Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Smart Brains, Sharp Brain… new research on maintaining one

There has been a lot of recent buzz about brain fit­ness. A New York Times edi­to­r­ial printed today states:

When tested five years later, these par­tic­i­pants [in a cog­ni­tive train­ing study] had less of a decline in the skill they were trained in than did a con­trol group that received no cog­ni­tive train­ing. The pay­off from men­tal exer­cise seemed far greater than we are accus­tomed to get­ting for phys­i­cal exer­cise — as if 10 work­outs at the gym were enough to keep you fit five years later.


If fur­ther stud­ies show that men­tal exer­cises can improve every­day func­tion­ing, doc­tors may need to pre­scribe such train­ing, senior cen­ters may want to set up “brain gyms,” and aging Amer­i­cans would be wise to do brain-stretching activ­i­ties. For this pur­pose, even the Medicare pre­scrip­tion drug pro­gram, which crit­ics deem too con­fus­ing for many older peo­ple to nav­i­gate, could prove an unex­pected bless­ing. Spend 10 hours mas­ter­ing its intri­ca­cies today and you could be a lot sharper than your com­pa­tri­ots five years from now.

To read the com­plete, orig­i­nal study pub­lished in JAMA, read The Ben­e­fits of Brain Exercises/Brain Fit­ness.

IHRSA, the Inter­na­tional Health, Rac­quet & Sports­club Asso­ci­a­tion, printed this arti­cle on men­tal mus­cles with sug­ges­tions on how to add brain work­outs to your tra­di­tional phys­i­cal work­outs. Essen­tially, humans need both phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise for good brain health.

Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can also wrote an arti­cle on Brain Gain: Men­tal Exer­cise Makes Elderly Minds More Fit. One of the study co-authors is quoted as saying

To drive this effect, you have to prac­tice things that you don’t like or things you don’t reg­u­larly prac­tice,” Mar­siske says. “We hope to find ways of mak­ing these train­ing pro­grams more widely avail­able to peo­ple and begin to encour­age some­thing more like men­tal exercise.”

As we have men­tioned before when talk­ing about key ingre­di­ents for a brain fit­ness pro­gram, you need: nov­elty, vari­ety, and stretch­ing prac­tice (increas­ing chal­lenge over time). Com­put­er­ized pro­grams do the best job of reli­ably meet­ing these cri­te­ria, but doing any­thing is bet­ter than doing nothing!

If you are still uncer­tain as to what is Brain Fit­ness, then feel free to down­load a com­pli­men­tary copy of our newly released Brain Fit­ness for Sharp Brains: Your New New Year Res­o­lu­tion. We wrote this guide as a plain Eng­lish intro­duc­tion to the con­cept, sci­ence, and prac­tice of brain fit­ness by answer­ing 25 ques­tions we have received over the last four months.

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