Rated 5 out of 5 by PBK63 More useful course than reviews indicate
This is a short course and covering a subject like this is going to disappoint some but on the whole I found that it had a number of useful insights. I debated giving it fewer stars in some categories but in view of the number of negative reviews felt it needed more stars in order not to discourage those who might benefit.
As for presentation I did not find it at all condescending but is low key and held my attention more than more dynamic presenters.
The various methods discussed for improving memory do go quickly and not in depth but there are plenty of resources for this for those interested.
Even one or two insights in this course provide enough value to justify spending six hours watching the course. For example, while he recognizes that Alzheimers has a genetic component for the majority without this defect the fact that those with higher levels of education are less prone to the disease is useful as is the fact that those who engage in continuous learning (even if not school based) will tend to help in preventing dementia that all of us fear as we get older.
His comments on technology from internet to television and gaming seemed to me very well balanced pointing out the advantages as well as the disadvantages and dangers. And he backs up his views with his experience in neurology and studies which he discusses in such a conversational tone that sometimes you do not realized until later how much information he has imparted.
Another example relates to E books or on screen reading. I have recently been doing research on why reading E books vs paper books is considerably slower. Studies have supported this disparity and raises issues of whether textbooks in E form are really better for students than the hardback version. My son, a tenured university professor, has noted that virtually all his students have chosen hardback books even when cheaper E versions of textbooks are available. Dr. Restak gives another reason for choosing paper versions and that is that studies are showing that learning is enhanced when using paper books versus E books. My son tells me that studies are also showing that classroom students tend to pass their courses at least 85% of the time versus only 15% for on line or other E style learning. While there may be various reasons for this result it may also involve the deficiencies of E reading. Do not take this as meaning I am opposed to E reading because I do that as well as reading hard and paperback books. And on line courses serve a useful purpose especially for highly motivated students. But it is good to know the limitations.
Another area discussed is gaming and advantages and dangers of excessive gaming. Once more I found his approach well balanced. For those with young children or grandchildren faced with more and more technology understanding what helps and what may negatively affect brain development and what may actually be dangerous is worth knowing.
While I understand the view of some who have given negative reviews to this course I found it surprisingly useful even though it can only skim the surface in 12 lectures.
For those having an interest in the subject I hope you are not discouraged from ordering this course. It is one of several courses that I plan to watch again in the future.
December 3, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by jaysjc Fascinating and useful information...
Dr. Restak is a fine speaker, with a soothing manner and voice. He is obviously someone who knows his field backwards and forwards, and is able to explain it to us very well. I really enjoyed all twelve lectures, and was surprised by some of the topics he discussed (such as "emotional memory") and I learned a lot. I knew nothing about this field before, watched the entire lecture series twice, one lecture per day, and I took notes.
His long list of possible activities for us to use to increase or retain mental sharpness and "cognitive reserve", from learning math, playing card games with friends, to writing a letter to an earlier you from years ago, and trying to
remember the events that led to how a run was scored in a baseball game (or a goal in a hockey game) are amazing and varied. There are lots of activities - enough for anyone to have some interesting ones to choose from. Note to instructor: I'm not sure I'll ever to able to juggle!
May I suggest that when you watch these lectures, you relax and accept the lectures for what they are meant to be? If you can't accept, or sit still to listen to a lecturer over the age of 65, then you will lose out. If you worry about a little relaxing background noise rather than the message, then you will lose out. If you worry about the lecturer looking briefly at another camera, then you will lose out. If you are young and therefore not worried about Alzheimer's disease yet, then you will not understand why these lectures are so valuable. If you worry
that someone else in the country may know more about this subject than Dr. Restak, then you will lose out. I think the 20 books he has written about the human brain, and his fine speaking ability, more than qualifies him to be the lecturer of this course.
I urge you to pay attention to the many techniques and activities Dr. Restak mentions in these lecture, and try some that sound like fun.
December 16, 2011
Rated 5 out of 5 by Michelle Everyday Tips & Tricks for "USING it or LOSING it"
This course was so entertaining that I think I will watch it again. Dr. Restak teaches creative and playful "tricks" to exercise your brain on a daily basis. I've already used several of the "brain exercises" with friends and at other social gatherings, and I'm (all of a sudden) the life of the party! As Dr. Restak points out: that you're taking the first step by trying to learn something new by watching this course, and he is there to teach you how to keep your mind alive once the course is finished.
September 17, 2011
Rated 5 out of 5 by Tiger Fun for the whole family
I was very impressed with this new addition to TGC’s offerings current inventory on the brain. It is quite different from the other two courses (by Professors Norden and Wang). This one is much simpler to understand because it leaves out much of the jargon, the physical intricacies of neuroscience (neurons, dendrites, synapses, etc.), and details about how the brain functions. Instead it focuses on highly practical activities or games to build a bigger, better brain.
In short, this course is about enriching your environment and lifestyle to optimize brain development; it’s appropriate for many ages; and the best part, there are many exercises to try with friends and family right after each lecture.
Each lecture is introduced with a brief introduction to the topic (memory, senses, attention, creativity, etc.). It’s only a couple of minutes and you don’t need any background info about it because of the visuals. The technical aspect of the course is pretty much limited to “working memory utilizes the frontal lobes” and then nifty 3D visuals highlight the frontal lobes. Then you move on to a short summary of related experiments or research, many of which are very interesting. In most lectures, about 10- 15 minutes of each lecture is devoted to practical exercises, usually at least 3-4 of them, to toughen up the brain.
Regarding the mental exercises, if you haven’t done them before, they can be embarrassingly difficult and you’ll feel intellectually challenged as you slowly fumble through spelling words backwards, do digit-span exercises to improve working memory, answer brain teasers, and recall information from pictures and other media. I did anyway. Guess I need more practice!
Dr Restak gives a measured lecture. He isn’t very animated in the way of gestures or body language, but he’s more than adequate in his delivery. At times he uses some props like coins and cards. In the second half we start to learn more about Dr Restack and his family and cooking habits. I like it when TGC professors personalize content because I connect better with them. And the large number of visuals, animations, and movie clips mean the lecture’s over before you know it.
My favorite lectures were on disc 2 because they were a bit more cognitively fulfilling. The lectures on creativity, peak performance, and technology were excellent. And I loved the story about F1 racer Juan Manuel Fangio. The lecture on Technology is especially important given the direction of education and the ubiquity of iPads, the Internet, and video games. It's really something to think about.
I don’t have any big complaints. 1) There was a faint humming sound throughout as if the microphone was too sensitive and picked up the air vent. 2) Stock photos—way too many generic pics (but impressively, they are equal opportunity photos representing various ages, races, and genders).
Optimizing Brain Fitness is definitely worth the time and money. And I highly recommend the exercises--they’re fun.
May 1, 2011