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

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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~

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