Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Self-paced Course: How to Be Your Own Brain Fitness Coach ($95; Registration is closed now)

Course Objec­tive

By the end of this online course you will have gained the under­stand­ing and infor­ma­tion required to apply emerg­ing sci­ence and tools to enhance your own brain health and func­tion­al­ity across the lifespan.

Reg­is­tered par­tic­i­pants can log into the course here, and gain access to four recorded lectures–each last­ing two hours– and to online mate­ri­als and discussions. 

  • Ses­sion I. Debunk­ing Brain and Brain Fit­ness Myths.
  • Ses­sion II. How to Address the Basics.
  • Ses­sion III. How to Build Brain-Based Capacities.
  • Ses­sion IV. How to Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach. 

brain fitness program

Course Descrip­tion

brain training tipsSum­mary: Infor­ma­tion over­load and longer lives expose our brains to more demands than even before. This self-paced and inter­ac­tive online course will exam­ine the emerg­ing sci­ence of neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and cog­ni­tive reserve and sur­vey lat­est tools and best prac­tices to equip you to become your own ‘brain fit­ness coach’ and address your very own pri­or­i­ties in your per­sonal and/ or pro­fes­sional life. Avail­able online from any­where with an Inter­net con­nec­tion, this course will help you pin­point ways to opti­mize brain health and func­tion­al­ity and delay decline, nav­i­gat­ing the maze of frag­mented research, super­fi­cial media cov­er­age and exag­ger­ated mar­ket­ing claims. The course is based on The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness –recently named a Best Book by AARP– and Sharp­Brains’ new ABBC frame­work (Address Basics, Build Capac­i­ties), and includes weekly read­ings and activities.

Mechan­ics: The course con­sists of four two-hour-long lec­tures which were recorded in 2012, and an online pri­vate com­mu­nity for par­tic­i­pants to access all mate­ri­als and to interact.

Who this is for

This course is open to the gen­eral pub­lic, and ideal for any­one with at least a bachelor’s degree (in any field) who wants to under­stand how emerg­ing brain and cog­ni­tive sci­ence can be applied to enhance one’s brain health and per­for­mance. This is nei­ther an over­sim­pli­fied self-help course, nor a very technical/ med­ical one.

Instruc­tor and Guest Lecturers

Alvaro FernandezInstruc­tor: Alvaro Fer­nan­dez is the cofounder of Sharp­Brains, an inde­pen­dent mar­ket researcher and think tank help­ing orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als nav­i­gate applied neu­ro­science, and the  coau­thor of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp, recently named a Best Book by AARP. He is a nationally-known speaker and expert, quoted by The New York Times, The Wall Street Jour­nal, New Sci­en­tist, CNN, and other media out­lets. Alvaro also pro­duces the largest annual global and vir­tual con­fer­ence where sci­en­tists, tech­nol­o­gists and pro­fes­sion­als dis­cuss lat­est devel­op­ments in the field. Alvaro holds an MBA and an MA in Edu­ca­tion from Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity, and was recently named a Young Global Leader by the World Eco­nomic Forum.

Alvaro Pascual-LeoneGuest Lec­turer: Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, is the Direc­tor of the Berenson-Allen Cen­ter for Non-Invasive Brain Stim­u­la­tion and a Pro­fes­sor of Neu­rol­ogy at Har­vard Med­ical School. Dr. Pascual-Leone researches the phys­i­ol­ogy of higher cog­ni­tive func­tions with empha­sis on the study of brain plas­tic­ity in skill acqui­si­tion and recov­ery from injury across the lifes­pan. Dr. Pascual-Leone obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Neu­ro­phys­i­ol­ogy from the Fac­ulty of Med­i­cine of Albert Lud­wigs Uni­ver­sity in Ger­many, and trained at the Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota and the US National Insti­tutes of Health. He greatly enjoys teach­ing and is the recip­i­ent of numer­ous awards.

Robert BilderGuest Lec­turer: Robert M. Bilder, PhD, ABPP-CN is the Michael E. Ten­nen­baum Fam­ily Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try and Biobe­hav­ioral Sci­ences at the UCLA David Gef­fen School of Med­i­cine. Dr. Bilder is also the Chief of Med­ical Psychology-Neuropsychology at the Semel Insti­tute for Neu­ro­science and Human Behav­ior, directs the Ten­nen­baum Cen­ter for the Biol­ogy of Cre­ativ­ity; is Co-Director of an NIMH-sponsored Cen­ter for Inter­ven­tion Devel­op­ment and Applied Research focus­ing on trans­la­tional research to enhance cog­ni­tive control.

