Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Learning a second language, at any age, leads to better cognitive abilities

HolaLearn­ing sec­ond lan­guage ‘slows brain age­ing’ (BBC):

Learn­ing a sec­ond lan­guage can have a pos­i­tive effect on the brain, even if it is taken up in adult­hood, a Uni­ver­sity of Edin­burgh study suggests…Using data from intel­li­gence tests on 262 Edinburgh-born indi­vid­u­als at the age of 11, the study looked at how their cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties had changed when they were tested again in their sev­en­ties Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Let’s move, slow down, innovate, think and play

You have heard that phys­i­cal exer­cise is good for the brain. How much exer­cise are we talk­ing about? Can the ben­e­fits be seen both for chil­dren and adults? In Fit­ter bod­ies = fit­ter brains. True at all ages? Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon answers these ques­tions for you, based on lat­est sci­en­tific studies.

We need fun ways to get out the couch more and exer­cise both phys­i­cally and cog­ni­tively. What about set­ting up community-based adult play­grounds, such as this one in Beijing?


New Brain Health Series

Peo­ple of all ages read and this monthly update, so we are prepar­ing a series of arti­cles on Brain Health across the Lifes­pan. The series will include 4 parts:

  • The Child Brain, pub­lished in Novem­ber 2010
  • The Ado­les­cent Brain, in Decem­ber 2010
  • The Adult Brain, in Jan­u­ary 2011
  • The Aging Brain, in Feb­ru­ary 2011
  • Each part will include sur­pris­ing facts on how the brain works, debunk com­mons myths about cog­ni­tion and brain health, and link to resources such as books and doc­u­men­taries. If you want to read these arti­cles as we pub­lish them via, you can fol­low us in Face­book and Twit­ter. Tell your friends and col­leagues about the series!


    Let’s Move

    Walk­ing increases Brain Vol­ume: A recent neuro-imaging study shows that walk­ing reg­u­larly can increase brain vol­ume and reduce the risks of devel­op­ing cog­ni­tive impairment.

    Move to another Coun­try, to another Occu­pa­tion: A cou­ple recent stud­ies rein­force the Cog­ni­tive Reserve frame­work that sug­gests we can pro­tect our brains by speak­ing more than one lan­guage and by not retir­ing early.


    Let’s Slow Down

    Take that Nap - It May Boost Your Learn­ing Capac­ity: Scott Barry Kauf­man tells us why sleep is good for the brain. It turns out that sleep is tied to a bet­ter immune sys­tem, meta­bolic con­trol, mem­ory, learn­ing, cre­ativ­ity and emo­tional func­tion­ing.

    Boost your Atten­tion with Med­i­ta­tion: Another way to slow down is to med­i­tate. Through sum­maries of stud­ies and an inter­view with Dr. New­berg, we dis­cuss how med­i­ta­tion can improve your con­cen­tra­tion skills.

    Train your Brain to Focus on Pos­i­tive Expe­ri­ences: In this arti­cle by the Greater Good Mag­a­zine, Rick Han­son explains the “neg­a­tiv­ity bias” of the brain and what steps we can take to rewire our brains for last­ing happiness.


    Let’s Inno­vate

    If much health care is actu­ally evidence-free, what type of evi­dence and tools do we need to make real-world progress?: build­ing on a recent OpEd by Peter Orszag, Alvaro Fer­nan­dez asks us to assess the value and lim­i­ta­tions of inno­v­a­tive brain health tools based on how they seem to per­form com­pared to exist­ing alter­na­tives– not com­pared to Pla­tonic research ideals. This basic con­cept serves as the foun­da­tion of the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion.


    Let’s Think

    Cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion helps Alzheimer’s patients: Another sci­en­tific review shows that pro­grams focus­ing on global cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease by 5 years. The authors con­clude that efforts to develop and imple­ment cognitive-based inter­ven­tion for the treat­ment of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease must be pursued.

    The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: In his new book, Dr. Gary Small describes how the onset of brain health prob­lems may resem­ble a brain fog, mak­ing the role of the physi­cian and the care­giver par­tic­u­larly important.

    Have you read The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg?: if so, please take 5 min­utes to answer this brief sur­vey. Your feed­back will ensure that future edi­tions are even more rel­e­vant and valu­able. If you haven’t read it yet, you can learn more and order here.


    Let’s Play: Top 10 Illusions

    Are you ready to expe­ri­ence our selec­tion of Visual Illu­sions? See if you can trust your brain…enjoy these Top 10 Visual Illusions..


    Being Bilingual Enhances Executive Functions and Brain

    Bilin­gual­ism Asso­ci­ated With Brain Reor­ga­ni­za­tion Involv­ing Bet­ter Effi­ciency in Exec­u­tive Func­tions, Research Finds (Sci­ence News)

    Find­ings are very impor­tant because they show an unknown aspect of bilin­gual­ism, which goes beyond lin­guis­tic advan­tages, and they also show bilin­guals are more effec­tive in respond­ing to cer­tain stim­uli,” explains researcher Cesar Avila, who ensures the research shows that bilin­gual­ism does not only have effects on the brain at a lin­guis­tic level, but that it also works dif­fer­ently, empha­siz­ing the impor­tance of intro­duc­ing lan­guages at an early age because it gen­er­ates cog­ni­tive benefits.

    Jour­nal Ref­er­ence: G. Garbin, A. San­juan, C. Forn, J.C. Bus­ta­mante, A. Rodriguez-Pujadas, V. Bel­loch, M. Her­nan­dez, A. Costa, C. Ávila. Bridg­ing lan­guage and atten­tion: Brain basis of the impact of bilin­gual­ism on cog­ni­tive con­trol. Neu­roIm­age, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.05.078

    This study sup­ports another one we com­mented on a few years ago on how Bilin­gual brains stay sharp longer:

    In short: learn­ing and speak­ing a for­eign lan­guage pro­vides con­stant brain exer­cise to the frontal lobes, the area of the brain right behind your fore­head that focuses our atten­tion, helps us ignore dis­trac­tions, and make decisions.”


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