Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Cognitive Health News Round-Up

Round-up of inter­est­ing recent news on cog­ni­tive health and fit­ness: the field is in motion.

1) Bay­crest cre­ates Cen­tre for Brain Fit­ness with $10-million Invest­ment from Ontario Gov­ern­ment (Canada NewsWire)

2) Cog­ni­tive tests are the best way to select med­ical stu­dents (EurekAlert)

3) High blood pres­sure hard on the aging brain (Reuters)

4) Alzheimer’s tests ben­e­fi­cial for seniors (Atlanta-Journal Constitutional)

5) Dementia-Dreading Baby Boomers Spur Race to Invent Brain Games (Bloomberg)

6) Viv­ity Labs launches Fit Brains brain-training game site (VentureBeat) 

7) Depres­sion and Alzheimer’s (NHS Choices)

For selected quotes and com­ments, Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Newsletter: December Edition

Brain exercise, brain exercisesI hope you are hav­ing a joy­ful hol­i­day sea­son, and wish you a Happy and Pros­per­ous 2008. The Brain Fit­ness field has made a great deal of progress in 2007, and we are look­ing for­ward the New Year.

Here you are have the Monthly Digest of our Most Pop­u­lar Blog Posts. You can con­sider it your monthly Brain Fitness/ Exer­cise Newsletter.

(Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our blog RSS feed, or to our monthly newslet­ter at the top of this page if you want to receive this monthly Digest by email).

Let me first of all intro­duce you to our new “Author Speaks Series”, where we will give lead­ing sci­en­tists and experts a forum to present their new brain-related books. We are hon­ored to kick­start the series with Larry McCleary, for­mer act­ing Chief of Pedi­atric Neu­ro­surgery at Den­ver Children’s Hos­pi­tal. You can read Here his arti­cle on how to keep a brain-friendly lifestyle. This series will com­ple­ment our ongo­ing Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series.

Brain Fit­ness in the News

Brain Fit­ness @ PBS: PBS fea­tured a fan­tas­tic spe­cial pro­gram on neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and brain fit­ness dur­ing the month of Decem­ber. Before you ask: as of today, the DVD of the pro­gram is still not avail­able in PBS online shop. We expect to see it there in 2–3 weeks. We will keep you informed.

The Huff­in­g­ton Post started fea­tur­ing a col­umn writ­ten by me: you may enjoy tak­ing a look at Alvaro Fer­nan­dez — Liv­ing on The Huff­in­g­ton Post.

Jog­ging our Brains for Brain Vital­ity, Healthy Aging-and Intel­li­gence!: a roundup of sev­eral great recent arti­cles on mem­ory, aging, IQ and cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties such as self-control.

Health & Wellness

Brain Train­ing: No Magic Bul­let, Yet Use­ful Tool. Inter­view with Eliz­a­beth Zelin­ski: Dr. Zelin­ski, lead­ing researcher of the IMPACT study, shares fas­ci­nat­ing insights. For exam­ple: “…cog­ni­tive enhance­ment requires the engage­ment in a vari­ety of activ­i­ties, those activ­i­ties must be novel, adap­tive and challenging-which is why computer-based pro­grams can be help­ful. But even at a more basic level, what mat­ters is being engaged with life, con­tin­u­ally exposed to stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties, always try­ing to get out of our com­fort zones, doing our best at what­ever we are doing. A major typ­i­cal mis­con­cep­tion is that there is only one gen­eral intel­li­gence to care about. In real­ity, we have many dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, such as atten­tion, mem­ory, lan­guage, rea­son­ing, and more, so it makes sense to have dif­fer­ent pro­grams designed to train and improve each of them.”

How to Eval­u­ate and Choose a Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram: To help you nav­i­gate the grow­ing num­ber of computer-based pro­grams and games, we pub­lished this 10-Question Check­list, based on dozens of inter­views with sci­en­tists, experts and consumers.

Travel and Engage­ment as Good Brain Exer­cise: As we’ve seen, nov­elty, vari­ety and chal­lenge are the key guide­lines for “brain exer­cise” that help build new neural con­nec­tions, force one to be mind­ful and pay atten­tion, improve abil­i­ties such as pattern-recognition, and gen­er­ally con­tribute to life­long brain health. In this post we fea­ture the brain build­ing / mind expand­ing expe­ri­ence of a Sharp­Brains friend work­ing in Namibia.

Alzheimer’s Pre­ven­tion and Diag­nos­tic Tests: analy­sis of sev­eral recent arti­cles on emerg­ing research behind Alzheimer’s diag­nos­tic and prevention.

Cor­po­rate Well­ness and Training

Cog­ni­tive Reserve and Intel­lec­tu­ally Demand­ing Jobs: a recent study shows how “Intel­lec­tu­ally demand­ing work was asso­ci­ated with greater ben­e­fit to cog­ni­tive per­for­mance in later life inde­pen­dent of related fac­tors like edu­ca­tion and intelligence.”

