Brain processing speed is how fast the brain can perform various cognitive functions over time. But what does it have to do with human intelligence? The speed in which your brain is able to recognize stimuli and manipulate information is essential in problem solving, one of the ways in which intelligence is measured. The brain processes information by sending electrical signals through networks of neurons. If the brain can do this faster, it will be able to transmit larger amounts of data within a given period of time.
The brain is like a muscle, not in the sense that it’s made of the same components, but in the sense that you have to train it in order to get maximum performance. As your brain ages, its processing speed gradually declines. This is because of the decrease in the rate of brain cell regeneration. Less brain cells means less processing power. Currently, no proven way to stop this decline exists. However, even if you are not able to stop it, you can slow down this decaying process by constantly training your brain. Here are some ways for you to achieve this:
Physical Exercises – One way to train your brain is by training your body. According to a study in the University of Georgia, even only a few minutes of exercise can stimulate blood circulation and increase blood flow to the brain. Also, it helps create hormones that are responsible for cell generation and regeneration in the brain. These enhanced growth patterns make it easier for it to form new neuronal connections which can help in transmitting more data for processing in a certain period of time.
However, there is a significant difference in the effects of different exercises. Simple jogging, walking, running or aerobics have less impact on the brain as compared to physical activities that involve more aspects like advanced coordination, rhythm and strategy, like dancing. Those kinds of exercises tend to work out the brain processing functions aside from simply providing a good environment for brain cells to develop.
Visual Exercises – This type of exercises work out the speed in which your brain reacts to visual stimuli. Collectively, this refers to sets of activities in which the subject will be shown images and after which, they are to perform a specific task with the least possible time.
For example, there’s an activity in which you will be shown a flash card that has a colored text, spelling a certain color. You then have to recite the color of the text and not what is actually written. For instance, the card has text that says “Red”, but the color of the text is yellow. You would have to answer “Yellow” instead of red. Get a partner then start off slowly. Then you can gradually increase the speed as you are able to recite the correct color consecutively. Practicing this can increase your brain processing speed by conditioning it to the process of accepting input and forcing out quick responses. Use a stopwatch and create a chart so you can monitor your progress and at the same time inspire yourself to continue with your workout plan.
Games – Of all the choices, this may be the most popular one, because aside from training your brain, you are actually having fun. Not to say that the previous types are not fun, they can be fun if you set your mind to see them that way. They can even be gamified if you wish! Gamification of brain exercises not only makes them more interesting and exciting, it also enhances competitiveness and self-fulfillment. Of course! Winners are proclaimed! These are major factors that keep a person dedicated to a routine.
Aside from turning normal activities into games, there are also games that are especially made for improving the brain’s processing speed:
- Fighting games like Tekken or Marvel VS Capcom demand high hand-eye coordination added to real-time strategy and intuitive reflexes. Playing these kinds of games can enhance a person’s reaction time and expand his or her working memory. The higher the capacity of your working memory, the more information your brain can hold for processing at a given time. It also trains you to recognize stimuli easier and faster, thus enabling your brain to quickly come up with the proper response.
- Puzzle games that have time limits are also good examples. Like Tetris! The normal ones that are not timed are nice brain exercises, but they lean more towards the problem-solving aspect of cognitive function. What you need is to improve how fast you can solve problems. This is why it is good to play puzzle games with a timer which can force you to come up with solutions as soon as possible.
- Rhythm games are more specific types of games requiring hand-eye coordination. Added to that, it also utilizes the element of sound or music. Having to react timely to a moving image while using sounds to establish rhythm and timing is a good way to practice overloading the brain and having it handle multiple stimuli coming in all at once. An example of this is Tap Tap Revenge or Dance Dance Revolution (DDR).
- Arcade or action games test and challenge reaction time. They stimulate the rush sensation in the brain. It’s like simulating panic, but in a good way, because you are having fun. Games like Bejeweled or Temple Run can really force your brain to be alert and conscious, ready to respond to sudden stimuli or obstacles as immediately as possible.
There are countless other examples of games and activities that you can use to train and improve your brain’s processing speed. The key is to keep practicing. Repetition is essential. If you simply do them once, then it wouldn’t really have an effect. If you do it occasionally, the effects would be unpredictable as the frequency or may not even be significant at all. Constant practice and training will help you to actually improve it and at the same time, maintain its improved state.