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Update: 15 FAQs on Neuroplasticity / Brain Plasticity

Here you have the Octo­ber edi­tion of our monthly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness topics.

We recently run an online sur­vey among sub­scribers of our monthly eNewslet­ter, and over 500 peo­ple neuroplasticity faqssaid we have helped them make bet­ter per­sonal or pro­fes­sional deci­sions on how to main­tain and improve brain fit­ness. Respon­dents also had many good ques­tions to ask, so I have selected 15 com­mon ones, paraphrased/ syn­the­sized them below, and answered them by link­ing to our most rel­e­vant posts and resources. I hope you enjoy the FAQ session.

Q: I teach a brain fit­ness class at my library/ senior center/ school, using much of your info. Can you share some of your pre­sen­ta­tions?
A: Yes, we have just decided to share, using a Cre­ative Com­mons Attri­bu­tion No Deriv­a­tives License, the full pre­sen­ta­tion of my recent book talk at New York Pub­lic Library (opens video in YouTube). As long as you give credit to Sharp­Brains and don’t mod­ify it, you are free to use the pre­sen­ta­tion you can view and down­load HERE.

Q: What exactly does neu­ro­plas­tic­ity neurons in actionmean, and why is it so impor­tant for edu­ca­tion and health?
A: Start by read­ing how learn­ing changes your brain.

Q. Is this only rel­e­vant for older adults? Can I also apply it in the work­place (I am 47)
A. I strongly sus­pect you do have a human brain, so you may ben­e­fit from these Ten Habits of Highly Effec­tive Brains. Fur­ther, HR depart­ments would do well to start pay­ing more atten­tion to Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness and the Mature Work­force trends.

Q. I read so many con­flict­ing things I don’t know where to start.
A. You are not alone. We should all be aware that It is Not Only Cars That Deserve Good Main­te­nance: Brain Care 101.

Q. How can my orga­ni­za­tion deliver brain fit­ness activ­i­ties as a com­mu­nity ser­vice?
A. These arti­cles will pro­vide good guide­lines and ideas: Retool­ing Use It or Lose It , and Pub­lic Libraries: Community-Based Health Clubs for the Brain.

Q. Every­one seems obsessed with brain games. What about med­i­ta­tion?
A. Check out Yes, You Can Build Willpower, and Mind­ful­ness Med­i­ta­tion in Schools.

Q. Are software-based cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions effec­tive?
A. As a cat­e­gory, it cer­tainly seems so, as long as we ask the right ques­tions, For Whom, For What?. For exam­ple, did you see this Sci­ence paper on how Cog­ni­tive Train­ing Can Influ­ence Dopamine Sys­tem?.

Q. What about the trade-off between time invested vs ben­e­fits real­ized.
A. Effi­ciency and replic­a­bil­ity of cog­ni­tive and brain-based out­comes seem to be, in fact, the strongest points of struc­tured cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions. They seem to max­i­mize the Cog­ni­tive Value of your Men­tal Work­out.


Q. It some­times looks like the whole field came out of nowhere, due to Nin­tendo Brain Age’s suc­cess, so we can’t be talk­ing about some­thing seri­ous.

A: Nin­tendo did indeed cre­ate con­sumer aware­ness (for a prod­uct with lit­tle evi­dence) but “brain train­ing” has solid roots in neu­ropsy­chol­ogy and cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science, as you can read in our inter­view with Elkhonon Gold­berg.

Q. What about neu­ro­feed­back?
A. After years of much clin­i­cal use and lit­tle solid evi­dence, sev­eral impor­tant tri­als have been pub­lished since 2009, show­ing how neu­ro­feed­back can help diag­nose and treat ADHD patients, for exam­ple.

Q. How can one improve mem­ory?

A. Well, the answer deserves a whole book, but we can offer some Tips to Improve Mem­ory includ­ing Sleep, Prac­tice and Test­ing.

Q. How can I brain fitness bookschoose one among the num­ber of prod­ucts mak­ing mem­ory and brain claims?
A. We sug­gest you use this Eval­u­a­tion check­list, and con­sider read­ing our con­sumer guide/ book.

Q. Any gen­eral tips for edu­ca­tors and life­long learn­ers?
A. Indeed, here you have these 10 Brain Tips to Teach and Learn.

Q. How can I keep track of all the new brain fitness market infographictrends, com­pa­nies and prod­ucts? Our health system/ insurer/ senior community/ ven­ture firm/ com­pany needs to make good deci­sions.
A. Well, that’s why we pub­lish mar­ket research, such as the one sum­ma­rized in this Info­graphic: State of the Mar­ket 2009 and also recently launched a pro­fes­sional Net­work for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion.

Q: Thank you for all the infor­ma­tion you provide…but what I want more of is… brain teasers!
A. Under­stood. We will make sure to offer more, but you can try, right now, these Top 50 Brain Teasers and con­tinue with more recent puz­zles and brain games.

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