Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Fitness Program and Neuroplasticity @ PBS

Update (11/10/10): Have you seen PBS great spe­cials on Brain Fit­ness and Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity ?

The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram DVD ($24.95)

The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram is based on the brain’s abil­ity to change and adapt, even rewire itself. In the past two years, a team of sci­en­tists has devel­oped computer-based stim­u­lus sets that drive ben­e­fi­cial chem­i­cal, phys­i­cal and func­tional changes in the Peter Coyote Brain Fitness Programbrain. Dr. Michael Merzenich of the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia and his col­leagues share their sci­en­tif­i­cally based set of brain exer­cises in this life-altering pro­gram. Peter Coy­ote (pic­tured) narrates. ”

PBS aired in Decem­ber 2007 a spe­cial pro­gram on neu­ro­plas­tic­ity, brain fit­ness, aging and the brain titled “Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram”. To watch the 3-minute trailer: click here.

In 2008, PBS released a sec­ond DVD:

Brain Fit­ness 2: Sight and Sound DVD ($24.95)

This pro­gram, specif­i­cally designed to help peo­ple get the most from their vision and hear­ing as they age, con­sid­ers how these senses change through­out life and what peo­ple can do to keep them healthy and fully functional.”


If you do not have time to watch these great doc­u­men­taries, here are a few points one needs to under­stand about neuroplasticity:

1.  The human brain is now con­sid­ered to be a highly dynamic and con­stantly reor­ga­niz­ing sys­tem capa­ble of being shaped and reshaped across an entire lifes­pan. It is believed that every expe­ri­ence alters the brain’s orga­ni­za­tion at some level. The key words in this new approach to the brain are neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis. Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity refers to the life­long capac­ity of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to the stim­u­la­tion of learn­ing and expe­ri­ence. Neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis is the abil­ity to cre­ate new neu­rons and con­nec­tions between neu­rons through­out a life­time. The lat­ter process is also referred to as synap­to­ge­n­e­sis. This new par­a­digm con­trasts with tra­di­tional ideas of the human brain being a fixed and essen­tially lim­ited sys­tem that only degrades with age.

2. As we age, the rate of change in the brain, or neu­ro­plas­tic­ity, declines but does not come to a halt. In addi­tion, we now know that new neu­rons can appear in cer­tain parts of the brain up until the day we die.

3. Brain plas­tic­ity is cru­cial fol­low­ing head injury. It is the one brain’s abil­ity that allows recov­ery. Brain plas­tic­ity is also the abil­ity that brain train­ing takes advan­tages of to try to slow down the aging process.

To read about evi­dence of neu­ro­plas­tic­ity in the human brain take a look at Brain plas­tic­ity: How learn­ing changes you brain


Note: How can any­one take care of his or her brain when every week brings a new bar­rage of arti­cles and stud­ies which seem to con­tra­dict each other?

Do sup­ple­ments improve mem­ory? Do you need both phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise –or is one of them enough? Why is man­ag­ing stress so impor­tant to atten­tion and mem­ory? Which brain train­ing approach, if any, is worth one’s time and money?

If you have these ques­tions, check out this new book, The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness:

“Finally, an insight­ful and com­plete overview of the sci­ence, prod­ucts and trends to debunk old myths and help us all main­tain our brains in top shape. A must-read”
Glo­ria Cavanaugh, for­mer Pres­i­dent & CEO of the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging and found­ing Board mem­ber of the National Alliance for Caregiving
“Kudos for an excel­lent resource! This Sharp­Brains Guide is full of top notch infor­ma­tion, pro­vides prac­ti­cal tips and helps sep­a­rate hype from hope in the brain health arena.“
Eliz­a­beth Edgerly, Ph.D., Chief Pro­gram Offi­cer, Alzheimer’s Association

A mas­ter­ful guide to the brain train­ing rev­o­lu­tion. Promises to stim­u­late a much needed con­ver­sa­tion that will nudge soci­ety to build a new brain fit­ness cul­ture on solid, research-based, foun­da­tions.“
P. Murali Doraiswamy MD, Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try, Duke Uni­ver­sity and Co-author of The Alzheimer’s Action Plan

The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness
SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness. The Book Click


to order at
Print Edi­tion, $24.95

SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness. The Book Click


to order at,
Kin­dle Edi­tion, $9.99

Leave a Reply...

