Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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One more reason to improve education and cardiovascular health in developing countries: to delay (underestimated) Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer_Word_cloud_conceptAlzheimer’s Cases Severely Under­es­ti­mated in Devel­op­ing Nations (Bloomberg):

Alzheimer’s cases are greatly under­es­ti­mated in East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Colom­bia, researchers said, which may lead to poor pol­icy mak­ing and inad­e­quate health-care ser­vices. Read the rest of this entry »

Good interview (in Spanish) about lifelong brain health and mental fitness

AlvaroFernandezIbanez_picÁlvaro Fer­nán­dez Ibáñez: “Cor­riendo creamos más neu­ronas que andando” (La Vanguardia):

- ¿Por qué inver­tir en nue­stro cere­bro es un buen nego­cio?
Porque lo igno­ramos hasta que es demasi­ado tarde, hasta que uno tiene alzheimer o una depre­sión crónica. Pero cualquier per­sona puede mejo­rar cosas de su cere­bro. Y esto tiene dos grandes ven­ta­jas: mejo­rar nue­stro rendimiento nos sirve para apren­der cosas más rápido o para mane­jar el estrés Read the rest of this entry »

Kirtan Kriya Meditation: A “new” tool to fight Alzheimer’s Disease

Enjoy this slide deck pre­sented by Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa Pres­i­dent of the Alzheimer’s Research & Pre­ven­tion Foun­da­tion (ARPF),  at the 2013 Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit.

To learn more:

To Harness Neuroplasticity, Start with Enthusiasm

We are the archi­tects and builders of our own brains.

For mil­len­nia, how­ever, we were obliv­i­ous to our enor­mous cre­ative capa­bil­i­ties. We had no idea that our brains were chang­ing in response to our actions and atti­tudes, every day of our lives. So we uncon­sciously and ran­domly shaped our brains and our lat­ter years because we believed we had an immutable brain that was at the mercy of our genes.

Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. Read the rest of this entry »

Alzheimer’s Disease and Music: A Door to Past and New Memories

Music can soothe and trig­ger mem­o­ries. It is as such that music is most often used with Alzheimer’s patients. A new study sug­gests that music may also be used as a booster for learn­ing new things, an abil­ity very impaired in those with Alzheimer’s.

Indi­vid­u­als with Alzheimer’s and matched con­trols were pre­sented with unfa­mil­iar songs lyrics: half of the lyrics were sung and half were merely spo­ken. Par­tic­i­pants were then pre­sented with the lyrics they had heard as well as with new ones, and asked whether they rec­og­nized any lyrics.

Alzheimer’s patients’ mem­ory was much bet­ter for sung lyrics than for spo­ken ones. There was no dif­fer­ence between the two types of lyrics for the healthy older adults.

Why do peo­ple with Alzheimer’s seem to ben­e­fit from musi­cal stim­uli? Read the rest of this entry »

Alzheimer’s Disease: is our Healthcare System Ready?

In the midst of much health­care reform talk, not Alzheimer's Disease reportenough atten­tion seems focused on ensur­ing health­care sys­tems’ pre­pared­ness to deal with cog­ni­tive health issues –with Alzheimer’s Dis­ease as the most dra­matic exam­ple– which are pre­dicted to grow given aging pop­u­la­tion trends.

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, and the USA Today com­ments on a new report that makes stark pre­dic­tions:
Global Alzheimer’s cases expected to rise sharply (USA Today)

- “The 2009 World Alzheimer’s Report, released today, esti­mates 35 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide are liv­ing with Alzheimer’s and other forms of demen­tia. The fig­ure is a 10% increase over 2005 numbers.”

- “The num­ber of peo­ple affected by Alzheimer’s is grow­ing at a rapid rate, and the increas­ing per­sonal costs will have sig­nif­i­cant impact on the world’s economies and health care sys­tems,” said Harry Johns, Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion. “We must make the fight against Alzheimer’s a pri­or­ity here in the United States and world­wide,” he said.

- “The report by London-based non­profit Alzheimer’s Dis­ease Inter­na­tional (ADI), an inter­na­tional fed­er­a­tion of 71 national Alzheimer orga­ni­za­tions (includ­ing the Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion), indi­cates that the num­ber of peo­ple with demen­tia is expected to grow sharply to 65.7 mil­lion in 2030 and 115.4 mil­lion in 2050.”

Link to report: Here

The Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion is orga­niz­ing mul­ti­ple Mem­ory Walks to raise aware­ness and funds. You can learn more and join Here. (Per­haps a good oppor­tu­nity to orga­nize a “walk­ing book group” as Arthur Kramer sug­gested in the Sharp­Brains Guide?)

The City of San Fran­cisco, led by its Depart­ment of Aging and Adult Ser­vices (DAAS), con­vened since san francisco2008 an Alzheimer’s/ Demen­tia Expert Panel to iden­tify gaps and issue rec­om­men­da­tions to address the grow­ing cri­sis in demen­tia care at the city level, and is about to release a pio­neer­ing plan that may well influ­ence pub­lic health ini­tia­tives in other cities and states. An interim doc­u­ment can be found here: 2020 Foresight-Strategy For Excel­lence in Demen­tia Care (pdf)

One of the major areas of focus for that strat­egy was Edu­ca­tion & Pre­ven­tion, and below we can share a sum­mary of the pre­lim­i­nary find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions. We will high­light the final report when ready.

ALZHEIMER’S/DEMENTIA EXPERT PANEL

EDUCATION AND PREVENTION SUBCOMMITTEE

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The subcommittee’s charge was to con­sider how best to edu­cate the San Fran­cisco com­mu­nity about Alzheimer’s and related demen­tias to change atti­tudes, beliefs, behav­iors, stan­dards of prac­tice, and out­comes asso­ci­ated with the disease.

