In the Natick Mall, and other select locations around the United States, there resides a small shop called Marbles: The Brain Store. I have overheard many passersby muttering questioningly, “What on Earth is a ‘brain store’?” and customers showing general confusion regarding its existence.
Well, in my humble opinion, a brain store could be the most important store you ever encounter. I speak from experience.
One day during my later high school years I was meandering through the mall with my mother (my consistent mall perusing partner), when I happened upon Marbles. As I stepped inside, I knew I had stumbled onto something unique and wonderful. A diverse array of games and activities were scattered creatively among the shelves and displays around the store. Tables were scattered around the room with games ready to be tested out. Each section of the store was dedicated to activities to strengthen one of five core cognitive areas: memory, coordination, word skills, critical thinking, and visual perception.
I was drawn to an area of the store where a few books resided. I had spotted a book called “The Brain That Changes Itself,” a book written by Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist who studies developments in psychiatry, neuroscience, and neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the concept around which Marbles: The Brain Store was developed and this store, with a great deal of help from the experiences described in Dr. Doidge’s book, is what set me on the path to become a neuroscientist with high hopes of conducting research in cortical and neural plasticity.
Fast forward about four years and I am now a rising senior majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior, as well as a Brain Coach at that very same brain store in the Natick Mall. The most common questions I receive involve definitions of a Brain Coach and a brain store. Firstly, a Brain Coach (aside from the obvious fact that he or she works at Marbles) is a person who is passionate about building better brains, by spending time with customers to determine what games, activities, or books would be best for any given individual. And a brain store is the place in which this brain building can occur. It is a space where children, teens, and adults alike can spend a few minutes or a couple hours roaming the shelves and learning about themselves with an abundance of unique products.
So far, I have enjoyed my time at Marbles immensely. I get to spend my days playing brain games and teaching customers a bit about the brain. I share my passion for neuroscience on an almost daily basis, and that is my favorite part about Marbles: The Brain Store.