In Ryuta Kawashima’s research, reading aloud was one of the activities that engaged the more regions of the brain compared to other activities.
Ryuta Kawashima is a prominent neuroscientist in Japan whose work involves mapping the regions of the brain involved in emotion, language, memorisation, and cognition. The primary purpose of his research is to help children develop their brains, the aging population to retain brain function, and patients to overcome their learning disabilities.
My grandfather was hospitalised for nine days while the doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with him. When he was finally diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, he left the hospital unable to walk, eat, or talk properly. One of the activities he engaged in daily was reading aloud. Initially, he started out like a child learning to read. Now his recovery has been so amazing that he has returned to his former state of function before the decline that lead to his hospitalisation. His cognition and speech articulation is very clear.
2. Stroop test
The Stroop test is a simple activity that requires the subject to state the colour of the font rather than reading the word of the colour. This was one of the exercises Kawashima recommends in his book “Train Your Brain“. Here are some programs offering the stroop test:
- Lumosity – Colour Match
- App – Lumosity
- App – the Stroop Effect – $0.99
- EncephalApp – Stroop Test – free
- Androids – Stroop Test
3. Rapid simple arithmetic
Similar to reading aloud, Kawashima found this to be another activity that engaged the most regions of the brain. The problems should be simple and the work should be performed as quickly as possible. It is important to note that Kawashima’s research found that working through complicated Math problems did not achieve the same effect as performing simple arithmetic rapidly so the key to activity is speed.
- Lumosity – Raindrops
- App – Rapid Math – there are 3 different levels to this app. Use the easy level because the key to this exercise is speed.
4. Word memory
Another brain exercise from Kawashima’s Train Your Brain book, this activity requires you to look at a list of words for a set period of time and see how many you can recall from memory.
5. Sight reading sheet music
If you play an instrument, regularly practicing your sight reading with new music pieces is a really good workout for your brain. Like reading aloud and performing rapid simple mathematical calculations, sight reading music engages more areas of the brain than any other activity.
“The total amount of the brain involved in active music making, particularly during sight reading and playing, is more than in any other situation, with the possible exception of the abnormal storms of electrical activity that sweep through the brain during an epileptic seizure.”
You can also try this program for practice:
6. Play Mahjong
For more information, read the article: “Playing Mahjong is Good Exercise for Your Brain“.
More Brain Trainers:
- Fit Brains
- Brain Trainers for iPhone and iPad
- Brain Trainers for Androids
- Brain Training: Working Memory
- Brain Training: Fluid Intelligence
- Brain Training: Focus
- Brain Training: Executive Function
Related Brain Training Articles:
- Building a Better Brain – Barbara Arrowsmith (the woman who changed her brain)
- Re-designing the Brain – Sharpening Perception and Memory, and Increasing the Speed of Thought