Cog­ni­tive Health and Baby Boomers– 6 Points to Keep in Mind: based upon an excel­lent McK­in­sey report titled Serv­ing Aging Baby Boomers, we dis­cuss a vari­ety a news arti­cles, includ­ing inter­est­ing num­bers, some bad news, and some good news.

Life­long Learn­ing Is Chang­ing My Brain: Andreas, the neu­ro­science PhD stu­dent who spent last sum­mer work­ing with Sharp­Brains, writes some reflec­tions on his expe­ri­ence and on how sci­en­tists and busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als can learn from each other.

Brain Teasers

Trav­eler IQ Game: Check out this stim­u­lat­ing online game…


Learn­ing & The Brain Con­fer­ence, Feb­ru­ary 5–7 2008, San Fran­cisco: Sign up now for this great con­fer­ence for edu­ca­tors who want to learn about the lat­est brain research find­ings and impli­ca­tions. I will be speak­ing at the con­fer­ence giv­ing an overview of inno­v­a­tive cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams. The orga­niz­ers are offer­ing a Spe­cial Dis­count for Sharp­Brains read­ers until Jan­u­ary 25th 2008, so click here if interested.

If we don’t talk beforehand…Happy New Year!


You can also enjoy our pre­vi­ous edi­tions of our Brain Fit­ness Newsletter:

- Novem­ber Edition

- Octo­ber Edition

- Sep­tem­ber Edition

- August Edi­tion

- July Edi­tion

Alzheimer’s Prevention and Diagnostic Tests

Brain Health NewsRoundup of sev­eral insight­ful arti­cles and recent research:

Fish Oil May Help Pre­vent Alzheimer’s (Wash­ing­ton Post)

- “The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil might play an impor­tant role in pre­vent­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease, accord­ing to a research team at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los Ange­les (UCLA).”

- “Pub­lish­ing in the Dec. 26 issue of the Jour­nal of Neu­ro­science, the sci­en­tists demon­strated that the omega-3 fatty acid docosa­hexaenoic acid (DHA) increases the pro­duc­tion of LR11, a pro­tein that is found at reduced lev­els in Alzheimer’s patients. LR11 is known to destroy the pro­tein that forms the plaques asso­ci­ated with the dis­ease, the researchers explained.“
– “Alzheimer’s is a debil­i­tat­ing neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease that causes mem­ory loss, demen­tia, per­son­al­ity change and ulti­mately death. The Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion esti­mates that 5.1 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are cur­rently afflicted with the dis­ease. The asso­ci­a­tion pre­dicts that may increase to between 11 mil­lion and 16 mil­lion peo­ple by 2050.”

‘Find­ing Alzheimer’s Before a Mind Fails’ (New York Times)

- “Ms. Ker­ley is part of an ambi­tious new sci­en­tific effort to find ways to detect Alzheimer’s dis­ease at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble moment. Although the dis­ease may seem like a calamity that strikes sud­denly in old age, sci­en­tists now think it begins long before the mind fails.”

- “Many sci­en­tists believe the best hope of progress, maybe the only hope, lies in Read the rest of this entry »

Stress Management Workshop for International Women’s Day

Today is Inter­na­tional Women’s Day 2007.

Global con­sult­ing com­pany Accen­ture orga­nized a series of events, and I was for­tu­nate to lead a fun work­shop on The Neu­ro­science of Stress and Stress Man­age­ment in their San Fran­cisco office, help­ing over 125 accom­plished women (and a few men) learn what stress is, its impli­ca­tions for our brain func­tion­ing, per­for­mance and health, and of course some tips and tech­niques to develop our “stress man­age­ment” mus­cles. It was an honor to be able to wrap up a great event that included Dis­trict Attor­ney Kamala D. Har­ris, two of the co-authors of This is Not the Life I Ordered, a video by Sen­a­tor Dianne Fein­stein, and some great Accen­ture women.

We dis­cussed how stress is the emo­tional and phys­i­o­log­i­cal reac­tion to a threat, whether real or imag­ined, that results in a series of adap­ta­tions by our bod­ies. And how stress man­age­ment can bring a vari­ety of ben­e­fits: sus­tained peak per­for­mance, cog­ni­tive flex­i­bil­ity, mem­ory, deci­sion mak­ing, and even longevity.
You can see a very inter­est­ing exam­ple of the rela­tion­ship between atten­tion, mem­ory and stress with this exper­i­ment: Atten­tion and work­ing memory

Let me share some key take-aways from the work­shop, together with some exer­cises we used to illus­trate key points:

1) Stress can be a major road­block for peak per­for­mance and health
2) Some tips and tech­niques to bet­ter man­age stress:
a) Pick your bat­tles Read the rest of this entry »

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