Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Fitness Blog Carnival #1

Brain Fitness CarnivalWel­come to the inau­gural edi­tion of the Brain Fit­ness Blog Car­ni­val. The tim­ing couldn’t be bet­ter  you have prob­a­bly seen the fea­tured CBS News/TIME Series on Brain Neuroplasticity.

Thanks to the over 40 peo­ple who sub­mit­ted posts. We have had to select the posts we enjoyed the most to help facil­i­tate an engag­ing and informed conversation.

Learn­ing is phys­i­cal. Our expe­ri­ence lit­er­ally shapes our brains. And vice versa. The media seems to be focus­ing mostly on brain fit­ness for seniors, but its impli­ca­tions go beyond that, as you will see in this post by Car­o­line: What is Brain Fit­ness?, and the arti­cles in this carnival.

Science-based under­stand­ing is evolv­ing from “Use it or Lose It” to “Use It and Improve It.”  As Fast Company’s Alan Deutschman provoca­tively puts it in his last book, Change or Die. We couldn’t agree more with his sum­mary rec­om­men­da­tion: “Relate. Repeat. Reframe.” Alan presents a blog arti­cle announc­ing his book (here is his orig­i­nal arti­cle).

Sci­ence and Philosophy

We have a fun vari­ety of posts.

D.A.N. sum­ma­rizes some of the main themes in brain and mind sci­ence with Look at the Human Mind Part 1: An Intro­duc­tion.

Sandy writes on the impact of stress on neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, and explains how the reduc­tion in new cell cre­ation due to chronic stress may affect learn­ing and brain fit­ness. On the bright side, he writes how new tech­nolo­gies like HRV biofeed­back can help man­age anx­i­ety and pos­si­bly depres­sion.

The Beck Insti­tute explains What Cog­ni­tive Ther­apy does to your brain. Cog­ni­tive Ther­apy is a very effec­tive tool we can all learn from, not too dif­fer­ent from the “Relate. Repeat. Reframe”.

Senia elab­o­rates on a Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can arti­cle and explains how Exper­tise is Train­able (Nur­ture Wins), illus­trat­ing how mal­leable the brain is as we become expert in some­thing. Specif­i­cally, “Exper­tise is Devel­oped through Prac­tice. The Prac­tice That Has the Best Results is Rep­e­ti­tion with Increased Difficulty”.

What may be one of the most ancient tools for our brain health? Bora presents a clas­sic arti­cle on sleep, that starts with “What are you doing up so late, star­ing at the com­puter screen read­ing this? For that mat­ter, what am I doing up late writ­ing this at 11pm? Are we all nuts?”.

Simon presents Can you See into the Brains of Other Peo­ple?, dis­cussing mir­ror neu­rons and say­ing, “Our beliefs con­trol the way our neu­rons fire in response to our expe­ri­ences. This dic­tates how we act and what we will accomplish.”

You may be inter­ested in my own inter­view with Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg on Brain Fit­ness Pro­grams and Cog­ni­tive Train­ing, try­ing to syn­the­size the many years of his research and clin­i­cal prac­tice around cog­ni­tive fitness.

Neu­rophiloso­pher dis­cusses how US Defense agen­cies are try­ing to enhance the “brain fit­ness” of the com­bi­na­tion (sol­dier + tech­nol­ogy) with Aug­mented cog­ni­tion: Sci­ence fact or sci­ence fic­tion? and then explores a pos­si­ble future tar­get for memory-enhancing drugs.

Edu­ca­tion and Pro­fes­sional Development

We have two very well-represented groups: lawyers and traders.

Stephanie presents This is your lawyer brain on blogs good read­ing for all of us  and The pro­fes­sion of half-empty glasses: The unique per­son­al­i­ties of lawyers and an anti­dote.

Brett Steen­barger, the trad­ing psy­chol­ogy expert we inter­viewed a few months back, sug­gests brief ther­apy tech­niques that involve rehears­ing pos­i­tive behav­ior pat­terns while in a state of high focus or con­cen­tra­tion. Read “The real­ity is that the good psy­chol­o­gist is not a shrink, but instead expands people’s minds and hori­zons. The goal is not to treat prob­lems, but to make changes” and more in Brief Ther­apy for the Men­tally Well.

Michelle, in her great Out of the SKILL(let) into the Fire, explains how “The mar­ket is in con­stant flux. We can­not struc­ture it accord­ing to our needs. We can only struc­ture our­selves in rela­tion­ship to this free flow of infor­ma­tion and par­tic­i­pant inter­ac­tion.” which calls for hon­est recog­ni­tion and accep­tance of our exist­ing skill level as the first step to learn and improve per­for­mance. For a trader, this is a mat­ter of sur­vival. For all the rest of us, just sub­sti­tute “our envi­ron­ment” for “mar­ket” in that quote, and it is obvi­ous why we should be very happy that evo­lu­tion kindly gave us our beau­ti­ful brains.

Health and Wellness

Jon writes a thought­ful piece titled New Breed of Econ­o­mists High­light Impor­tance of Behav­ioral Health. He says “This post looks at how econ­o­mists are pro­vid­ing new sup­port for behav­ioral and men­tal health, by show­ing that only by get­ting your brain in the right place, will the rest of the body fol­low.” and quotes “Lord Layard argues, unem­ploy­ment is no longer Britain’s biggest social prob­lem. The num­ber of job­less Britons claim­ing the dole is now about 960,000. But there are over 1m peo­ple receiv­ing inca­pac­ity ben­e­fits because depres­sion and stress have left them unfit to work.”

