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Wednesday, August 22, 2007How To Enhance Your Brain Power With Playing Online Game
Happy Neuron claims its games can help strengthen five major cognitive functions of the brain and ward off dementia.
There are a lot of worse things you could use the Internet for than playing games, but most of them still couldn’t be called “productive.” A company called Happy Neuron is trying to change that with a series of online games they claim can strengthen five major cognitive brain functions while you play.
According to the company, which is headed by cognitive psychologist Dr. Michel Noir, simple calculations can help alleviate systems of dementia by activating large regions of the brain. The 25 games developed by Happy Neuron were designed to simulate those quick calculations.
“Baby boomers are entering a time in their lives where they are looking to stay strong both physically and mentally,” said Noir, in a statement. “After years of research, we developed our brain fitness programs to help with mental agility and are confident that our games provide the best cognitive exercises available online.”
Happy Neuron’s games claim to improve memory, attention, language, executive functions (like logic), as well as visual and spatial processing. A personal “coach” compares your progress to other players of the same age, gender and education level, as well as pointing out areas for improvement.
New players will get a seven-day free trial of Happy Neuron’s offerings, but after that they are accessible for a monthly fee of $9.95 or annual fee of $99.95.
So you're between the ages of 13 and 24. What makes you happy? A worried, weary parent might imagine the answer to sound something like this: Sex, drugs, a little rock 'n' roll. Maybe some cash, or at least the car keys.
Turns out the real answer is quite different. Spending time with family was the top answer to that open-ended question, according to an extensive survey — more than 100 questions asked of 1,280 people ages 13-24 — conducted by The Associated Press and MTV on the nature of happiness among America's young people.
Next was spending time with friends, followed by time with a significant other. And even better for parents: Nearly three-quarters of young people say their relationship with their parents makes them happy.
"They're my foundation," says Kristiana St. John, 17, a high-school student from Queens in New York. "My mom tells me that even if I do something stupid, she's still going to love me no matter what. Just knowing that makes me feel very happy and blessed."
Other results are more disconcerting. While most young people are happy overall with the way their lives are going, there are racial differences: the poll shows whites to be happier, across economic categories, than blacks and Hispanics. A lot of young people feel stress, particularly those from the middle class, and females more than males.
You might think money would be clearly tied to a general sense of happiness. But almost no one said "money" when asked what makes them happy, though people with the highest family incomes are generally happier with life. However, having highly educated parents is a stronger predictor of happiness than income.
And sex? Yes, we were getting to that. Being sexually active actually leads to less happiness among 13-17 year olds, according to the survey. If you're 18 to 24, sex might lead to more happiness in the moment, but not in general.
From the body to the soul: Close to half say religion and spirituality are very important. And more than half say they believe there is a higher power that has an influence over things that make them happy. Beyond religion, simply belonging to an organized religious group makes people happier.
And parents, here's some more for you: Most young people in school say it makes them happy. Overwhelmingly, young people think marriage would make them happy and want to be married some day. Most also want to have kids.
Finally, when asked to name their heroes, nearly half of respondents mentioned one or both of their parents. The winner, by a nose: Mom.
HAPPINESS IS ...
"...two kinds of ice cream," according to the song from "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." John Lennon, more darkly, described it as a warm gun. A much more typical description comes from Stacy Rosales, a 23-year-old recent college graduate, who calls it "just a general stress-free feeling where I'm not really worried about anything. That makes me happy."
For Chad Fiedler, 17, it's "just waking up in the morning and looking forward to what I'm going to be doing that day." And for Esohe Roland, a 14 year old from Nashville, it's "playing trumpet in my school band."
However you express, define or feel it, 65 percent of those surveyed say they're happy with the way things are going for them right now.
WE ARE FAMILY:
When asked what one thing makes them most happy, 20 percent mentioned spending time with family more than anything else. About three-quarters — 73 percent — said their relationship with their parents makes them happy. After family, it was relationships with friends that people mentioned most.
"It's good news to hear young people being realistic about what really makes them happy," says psychologist Jean Twenge, author of "Generation Me" and a professor at San Diego State University. "Research has shown us that relationships are the single greatest source of happiness."
Also confirming existing research, Twenge says, is the finding that children of divorced parents are somewhat less likely to be happy. Among 13-17 year olds, 64 percent of those with parents still together said they wake up happy, compared to 47 percent of those with divorced parents.
FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES...:
Overall, romantic relationships are a source of happiness, but being in one doesn't necessarily lead to greater happiness with life in general.
Alex Kurzem came to Australia in 1949 carrying just a small brown briefcase, but weighed down by some harrowing psychological and emotional baggage.
Tucked away in his briefcase were the secrets of his past - fragments of his life that he kept hidden for decades.
Black and white image of young Alex Kurzem in uniform, sitting on a soldier's knee
Alex was forced to keep his Jewish identity hidden
In 1997, after raising a family in Melbourne with his Australian bride, he finally revealed himself. He told how, at the age of five, he had been adopted by the SS and became a Nazi mascot.
His personal history, one of the most remarkable stories to emerge from World War II, was published recently in a book entitled The Mascot.
"They gave me a uniform, a little gun and little pistol," Alex told the BBC.
"They gave me little jobs to do - to polish shoes, carry water or light a fire. But my main job was to entertain the soldiers. To make them feel a bit happier."
In newsreels, he was paraded as 'the Reich's youngest Nazi' and he witnessed some unspeakable atrocities.
But his SS masters never discovered the most essential detail about his life: their little Nazi mascot was Jewish.
"They didn't know that I was a Jewish boy who had escaped a Nazi death squad. They thought I was a Russian orphan."
His story starts where his childhood memories begin - in a village in Belarus on 20 October 1941, the day it was invaded by the German army.
Black and white image of young Alex Kurzem in uniform
When the shooting stopped I had no idea where to go so I went to live in the forests, because I couldn't go back. I was the only one left
"I remember the German army invading the village, lining up all the men in the city square and shooting them. My mother told me that my father had been killed, and that we would all be killed."
"I didn't want to die, so in the middle of the night I tried to escape. I went to kiss my mother goodbye, and ran up into the hill overlooking the village until the morning came."
That was the day his family was massacred - his mother, his brother, his sister.
"I was very traumatised. I remember biting my hand so I couldn't cry out loud, because if I did they would have seen me hiding in the forest. I can't remember exactly what happened. I think I must have passed out a few times. It was terrible."
"When the shooting stopped I had no idea where to go so I went to live in the forests, because I couldn't go back. I was the only one left. I must have been five or six."
"I went into the forest but no-one wanted me. I knocked on peoples' doors and they gave me bits of bread but they told me to move on. Nobody took me in."
He survived by scavenging clothes from the bodies of dead soldiers.
After about nine months in the forest, a local man handed him over to the Latvian police brigade, which later became incorporated in the Nazi SS.
That very day, people were being lined up for execution, and Alex thought he, too, was about to die.
"There was a soldier near me and I said, 'Before you kill me, can you give me a bit of bread?' He looked at me, and took me around the back of the school. He examined me and saw that I was Jewish. "No good, no good," he said. 'Look I don't want to kill, but I can't leave you here because you will perish.
"'I'll take you with me, give you a new name and tell the other soldiers that you are a Russian orphan.'"