Rachel Carsons who wrote the definitive work Silent Spring in 1962, her classic exposition on the potentially disastrous role of DDT which caused such damage to wildlife, birds, bees, agricultural animals, domestic pets, and even humans; has said  “If you write what you yourself sincerely think and feel and are interested in, the chances are very high that you will interest other people as well.”

I am interested in maintaining my cognitive reserve, which includes my ability to concentrate, pay attention and remember.   Since I learned about neuroplasticity; a concept which has only been part of the lexicon of medical terms for the past 20 years, I have realised that the maintenance of my cognitive skills is dependent on the use I make of my cognitive potential on a day to day basis.

Daily Rituals

Hence I have certain daily practices like doing the Sudoku problem in the Cape Times, as well as checking out the daily bridge problem.   Another attention and memory skill I attempt to do on a daily basis is Mindsparke, see http://mindsparke.com/    Whilst today a subscription needs to be purchased on a monthly basis to practice this sophisticated training when I started practising Mindsparke it could be purchased on a CD.    I have great faith in this exercise which involves some complex multi-tasking such as remembering both visual and auditory cues simultaneously.   The participant has to pay attention to the incoming cues delivered to two sensory modalities, and then make an appropriate response on the keyboard.    I have offered many of my students a copy of this CD (after getting permission from the creator), but so far I have not found anyone who has performed the exercise in the long term.

Another interesting daily task which can be done on the internet can be found at this link https://www.setgame.com/set/puzzle   I invite you to follow the link and engage in the game.  It is not too difficult to follow the instructions offered, and you may well find it an interesting challenge.   As you improve at Setgame, you will find you can perform the task in less time on each attempt.

Facility with Numbers

I am not a great mathematician, nor am I a graduate in any form of the “hard” sciences.   Despite my lack of academic study in chemistry, or physics, I enjoy numbers puzzles.   For the past six years, I have been attending monthly meetings offered by Alison, a retired teacher of mathematics.   She offers her expertise and vast experience to a small group of local members of the University of the Third Age.   At our monthly meetings, Alison offers as some challenges which involve just over an hour of concentrated thinking, whilst the rest of the morning is devoted to conversation and chat.

Some of the topics we have discussed over the years include Magic Squares, Pascal’s Triangle, Nine and some multiples of Nine, Farey’s sequences, Bayes Theorem and Matrix Multiplication.   These topics may sound somewhat esoteric to the uninitiated, but they can all be tackled with matric level mathematics.

Today we were given some tasks on the qualities of Polyhedra, which are solid shapes with flat faces and straight edges.   The pictures illustrating this blog will give you an idea of what a polyhedron looks like.   It was such fun making these models with toothpicks and jelly tots!

Here is a challenge!

My challenge to you the reader is to follow the links I offer to both Mindsparke and Setgame.   It will help to ensure that your cognitive reserve is not only maintained, but also enhanced.   Let me know in the comments section how you fared!

2 replies
  1. Nikki Viljoen
    Nikki Viljoen says:

    A few years ago now, I started having problems with remembering words. At first it seemed like it was everyday items that I could picture in my head but that I could not remember the word for. It freaked me out big time!

    I found a game or rather I should say games called lumosity. You can start off with the freebies and then as you can opt to ‘buy in’. If memory serves me correctly it is $100 for a year. Here is the link http://www.lumosity.com

    I have played these games daily for about 4 or 5 years now and keep tabs on my scores and I can see the improvement both in the scores and in my memory . . . except when I am tired and then that is also reflected in my scores as well as in my lack of memory!

    Every year they add new games and taking on the new stuff is always fun.

    I really do enjoy my 15 or so minutes a day playing my games and I suspect it also allows me to ‘get in touch’ with the child in me – something that I don’t do nearly as often as I should.

    Thank you for sharing all your adventures Grace, you sure do get around and have fun! Good for you.


    • Grace Smith
      Grace Smith says:

      Thanks Nikki for once again contributing something to the value of my blog. I know of luminosity and have spent some time on the freebie, but have not yet taken the leap of making the investment. Well done for being so disciplined with this cognitive enhancer. All the best, Grace

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