This blog will also be about some personal improvement, which is mostly in the mental aspect.
This isn't to be taken as "gospel" for a healthy growth in ability, but charting what I (an Amateur in this field as well) have found to work for me, and possibly others I know who've tried it.
Our first schema: Short-term memory.
I had thought I'd start my logs with my worst vice, procrastination, but that is a LONG road to walk. One step at a time now.
I've had problems remembering things in the short-term; people's names, important numbers (parking, serial, anything I don't get to choose for a password or location), a lot of things, unless I really made an effort to repeat it at least 3 times aloud. It rarely happens to me anymore, and here is why I think that is.
I believe your mind/brain (from here on mind) is like your muscles: Parts of it are meant for certain tasks, and though you may for instance, exercise your legs/feet, it won't help your arms or trunk. Well, I think the Mind is just like that, parts are for planning, memory, logic, art, math, writing, you name it. You may be familiar with right brain/left brain writings, but I think this isn't part of that, necessarily.
A couple of years ago, I borrowed my friend's Nintendo DS, because he wanted me to try this brain training game. I got bored with all the easy math and right brain/left brain stuff in it, but then hit a game similar to this:
Same sound effects, actually, I wouldn't be surprised if this were a computer trial of the game itself, but since it's in Japanese, I'll never know.
The rules are you see the numbers, and then click them in the order low to high (the game on Brain Age 1 on Nintendo DS is called "Low to High" by the way).
With each successful sweep, it'll add another number. Remember, it's not just where the 1, 2, 3 and 4 are, it could have 1, 9, 6, 4 and 3 on there and you'd have to click the right order: 1, 3, 4, 6, 9.
At first, I played it and could only get 3 numbers (on the DS, I saw this in an e-mail, and it reminded me of how much it helped), but I became slightly possessed about it, I hated losing, yes, but I could feel that something was... shall I say... waking up in my skull. I never considered myself stupid (or smart for that matter), but it's entirely possible I let an important part of my Mind slip into atrophy like this, only to be reawoken by this after several years of bad short term memory.
I started to remember people's names, and after I had trained on this every day for 3 months (I missed a couple days, but eh), I could remember people's phone numbers WITHOUT pen/paper, and without reciting it into a song/poem and reciting it 3+ times... I'd say that's progress, but I remember (haha) that I started to retain things much better.
The way I THINK it works is that this game makes you more perceptive when you decide to be. Remember, you only get 2 seconds to look at all the numbers, that's how long it takes to say someone's name. I think whatever part of your mind "opens up" to new information is exercised in this part, and the retaining part is in how well you can remember the sequence.
This was two years ago and my memory's been better since... so if you think it can help you (remember, it's not 2 straight hours of this right now and then never again, it's maybe a few minutes everyday), you may as well give the link I put up a try, it's in Japanese, but I liked hitting each bubble on the Nintendo DS better.
I'm not advocating going out and buying a video game system just for this, which is why I decided to spend a few minutes finding the "free" version, which I think gets the job done just the same. I make no guarantees, but it sure helped me, I have many of these logs to write, so this isn't a one-time thing, I hope.
One last note, the number that appears after you're "done" (when you've done 9 waves or so, I think) with each session is how old your brain is, the closer to 20 the better apparently. Just letting you know in case you think your score is getting worse with time. Also, don't let the score get you down, if anything it can show maybe that you're tired, but keep at it and you will improve!
Let me know what you think!