Memory is emphasized above all else in Brainercize™ because memory is the mother of all brain functions. Whenever anything goes wrong with the brain, memory is the first system that is affected. Any fluctuation in mental state – depression, anxiety, stress – will negatively impact on the brain’s memory systems. Similarly, following brain injury, memory is often lost.
The brain uses different strategies to store and retrieve data. There are several exercises we do for memory, but there is one exercise that stands head and shoulders above all others. It is called sequential processing, and it is core to our entire program. Most commonly, sequential processing is evaluated through the administration of a quicktest of digit span capacity. Digit span is the measure of how many digits can be taken in through the eyes or ears and repeated in correct order. It is a memory test, asking the performer to utilize a specific memory system in the brain that we call short-term memory. It is performed most simply in the form of a tester saying 3 to 7 numbers at one-second intervals, and asking the applicant to repeat back the numbers.
Digit span is an accurate representation of our ability to process information because it directly measures the capacity we have in our auditory and visual short-term memory systems. Used in this way, digit span is thought to give one measure of innate intellectual ability. Sequential processing is included in all IQ tests because numerous research projects have documented that the ability to repeat random items back (usually numbers) is highly correlated with intelligence.
In Brainercize™, we use the sequential processing ability as a diagnostic indicator, as it has been used classically for several decades. But we also use it as a tool, an exercise that actually improves cognitive skills. All of our clients do our sequential processing exercises – from those who are highly gifted to those who are cognitively impaired. The training we give in sequential processing elicits blood flow to the areas of the brain that are crucial for memory.