FOCUS online health check: is your brain fit? You can find out with two tests
The brain should work quickly and concentrate as long as possible. Both skills decrease over the years, but can be trained. Here you will find two tests that determine your current status and two exercises for brain training.
Speed and concentration are important foundations of mental fitness, says psychologist Peter Sturm. Together with Siegfried Lehrl he founded the association “Society for Brain Training”. In order to find out how these two skills are doing, the two experts recommend the following tests.
Test 1: speed of the brain
Have a watch with a second hand ready or open a stopwatch app on your smartphone. In the following box you can see a sequence of 20 letters. Read this out loud as quickly as possible while stopping the time.
a l w h f z k e v p m g z n r t s b j k
How long did it take you?
- 5 seconds: That is an extremely good achievement! You obviously belong to those people whose brains can work particularly quickly.
- 6 to 7 seconds: That is a very good value!
- 6 to 9 seconds: Most people are in this good range.
- 10 seconds or more: Try the test again on a different day at a different time. The speed at which the brain works varies depending on how tired or awake you are, relaxed or tense. If you are in this range again, it is worthwhile to train the speed of your brain. The following exercise “Syllable Spurt” is suitable for this purpose.
Exercise “Syllable Spurt”: Improve your speed!
The following grid shows fragmented words from a Chinese proverb. First, read through the proverb and then tap the letter parts in the correct order in the grid. Start with the word “tea” highlighted in green.
Tea enlightens the mind,
sharpens the senses,
gives lightness and energy
Boredom and annoyance.
The second step is to learn the proverb by heart. Then call it up from memory to tap the correct parts of the letter one at a time. You can find more such exercises on the Website of the “Society for Brain Training”.
Test 2: Duration of concentration of the brain
You will immediately see a box with three rows of letters. The first row consists of four letters, the second of seven letters and the third of twelve.
Step 1: First, focus on the first row (four letters). Read the letters, about one every second. Close your eyes and repeat the letters from memory in the correct order. Open your eyes and see if you have reproduced the letters correctly.
Step 2: Repeat the process for the next row (seven letters). Read all the letters again every second, then close your eyes and repeat the letters from your memory. Open your eyes and see if you have reproduced the letters correctly.
Step 3: Repeat the process for the third row (twelve letters).
R N K L
F M A S D V G
T N L B O K X C U M W D
Result: The first row of letters shouldn’t have been difficult for you. For many people, however, the second row is no longer manageable. Most fail on the third sequence of letters.
The Brain Training Society explains: “The time it took you to read the letters was too long. The memory span expired before you got to the end of the row of letters. You could not cache what you have already read in good time because you had to keep reading. So the thread broke. Letters are missing in the memory and the order is mixed up. “
This is a completely normal process. Nevertheless, you can train this ability of your brain as well. The following exercise is suitable for this purpose.
Exercise “counting triangles”: improve your concentration time!
How many triangles are there in the following figure? First, make a note of the number you estimate at first glance. Then count exactly. You can find the correct solution at the end of this article.
Book recommendation (ad)
“Brain-Tuning” by Siegfried Lehrl and Peter Sturm
Keeping the brain fit in all areas of life
Nerve cells die in the course of life, the brain ages. Over time, we become more forgetful, need longer to learn new things and can no longer recognize complex relationships so well. Even so, we don’t just have to put up with the aging process of the brain. Mental fitness can be trained and thus kept at a good level even in old age.
Alone with Sudoku and crossword puzzles, however, do not succeed, says neuroscientist Martin Korte. “These activities are fun, but they do not improve the brain’s performance,” says Martin Korte. “It makes us better at solving specific tasks. But neither our number nor our factual memory improves, and above all, this highly specialized training does not affect other thinking activities. “
Instead, lifestyle as a whole plays an important role in the health and fitness of the brain.
Checklist: How well do you take care of your mental fitness?
The more of the following statements you answer in the affirmative, the better for your mental fitness.
- You eat healthy and have a weight in the normal range. Eat colorful, so as much vegetables and fruit as possible, local and seasonal, but as little meat as possible, fish regularly and little sugar, recommends neurobiologist Martin Konte. His tip: a handful of blueberries and nuts every day and a trout dish once or twice a week. You should also consume more protein than carbohydrates. Proper nutrition also includes avoiding diabetes or having it treated.
- You exercise an average of four to five times a week for 30 minutes. Sports activities lead to better blood flow to the brain. “If the motor cortex becomes active, it receives more oxygen-rich blood,” explains Korte. “The adjacent working memory also benefits from this as a ‘take away effect’.”
- You do not have high blood pressure or have it treated.
- You sleep at least seven hours a night. “Sleep is important to consolidate what you have learned in long-term memory, but also to be able to work, learn and practice attentively and with concentration the next day,” explains Korte.
- You avoid stress and negative emotions: “If we have the feeling that we have to do too many things at the same time, it means a kind of loss of control for our brain. This arouses archaic fears in the brain, which in turn activate the threat axis in the brain, ”says the neurobiologist. This loses computing capacity as the frontal lobe tries to ward off stress, fear and negative emotions. As a result, the brain cannot perform as well.
- You don’t smoke. Smoking disrupts blood flow, including in the brain. Nicotine also adds carbon monoxide to the blood. In the hippocampus, this can contribute to the fact that new nerve cells are more difficult to form.
- You take care of your teeth. Studies have shown that periodontal disease and other inflammatory reactions in the mouth can also affect brain health.
Solution to the exercise “Counting triangles”: There are eleven triangles hidden in the figure.
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