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Required tech­nol­ogy

  • All you need is a com­puter with Inter­net access

Mate­ri­als

Course reg­is­tra­tion includes:

  • Access to four recorded course ses­sions and to an online library with resources
  • A pri­vate online com­mu­nity to enable stu­dents to interact

Syl­labus

Ses­sion I. Debunk­ing Brain and Brain Fit­ness Myths: We will first debunk pop­u­lar mis­con­cep­tions that stand in the way of mak­ing informed deci­sions to spend our time and money wisely. We will explore hot top­ics such as genet­ics vs. envi­ron­ment vs. lifestyle, intel­li­gence, left/ right brain hemi­spheres, “brain age”, cog­ni­tive enhance­ment, sup­ple­ments, learn­ing styles, brain train­ing, neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, neu­ro­plas­tic­ity, cog­ni­tive reserve, and Alzheimer’s Dis­ease. Addi­tion­ally we’ll con­trast the find­ings from a major recent sci­en­tific study with their media cov­er­age, equip­ping par­tic­i­pants to become bet­ter informed read­ers of news and sci­en­tific findings.

Read­ing:

  • Intro­duc­tion, Chap­ter 1 and 2 of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fitness
  • Agency for Health­care Research and Qual­ity (AHRQ). 2010. Alzheimer’s Dis­ease and Cog­ni­tive Decline, Struc­tured Abstract and Evi­dence Report. April 2010. www.ahrq.gov/clinic/tp/alzcogtp.htm

Ses­sion II. How to Address the Basics: In this ses­sion we will dis­cuss the com­ple­men­tary roles and mech­a­nisms under­pin­ning the major lifestyle pil­lars for brain fit­ness: healthy nutri­tion, aer­o­bic exer­cise, stress man­age­ment and men­tal stim­u­la­tion that incor­po­rates nov­elty, vari­ety and chal­lenge. We’ll explore how the human brain is a dynamic sys­tem to opti­mize and enhance, and how each of the major lifestyle pil­lars plays a fun­da­men­tal role in devel­op­ing, enhanc­ing, and main­tain­ing key cog­ni­tive, exec­u­tive and emo­tional self-regulation func­tions require to thrive at every stage of life (“brain fitness”).

Read­ing:

  • Chap­ters 3–6 of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fitness.

Activ­ity: five-finger meditation.

Ses­sion III. How to Build Brain-Based Capac­i­ties: What are some of the most promis­ing research-based “brain train­ing” meth­ods (hint: med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive train­ing, biofeed­back, cog­ni­tive ther­apy) and what are emerg­ing best prac­tices and guide­lines on how and when to use each of them to build core capac­i­ties such as atten­tion, work­ing mem­ory, emo­tional self-regulation, infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing, cog­ni­tive mon­i­tor­ing and reap­praisal? This ses­sion will sur­vey the value and lim­i­ta­tions of avail­able tools and sug­gest appro­pri­ate sce­nar­ios of use.

Read­ing:

  • Chap­ters 7 and 8 of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fitness.

Activ­ity: par­tic­i­pants choose biofeedback-based exer­cise or cog­ni­tive training.

Ses­sion IV. How to Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach: This ses­sion will equip you with the frame­works and check­lists required to inte­grate the knowl­edge and tools intro­duced dur­ing the whole course to meet your spe­cific per­sonal and pro­fes­sional pri­or­i­ties. “No one size fits all” applies to brain fit­ness, and this course is designed to help you build your own per­sonal “brain fit­ness toolkit” to meet the pri­or­i­ties you are fac­ing today and will face tomorrow.

Read­ing:

  • Chap­ter 9 of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fitness.

Activ­ity: develop your own “brain fit­ness plan.”

Top 40 Ques­tions Addressed by the Course

Here are 40 com­mon brain fit­ness and brain train­ing ques­tions that will get answered dur­ing the course, sequenced by their approx­i­mate order of appear­ance in the syllabus.

