Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Can you grow your hippocampus? Yes. Here’s how, and why it matters

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A pair of thumb-sized structures deep in the center of the human brain are critical for our ability to learn and remember. Thanks to their shape, each of them is called hippocampus – which means seahorse in Greek. These brain areas have the unique capacity to generate new neurons every day. In fact, recent human studies have shown that Read the rest of this entry »

Why Scientific Literacy and Learning Enhance Brain Function and Neural Health

Often in discussing health related findings with non-scientists, I’ve found that scientific literacy in the general population tends to be inadequate for evaluating scientific claims. A surprising number of people are reluctant to study science despite the potential to benefit from the vast amount of useful knowledge being accumulated by scientists. Neil DeGrasse Tyson discussed a similar issue with the New York Daily News several years ago (A Cry to Pass the Science Test, 2006). In a time when scientific information is constantly reshaping our understanding Read the rest of this entry »

Research: How Exercise Benefits the Brain

How Exercise Benefits the Brain (NewYork Times):

“To learn more about how exercise affects the brain, scientists in Ireland recently asked a group of sedentary male college students to take part in a memory test followed by strenuous exercise.

First, the young men watched a rapid-fire lineup of photos with the faces and names of strangers. After a break, they tried to recall the names they had just seen as the photos again zipped across a computer screen. Read the rest of this entry »

5 Tips on Lifelong Learning and Neuroplasticity for the Adult Brain

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Learning & the Brain is a conference that gets marked on my calendar annually because I always return home having either been exposed to new information, or with a new perspective on an old topic. Last month’s conference in Cambridge, MA, themed Using Emotions Research to Enhance Learning & Achievement, was no exception. As with previous conferences, in addition to the many keynote sessions, I focused on the adult learning strand, since so much of my time is spent providing professional development for, and collaborating with adults. Here are five conference cues as they relate to education.

1. CHALLENGE YOURSELF WITH NEW LEARNING

Aaron Nelson stated that our memory starts to decline between ages twenty-five and thirty, or to phrase it a bit more positively, Sam Wang says our memory peaks around age thirty. On the other end of the age spectrum, according to Ken Kosik, there is unequivocal evidence that education protects against Alzheimer’s. Both Nelson and Kosik mentioned the theory of cognitive reserve, which translates roughly to the more we learn, the more connections we create, and therefore the greater the neuronal buffer we have to draw upon as we age.

Elkhonon Goldberg of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness stated at last April’s conference that “as one ages, the domain of the novel shrinks, and the domain of what is known grows”. He cautioned the audience to beware of being on mental autopilot. Thus, the goal is not to simply get better at doing more of the same. The type of learning that makes a difference consists specifically of new, novel challenges. The result of such engagement is that Read the rest of this entry »

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