Brain exercise at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Just came back from a presentation at the San Francisco Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, where I am teaching a class this fall. This center is part of a network of more than 80 centers supported by the Osher Foundation.

It is the third time I lead this class, and am looking forward to another fun experience. Working with a number of scientific advisors, we have prepared some great information based on recent brain research, and fun activities that exercise our key “mental muscles”.

Let me give you a flavor:

According to simplified brain anatomy, we can think of the following major “mental muscles” and ways to exercise them:

1) Cerebellum and brain stem area

– Motor coordination: dancing in couples is one of the best activities, as well as sports. You can also try to sign with your non-dominant hand

2) Limbic system area

– Emotions: see how good you are at identifying the feelings associated with facial expressions  Activities like yoga and meditation, and biofeedback-based games, can be very powerful to help us improve our emotional intelligence

– Memory: maybe the easiest tricks are to categorize things (so instead of trying to remember we need to do 8 things we structure them in 3-4 groups) and to visualize fun connections (for instance, if you want to remember that you are meeting a friend in the corner of Powell and Market streets, you could visualize Colin Powell buying a tomato at an organic market). You can also read about a  very powerful memory technique that requires training and has been used since classic Greece

3) Neocortex area

– Language: crosswords, casual games like BookWorm  BookWorm. Maybe write a haiku about the chocolate experiment below

– Visual/ spatial: many casual games, like Tetris

– Senses: well, just get a good piece of chocolate, get into a silent room, close your eyes, and let it melt in your mouth.  At least to me, this made me realize how little attention I pay to my senses

– Executive function (planning, problem-solving,…): solve any complex real-world problem. Maybe help a local nonprofit fundraise, or plan the next holiday vacation if it is not too stressful…or help your kid do his/ her math homework

You can find more Brain Fitness information, and programs, at SharpBrains.



  1. saravanan said

    i want to know more about Brain Trainning and Brain Exercise

  2. Alvaro said

    Hi Sara,

    I will contact you offline to ask what questions you have. Feel free to always ask us any question.

  3. […] Further Links Mind/Body, Emotions, and Decision-Making Social Intelligence and Mirror Neurons Social Intelligence and the Frontal Lobes An Ape Can Do This. Can We Not? “Use It or Lose It” : What is “It”? The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind by Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg Brain Exercise at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute […]

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: