Most everyone is keenly aware of their physical self-image. But have you ever considered how you perceive your own mind?
I’ve always thought of myself as having a poor memory: I seldom remember the plots of books and movies in any detail, for example, no matter how much I’ve enjoyed them. Over the years I’ve also come to believe that I’m terrible at math, that I’m directionally impaired, and that I lack focus because I’m easily distracted.
Until recently, I hadn’t questioned these assumptions. After all, my cognitive self-image was based on my own experience (like the time I thought I’d lost my wallet at the grocery store, only to find it an hour later … inside my freezer).
But a chance encounter with a banner ad two weeks ago changed my mind. *Ahem.* Pardon the pun.
The theory behind Lumosity is that our brains are plastic — that is, they can change if we challenge them.
I felt pretty pathetic as I took the baseline quiz. But to my surprise, my memory ranked about average compared to my peers. Even more surprising: According to the test I had excellent concentration skills, and was really quite good at math.
I also felt a bit stupid as I played the first few games. The instructions sounded deceptively simple (“if the leaves are green, click on the direction they’re pointing; if yellow, click on the direction they’re traveling”) — but actually following those instructions was another matter.
Still, I’ve persisted. And as my confidence has grown over the past few days, so has the difficulty of the games. New games have also popped into the rotation, as have unexpected obstacles in my now-familiar favorites. In short: I’ve become addicted.
“Yeah, but does it work?” you might ask. At least one blogger discredits it as a waste of time (note, however, that he hasn’t actually tried it).
I can’t say for certain that it does work — but I’m going to stick with it, for four reasons. First, the games are just plain fun. (My favorite involves avoiding fiery train crashes.)
Second, it stokes my competitiveness. I feel almost compelled to try to beat my own top scores every day.
Fourth, the games act as a sort of mental palate cleanser. They demand total concentration, which I find both stimulating and oddly relaxing.
And finally, Lumosity gives me hope that maybe I’m not doomed to suffer cognitive decline as I age. Even if it’s just a placebo effect, I do feel a bit sharper after two weeks.
In the end, though, the most important benefit I’ve gained from playing Lumosity is a deeper appreciation for — and understanding of — my own mind. For starters, I’ve stopped telling myself that I hate math … and have actually started doing more equations in my head.
Want to give it a try yourself? You can play for free at www.lumosity.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts!