Everything you need to know about brain training

Here’s how BrainHQ’s science-backed, brain-focused programs can boost your memory, attention, and more.

Person tossing and catching an apple

You might’ve heard that doing the daily crossword puzzle is good for your brain. It certainly is a nice way to keep your mind busy. But the truth is, crosswords may only help strengthen a particular brain function called fluency, or word finding. (Sorry to burst your bubble!)

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive, science-backed approach to brain training, you’re in luck. It exists at BrainHQ, a place where you can train your brain through structured activities. The exercises engage different aspects of your brain and have clinically proven benefits.

Here’s what you need to know about BrainHQ’s science-backed brain-training programs, which can change your brain, how it functions — and ultimately, how you live your life.

Help sharpen your memory by logging into BrainHQ! Check whether you have no-cost access to BrainHQ’s science-backed brain exercises through your Medicare Advantage plan. Check your eligibility

Why train your brain?

As part of your regular gym-going routine, you might have a legs, arms, and core day. That means you do different exercises to target different parts of your body.

The same goes for brain fitness. You can strengthen different functions of the brain — attention, memory, speed — with specific brain-training exercises.

Brain fitness can also have a positive effect on your day-to-day functioning. For instance, it can help sharpen your memory and boost your mood. “Like your body, your brain is designed to physically adjust to what you’re asking it to do,” says Michael Merzenich, Ph.D. He’s a professor emeritus at University of California San Francisco and chief science officer of Posit Science, the creators of BrainHQ.

Brain training works because of brain plasticity. As you learn new things, improve your abilities, and have new experiences, your brain physically changes. Effective brain training can have three important results:

  • It literally rewrites your brain
  • It sharpens your cognitive function, making it easier for your brain to think faster, focus better, and remember more
  • It can make you happier, healthier, and more in control of whatever challenges life sends your way

For example, the IMPACT study was the first large-scale clinical trial to examine whether a specially designed brain-training program significantly improved cognitive abilities in adults. Scientists from Mayo Clinic and the University of Southern California proved that people can make gains in memory if they do the right kind of scientifically designed cognitive exercises.

And the ACTIVE study is the largest study on cognitive training ever performed.

It was done by researchers from six universities, including Johns Hopkins, Penn State, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The study proved that healthy adults 65 and older can make significant cognitive gains with the right brain-training programs and practice – and that those gains are also seen in real-world measures like independent living skills and driving safety.

It also demonstrated that the brain training in BrainHQ drives improvement in more ways than other types of cognitive exercise.

But training your brain isn’t just about making improvements to it. It’s also about improving how your brain controls other parts of your body, notes Dr. Merzenich. In fact, researchers are looking into the effects of brain exercises on everything from balance to mental health.

“If you want to live a long, healthy life, you have to sustain basic brain health,” Dr. Merzenich says.

Smiling women on a beach
Want to get more great articles on brain health?

Sign up for our brain fitness newsletter and get research-backed tips and activities delivered straight to your inbox.

How to train your brain like a pro

So now that it’s clear why a regular brain training regimen can work for you, how do you get started with BrainHQ? You have a few options.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, for example, you may have access to BrainHQ at no additional cost (find out if you’re eligible). You can feel confident that BrainHQ is a program with proven benefits and results. And it comes packed with dozens of science-backed brain exercises, each tailored to your own personal skill level.

Exercises are broken into bite-sized, two-minute sessions — the type you can do while waiting at the auto-body shop or for your morning coffee to brew. (Hey, if you get hooked, you might find the mechanic tapping you on the shoulder, telling you your car’s done!) For good results, aim to do the exercises at least three times a week for 30 minutes a session.

Brain HQ’s team of top neuroscientists has built each program to focus on a different set of brain function goals. And the programs are adaptive. So whether your brain is sharp as a pin or you’re just starting to forget your keys or conversations, they’re personalized and always just right for you. Some of these goals include improving your:

  • Attention span
  • Driving
  • Hearing
  • People skills
  • Memory

“This is a training strategy that’s sensitive to what you are and are not good at,” Dr. Merzenich says. “It adapts and adjusts to the level of performance you’re at and then drives you to a higher level.”

How training your brain can improve your life

When you start exercising your body regularly, you begin to see results. You might notice that your jeans fit better or you’re less out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs.

The same thing happens when you train your brain. Take BrainHQ’s “Focus on Driving” course, for example. Let’s say you were out for a supermarket run and got into a minor fender bender. It happened because you weren’t able to react so well when another car pulled out in front of you.

One aspect of the course exercises your “useful field of vision.” That refers to what you can see straight ahead and in your peripheral vision and how fast you can see it. The goal of this part of the course is to speed up how fast you might notice that other car so you can apply your brakes in time to avoid that dent. And there’s proof that this BrainHQ program works: The ACTIVE study showed that using BrainHQ brain exercises cuts at-fault car crashes by 48%.

So the next time you’re out driving, you might notice another car out of the corner of your eye, because your visual system is operating a little more quickly and accurately. And that can help you stay safe on the road.

Of course, there’s a caveat here: Even the best brain workout program, like the best fitness routine, works only if you stick with it. “You have to understand how to incorporate this into your life,” says Dr. Merzenich.

So, start small and work your way up. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Put in a few more minutes at each session. Add a new exercise for variety and challenge. And keep at it.

Your goal: to regularly challenge your brain and improve your cognitive skills. If you keep at it, you won’t just become a more attentive driver with better reaction time. You can also strengthen your memory, be quicker, and have all-around sharper focus. Your brain will thank you.

Looking for more ways to build a healthy brain? Try BrainHQ, a brain-training program designed by leading scientists that rewires the brain to help you think faster, focus better, and remember more. And it may be included at no cost with your Medicare Advantage plan. Check your eligibility today.

Additional resources
Benefits of brain training: BrainHQ
Study on brain training and balance: Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Study on brain training and well-being: Journal of Psychiatric Research
Practical exercises to keep you brain sharp: BrainHQ