Spe­cific top­ics addressed include:
· Pro­tec­tive fac­tors relat­ing to demen­tia, includ­ing risk fac­tors and brain health
· Early iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of demen­tia
· Early access to ser­vices
· Com­mu­nity edu­ca­tion
· Edu­ca­tion of pro­fes­sion­als and non­pro­fes­sion­als, includ­ing physi­cians, psy­chi­a­trists and psy­chol­o­gists, social work­ers, nurses, and other care­givers, both paid care­givers and infor­mal care­givers such as fam­ily and friends
· Eth­i­cal issues
· Pol­icy issues

The dis­sem­i­na­tion of accu­rate infor­ma­tion about Alzheimer’s and related demen­tias can play an impor­tant role in Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Update: Best of 2008

Dear reader and mem­ber of Sharp­Brains’ com­mu­nity,
We want to thank you for your atten­tion and sup­port in 2008, and wish you a Happy, brain fitness and health newsletterPros­per­ous, Healthy and Pos­i­tive 2009!

Below you have the Decem­ber edi­tion of our monthly newslet­ter. Enjoy:

Best of 2008

Announc­ing the Sharp­Brains Most Impor­tant Book of 2008: Neu­ro­sci­en­tist Torkel Kling­berg has writ­ten a very stim­u­lat­ing and acces­si­ble book on a cru­cial topic for our Infor­ma­tion Age: The Over­flow­ing Brain: Infor­ma­tion Over­load and the Lim­its of Work­ing Mem­ory. We have named it The Sharp­Brains Most Impor­tant Book of 2008, and asked Dr. Kling­berg to write a brief arti­cle to intro­duce his research and book to you. Enjoy it here.

Top 30 Brain Fit­ness Arti­cles of 2008: We have com­piled Sharp­Brains’ 30 most pop­u­lar arti­cles, writ­ten by thir­teen Expert Con­trib­u­tors and staff mem­bers for you. Have you read them all?

November-December News: No month goes by with­out sig­nif­i­cant news in the field of cog­ni­tive fit­ness. Sum­ma­rized here are 10 recent devel­op­ments wor­thy of atten­tion, includ­ing an upcom­ing brain train­ing prod­uct for ice hockey play­ers, my lec­ture at New York Pub­lic Library, and more.

Inter­views: Videogames, Med­i­ta­tion

Are videogames good for your brain?: A land­mark study by Dr. Arthur Kramer and col­leagues has shown that play­ing a strat­egy videogame can bring a vari­ety of sig­nif­i­cant men­tal ben­e­fits to older brains. Another recent study, also by Kramer and col­leagues, does not show sim­i­lar ben­e­fits to younger brains (despite play­ing the same game). How can this be? Dr. Kramer, who has kindly agreed to serve on Sharp­Brains’ Sci­en­tific Advi­sory Board, elaborates.

Med­i­ta­tion on the Brain: Dr. Andrew New­berg pro­vides an excel­lent overview of the brain ben­e­fits of prac­tices such as med­i­ta­tion. He rec­om­mends, “look for some­thing sim­ple, easy to try first, ensur­ing the prac­tice is com­pat­i­ble with one’s beliefs and goals. You need to match prac­tice with need: under­stand the spe­cific goals you have in mind, your sched­ule and lifestyle, and find some­thing practical.“

The Need for Objec­tive Assessments

Cog­ni­tive screen­ings and Alzheimer’s Dis­ease: The Alzheimer’s Foun­da­tion of Amer­ica just released a thought­ful report advo­cat­ing for wide­spread cog­ni­tive screen­ings after the age of 65 (55 given the right con­di­tions). Sharp­Brains read­ers, probed by Dr. Joshua Stein­er­man, seem to agree.

Quan­ti­ta­tive EEG for ADHD diag­no­sis: Dr. David Rabiner reports on the find­ings from a recent study that doc­u­ments the util­ity of Quan­ti­ta­tive EEG as an objec­tive test to assist in the diag­no­sis of ADHD. If this pro­ce­dure were to become more widely used, he sug­gests, the num­ber of chil­dren and ado­les­cents who are inap­pro­pri­ately diag­nosed and treated for the dis­or­der would dimin­ish substantially.

Shall we ques­tion the brand new book of human trou­bles?: The fights over the new ver­sion of the psy­chi­atric diag­nos­tic man­ual, the DSM-V, are start­ing to come to light. Dr. Vaughan Bell won­ders why the pub­lic debate avoids the key ques­tion of whether diag­no­sis itself is use­ful for men­tal health and why psy­cho­met­rics are sim­ply ignored.

Resources for Life­long Learning

Edu­ca­tion builds Cog­ni­tive Reserve for Alzheimers Dis­ease Pro­tec­tion: Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon reviews a recent study that sup­ports the Cog­ni­tive Reserve hypoth­e­sis — men­tally stim­u­lat­ing expe­ri­ences through­out life, such as for­mal edu­ca­tion, help build a reserve in our brains that con­tributes to a lower prob­a­bil­ity of devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s symptoms.

5 Tips on Life­long Learn­ing & the Adult Brain: Lau­rie Bar­tels asks us to please please 1) chal­lenge our­selves with new learn­ing, 2) remem­ber that neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis are hall­marks of our brains, 3) check for mis-learning on an ongo­ing basis, 4) more visu­als, less text, 5) move it, move it — start today!

Neu­ro­science Core Con­cepts: We all have heard “Use It or Lose It”. Now, what is “It”? The Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science (SfN) has just released a user-friendly pub­li­ca­tion titled Neu­ro­science Core Con­cepts, aimed at help­ing edu­ca­tors and the gen­eral pub­lic learn more about the brain.

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