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 25 years of innovative scientific study by cognitive neuroscientists and research clinicians.

Designed to improve brain health and performance, the program targets the brain's frontal lobes - regions that support planning, reasoning, decision-making, judgment, and emotional management.

The strategies provide a mental toolkit that can increase the brain's capacity to assimilate and namipulate large amounts of complex incoming data. Adopting this toolkit can also reduce information overload and calm the mind to support learning and decision-making.*

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

Randomized clinical trials have shown that SMART results in:

Cognitive Enhancement

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Decision-making
  • Problem solving
  • Reasoning
  • Mental flexibility

Real-life Application

  • Increased efficiency
  • Reduction in stress
  • Elevated mental energy
  • Enhanced attention and focus
  • Improved inhibition

 

Recent research shows that SMART  induces physical brain change at various levels, enhances cognitive performance, and 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 other training approaches in that it 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 adapted for various populations including: students, warriorshealthy adults, and individuals with with traumatic brain injury.

SMART teaches individuals how to think strategically, enabling deeper understanding, and creativity. SMART strategies address the three pivotal brain processes that promote 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 proficient at storing and reproducing massive amounts of information, but not as adept at identifying and solving complex problems. Our brain needs to be flexible in how it uses information in order to construct insightful interpretations, create new solutions, achieve diverse perspectives, and develop novel applications. The SMART program provides strategies that support higher-level thinking throughout life.

 

*Specific outcomes of the training are not guaranteed. Different individuals may use the tools in defferent ways. Maximum brain change results from the completion of all steps in the SMART program and continual adoption of brain strategies. In order to fully benefit from the SMART program, participants should complete all session in succession.

BrainHealth® is a registered service mark of The University of Texas at Dallas