Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Fitness Software Report: Reviews

A few recent acco­lades for our just released Mar­ket Report:

An in-depth and cred­i­ble mar­ket research report that pro­vides an objec­tive view for investors and exec­u­tives look­ing for gam­ing and health oppor­tu­ni­ties in the grow­ing “brain train­ing” space. This report is a must-read to under­stand the state of the mar­ket, the play­ers, and key trends.
– Daniel Gold­man, founder of Total Enter­tain­ment Net­work and for­mer exec­u­tive at Posit Sci­ence Corporation.

This report is a must have for those in the brain health indus­try. Finally, an easy to use objec­tive resource orga­niz­ing the flurry of global brain health activ­i­ties. The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket report not only tells the story of cog­ni­tive train­ing and brain fit­ness, but pro­vides a broad range of data allow­ing one to more swiftly nav­i­gate the cur­rent ter­rain and future land­scape.“
– Debra Ray­bold, Direc­tor, Brain Health Cen­ter, Memo­r­ial Hos­pi­tal Health Sys­tem, South Bend, Indiana.

This report is com­pre­hen­sive to say the least. It pro­vides an essen­tial ser­vice for long term care orga­ni­za­tions who want to pro­vide mind-enhancing pro­grams and ser­vices. There is a Read the rest of this entry »

Exercise On the Brain: a NYT OpEd

Brain Health NewsThe New York Times just pub­lished an OpEd that may be throw­ing out the baby with the bath water.

Exer­cise on the Brain extols the virtue of phys­i­cal exer­cise for brain health at the expense of other impor­tant pil­lars such as good nutri­tion, stress man­age­ment and men­tal exercise.

We have sent a Let­ter to the Edi­tor to clar­ify the sub­ject and put their main rec­om­men­da­tion (go out and walk, or join the gym) in bet­ter context.

Let’s quickly review the four essen­tial pil­lars to help main­tain a healthy brain, and sug­gest some tips. Those pil­lars are:

  • Phys­i­cal Exercise
  • Men­tal Exercise
  • Good Nutri­tion
  • Stress Man­age­ment
  1. 1. Phys­i­cal Exercise
    • - Start by talk­ing to your doc­tor, espe­cially if you are not cur­rently phys­i­cally active, have spe­cial health con­cerns, or are mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant changes to your cur­rent program.
    • - Set a goal that you can achieve. Do some­thing you enjoy for even just 15 min­utes a day. You can always add more time and activ­i­ties later.
    • - Sched­ule exer­cise into your daily rou­tine. It will be become a habit faster if you do.
    • - If you can only do one thing, do some­thing car­dio­vas­cu­lar, mean­ing some­thing that gets your heart beat­ing faster. This includes walk­ing, run­ning, ski­ing, swim­ming, bik­ing, hik­ing, ten­nis, bas­ket­ball, play­ing tag, ulti­mate Fris­bee, and other sim­i­lar sports/activities.
  2. 2. Men­tal Exercise
    • - Be curi­ous! Get to know your local library and com­mu­nity col­lege, look for local orga­ni­za­tions or churches that offer classes or workshops
    • - Do a vari­ety of things, includ­ing things you aren’t good at (if you like to sing, try paint­ing too)
    • - Work puz­zles like cross­words and sudoku or play games like chess and bridge
    • - Try a com­put­er­ized brain fit­ness pro­gram for a cus­tomized workout
    • - If you can only do one thing, learn some­thing new every day
  3. Good Nutri­tion
    • - Eat a vari­ety of foods of dif­fer­ent col­ors with­out a lot of added ingre­di­ents or processes
    • - Plan your meals around your veg­eta­bles, and then add fruit, pro­tein, dairy, and/or grains
    • - Add some cold-water fish to your diet (tuna, salmon, mack­erel, hal­ibut, sar­dines, and her­ring) which con­tain omega-3 fatty acids
    • - Learn what a portion-size is, so you don’t overeat
    • - Try to eat more foods low on the Glycemic Index
    • - If you can only do one thing, eat more veg­eta­bles, par­tic­u­larly leafy green ones
  4. Stress Man­age­ment
    • - Get reg­u­lar car­dio­vas­cu­lar exercise
    • - Try to get enough sleep each night
    • - Keep con­nected with your friends and family
    • - Prac­tice med­i­ta­tion, yoga, or some other calm­ing activ­ity as way to take a relax­ing time-out (maybe a bath)
    • - Try train­ing with a heart rate vari­abil­ity biofeed­back sensor 
    • - If you can only do one thing, set aside 5–10 min­utes to just breathe deeply and recharge

Are there specific brain fitness programs for kids? My kids have problems with math.

