Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Update: Time to become mental capitalists and invest in our brains?

Time for the Novem­ber edi­tion of the monthly Sharp­Brains eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing a wealth of resources and insights on how to invest in our brains, includ­ing top­ics such as brain health, med­i­ta­tion, neu­ropsy­chol­ogy, brain train­ing games, chemo brain, dyslexia, neu­ro­plas­tic­ity, cog­ni­tive biases, stress, and more. Not to for­get a cou­ple of fun teasers. Enjoy!

Brain Fit­ness Q&A Sessions:

The Big Picture:

New Research:

New Books:

Brain Teasers:

Thank you for your inter­est and atten­tion and have a great December.

Transcript: Paul Nussbaum on Meditation, Neuropsychology and Thanksgiving

Below you can find the full tran­script of our engag­ing Q&A ses­sion yes­ter­day on holis­tic brain health with clin­i­cal neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist Dr. Paul Nuss­baum, author of Save Your Brain. You can learn more about the full Brain Fit­ness Q&A Series Here.

Per­haps one of the best exchanges was: Read the rest of this entry »

Transcript: Dr. Gary Small on Enhancing Memory and the Brain

Below you can find the full tran­script of our engag­ing Q&A ses­sion today on mem­ory, mem­ory tech­niques and brain-healthy lifestyles with Dr. Gary  Small, Direc­tor of UCLA’s Mem­ory Clinic and Cen­ter on Aging, and author of The Mem­ory Bible. You can learn more about his book  Here, and learn more about upcom­ing Brain Fit­ness Q&A Ses­sions Here.

Per­haps one of the best ques­tions and answers was:

Ques­tion: Gary, you’ve worked many years in this field. Let us in on the secret. What do YOU do you, per­son­ally, to pro­mote your own brain fit­ness?
Answer: I try to get at least 30 min­utes of aer­o­bic con­di­tion­ing each day; try to min­i­mize my stress by stay­ing con­nected with fam­ily and friends; gen­er­ally eat a brain healthy diet (fish, fruits, veg­eta­bles), and try to bal­ance my online time with my offline time. Which reminds me, I think it is almost time for me to sign off line. Read the rest of this entry »

The Top Brain Book Collection for Educators and Learners

The pow­er­ful National Asso­ci­a­tion for the Accred­i­ta­tion of Teacher Edu­ca­tion (NCATE) has now issued a report that encour­ages pre-service and grad­u­ate teacher edu­ca­tion pro­grams to incor­po­rate cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science dis­cov­er­ies about child and ado­les­cent devel­op­ment into their cur­ric­ula.  This link to a Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle on this devel­op­ment will also get you to the NCATE report.

The next obvi­ous step would turn encour­age­ment into curricular/accreditation require­ments. That incor­po­ra­tion of Edu­ca­tional Neu­ro­science dis­cov­er­ies into edu­ca­tional pol­icy and prac­tice will shape 21st cen­tury teacher edu­ca­tion and K-12 edu­ca­tion in ways that are Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Public Libraries as Health Clubs for the Brain

Here you have the July edi­tion of our monthly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and Brain Fitnessbrain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

Pub­lic libraries have long offered the pub­lic more than books. And now, recent demo­graphic and sci­en­tific trends are con­verg­ing to fun­da­men­tally trans­form the role of libraries in our cul­ture. You may enjoy read­ing this recent arti­cle I wrote for the May-June 2009 Issue of Aging Today, the bimonthly pub­li­ca­tion of the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging: Pub­lic Libraries: Community-Based Health Clubs for the Brain.

The Big Picture

Can You Out­smart Your Genes? An Inter­view with Author Richard Nis­bett: David DiS­alvo inter­views Richard Nis­bett, the author of Intel­li­gence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cul­tures Count, who has emerged as a per­sua­sive voice mar­shalling evi­dence to dis­prove the heredity-is-destiny argument.

Yes, You Can Build Willpower: Daniel Gole­man dis­cusses how the brain makes about 10,000 new cells every day, how they migrate to where they are needed, and how each cell can make around 10,000 con­nec­tions to other brain cells. Impli­ca­tion? Med­i­tate, mind­fully, and build pos­i­tive habits.

Bird’s Eye View of Cog­ni­tive Health Inno­va­tion: Alvaro Fer­nan­dez opened the Cog­ni­tive Health Track dur­ing the Games for Health Con­fer­ence (June 11-12th, Boston) with an overview of the seri­ous games, soft­ware and online appli­ca­tions that can help assess and train cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. The pre­sen­ta­tion is avail­able Here.