The Beck Insti­tute clar­i­fies CT Myths: Three of the Most Com­mon Mis­un­der­stand­ings about Cog­ni­tive Ther­apy and Another CT Myth Put on those Rose-Colored Glasses. Very inter­est­ing to read about cog­ni­tive ther­apy and then read Senia’s great intro­duc­tion to What is Pos­i­tive Psy­chol­ogy?.

We have a few entries on med­i­ta­tion, a highly evolved form of men­tal train­ing that we are now start­ing to under­stand: Bran­don presents Sec­ond 10-day Vipas­sana Sit (good his­tory and descrip­tion of the tech­nique), Barry writes The Ben­e­fits of Soli­tude on the ben­e­fits of quiet con­tem­pla­tion, and Ray­mond advo­cates Using Visu­al­iza­tion for Suc­cess.

Our own Head Coach Neal starts his blog­ging career with Train Your Brain: Get a Head Coach, where we can read how “Main­tain­ing brain fit­ness is a chal­leng­ing and life­long process. It often requires a change from our nor­mal and mostly auto­matic ways of doing things.”

Per­sonal sto­ries and techniques

Alvin presents Your Brain: A Guide to Fine-Tuned Per­for­mance, a great prac­ti­cal intro­duc­tion to the need for both stress man­age­ment and metal stimulation.

Scott rec­om­mends “try ask­ing your­self a sim­ple ques­tion: Is it pos­si­ble to let this feel­ing go?” the next time we are feel­ing down about any­thing. See Over­com­ing Emo­tional Attach­ment.

Craig Harper presents The Sci­ence of Suc­cess describ­ing how “I have spo­ken with many peo­ple who have been on the per­sonal devel­op­ment jour­ney for years… and they’re still in the same place (phys­i­cally, emo­tion­ally, spir­i­tu­ally, psy­cho­log­i­cally, finan­cially and pro­fes­sion­ally). They’ve read eight mil­lion books, been to thir­teen thou­sand work­shops, ther­a­pists and spe­cial­ists, and they’re still mis­er­able, unful­filled, stressed and direc­tion­less.” This is where Alan’s “Repeat” becomes a must.

Steven lists 50 of the Best Per­sonal Devel­op­ment blogs. We enjoy his use of “50 of the Best” rather than “the 50 Best”.

Brain Teasers

We didn’t get any entry for this cat­e­gory … so let us just throw out there our pop­u­lar post: Well-deserved break: Top 10 Brain Teasers.

That con­cludes this edi­tion. Please help us expand the con­ver­sa­tion by link­ing to this post and encour­ag­ing your read­ers and fel­low blog­gers to participate.

You can sub­mit your blog arti­cle to the next edi­tion of brain fit­ness using our car­ni­val sub­mis­sion form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog car­ni­val index page.

Enjoy the weekend.

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12 Responses

  1. […] Recent Com­ments Sharp­Brains on A pos­si­ble tar­get for memory-enhancing drugsJohn on Is this a sen­tient machine? Part 2Travis on Purer than the dri­ven snow­grac­chi on Car­ni­val of Cin­ema Episode XIV: Beneath the Planet of the Blog­ger­sut­pal on A poten­tial scor­pion venom-based treat­ment for gliomas […]

  2. Richie says:

    Excel­lent links! Par­tic­u­larly enjoyed Craig Harper’s article.

  3. Alvaro says:

    Glad you enjoyed them!

  4. Turi says:

    Thanks for putting this car­ni­val together. I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing all these posts, espe­cially the one about how CBT works.

    I also have a guide to brain health that may be a nice com­pli­ment to some of these links. It’s The Wise Turtle’s Guide to Philo­soph­i­cal Health.

  5. Alvaro says:

    Hi Turi, those posts are about cog­ni­tive ther­apy, a type of CBT. You will learn more at the Aaron Beck’s Institute.

    Will check your guide-please feel free to sub­mit a post with a sum­mary for next car­ni­val editions.

  6. eleanor says:

    Now I think I under­stand what a blog car­ni­val is — per­haps I’ll con­tribute towards the next!

  7. Alvaro says:

    Hi Eleanor! please do :-)

  8. […] My friend Alvaro has kicked off the inau­gural edi­tion of the Brain Fit­ness Blog Car­ni­val, there are some great posts there to help you fine-tune your brain’s performance…including mine […]

  9. […] Car­olina: You have a cou­ple of good ones this week. One, Life­long learn­ing, lit­er­ally: neu­ro­plas­tic­ity for stu­dents, boomers, seniors.… I also found the Inau­gural Edi­tion: Brain Fit­ness Blog Car­ni­val pretty inter­est­ing. I will try some of the tech­niques on your grandpa. […]

  10. […] Two great posts from Sharp­brains: * A car­ni­val with lots of infor­ma­tion, and * A neu­ro­science hosted car­ni­val, as part of many neuro-related web­sites. Enjoy them both! Both very worth your time. « What are your steps to exer­cise success?   […]

  11. […] Brain Fit­ness Blog Car­ni­val #1 (Jan­u­ary 19th) […]

  12. […] Brain Fit­ness Blog Car­ni­val #1 Tags: blog car­ni­val, Brain Fit­ness Car­ni­val, Neurophilosopher […]

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