ENIAC, the first computer capable of general problem solving, consisted of 70,000 resistors, 17,468 vacuum tubes, 10,000 capacitors, 7,200 crystal diodes, 1,500 relays, and around 5 million hand-soldered joints. At 27 tons, it filled an entire room, consumed 150 kW of power and required six people to program its routines. Today, a chip of silicon the size of a grain of sand has the same computing power as ENIAC. ENIAC went into operation in 1946. In the past sixty years more and more jobs have been transformed until now almost every mode of employment involves complex information processing in some way shape or form.

Today many of us work extensively with data and information, needing to regularly employ creative problem-solving skills and exert focused mental energy. The most valuable commodity in the modern workplace is our brain rather than our hands. But the constant whirl of meetings and conference calls, e-mails and instant messages stresses and dilutes our focus and attention, disrupting the brain's ability to form memories and stimulate learning. Our jobs may actually prevent us from developing and deepening the skills we need to succeed.

Fortunately, while scientific innovation got us into this predicament, it also provides a way to get us out. Researchers have discovered that even after childhood our brains can grow and change under the right conditions. We can even improve our ability to think and solve problems with appropriate brain exercise.

Last year a team from the Universities of Michigan and Bern developed a novel training method to progressively improve a person's visual and aural working-memory, positing that this would produce a transfer gain in fluid intelligence. After only nineteen days the study participants recorded gains in working-memory and fluid intelligence over more than 40% (over and above the scores of those in a control group). The potential impact on our job performance of this kind of cognitive gain is immediately apparent.

Why work harder or longer when you can work smarter? Why put up with a mundane job when you can develop the brain power to move into a more challenging and rewarding field? And it goes without saying that improved job performance can also translate quite easily into improved compensation.

But before you go looking to snap up a brain training program, make sure that you purchase a product that will work. The scientists developed an extremely efficient and effective training protocol called "dual n-back." No other brain training method has produced results even remotely as dramatic.

With the country in a recession, unemployment rising, and the job market tightening, it makes sense to invest in your most valuable asset. With brain training we can now do just that.

Author's Bio: 

Oxford-trained scientist, author, and technologist, Martin G. Walker is a member of The British Neuroscience Association, Learning and The Brain, and MENSA. His company Mind Evolve Software publishes free information on the field of neuroscience and brain training as well as effective and affordable brain training software under the brand name Mind Sparke.