Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain training works: Study finds 10-year benefit from 10-hour training

Brain TrainingBrain train­ing helped older adults stay sharp for years –study (Reuters):

  • A brief course of brain exer­cises helped older adults hold on to improve­ments in rea­son­ing skills and pro­cess­ing speed for 10 years after the course ended, accord­ing to results from the largest study ever done on cog­ni­tive train­ing.  Read the rest of this entry »

Learning with Video Games: A Revolution in Education and Training?

In recent years, we have wit­nessed the begin­nings of a rev­o­lu­tion in edu­ca­tion.  Tech­nol­ogy has fun­da­men­tally altered the way we do many things in daily life, but it is just start­ing to make head­way in chang­ing the way we teach.  Just as tele­vi­sion shows like Sesame Street enhanced the pas­sive learn­ing of infor­ma­tion for kids by teach­ing in a fun for­mat, elec­tronic games offer to greatly enhance the way kids and adults are taught by actively engag­ing them in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Teasers: A Good Laugh

Laugh­ing feels good. Laugh­ing is indeed good in most cases. A good belly laugh amounts to an aer­o­bic exer­cise as your blood pres­sure and heart rate increase, your breath­ing changes and your diaphragm con­tracts. Laugh­ing has also been shown to boost the immune sys­tem and reduce stress.

Laugh­ing is thus good for your brain! Here are two fun ways to take a fur­ther look at laugh­ter and the brain :

  • Lis­ten to these laughs and decide whether it is a human or a com­puter laughing.
  • Try this to find out how much you are stressed. You may be surprised…

Enjoy!

Brain Games to Test Your Memory

Ready to see how well you can remem­ber ran­dom words or, more dif­fi­cult, names?

Click here to test your brain.

You will also be able to check your men­tal speed with a reac­tion time test. All 3 exer­cises will give you an idea of where you are at com­pared to other peo­ple of the same age.

To improve your per­for­mance, you may want to read this post before try­ing the games: How can I improve con­cen­tra­tion and memory?

Enjoy. Hope your brain sur­prises you!

Brain Games for the Weekend: One for each Cognitive Ability

When I give a pre­sen­ta­tion about brain health and fit­ness, there are always a few peo­ple who come tell me after­ward that they do cross­word puz­zles every­day. They heard that men­tal exer­cise is good for the brain so they are pleased and proud to report that they do the best they can to main­tain their brain func­tions. But are they really? What if I was a gym instruc­tor? Would the same peo­ple tell me proudly that to keep their whole body in shape they do biceps move­ments every­day, and that’s all they do? I DO feel like I was this gym instruc­tor when I hear the cross­word puz­zles claim! Solv­ing cross­word puz­zles repet­i­tively is not the best habit for two rea­sons. Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive stimulation is beneficial, even after diagnosis of Alzheimer’s

An inter­est­ing arti­cle in Nature Reviews last month reviewed sev­eral stud­ies show­ing that cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tion can be ben­e­fi­cial even for indi­vid­u­als already diag­nosed with Alzheimer’s Dis­ease (Buschert et al., 2010).

The arti­cle shows that patients with mild-to-moderate demen­tia can ben­e­fit from a range of cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions: from train­ing of par­tially spared cog­ni­tive func­tions to train­ing on activ­i­ties of daily liv­ing. Results sug­gest that such inter­ven­tions can improve global cog­ni­tion, abil­i­ties of daily liv­ing and qual­ity of life in these patients.

Patients with moderate-to-severe demen­tia seem to ben­e­fit from gen­eral engage­ment in activ­i­ties that enhance cog­ni­tive and social func­tion­ing in a non-specific manner.

In gen­eral, for patients diag­nosed with Alzheimer’s Dis­ease, the reviewed stud­ies sug­gest that pro­grams focus­ing on global cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion are more effec­tive than pro­grams that train spe­cific cog­ni­tive functions.

The oppo­site seems true for peo­ple diag­nosed with Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment (MCI). As you may remem­ber, MCI diag­no­sis is made upon objec­tive mem­ory deficits that do not inter­fere with activ­i­ties of daily liv­ing. 5 to 10% of peo­ple with MCI develop demen­tia within 1 year after being diagnosed.

It is inter­est­ing to see that the type of cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tion one may ben­e­fit from changes over the years, depend­ing on one’s cog­ni­tive sta­tus. This shows once again that there is no gen­eral magic pill in terms of brain fit­ness: Some inter­ven­tions or pro­grams work because they meet the needs of some spe­cific indi­vid­u­als. No pro­gram can work for everybody.

Read the rest of this entry »

Walking increases brain volume and reduces risks of decline

In the lat­est issue of Neu­rol­ogy a study by Erick­son et al. (2010) sug­gests that walk­ing reg­u­larly can increase brain vol­ume and reduce the risks of devel­op­ing cog­ni­tive impairment.

The researchers stared with 2 mains facts:

They asked 2 questions:

  • Can phys­i­cal activ­ity assessed ear­lier pre­dict gray mat­ter vol­ume 9 years later?
  • Is greater gray mat­ter vol­ume asso­ci­ated with reduced risks of devel­op­ing cog­ni­tive impairment?

Read the rest of this entry »

Learn about the 2014 SharpBrains Summit in 2 minutes

Watch Larry King’s interview

» Click HERE in the USA, or HERE else­where (opens 28-min program)

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