  • How can one define brain fitness
  • What is link between stress, focus and memory
  • Does “brain age” even exist
  • How to enhance over­all men­tal pro­duc­tiv­ity, vs just IQ
  • Is there some “ceil­ing” to my improve­ment or can I always try more things
  • How brain func­tions evolve with age. What improves, what declines, what should I be pay­ing atten­tion to
  • Can life­long learn­ing delay dementia
  • What are spe­cific guide­lines to lead a lifestyle that max­i­mizes brain fitness
  • How to increase my chances to avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
  • How do I know what is part of the nor­mal aging process and what isn’t
  • What are the main pil­lars to enhance  cog­ni­tion, and how do they work
  • What are the “active ingre­di­ents” for expe­ri­ences to build new neural pathways
  • Are dietary sup­ple­ments ben­e­fi­cial? How does nutri­tion and exer­cise improve cog­ni­tive skills?
  • What is the state of the sci­ence of cog­ni­tive fit­ness? What types of claims make sense?
  • Can videogames  pro­tect from dementia
  • Does stress kill neurons?
  • Can we increase the capacity/ plas­tic­ity of the brain?
  • What are the best pre­ven­tive steps that can be taken today to main­tain brain health over many years?
  • What are the types of activ­i­ties shown to build cog­ni­tive reserve
  • How can brain  train­ing prin­ci­ples can be APPLIED to every­day work and life and learn­ing, not just while doing programs
  • Can I improve mem­ory and focus capabilities
  • What’s the best evi­dence for what helps in brain training
  • How can I train my brain to focus/concentrate more when I need to focus/concentrate and shut down when I need to or want to sleep
  • How to effec­tively use new prod­ucts to improve brain func­tion. How do I choose between prod­uct A or B?
  • How brain train­ing works and the ben­e­fits we can expect to receive from it
  • How can I eval­u­ate whether the claims are evidence-based
  • Is med­i­ta­tion bet­ter than yoga for the brain?
  • How does brain train­ing gen­er­al­ize to every day life? Is there research to sup­port claims?
  • How I can pre­vent age-related cog­ni­tive dete­ri­o­ra­tion/ loss/ dementia
  • How to enhance men­tal flexibility?
  • How do I mea­sure progress and results? How can I track that what I try really works?
  • How I go about being my own Brain Fit­ness Coach
  • How do I get started?
  • How to eval­u­ate whether real change has occurred?
  • How to set up a con­sis­tent prac­tise with say 20 min­utes everyday
  • Will any of this help me at work? How?
  • How can the aver­age per­son develop and self-manage a struc­tured coach­ing plan in all phases of life that is valid and a good time investment
  • What are the three or four things one can do on a daily basis to improve health and pre­vent impair­ment with age?
  • What can I do in my every­day expe­ri­ences to keep my brain in great con­di­tion, as I have/had sev­eral cases of demen­tia and Alzheimer’s in my family?
  • How do I know what’s my base­line and how do I track/maintain pos­i­tive progress over time?

 

Com­mon Ques­tions & Answers About the eCourse

Q: Do I need a Pay­Pal account to pay for the course?
A: No. You can pay with your credit or debit card (VISA, Mas­ter­Card, Amer­i­can Express, Dis­cover), or you can log in to your Pay­Pal account if you already have one.

Q: How many hours may it take me to com­plete the course?
A: Around 10–12 hours total. The four lec­tures, com­bined, last 8 hours, and we rec­om­mend at least 2–4 hours to go through read­ings, activ­i­ties, discussions…

brain training onlineQ: Can I down­load the lec­tures?
A: No, they can only be streamed/ watched online.

Q: How can I learn more after watch­ing the lec­tures?
There are mul­ti­ple resources avail­able via the eCourse plat­form (see image). You can click on the Activ­i­ties tab in the nav­i­ga­tion bar and find activ­i­ties to per­form after watch­ing each ses­sion. You can also read the addi­tional resources avail­able in the Lec­tures & Mate­ri­als tab, and dis­cuss your impres­sions and open ques­tions with other course par­tic­i­pants at the Dis­cus­sion Forum.

Q: How do I know who else is tak­ing or has taken the course and how do I inter­act with them?
You can “meet” other par­tic­i­pants and inter­act with them via the Par­tic­i­pants and Dis­cus­sion tabs.

If you have any other ques­tions or would like fur­ther details about the course please Con­tact Us.

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