Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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On The Brain

neuronsVery intense week, and very fun. I will be writing more about this week’s 3 speaking events, but let me say now that our key messages

1) our brains remain flexible during our lifetimes,

2) we can refine our brains with targeted practice,

3) good brain exercise, or “mental cross-training”, requires novelty, variety, and increasing level of challenge (but without creating too much stress),

are being very well accepted from both healthy aging and workplace productivity points of view. We have ONE brain: health and productivity are 2 sides of the same coin.

If you want to make sure we learn more about our brains, you can help fellow blogger Shelley Batts get a college scholarship by voting here. She has a great neuroscience blog, is now finalist in a competition to win a nice scholarship, and needs out help.

Have some more time? You can watch this excellent 90-second video of cognitive neuroscientist Dr Lisa Saksida doing yoga in front of the fire while explaining the nature of Brain and Mind (via MindHacks). Quotes:

“I wish people understood that there is no mind/brain duality. Specifically, I wish people understood that there is no such thing as a purely psychological disorder. Every event in your psychological life, and therefore every psychological change, is reducible in theory to events and changes in your brain. We should therefore not judge people differently, according to whether they are considered to have a ‘psychological’ as opposed to a ‘neurological’ problem.”

“Of course, a lack of mind/brain split does not mean that we should abandon all talk of psychology. Psychology and neuroscience are two ways of studying the same thing, and both are essential for understanding the human condition.”

For more, check the posts in these always great blog carnivals (selected collections of blog posts by a number of bloggers around specific topics)

Tangled Bank (science in general)

Encephalon (neuroscience)

Credit: Photo of Neurons by symphanee via flickr

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4 Responses

  1. Ian Kemmish says:

    If one wanted to ensure that we learnt more about our brains, wouldn’t it make more sense to award scholarships based on talent and ability, rather than on charisma and popularity?

  2. Alvaro says:

    Hello Ian: I agree with you. If we had organized that contest, we would have defined merit-based criteria. However, the fact is that the rules are different from what you or I would have done.

    I don’t know Shelley personally, so cannot speak about her “charisma and popularity”. I simply know that she writes a great neuroscience blog. And that her blog is one of the few science-based blogs among the finalists.

    Of course, your decision.

  3. Joel says:

    I just became aquainted to neuroplasticity and it seems a very important aspect we should all be aware of!… But, I wonder… how far can you actually mold your brain? Is such a thing as personality and intelligence completely malleable

  4. Alvaro says:

    Hello Joel, great question: what is the limit of neuroplasticity.

    There is not much research there, so let me speculate a bit. Our brain is way more malleable than we usually think it is. Having said that, as we age we accumulate experiences that shape our brains and, in a sense, reduce the range of possibility. It would be tough to think (medical problems excepted) of a “smart” person becoming “dumb”, or vicaeversa. But both could benefit from working on refining their brains and minds.

    Another way: for a native English-speaker, learning fluent Chinese would require significant brain change. This is easier when we are kids, more difficult as we grow older.

    Being practical, I’d reiterate the previous comment: our brains are more malleable than we think we are. I have seen research showing how adults with spider phobia can learn to prevent amygdala activation-they literally conquer their fear. What is the precise limit? good question to ponder…

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