    great ideas – stumbled it.

  9. Maggy Says:

    I wonder how’s your brain today? After more than five years. Do you feel great improvement?

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