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Optimizing Brain Fitness

Tap into your hidden mental potential and increase your brain's performance in memory, focus, creativity, and more using research-based exercises rooted in neuroscience.
Optimizing Brain Fitness is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 181.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing This course seemed uneven to me. The first half of the course is a good introduction on how the brain works. It is not overly technical although it does deal with important neurological concepts. Unfortunately, some lectures in the second half of the course are essentially a collage of memory parlor tricks. To be fair, what I call “parlor tricks” are presented by Dr. Restak as exercises to “optimize” the brain (hence the title of the course). How can I memorize a long list of numbers or words? Is that why I bought this course? Although Dr. Restak had assembled important and well-organized concepts (particularly in the first half of the course), these concepts are somewhat dulled by Dr. Restak’s drab, almost monotonic, presentation style. The course guide is below average by TGC standards. It is written in narrative format (as opposed to bullet or outline format). There was only one useful graphic in the course guide, a high level map of the brain. There were about four pages for each lecture, which is a little on the low end. There is a bibliography but most reference list just the reference and do not describe what value the reference provides. There is no glossary, which is surprising considering the highly technical nature of the subject. I used the video version of the course. While there were useful visual graphics, they were not essential. It was possible to listen to the course in audio-only mode. The course was published in 2011.
Date published: 2023-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great invitation Very helpful, much broader explanations and presentations than Tony Buzan's.
Date published: 2023-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great info but not for me. Interesting professor and content but I couldn't take repeatedly hearing about the animal studies. Call me a snowflake, but I find the use of animals in labs to be heinous. I know it happens, just don't want to hear about it. And yes, I'm vegan.
Date published: 2023-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good easy to listen to narrator. Good course that answers a lot of questions I had about the brain.
Date published: 2022-10-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Most interesting Not at all what I expected but I really enjoyed this course and feel I have benefited from the information therein.
Date published: 2022-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic lectures One of the best courses I ever took, just to think that our brain improves itself as we moved and learn and exercise it, as long as we follow and exercised it, it actually grows! and changes as we training it, As I read and follow the exercises I feel the the change in myself, memory etc. very happy I bought it
Date published: 2021-11-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing Not a lot of useful info. Kind of a waste of time.
Date published: 2021-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very stimulating I greatly enjoyed this course. Well put together. Organized. Lots of simple brain exercises. Several vignettes and tidbits of information which I found very intriguing. Wonderful course.
Date published: 2021-05-04
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Discover the secrets to increasing your brain's power to meet everyday challenges and enhance your life with Optimizing Brain Fitness. This engaging 12-lecture course shows you how to take advantage of the basic principles of brain operation and build the brain you want to live with for the rest of your life. Delivered by Dr. Richard Restak, an award-winning teacher and practicing neurologist, these lectures are packed with vital information and research-based exercises you can perform every day to tap into your hidden mental potential.


Richard Restak

We create new patterns of brain organization based on what we see, what we do, what we imagine, and what we learn. Learning something new establishes pathways consisting of millions of brain cells.


The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Dr. Richard Restak is Clinical Professor of Neurology at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He earned his M.D. from Georgetown University School of Medicine and completed his postgraduate training and residency at St. Vincent's Hospital, Georgetown University Hospital, and The George Washington University Hospital. Professor Restak also maintains an active private practice in neurology and neuropsychiatry in Washington, DC. Professor Restak's awards include the Chicago Neurosurgical Center's Decade of the Brain Award and Georgetown University Medical School's Linacre Medal for Humanity and Medicine. A former president of the American Neuropsychiatric Association, Professor Restak is the prolific author of 20 books on the human brain-4 of which were chosen as Main Selections of the Book of the Month Club-as well as numerous articles in national newspapers, including The New York Times and USA Today. Professor Restak has delivered lectures on neurology to prestigious institutions and associations around the world, including NASA, the National Security Agency, the CIA, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Brookings Institute.

