Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


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…


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 »

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