By: Dr. Pascale Michelon
In the past few days you may have come across headlines claiming that weight loss can improve memory. If so, you may be wondering what to make of this.
Let’s take a brief look at the study at the origin of these articles. Participants were 109 bariatric surgery patients and 41 obese people (controls) who had not undergone surgery. Bariatric surgery refers mostly to gastric bypass surgery, which creates a smaller stomach and bypasses part of the small intestine. The bariatric patients were enrolled in the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery project conducted, among others, by researchers at Kent State university and Columbia University.
The memory of the 150 participants was assessed before the surgery as well as 12 weeks after. Results showed that the memory of the surgery patients had improved whereas the memory of the obese controls had declined. Read the rest of this entry »
By: Alvaro Fernandez
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to give a talk to one hundred or so staff members at New York Public Library. As you would expect, it was a very stimulating group, and one of the participants, Brigid Cahalan, just wrote a fun blog post on her impressions from the event:
Brain Fitness at New York Public Library:
- “After attending a recent staff training session offered by the library’s Office of Staff Development, I decided to return to a habit of my childhood–eating sardines.“
– key pillars for brain health …are… “1) A balanced diet; 2) Cardiovascular physical exercise; 3) Stress management; and 4) Brain exercise: Novelty, Variety, Challenge (as long as it doesn’t stress us out).”
Read full article: here.
Comment: A very interesting trend of observe — the growing role of public libraries in providing quality brain health information and even, why not, becoming community-based brain fitness destinations. After all, is it not mental stimulation of all sorts, incorporating Novelty, Variety, and Challenge, what they truly offer?
By: Alvaro Fernandez
Last week, the US Car Care Council released a list of tips on how to take care of your car and “save big money at the pump in 2008.”
You may not have paid much attention to this announcement. Yes, it’s important to save gas these days; but, it’s not big news that good maintenance habits will improve the performance of a car, and extend its life.
If we can all agree on the importance of maintaining our cars that get us around town, what about maintaining our brains sitting behind the wheel?
A spate of recent news coverage on brain fitness and “brain training” has missed an important constituency: younger people. Recent advancements in brain science have as tremendous implications for teenagers and adults of all ages as they do for seniors.
In a recent conversation with neuroscientist Yaakov Stern of Columbia University, he related how surprised he was when, years ago, a reporter from Seventeen magazine requested an interview. The reporter told Dr. Stern that he wanted to write an article to motivate kids to stay in school and not to drop out, in order to start building their Cognitive Reserve early and age more gracefully.
What is the Cognitive Reserve? Read the rest of this entry »
By: Alvaro Fernandez
Fun article in the San Francisco Examiner today on how High-tech ‘brain gyms’ tone minds, reduce stress. Quotes:
- “SharpBrains and Posit Science are just two of a growing number of start-up companies leading the way in the area of packaging and developing suites of software they call “brain gyms.”
- “SharpBrains offers a suite of products that evaluate buyers’ needs and target their weakness, gently pushing for improvement, Fernandez said. One program helps improve memory using a number game (here); another provides instant biofeedback to users so they can practice breathing and positive thinking to reduce stress (here), Fernandez said.”
- “I can start seeing the changes in my stress level take place right in front of my eyes,” said Baba Shiv (profile here), a neuroscientist and professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, who uses Freeze-Framer 2.0 (here), one of the programs licensed by SharpBrains. By monitoring his stress level through heart monitors hooked to his personal computer at work, he discovered that constantly monitoring his e-mail inbox raised his stress level, Shiv said. Now he limits himself to checking e-mail every two hours, Shiv said.
The reporter did a great job in understanding and communicating a new and sometimes complex topic. Read the article: High-tech ‘brain gyms’ tone minds, reduce stress.
You can learn more about the research on self-control of our advisor Baba Shiv in The Frontal Cortex blog’s article Self-Control is a Muscle and in Mind Hacks: (un)emotional investment.