Shouldn’t Everyone and Wine Professionals Learn Neurobics? (Short Piece #1)

I read a very interesting book by Katz and Rubin “Keep Your Brain Alive” which I recommend to everyone. My volume was 1999 edition and if I find newer editions, I expect to give this book as a gift many times in near future. Brain is an important muscle that receives little attention unless a medical issue arises. Humans do very little consciously to take care of the brain. The interesting fact is brain regenerates itself beyond what is culturally believed.

Neurobics exercises (termed after aerobics exercise for the heart) for the brain require us to use our five senses, and emotions as the sixth sense, in novel ways. Information is stored by building networks in the brain. Visual information has huge networks because we rely on our sight much. Brain likes to form associations between different kinds of information. Our brain links to events, people and places and the links are the associations. Humans learn and remember by associating to what one already knows and has in store. Information is usually associated with one sense and Neurobics exercises teach us to tag information with more than one sense. For example, when you meet someone new, close your eyes and shake hands. Your brain lacks the visual information for remembering that person but will try to remember touch, smell and sounds. This will be hard at first but in time, the brain builds networks for these non-visual sensory information and become very adept. The eye closing forces brain to exercise and make new networks for remembering. Brain loves novelty but Neurobics requires novel things to happen properly. If you write with a pen, the switching to a pencil will not qualify as a Neurobics activity but the switching from one hand to another hand for writing does qualify as a Neurobics exercise.

Neurobics has three requirements for an activity to qualify as a proper exercise: 1. The use of one or more of the senses in a novel way such as putting your clothes on with your eyes closed to use other senses only. 2. The breaking of your routines such as taking a new route to work. 3. The engaging of your attention to what you are doing such as turning the photos on your desk upside down to stimulate your brain and build new networks. I have tried a few examples myself already. Brushing with the left hand, showering with my eyes closed, and walking with my eyes closed. I learned a few things by walking blind. I have a built-in limit in absence of the visual cues to navigate. I knew how far the path was clear but after eight seconds of blind walking, I felt stressed and had to stop. The path had not changed and I was unable to navigate using non-visual cues (sounds, smells, etc.) and was sure I was about to collide with something because I could not see. For the next attempt, I pushed passed eight seconds threshold but felt stressed again at 14 seconds. The path had not changed again and this limit was internal. I now know I use visual cues too much for navigating and could not navigate for more than a few seconds by using sound and other senses but the barrier is easy to cross by increasing it.

Many other exercises exist and the best ongoing lifetime exercise is social activity. The brain receives good Neurobics exercise by being active socially and this becomes more decisive as we get older. An interesting exercise is learning Braille to force brain into making new networks. A casual but ongoing exercise is visiting farmer’s markets, ethnic markets and specialty stores to learn to identify foods by smell and touch rather than seeing them. Neurobics is a system of activities to help the brain rebuild itself and use the existing networks. The proper application of techniques ensure results at any age and the system works by regular use. The system not only keeps the brain healthy in prevention of illnesses but also makes the mind stronger. Some professionals will have additional benefits: A person specializing in wine tasting will find the blind exercises will in time build many strong networks that an average person lacks. These networks will be extremely sensitive to and able to recognize smells (and sounds, etc.) which will make very competent wine professionals in this one area. Overall, the learning of this simple system is a great investment of time at any age.

*This post is from this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush


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