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Jack Sisson's TBI Blog

A hug is duct tape for the soul.
In my last post, I asked readers who'd had a TBI to submit brain exercises that helped them. Not surprising, Jack was the first to respond. He submitted juggling and video games. (He has personal experience with the former, and anecdotal evidence of the latter.) A regular visitor to one of Jack's support groups is an accomplished juggler, and he's been working with the group to improve their juggling skills. The exercise may prove to be more beneficial than originally thought. You can buy the book pictured here at Amazon.
"Street performers, circus entertainers and clowns: they can all juggle. Neuroscientists are now getting into the juggling act. Brain researchers at the University of Regensburg (Germany) have found that learning to juggle can change brain structure." Read more here.Amazon.comYou can also buy a set of juggling balls at Amazon.

As for Video Games:
"These scholars are the first to admit that games can be addictive, and indeed part of their research explores how games connect to the reward circuits of the human brain. But they are now beginning to recognize the cognitive benefits of playing video games: pattern recognition, system thinking, even patience. Lurking in this research is the idea that gaming can exercise the mind the way physical activity exercises the body: It may be addictive because it’s challenging." Read more.

And this:
"In many circles, video games are still considered to be a waste of time. However, recent work in cognitive neuroscience has shown that certain types of video games can result in a variety of positive changes to visual attention, hand-eye coordination, and other perceptual skills.

As Green and Bavelier showed in an already-classic 2003 Nature article, action video game players (VGP's) were shown to have increased visual attention capacity on a flanker distractor task, as well as thought to show improvements in their ability to subitize (this is basically the process by which you can tell how many items are in a display without actually counting each item serially). In fact, VGP's could correctly subitize up to 5 items on average, while non-VGP's could subitize only three on average."
Read more on this study here.DVD Source

We know that a TBI may result in loss of sense of time and space or spatial disorientation and difficulties with hand/eye coordination. Video games may help the brain to restore some of this loss. Video games are also assisting research activities:
"Clinical Neuropsychologist Dr. Maria Schultheis has discovered an unexpected admiration for the video game industry. More specifically, she appreciates the technical skills of their engineers, especially their ability to create realistic, incredibly complex interactive environments. And while it’s unlikely that she’ll be hooked on Grand Theft Auto anytime soon, Schultheis doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge that the gaming industry has been the driving force behind the rapid growth and sophistication of “virtual reality” systems, which she and a team of researchers are putting to unique new uses at the Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Corporation (KMRREC) in West Orange, New Jersey." Read more.
Next time, a look at more brain exercises and what they are really doing to your brain.

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