Brain Fitness Glossary

Given the growing awareness of this emerging field, let’s review some of the most relevant concepts:

Brain Fitness: the general state of good, sharp, brain and mind, especially as the result of mental and physical exercise and proper nutrition.

Brain Fitness Program: structured set of brain exercises, usually computer-based, designed to train specific brain areas and functions in targeted ways, and measured by brain fitness assessments.

Chronic Stress: ongoing, long-term stress. Continued physiological arousal where stressors block the formation of new neurons and negatively impact the immune system’s defenses.

Cognitive training (or Brain Training): variety of brain exercises designed to help work out specific “mental muscles”. The principle underlying cognitive training is to help improve “core” abilities, such as attention, memory, problem-solving, which many people consider as fixed.

Cognitive Reserve (or Brain Reserve): theory that addresses the fact that individuals vary considerably in the severity of cognitive aging and clinical dementia. Mental stimulation, education and occupational level are believed to be major active components of building a cognitive reserve that can help resist the attacks of mental disease.

fMRI: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a non-invasive neuroimaging technique that enables researchers see images of changing blood flow in the brain associated with neural activity. This allows images to be generated that reflect which structures are activated (and how) during performance of different tasks.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV): describes the frequency of the cardiac cycle, and is one of the best predictors of stress and anxiety. Our hear rate is not “flat” or constant: HRV measures the pattern of change.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): yoga and meditation practices designed to enable effective responses to stress, pain, and illness.

Neurogenesis: the process by which neurons are created all throughout our lives.

Neuroimaging: techniques that either directly or indirectly image the structure, function, or pharmacology of the brain. Recent techniques (such as fMRI) have enabled researchers to understand better the living human brain.

Neuroplasticity: the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections throughout life.

PubMed: very useful tool to search for published studies. “PubMed is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes over 16 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles back to the 1950s. PubMed includes links to full text articles and other related resources.”

Working memory: the ability to keep information current for a short period while using this information. Working memory is used for controlling attention, and deficits in working memory capacity lead to attention problems. Recent research has proven that working memory training is possible and helpful for people with ADD/ ADHD.

You can read more on the Science of Brain Fitness.


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