Introducing the Brain+ Virtual Brain Coach

Some time back, I wrote about a brain training app called Brain+ that was designed to train attention, memory, planning and problem solving. Now the developers have added a new feature that will take your brain training to a whole new level.

Introducing your new brain coach…

Brain+ has added a brand new feature to their scientifically developed and tested brain training app by the same name – Brain+ Brain Training. The new feature – called the BrainCoach – provides you with your own virtual brain trainer who will teach you about the brain and the wide range of powerful brain-techniques that you can apply in your everyday life to help you obtain a healthier and more efficient brain. You can think of it as something akin to your own personal fitness trainer at your local gym. This new feature is based on the idea that if we can understand our brains better, we can get more from our training.

Learn more about the new BrainCoach feature:

nonameNew virtual BrainCoach sharpens your mental abilities

As a new addition to the Brain+ app, the innovative BrainCoach provides you with a wide range of different techniques and exercises for improving your performance in everyday life.

The Danish brain training company Brain+ launches the virtual brain trainer, BrainCoach, which helps the user’s brain to perform better in everyday life with the use of tangible and powerful techniques. BrainCoach launched as a new feature in the Brain+ Brain Traning app on November 27.

BrainCoach teaches the user about the brain, about a wide range of powerful techniques and optimum lifestyle for a healthy and efficient brain. At the same time it helps the user through specific exercises to incorporate these techniques as mental habits in a variety of everyday situations. This improves the brain’s abilities in basic areas such as attention, memory, planning, problem solving and focus. It provides the user with improved performance in areas such as learning ability, reading speed, creativity, emotional intelligence and stress management. In the long term BrainCoach wants to help the user maintain mental sharpness and brain health throughout life and prevent disorders such as dementia.

The user is taught through a series of 5-10 minute long mini-audiobooks, SmartSessions, each teaching the user about a specific brain function, a technique and an exercise to incorporate it into everyday mental habits and lifestyle. BrainCoach is a type of feature that is not found in other market offerings and CEO and co-founder of Brain+, Kim Baden-Kristensen, is pleased to provide users with a new tool that can be used side by side with the existing brain training games in the app to lift the benefits to new heights.

“With the addition of BrainCoach, we increase the width of the exercises in the Brain+ platform and integrate them in people’s daily lives. We offer a personal brain trainer that delivers practical brain training techniques and exercises, delivered as audio clips and presented in a pleasant graphical universe. With this new feature we offer brain training in a variety of everyday situations that extends far beyond the time spent in the Brain+ app.” – Kim Baden-Kristensen

The hope is that users will use BrainCoach in the same way that they use an instructor in a gym – a support that inspires and pushes them to perform better every day. The new addition is, according to Kim Baden-Kristensen, another step on the road to becoming the world’s leading supplier of digital brain training.

To begin with the BrainCoach contains 30 SmartSessions with 10 more to be added every sixth week. On www.brain-plus.com you can read more about BrainCoach and learn about some of the mental techniques in the app.

Even before the launch of the BrainCoach-feature, many users have been very pleased with the Brain+ app and during the summer of 2014 it reached a total of 1 million downloads in the Apple App Store and has been selected as the Best New App in 125 countries worldwide. A large number of users express their excitement on the App Store, where training benefits and entertainment value gets praiseful comments along the way:

“No less than fantastic. In my everyday life I can feel that I’m much more aware – especially when reading. Can only be recommended. “

“Super nice app. They have thought of everything and it seems very professional and well thought out. At the same time it is fun and entertaining. I’m sure that this kind of fitness for the brain becomes the new black. High praise from here! “

About Brain+

Brain+ is a Danish company providing scientifically validated, effective and engaging brain training. Besides BrainCoach, the Brain+ app contains a series of scientifically designed brain training games that improve core mental abilities in the areas of attention, memory, problem solving and planning. The vision for Brain+ is to improve people’s quality of life by helping them realize their brain’s potential. Brain+ games are developed in cooperation with leading neuroscientists from the University of Copenhagen and are suitable for people of all ages. The app is available for iPhone and iPad and can be downloaded and tried for free. In the spring of 2015 the app will also be available on other mobile platforms.

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Why Your Brain Needs a Break

Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net

Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net

A long time ago, I wrote about the value of doing nothing. Although it was written for parents about their children, it is equally pertinent for adults to get “down time” as well. Down time is important for a number of reasons, especially when we are learning, being creative, and consolidating our memories.

The Brain Needs a Break

In an era where time is speeding up and every moment of our lives is filled with activity, it has never been more important to take a moment to do nothing. Here’s why…

“Why giving our brains a break now and then is so important has become increasingly clear in a diverse collection of new studies investigating: the habits of office workers and the daily routines of extraordinary musicians and athletes; the benefits of vacation, meditation and time spent in parks, gardens and other peaceful outdoor spaces; and how napping, unwinding while awake and perhaps the mere act of blinking can sharpen the mind. What research to date also clarifies, however, is that even when we are relaxing or daydreaming, the brain does not really slow down or stop working. Rather—just as a dazzling array of molecular, genetic and physiological processes occur primarily or even exclusively when we sleep at night—many important mental processes seem to require what we call downtime and other forms of rest during the day. Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.” – Scientific American

Related research:

Daydreaming is Productive

What was even more interesting is what we achieve with daydreaming. It is often during those moments of mind wandering that we solve tough problems – when we’re driving on the road, taking a shower, or doing any semi-automatic activity that does not require the brain’s full attention.

Is it any surprise then that the daydreaming mode is especially common among creative people? A lot of epiphanies are often the result of subconscious mental activity while doing “nothing”.

There is an interesting study from Science in 2006 supporting this:

80 University of Amsterdam students were asked to pick the best car from a set of four. Unbeknownst to the students, the researchers had previously ranked based on size, mileage, maneuverability and other features. Half the participants got four minutes to deliberate after reviewing the specs; the researchers prevented the other 40 from pondering their choices by distracting them with anagrams. Yet the latter group made far better decisions. – Scientific American

It should be noted that the distracting task has to be relatively simple – such as solving an anagram or engaging in a routine activity that does not necessitate much deliberate concentration, like brushing one’s teeth or washing dishes. It is theorised that the right kind of distraction allows the subconscious mind “to integrate more information from a wide range of brain regions in more complex ways than when the brain is consciously working through a problem”.

Compared with engaging in a demanding task, rest, or no break, engaging in an undemanding task during an incubation period led to substantial improvements in performance on previously encountered problems. Critically, the context that improved performance after the incubation period was associated with higher levels of mind wandering but not with a greater number of explicitly directed thoughts about the UUT. These data suggest that engaging in simple external tasks that allow the mind to wander may facilitate creative problem solving. – Psychological Science, 2012.

So perhaps the idea is not to do nothing but to do something “mindless”. Now I know why all my best ideas come to me when I’m driving…

Study Breaks Boost Learning

More relevant to students learning new material is the recent article from HuffPost on how study breaks boost learning. Sometimes, when we’re trying to master new material, a break may be more helpful than to continue slogging away.

Image source: HuffPost – fMRI shows how mental rest and reflection of past learning activities can boost future learning.

…researchers asked 35 adult study participants to memorize pairs of photos in two separate series. In between each series, the participants were given some time to rest and think about anything they wanted. Participants who used the time to reflect on the first series of photos, according to brain scans taken during the break, then outperformed themselves on the subsequent series. This was especially true in cases where minor details of information overlapped between the two tasks.

In other words, when we’re daydreaming, the parts of the brain that are responsible for consolidation of memories and for information retrieval are highly active. This is not only important in the learning process, it also plays a significant role in perspective taking, imagination, creativity, future planning, reflection, and morality.

In a nutshell, we just need more time to let our minds wander.

What Happens When Your Brain Doesn’t Sleep…

Optimal brain function requires optimal brain health and optimal brain health requires adequate sleeping hours.

It’s been said over and over how important it is to get enough sleep:

And yet, sleep is the first thing we sacrifice when we want more time to study for that exam, to finish that assignment, to complete that business proposal, or to finalise the year-end budgets. If something needs doing, sleep is the first thing to go out the door.

But if we want to push past our limits and extend our performance, we must look after our brains and make sure it gets all the necessary requirements to function optimally. One critical requirement that our brains must have is to get enough sleep.

I love the following infographic from BrainMic because it gives a terrific run down of what happens to our brains when we don’t get enough sleep…

Image Source: BrainMic

It’s plain and simple – if you want to reach your full potential, you need to sleep.

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