By This Professor

Optimizing Brain Fitness
Optimizing Brain Fitness


How Your Brain Works

01: How Your Brain Works

In order to best optimize your brain fitness, it's important to understand how the brain's circuitry works. After a brief introduction to the course, Professor Restak guides you through a range of intriguing topics, including the principles of brain operation, the organization of the brain, patterns of brain growth, and more.

33 min
How Your Brain Changes

02: How Your Brain Changes

Your brain and your intelligence can change throughout your life span. Here, look closer at the way changes in your brain can improve the way you function in your day-to-day life. Also, explore how a series of visual, sensory, and spatial exercises demonstrate the powerful effects of brain plasticity.

30 min
Care and Feeding of the Brain

03: Care and Feeding of the Brain

You can optimize your brain function by paying attention to three key habits: what you eat, how well you sleep, and how much you exercise. Ponder the science behind this three-pronged approach to caring for your brain, and come away with helpful tips you can apply to your own lifestyle.

28 min
Creativity and the Playful Brain

04: Creativity and the Playful Brain

What's the connection between daydreaming and creativity? What are four steps for increasing your creativity? Which puzzles are the best for optimizing your brain function-and how can you more efficiently solve them? Learn the answers to these and other questions in this fascinating lecture on creativity and the brain.

31 min
Focusing Your Attention

05: Focusing Your Attention

The basis of improving your memory: focusing your attention. Here, explore a range of topics, including the physiological effects of attention on your brain; the dangers of inattention; the benefits of enhanced attention; multitasking; exercises to improve your sustained attention, divided attention, and processing speed; and much more.

32 min
Enhancing Your Memory

06: Enhancing Your Memory

In the first of three lectures devoted to memory, Dr. Restak proves just how essential memory is to your brain's optimal functioning. After surveying the details of memory and its roots in the hippocampus, learn ways to sharpen your sense memory and augment both your short-term and long-term general memory.

29 min
Exercising Your Working Memory

07: Exercising Your Working Memory

Focus now on working memory-the most important memory process of all and one that involves manipulating stored information. After an overview of the topic, dive into a series of engaging exercises that use your creativity, your powers of observation, and your heightened awareness to enhance and improve your working memory.

25 min
Putting Your Senses to Work

08: Putting Your Senses to Work

Imaginative memory techniques-such as mnemonic devices and personal associations-have been used to improve memory for over 1,000 years. Try your hand at some of them right here, including "chunking" numbers to aid in number recall, creating a vivid story to memorize words, drawing free-form designs, and playing mental chess.

31 min
Enlisting Your Emotional Memory

09: Enlisting Your Emotional Memory

Turn now to an aspect of memory we don't usually consider when thinking about the subject: emotional memory. How did scientists uncover this specific aspect of memory? How does it actually work? And what kinds of playful exercises can you perform to help you relive the emotional experience of your past?

32 min
Practicing for Peak Performance

10: Practicing for Peak Performance

Exceptional performers aren't born with "superior brains." Rather, anyone-thanks to brain plasticity-can achieve high performance levels in an area of interest through deliberate practice. Focus here on two aspects of deliberate practice: remaining fully aware of what you're doing, and concentrating on the most difficult aspects of your performance.

28 min
Taking Advantage of Technology

11: Taking Advantage of Technology

Take a closer look at the impact of modern technology on how our brains function. You'll explore the positive and negative effects of electronic journals, personal computers, and more-with a lengthy discussion on the impact of one of today's most powerful and controversial influences on brain function: video games.

30 min
Building Your Cognitive Reserve

12: Building Your Cognitive Reserve

Professor Restak concludes his course with ways to immediately start optimizing your brain fitness. These include trying new and unexpected things, learning in an informal and self-directed manner, keeping things in perspective, opting to prioritize instead of multitask, developing an appreciation for art and music, and-surprisingly-preparing home-cooked meals....

32 min