Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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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 & the Adult Brain

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 brain teasers job interviewper­spec­tive 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, at last April’s con­fer­ence, stated 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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