Brain Tests and Myths

The Best Mem­ory Tests, from the Alzheimer’s Action Plan: Dr. Murali Doraiswamy dis­cusses the Pros and Cons of the most com­mon assess­ments to iden­tify cog­ni­tive prob­lems, includ­ing what the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) does and doesn´t, and inno­v­a­tive com­put­er­ized neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal tests.

Debunk­ing 10 Brain Health Myths: Does your brain have a “Brain Age”? Is a Magic Pill to “pre­vent mem­ory prob­lems” right around the cor­ner? Does “aging” equal “decline”? Check out the facts to debunk 10 com­mon myths on brain health.


Free Webi­nar: On July 21st, 10am Pacific Time/ 1pm East­ern Time, Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg and Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, co-authors of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, will cover the main high­lights from this new book and address the ques­tions sub­mit­ted by read­ers. You can learn more and reg­is­ter HERE.

Research Ref­er­ences:  This is a par­tial list of the sci­en­tific stud­ies reviewed dur­ing the research phase of SharpBrains’s new book, orga­nized by rel­e­vant chap­ter, for those of you who like to explore top­ics in depth by read­ing orig­i­nal research (per­haps PubMed should pro­mote itself as a never end­ing source of men­tal stimulation?).

Brain Teasers

Brain Teasers on Brain Fit­ness: Are you ready to test your knowl­edge of sev­eral key brain fit­ness met­rics? For exam­ple: How many sol­diers in the US Army have gone through com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive test­ing before being deployed, and why?
Finally, a request: if you have already read The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, and could write a brief cus­tomer review at, we would surely appre­ci­ate! The book page is Here.

Best regards, and enjoy the month

It’s Brain Awareness Week!

Reminder:  2009 Brain Aware­ness Week started today. You can find excel­lent resources and a cal­en­dar of events, Here.

Next time you are in a pub­lic space (per­haps now you are at home, as I am as I write these lines), look left, look in front, look right. Per­haps you can see some­one who would ben­e­fit from the aware­ness that he or she is endowed with  that won­der­ful, unique, organ!

(Note: don’t watch TV, or you will spend your day call­ing all those 1–800 numbers…)

And, of course, what a bet­ter week to read some of our Neu­ro­science Inter­views, dis­cover a new brain book, and try a Brain Teaser?

Distracted in the Workplace? Meet Maggie Jackson’s Book

Today we’ll dis­cuss some of the cog­ni­tive impli­ca­tions of “always on” work­places and lifestyles via a fas­ci­nat­ing inter­view with Mag­gie Jack­son, an award-winning author and jour­nal­ist. Her lat­est book, Dis­tracted: The Ero­sion of Atten­tion and the Com­ing Dark Age, describes Distracted by Maggie Jacksonthe impli­ca­tions of our busy work and life envi­ron­ments and offers impor­tant reflec­tions to help us thrive in them.

This is a 2-part inter­view con­ducted via e-mail: we will pub­lish the con­tin­u­a­tion on Thurs­day March 12th.

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez: New York Times colum­nist David Brooks said last year that we live in a Cog­ni­tive Age, and encour­aged read­ers to be aware of this change and try and adapt to the new real­ity. Can you explain the cog­ni­tive demands of today’s work­places that weren’t there 30–40 years ago?

Mag­gie Jack­son: Our work­places have changed enor­mously in recent decades, and it’s easy to point to the Black­berry or the lap­top as the sources of our cul­ture of speed and over­load and dis­trac­tion. But it’s impor­tant to note first that our 24/7, frag­mented work cul­ture has deeper roots. With the first high-tech inven­tions, such as the cin­ema, phono­graph, tele­graph, rail, and car, came rad­i­cal changes in human expe­ri­ence of time and space. Dis­tance was shat­tered  long before email and red-eye flights. Tele­graph oper­a­tors  not online daters  expe­ri­enced the first vir­tual love affairs, as evi­denced by the 1890s novel Wired Love. Now, we wres­tle with the effects of changes seeded long ago.

Today, the cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal demands on work­ers are steep. Con­sider 24/7 liv­ing. At great cost to our health, we oper­ate in a sleep­less, hur­ried world, ignor­ing cues of sun and sea­son, the Indus­trial Age inven­tions of the week­end and vaca­tion, and the rhythms of biol­ogy. We try to break the fet­ters of time and live like per­pet­ual motion machines. That’s one rea­son why we feel over­loaded and stressed con­di­tions that are cor­ro­sive to problem-solving and clear thinking.

At the same time, our tech­nolo­gies allow us access to mil­lions of infor­ma­tion bites pro­duc­ing an abun­dance of data that is both won­drous and dan­ger­ous. Unless we have the will, dis­ci­pline and frame­works for turn­ing this infor­ma­tion into wis­dom, we remain stuck on the sur­face of Read the rest of this entry »

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