Todd Samp­son re­trains his brain

Samp­son strength­ens the old grey mat­ter, writes Dar­ren Cartwright

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - CONTENTS -

THE Gruen Trans­fer pan­el­list Todd Samp­son un­der­went a brain train­ing course for a new ABC se­ries – and says it im­proved his mem­ory and his vi­sion.

Samp­son’s brain ex­per­i­ment, cap­tured in the three-part se­ries

Re­design My Brain, which starts to­day, is billed as a tele­vi­sion first by ABC1.

Samp­son took a break from his day job in ad­ver­tis­ing to travel the globe, meet­ing spe­cial­ists and un­der­tak­ing nu­mer­ous tests and mem­ory games dur­ing the three­month train­ing course.

One of the first ex­er­cises he had to com­plete was learn­ing to jug­gle.

Samp­son pro­gressed from jug­gling two balls to tossing around fire­sticks in a drill he says demon­strates how the mind can be trained and how jug­gling can ben­e­fit your daily life.

‘‘Jug­gling is quite unique be­cause it is about track­ing mul­ti­ple ob­jects, and your brain has to com­pute a lot to do it,’’ he says.

‘‘The brain is fun­da­men­tally lazy and needs to be pushed to the edge and chal­lenged to keep it de­vel­op­ing and grow­ing.’’

Samp­son ad­mits he was slightly scep­ti­cal about how neu­ro­plas­tic­ity could ef­fec­tively im­prove a healthy brain.

How­ever, he took a pas­sion­ate and se­ri­ous ap­proach to all the tasks he was set.

The se­ries fol­lows Samp­son as he trav­els from Syd­ney to Lon­don, from Ger­many to the United States, on a sci­en­tif­i­cally-en­dorsed train­ing pro­gram.

‘‘I went in with a healthy scep­ti­cism and I would do ev­ery­thing they asked me to do, and I’d push my­self as hard as pos­si­ble,’’ he says.

‘‘I was slightly anx­ious that I would prove it all to be not true.

‘‘I found in the end my at­ten­tion was a lot bet­ter and my re­call of mem­ory was a lot bet­ter.

‘‘The other thing is my eye­sight changed and my pe­riph­eral vi­sion was much bet­ter.’’

Since the se­ries wrapped, Samp­son has con­tin­ued jug­gling. He uses his new-found cir­cus skill as a type of med­i­ta­tion be­fore pub­lic en­gage­ments.

He jug­gles in the ABC green room and back­stage on speak­ing tours.

‘‘I jug­gle be­fore any big pre­sen­ta­tion or even be­fore I ap­pear on Gruen,’’ he says.

‘‘I went from two to three balls to four balls to clubs and then fire­sticks.

‘‘The fire­sticks are quite funny be­cause I have burnt my­self so many times do­ing it.’’

Re­design My Brain: Thurs­days, 8.30pm, ABC1.

Todd Samp­son

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