As you may or may not know, novelty is a key component in creating healthy brain architecture. This is the third post in the brainpower series and in today’s mind enlarging message I would like to give you another activity that will challenge and grow your brain’s neural network, specifically your visual and motor skill centers. You can enhance and wake up your brain’s neural connections by learning this new skill: sign language.
I had the opportunity to learn sign language some years ago when I was raising my infant grandchild. I wanted to be able to communicate with my grandson and have him be able to communicate with me long before he could speak words and sentences. He was not hearing impaired, but learning and teaching him sign language gave us a way to communicate before he was verbal. It was fun (and a bit challenging) to teach an infant to mimic hand signs to communicate about things and ideas like: eat, more, all-done, dirty, apple, dog, cat, bird, banana, etc. But even before his first birthday, my grandson and I could express rudimentary needs and ideas by using sign language.
For adults, learning sign language is like learning a foreign language, and unless an we have strong intrinsic motivation, most of us tend to lose interest quickly in the novelty of acquiring a secondary language. But I would like to challenge you to approach learning sign language as a health and well-being activity. Practice making the simple letter signs of the alphabet with your hand and fingers; then coordinate these letters to sign your name. This activity is a powerful, two-fold brain trainer. Using your hands and eyes at the same time to sign letters and memorizing these symbols and the order in which to use them requires muscle (motor), visual and memory skills to be employed simultaneously. This effective training activity is like a tonic for our brains. Not only will learning this skill recharge sluggish neural connections but when practiced faithfully, you will also make brand new neural connections (muscle memory). And that’s how you build a strong brain!
So go ahead, spell me a sign! A chart of the sign language alphabet is pictured below…give it a try and show someone you know your newly acquired brainpower from the palm of your hand!