Loading Facebook Comments ...

81 Responses

  1. Dispatch says:

    Hi. I watched por­tions of the Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram on my local PBS sta­tion this past week. The high price for the soft­ware is not a scam, it is a pledge to sup­port PBS, and the soft­ware is a gift. PBS also does shows on musi­cians (last I saw was the Osmonds), and for a pledged amount, you get Osmond stuff.

    I am a Mod­er­a­tor on a mes­sage board that advo­cates treat­ment options for Depres­sion & Epiepsy/Seizure Dis­or­der patients. I am look­ing for a low cost & sci­en­tif­i­cally proven results treat­ment option to share with the mem­bers. Is it pos­si­ble this soft­ware would be ben­e­fi­cial adjunc­tive ther­apy in help­ing ease the fre­quency and sever­ity of depres­sion & seizures? We are not Physi­cians on this mes­sage board, and can not give med­ical advice. We do offer sug­ges­tions the mem­bers can research & dis­cuss with thier treat­ing Physi­cians. I myself suf­fer with seizures & depres­sion result­ing from a trau­matic brain injury. The injury has caused learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, short term mem­ory issues, bal­ance & coor­di­na­tion prob­lems, etc. I think this soft­ware would be ben­e­fi­cial for some­one in my case. In most all cases, hav­ing seizures and uncon­trolled depres­sion require some sort of med­ica­tion inter­ven­tion, so in no way am I going to sug­gest any mem­ber go off meds, but to be able to uti­lize some­thing like this soft­ware may open up a whole new world for some peo­ple in gain­ing bet­ter con­trol over seizures & depres­sion. Med­ica­tion for these ill­nesses, as well as ECT treat­ments for depres­sion, cause mem­ory loss and alot of the time awful side effects. Some peo­ple have no relief from these treat­ments. It would be great to be able to have some­thing that is non-invasive & non-toxic to help treat these illnesses.

    I look for­ward to any infor­ma­tion any of you can pro­vide. Thanks in advance for your time.

  2. zerodiv says:

    I usu­ally love pbs, but I have to say that I am thor­oughly dis­ap­pointed with this pro­gram. I’m all for fund­ing dri­ves, but this was basi­cally an infomercial.

  3. Tracey says:

    Balooch8, Mary Lu and Alvaro, Thanks much for all the won­der­ful infor­ma­tion. You have helped me greatly in my search for brain based activ­i­ties for my 6 year old!

  4. maggie says:

    Your blog is won­der­ful, Alvaro!
    I am a grad­u­ate stu­dent in Chicago study­ing the appli­ca­tion of neu­rotech­nolo­gies in teach­ing and learn­ing set­tings. I am espe­cially inter­ested in lis­ten­ing, or sound ther­apy pro­grams and/or brain based com­puter pro­grams for spe­cial needs chil­dren. I have a few questions:

    1-Do you have any rec­om­men­da­tions of grad­u­ate courses/workshops where I can learn more about brain based/brain fit­ness com­puter technology?

    2-What are experts in the field, such as your­self, call­ing this area of neu­rotech­nol­ogy? Is it cog­ni­tive tech­nol­ogy, or neu­roe­d­u­ca­tional tech­nol­ogy? How would I define this area for the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion who doesn’t under­stand these techniques?

  5. Mag­gie– we also received your email, so will cor­re­spond that way.

  6. Karen says:

    RELAX! PBS watch­ers.
    If the CD/DVD is too expen­sive– — Don’t pledge! I saw the show this past Sat., and thought it was extremely inter­est­ing and infor­ma­tive. When I heard the $ re-quested (dona­tion) I thought “well, I can’t afford it — but it was sure an inter­est­ing after­noon. I will remem­ber some of what I heard and leave it at that~

Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Health & Wellness, Technology

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,