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Discover the secrets to increasing your brain's power to meet everyday challenges and enhance your life with Optimizing Brain Fitness. Delivered by Dr. Richard Restak, an award-winning teacher and practicing neurologist, this engaging 12-lecture course shows you how to take advantage of the basic principles of brain operation and build the brain you want to live with for the rest of your life.

The Great Courses Signature Collection
1 Season, 12 Episodes
April 18, 2011
Cast: Richard Restak
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Optimizing Brain Fitness Full Episode Guide

  • Professor Restak concludes his course with ways to immediately start optimizing your brain fitness. These include trying new and unexpected things, learning in an informal and self-directed manner, keeping things in perspective, opting to prioritize instead of multitask, developing an appreciation for art and music, and--surprisingly--preparing home-cooked meals.

  • Take a closer look at the impact of modern technology on how our brains function. You'll explore the positive and negative effects of electronic journals, personal computers, and more--with a lengthy discussion on the impact of one of today's most powerful and controversial influences on brain function: video games.

  • Exceptional performers aren't born with "superior brains." Rather, anyone--thanks to brain plasticity--can achieve high performance levels in an area of interest through deliberate practice. Focus here on two aspects of deliberate practice: remaining fully aware of what you're doing, and concentrating on the most difficult aspects of your performance.

  • Turn now to an aspect of memory we don't usually consider when thinking about the subject: emotional memory. How did scientists uncover this specific aspect of memory? How does it actually work? And what kinds of playful exercises can you perform to help you relive the emotional experience of your past?

  • Imaginative memory techniques--such as mnemonic devices and personal associations--have been used to improve memory for over 1,000 years. Try your hand at some of them right here, including "chunking" numbers to aid in number recall, creating a vivid story to memorize words, drawing free-form designs, and playing mental chess.

  • Focus now on working memory--the most important memory process of all and one that involves manipulating stored information. After an overview of the topic, dive into a series of engaging exercises that use your creativity, your powers of observation, and your heightened awareness to enhance and improve your working memory.

  • In the first of three lectures devoted to memory, Dr. Restak proves just how essential memory is to your brain's optimal functioning. After surveying the details of memory and its roots in the hippocampus, learn ways to sharpen your sense memory and augment both your short-term and long-term general memory.

  • The basis of improving your memory: focusing your attention. Here, explore a range of topics, including the physiological effects of attention on your brain; the dangers of inattention; the benefits of enhanced attention; multitasking; exercises to improve your sustained attention, divided attention, and processing speed; and much more.

  • What's the connection between daydreaming and creativity? What are four steps for increasing your creativity? Which puzzles are the best for optimizing your brain function--and how can you more efficiently solve them? Learn the answers to these and other questions in this fascinating lecture on creativity and the brain.

  • You can optimize your brain function by paying attention to three key habits: what you eat, how well you sleep, and how much you exercise. Ponder the science behind this three-pronged approach to caring for your brain, and come away with helpful tips you can apply to your own lifestyle.

  • Your brain and your intelligence can change throughout your life span. Here, look closer at the way changes in your brain can improve the way you function in your day-to-day life. Also, explore how a series of visual, sensory, and spatial exercises demonstrate the powerful effects of brain plasticity.

  • In order to best optimize your brain fitness, it's important to understand how the brain's circuitry works. After a brief introduction to the course, Professor Restak guides you through a range of intriguing topics, including the principles of brain operation, the organization of the brain, patterns of brain growth, and more.

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