Here is ques­tion 22 from Brain Fit­ness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Ques­tions.


Are there spe­cific brain fit­ness pro­grams for kids? My kids have prob­lems with math-why should they do these things that may dis­tract them?

Key Points:
  • Learn­ing stress man­age­ment skills can reduce test anx­i­ety and improve learn­ing readiness.
  • If stress lev­els are too high, con­cen­tra­tion and focus are neg­a­tively impacted.

Read the rest of this entry »

Emotional self-regulation and test anxiety

We wrote yes­ter­day about Grow­ing Super Ath­letes (each of our stu­dents) and how “Learn­ing” goes beyond what we typ­i­cally call “Edu­ca­tion”. One of the skills needed for suc­cess at school and life is emo­tional self-regulation, and a recent arti­cle on Sharp­Brains in La Opin­ion (main US-based Spanish-language news­pa­per) touched pre­cisely on that.

Below you have the link, and quotes, in Span­ish. The gist of the arti­cle is sim­i­lar to this pre­vi­ous arti­cle in Tech­nol­ogy & Learn­ing mag­a­zine: Take a Deep Breath: Biofeed­back soft­ware is help­ing stu­dents calm down for bet­ter test performance.

La Opin­ion arti­cle, by Lucero Amador: Secreto para tri­un­far en los exámenes

Enhancing Cognition and Emotions for Learning — Learning & The Brain Conference

Alvaro and I had the good for­tune to attend a great con­fer­ence last week called Learn­ing & The Brain: Enhanc­ing Cog­ni­tion and Emo­tions for Learn­ing. It was a fas­ci­nat­ing mix of neu­ro­sci­en­tists and edu­ca­tors talk­ing with and lis­ten­ing to each other. Some top­ics were meant to be applied today, but many were food for thought — insight on where sci­ence and edu­ca­tion are headed and how they influ­ence each other.

Using dra­matic new imag­ing tech­niques, such as fMRIs, PET, and SPECT, neu­ro­sci­en­tists are gain­ing valu­able infor­ma­tion about learn­ing. This pio­neer­ing knowl­edge is lead­ing not only to new ped­a­go­gies, but also to new med­ica­tions, brain enhance­ment tech­nolo­gies, and ther­a­pies.… The Con­fer­ence cre­ates an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary forum — a meet­ing place for neu­ro­sci­en­tists, edu­ca­tors, psy­chol­o­gists, clin­i­cians, and par­ents — to exam­ine these new research find­ings with respect to their applic­a­bil­ity in the class­room and clin­i­cal practice.


  • Humans are a mix­ture of cog­ni­tion and emo­tion, and both ele­ments are essen­tial to func­tion and learn properly
  • Edu­ca­tors and pub­lic pol­icy mak­ers need to learn more about the brain, how it grows, and how to cul­ti­vate it
  • Stu­dents of all ages need to be both chal­lenged and nur­tured in order to succeed
  • Peo­ple learn dif­fer­ently — try to teach and learn through as many dif­fer­ent modal­i­ties as pos­si­ble (engage lan­guage, motor skills, artis­tic cre­ation, social inter­ac­tion, sen­sory input, etc.)
  • While short-term stress can heighten your cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, long term stress kills you — you need to find bal­ance and release
  • Test anx­i­ety and sub­se­quent poor test results can be improved with behav­ioral train­ing with feed­back based on heart rate variability
  • Dr. Robert Sapol­sky is a very very enlight­en­ing and fun speaker
  • Allow time for rest and con­sol­i­da­tion of learned material
  • Emo­tional mem­o­ries are eas­ier to remember
  • Con­fer­ences like these per­form a real ser­vice in fos­ter­ing dia­logues between sci­en­tists and educators

Read the rest of this entry »

Blog Carnivals, Thanksgiving and Mission Accomplishing

Big party today. Car­ni­vals everywhere. 

Car­o­line and I admit we are quite biased. We see the world through our own lenses. Which, these days, means a lot of pas­sion for the science-based Brain Fit­ness Rev­o­lu­tion. We have been try­ing hard to com­bine fun brain teasers with seri­ous posts on how brain research is start­ing to influ­ence Edu­ca­tion, Health and Train­ing, and are thank­ful that these efforts are start­ing to pay off-Mission Accomplishing!

The week­end started very well. Kevin from IQ Cor­ner and Tick­Tock­BrainTalk had brought great early aus­pices by intro­duc­ing a Sharp­Brains feed box into his blog. A num­ber of trad­ing blogs, includ­ing Brett Steenbarger’s and Trader Mike’s, enjoyed our posts on trader per­for­mance and biofeedback.

Today has been the full Car­ni­val day. Read the rest of this entry »


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