Why Should You Do Cognitive Training: An Interview with Professor Falkenstein

Professor Falkenstein is a researcher and physician at the Leibniz Research Centre in Dortmund, Germany. Here he tells us about the PFIFF project, which he’s been conducting for the past four years. The aim of the project is to help older workers stay mentally fit and keep their brain at their maximum.

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Professor Falkenstein
Professor Falkenstein helped
NeuroNation develop a software that can be used in scientific studies, clinics and workplaces, and thanks to his collaboration with NeuroNation, we are able to provide a high-quality 
personalized training with in detail evaluations and a continuous development of even more exercises. We are pleased to interview such a renowned professor here at
NeuroNation
.


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The Interview with Professor Falkenstein

NeuroNation: Hi Professor Falkenstein. To begin with, could you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Prof. Falkenstein: I’m a doctor, psychologist and engineer. My research interests include changes in perception and our brain's condition and development in old age. I have also been researching the factors that can change our brain function, and how to influence these changes in a positive way.

NeuroNation: You started the PFIFF project. Could you briefly explain what the objective of the project was, and why you believe NeuroNation’s exercises can help people take control of their minds?

Prof. Falkenstein: The aim of PFIFF was to measure the cognitive performance of older workers and improve mental deficit areas with NeuroNation’s brain training. The training is engaging, motivating and inexpensive, which is perfect for a training at home.

NeuroNation: Were the findings of the project a surprise?

Prof. Falkenstein: We found that older workers experience unfavourable changes in certain mental functions after years of monotonous work - which was unsurprising. However, it was pleasing to see their mental performance improve with brain training, as the brainwaves of these workers returned to normal after the training - indicating that cognitive deficits were being repaired through the training.

NeuroNation: What can people achieve through cognitive training, and who would you recommend this training to?

Prof. Falkenstein: Many people can improve specific mental functions through a targeted cognitive training. Information processing speed, concentration, attention, and spatial thinking are especially well trainable. Particularly older people who begin to have deficits in these areas significantly benefit from cognitive training.

NeuroNation: What does optimal training look like? What should one pay attention to?

Prof. Falkenstein: Training must be specifically targeted to improve specific cognitive functions, which people are looking to strengthen, and ideally stimulate several of them at once. It must be adaptive and variable, meaning that the level of difficulty during the training should increase as people get better at the exercises.

[In our article 'What is Brain Training Good For' we go into more detail here.]

NeuroNation: In your opinion, which NeuroNation training exercises are particularly helpful in improving cognitive functions?

Prof. Falkenstein: Flash Glance is a very good example of an exercise designed to improve of a number of cognitive areas, including visual search, mental flexibility, information processing speed, psychomotor coordination  and impulse control. Another great exercise is Color Confusion, which stimulates visual search, impulse control, and information processing speed. 

NeuroNation: What does the current research suggest about the future?

Prof. Falkenstein: We’re currently looking to distinguish between areas that can be improved easily through cognitive training and areas that can only be affected on a small scale. In the future we should explore which training parameters can influence results, e.g. the type, intensity and the duration of the training. We also aim to further investigate whether a combination of physical and mental training can lead to better results in cognitive areas than mental training alone.

Cognitive training - on a regular basis - can improve a number of important mental functions. Improved mental functioning goes hand in hand with enhancements in many areas of our everyday life, and can, for example, maintain the independence elderly people want to enjoy.

NeuroNation: Where do you see cognitive training in ten years?

Prof. Falkenstein: Cognitive training will be more common and widespread than it is today, and elderly people in particular will become more accustomed to computer-based brain training. I can also see nursing homes incorporating a more complex cognitive training into their resident's everyday activities, which goes beyond the simple memory games many nursing homes use today. This would also lead to elderly people becoming more familiar with computer-based training.

NeuroNation: Thank you for the interview Professor Falkenstein. It was a pleasure.

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