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Never have we seen a team of scientists work harder or with more passion than those at the Center for BrainHealth.

Debbie Francis, Board Chair

Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART)

Center for BrainHealth’s high performance brain training program, known as Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART), is based on more than 30 years of innovative scientific study by cognitive neuroscientists, physicians, and research clinicians.

More than 27,000 people of all ages and conditions — whether they are healthy, injured or currently debilitated by disease — have completed the scientifically proven SMART program, demonstrating that almost anyone can improve brain performance, reverse mental decline, and regain cognitive losses.

Designed to improve brain health fitness, the program uses cognitive strategies to improve brain efficiency. Training exercises target the frontal lobes of the brain to build strategic thinking, advanced reasoning, and innovative problem solving skills.

The program is delivered in interactive sessions that spark discussion, inspire creative thinking, and explore personalized, practical application.

Recent research shows that SMART not only induces physical brain change at all levels and enhances cognitive performance, but also spills over to real-life benefits.

Marked improvement seen in frontal lobe cognitive functions — both those that were targeted in the training and many that were not specifically targeted.

Brain blood flow increased by as much as 12%.

A healthy brain’s total blood flow decreases each decade beginning at age 20. Neurons in the brain demand glucose and oxygen when engaged in complex thinking. Increasing total brain blood flow builds a healthier brain, and it can also prevent the inevitable reduction.

The brain’s white matter strengthened.

White matter: the pathway between vital brain regions that facilitates efficient communication. These vital regions are the left temporal lobe, which is linked to memory and learning, and the left inferior frontal lobe, which is linked to higher-order reasoning and problem solving.


SMART is distinct from all other training approaches in that the evidenced-based program focuses on top-down processing of information, rather than bottom-up learning. The research behind the SMART program shows that top-down, generalized meanings are more robustly stored and retrieved as compared to a rapid loss of specific details. The training has been successfully adapted for various populations including: students, warriors, healthy adults, and individuals with with traumatic brain injury.

SMART teaches individuals how to think strategically, enabling deeper understanding, and creativity, and it works because SMART addresses the three pivotal brain processes that ensure mental productivity: strategic attention, integration, and mental flexibility.

Strategic Attention

The brain can process 400 billion pieces of information a minute, but that does not mean it should. The combination of information overload and tendencies to multitask has greatly impaired strategic attention. It is harder to sift through information than block what is irrelevant. With the SMART program, individuals learn how to focus with laser precision on the tasks and decisions that matter, better understand root issues, and separate relevant and extraneous information.

Integration

How do you assimilate and synthesize huge amounts of facts and opinions to get at the core ideas? It is a matter of conscious, effortful processing. It requires dynamically shifting from the facts at hand to the global view. This process of zooming in and zooming out allows individuals to reach beyond the tangible to the global picture. SMART teaches program participants to extract meaning from various sources, develop abstract ideas, and engage in futuristic thinking.

Mental Flexibility

In today’s world, our brains are neuroengineered to rigidly seek the “correct” answer. Most people are good at storing and reproducing massive amounts of information, but not so good at identifying and solving messy problems. When, in fact, our brain needs to be flexible in how to use information in order to create new solutions and novel applications. Through the SMART program, individuals learn to maximize their brain power at all stages of life. Participants learn to construct insightful interpretations, imagine potential problems, identify multiple solutions, create novel directions, and view issues from diverse perspectives.

The goal of the Center for BrainHealth is to apply learnings from research immediately to those populations who may benefit. BrainHealth scientists have learned that the brain training of deeper-level thinking through the SMART program carries over into untrained areas allowing study participants to more effectively assimilate, manage, and utilize information like never before.