Archive for the ‘Make My Brain Better’ Category

Make My Brain Better Project – Create Amazing

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

I’m taking a ten week long philosophy class about how our thoughts create our reality.  While I’ve lived by this premise for much of my life, it’s fascinating to do a directed study for ten weeks on this topic.   Almost 15 years ago I did something similar and it was an eye opening experience.   I wanted to stretch my mind and think about my current realities in more disciplined and organized ways.   What better way to do that then to take a course in a topic I only usually practice on my own.   One of the assignments the first week was to create a journal.   Since one purpose of the journal is to check in with yourself, I designed a create amazing check in radiator.

This is my Create Amazing weekly check in radiator.   If our thoughts create our reality why not create an AMAZING reality in all areas of life?

This is my Create Amazing weekly check in radiator. If our thoughts create our reality why not create an AMAZING reality in all areas of life?

Make My Brain Better – Gist Reasoning and Sniffing out a Scam

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

So I’m looking for ways to do “Gist Reasoning” training as they discussed in the Aging Brains research and I stumbled across this paper: Gist Reasoning in Adults with Traumatic Brain Injury.

Fascinating. Here is why they wanted to study Gist Reasoning in Adults with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

“The effects of TBI on gist-reasoning abilities have not been studied in adult TBI populations. The gist-reasoning metric may help elucidate the disparity between regaining near normal general intellectual functioning yet persistent difficulties on functional tasks that necessitate higher-order reasoning skills (e.g., communicating coherent and well-formed messages ideas during a job interview without dwelling on extraneous and irrelevant details)”

I do have a tendency to go off on tangents – and in a huge way (i.e. writing about my brain on a foodie blog). I was once described as a balloon that you blow up, and then let it go before tying it off (it bounces all over the place). But it’s not just tangents in talking, it’s tangents in major lifestyle choices. I am an opportunist and everything I do is totally “defensible” and understandable to me, but I’m also like this dog that goes off after the next interesting squirrel. Could this be because of my TBI?

The question I still have – how do I get Gist Reasoning training? They did say in this study that they cannot improve memory and attention with Gist Reasoning training – but this is what the HBOT, Neurofeedback, and brain training games like Luminosity are for.

Maybe my “Gist Reasoning” is improving though as I am able to better discern when someone approaches me with an “offer” where they are stroking my ego but where they are trying to get me to make a huge marketing spend. We got a call last week from a group called 21st Century Business. They were supposedly a news show hosted by Donald Trump Jr and they were interested in having me on their show. As they put it in a conversation with my assistant yesterday, they were interviewing Project Management training companies to do a series on how businesses need Project Management. And I was under consideration for one of their businesses. Yes I was flattered.

Jody (my blogging side kick) asked a basic question – how did they get your name? And what has this producer done before? So I started to do a little digging. The company is out of Boca Raton, Florida. Hmmmmm – smells like a similar thing I did with Norman Schwartzkopf in 2007 in Boca Raton. This prestigious “interview” ended up costing me close to $40,000 (we had to do a retake). I watched some of the 21st Century Business “news clips” on You Tube. Their show supposedly runs on Fox News and the Bloomberg Channel. Interesting, the Schwartzkopf gig was on CNBC. Their news stories looked very similar to what they were doing on the Schwartzkopf show – almost identical. My assistant called back this morning to find out if their “interview” cost anything and then she was told, well yes, it cost $19000. Wow, high price to pay for that type of flattery. We took a pass.

Yes I learned a lot doing the Schwartzkopf interview – but it was because we had to do a retake and I hired a fantastic media coach, Joyce Newman (who had nothing to do with their show). This media coaching has come in handy for the more real interviews with the media. But overall was this high priced interview with a highly decorated Army general worth it? Not from a marketing return on investment perspective, it was not. For the lessons I learned because of hiring Joyce Newman, yes it was worth it.

Based on my retrospective of this situation, could my working memory be improving so I’m able to make better decisions? My rule of thumb is the less we spend on marketing the better our results. I’ve never had to pay for media when we have a compelling message and a good PR team. It just rubs me wrong to pay for media “interviews” – even if it’s with The “Don” Jr.


To find out more about Michelle’s incredible journey to make her brain better, visit The VacaGourmet

Make My Brain Better – Strategy-Based Cognitive Training Improves Aging Brains

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Michelle LaBrosse, PMP

I’ve been doing the brain training game Lumosity on my Iphone over the past two weeks. My Brain Performance Indicator has risen from about 40% to 80% since I started. What is even more important, I am getting their marketing emails. One Lumosity email referenced a press release issued by the Center for Brain Health at the University of Dallas . It highlights their research on how to improve the cognitive functioning of aging adults. Part of their research included what they called “Strategy-Based Cognitive Training” (which is not the same training done with Lumosity). Now granted I do think it’s impressive my brain performance indicator on the Lumosity system doubled over two weeks, but I don’t think it has activated my healing pre-frontal cortex or temporal lobes to that same level over these past two weeks.


I downloaded the research paper they had published in the Cerebral Cortex called “Neural Mechanisms of Brain Plasticity with Complex Cognitive Training in Healthy Seniors.” (Seeing this title, my first thought was thank god they had a marketing communication specialist writing their blog that became the basis of the press release Lumosity used). The “Strategy-Based Cognitive Training” they did is detailed in this paragraph from their research paper:

“Gist reasoning training is strategy-based rather than content specific and entails a systematic use of 3 cognitive processes including strategic attention, integrated reasoning, and innovation to process all types of data. The gist reasoning training involved topdown cognitive control of complex information that is maintained, manipulated and synthesized into abstracted meanings (Anand et al.2011). Cognitive control processes entailed in gist reasoning have been associated with frontal lobe networks and nodes within both the CEN and DMN (Nichelli et al. 1995; Chapman et al. 2005; Chen et al. 2006). Specifically, the program trained individuals to continually synthesize meanings and goals (i.e., gist reasoning) integral to information encountered in everyday life across a multitude of contents (e.g., medical information, investment information, movies, lectures, newspaper articles, travel highlights). Training also involved practice of innovative thinking by generating diverse interpretations as well as a wide variety of ways to approach or solve a task at hand, whether work or leisure related. Participants were taught to consolidate and incorporate the 3 cognitive processes as often as possible within the context of their own life activities and goals, whether during training, in real life, or in one’s own internal thought processes, to train a habit of thinking about information and tasks at hand. The training was delivered by a trained expert in small groups (n ≤ 5) of one 1-h session per week (hours = 12). Additionally, each participant worked individually at home without supervision for 2 additional 1-h sessions per week for 12 weeks (hours logged = 24). Record logs of time and assignment completion were kept for the individual work with feedback from trainers on performance.”

WOW that is a complicated. So what I got from this is – I need to:

1. Set goals and articulate why I’m setting that goal based on the meanings I’m making from various stimulus I’m reading, hearing, sensing or in some way recalling.

2. Develop innovative ways of interpreting information I encounter in my day to day life and become conscious of habituated interpretations and belief structures that may impact my in the moment interpretations. So when I am hearing new news, stop and make a conscious effort to check in with how I feel about it, why I feel that way, and different ways I could feel about the information.

3. Approach day in and day out tasks with creative approaches to achieve what I want to achieve and not keep doing things the same way I always have – and especially to not give up when I get frustrated.

I will be finding some resources trained in this “Gist Reasoning Training” as I’m sure there may be more to it than what I have outlined above. I’m excited there is actually a program I can follow that will improve my cognitive abilities once my brain is fully healed.


To find out more about Michelle’s incredible journey to make her brain better, visit The VacaGourmet