The response here to my earlier post about how much brain training is too much has been less than overwhelming. Not a soul offered any advice on the point. I did inquire of the company, posting the question to them through their “feedback” form. They did reply promptly and gave me something of a response, but they didn’t answer the question.
They did not tell me what their studies might have shown about how much training – how much time per session and how many sessions per week – affords the fastest and greatest progress. Maybe they don’t have an answer to that one, but I’ll bet they do. What they did say is that they “recommend” ninety minutes of training per week. They didn’t really say why, so that response isn’t all that helpful.
It is interesting, though, that this response does seem to vary a bit from the recommendations on their website, where they prescribe twenty-minute sessions, three times a week. Half an hour’s difference there. Fifty-percent difference. That’s substantial.
My personal experience with the program has been rather eye-opening. I work in a job that demands constant intellectual engagement and people skills – particularly verbal communication – and I was ready to walk right into the Brain HQ program and leave everybody else in the dust. Didn’t happen. I did ace certain tests, most of those having to do with speed, but did not do nearly as well in the areas of memory and, most particularly, “navigation.”
I’ve got to say that I do tend to believe this assessment. I’ve never been one who just sort of naturally knew where he was or how to get somewhere. I’ve been around people like that – who can walk windowless corridors, turning corners time and again, and still maintain their orientation. That is, still remember which way they are going and how to get out. But I’ve never been one of those guys.
As I work on the memory training, I wonder how much of memory loss or memory ability is just voluntary and not organic. In other words, when you reach a certain age and station in life, does it make sense to remember less of what surrounds you? Less of what you are bombarded with, day in and day out? Does time teach us that so much of what we see and hear day by day simply does not matter at all and the task of remembering the days is just to carry so much more mental weight around for no good reason?
The down side to this may be that it is not so much a practical, rational process of figuring out that so many things are not important and we should therefore not tax ourselves with the chore of trying to remember them, but a process of surrender, of giving up.
Giving up what? Giving up hope. Giving up hope that what we meet in our day – what we see and hear – really is meaningful, really might make a difference. That is, that it is not certain that this day will be like every other day before. Just the same grind. The same commute, the same frustrations at work, the same paycheck. Would our memories work better if we had faith that every day contains something new and meaningful? That life might anytime open to new possibilities that we only allow ourselves to dream of? That we are unique beings who are called to contribute in our own unique ways? That we cannot really be replaced? That what we say and do makes a difference?
I wonder. I wonder if we really thought that what we do matters and that there are always new possibilities for us – for meaning and success, our memories might work a lot better. I think we may start to lose our ability to remember through voluntary disuse – because we become more and more convinced that the details of our lives really don’t matter.