Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Study: Brain training game can improve prospective memory and activities of daily living

virtualweekb‘Vir­tual Week’ brain game has poten­tial to help older adults remain inde­pen­dent longer (press release):

An inter­na­tional team of sci­en­tists has demon­strated that just one month of train­ing on a “Vir­tual Week” com­puter brain game helps older adults sig­nif­i­cantly strengthen prospec­tive mem­ory — a type of mem­ory that is cru­cial for plan­ning, every­day func­tion­ing and inde­pen­dent liv­ing Read the rest of this entry »

December Update: Wishing You and Yours a Very Brain-Fit Decade

How can we help younger gen­er­a­tions find the right path to life­long brain health and per­for­mance — espe­cially as they will live longer, and in more dynamic, com­plex envi­ron­ments? We cre­ated the Brain Health across the Lifes­pan series to curate reli­able sources of infor­ma­tion, and here you can  check out  the Top 10 Resources to Bet­ter Under­stand the Teenage Brain.

Wish­ing you and your fam­ily a very brain-fit decade…please enjoy the Decem­ber edi­tion of our monthly eNewslet­ter: Read the rest of this entry »

Test your Reaction Time

Reac­tion time is the time it takes to react to some­thing. It can be con­sid­ered as an index of your speed of pro­cess­ing: It shows how fast you can exe­cute the men­tal oper­a­tions needed by the task at hand.

Reac­tion Time is a basic mea­sure used in many psy­chol­ogy stud­ies. Par­tic­i­pant are most often asked to push a but­ton when done with the task, which can be as var­ied as detect­ing an object, mem­o­riz­ing a word, or iden­ti­fy­ing an emo­tion. As brain pro­cess­ing is quite fast, reac­tion times are usu­ally mea­sured in mil­lisec­onds (a thou­sandth (1/1000) of a second).

What is your aver­age Reac­tion Time? Ready to try? Click here to start. Fun twist: Try before and after your Christ­mas dinner!

Merry Christ­mas from the Sharp­Brains Team

A Brain Game to Tease your Frontal Skills

The frontal lobes of the brain (in gray here) have been com­pared to an orches­tra con­duc­tor, ­influ­enc­ing, direct­ing, and mod­er­at­ing many other brain func­tions. Indeed, the frontal lobes sup­port the so-called exec­u­tive func­tions: decision-making, problem-solving, plan­ning, inhibit­ing, as well as other high-level func­tions (social behav­ior, emo­tional con­trol, work­ing mem­ory, etc.). Ready for an exec­u­tive work­out? Read the rest of this entry »

Art Kramer on Why We Need Walking Book Clubs

Dr. Arthur Kramer is a Pro­fes­sor in the Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois Depart­ment of Psy­chol­ogy, the Cam­pus Neu­ro­science Pro­gram, the Beck­man Insti­tute, and the Direc­tor of the Art KramerBio­med­ical Imag­ing Cen­ter at the Uni­ver­sity of Illinois.

I am hon­ored to inter­view him today.

Dr. Kramer, thank you for your time. Let’ start by try­ing to clar­ify some exist­ing mis­con­cep­tions and con­tro­ver­sies. Based on what we know today, and your recent Nature piece (Note: ref­er­enced below), what are the 2–3 key lifestyle habits would you sug­gest to a per­son who wants to delay Alzheimer’s symp­toms and improve over­all brain health?

First, Be Active. Do phys­i­cal exer­cise. Aer­o­bic exer­cise, 30 to 60 min­utes per day 3 days per week, has been shown to have an impact in a vari­ety of exper­i­ments. And you don’t need to do some­thing stren­u­ous: even walk­ing has shown that effect. There are many open ques­tions in terms of spe­cific types of exer­cise, dura­tion, mag­ni­tude of effect but, as we wrote in our recent Nature Reviews Neu­ro­science arti­cle, there is lit­tle doubt that lead­ing a seden­tary life is bad for our cog­ni­tive health. Car­dio­vas­cu­lar exer­cise seems to have a pos­i­tive effect.

Sec­ond, Main­tain Life­long Intel­lec­tual Engage­ment. There is abun­dant prospec­tive obser­va­tional research show­ing that doing more men­tally stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties reduces the risk of devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Let me add, given all media hype, that no “brain game” in par­tic­u­lar has been shown to have a long-term impact on Alzheimer’s or the main­te­nance of cog­ni­tion across extended peri­ods of time. It is too early for that-and con­sumers should be aware of that fact. It is true that some com­pa­nies are being more science-based than oth­ers but, in my view, the consumer-oriented field is grow­ing faster than the research is.

Ide­ally, com­bine both phys­i­cal and men­tal stim­u­la­tion along with social inter­ac­tions. Why not take a good walk with friends to dis­cuss a book? We lead very busy lives, so the more inte­grated and inter­est­ing activ­i­ties are, the more likely we will do them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Traveler IQ Brain Teaser

Just came across this very stim­u­lat­ing and fun Trav­eler IQ inter­ac­tive game…enjoy!

Link: Trav­eler IQ Challenge

Note: at the bot­tom of the page you can select a vari­ety of chal­lenges (flags of the world, UNESCO sites, North Amer­ica…) My favourite: Pho­tos of the World.

Brain Fitness News

Another great week full of inter­est­ing and rel­e­vant arti­cles. We will start a new tra­di­tion: we will end up the week (either on Fri­day or dur­ing the week­end) with a round-up of the arti­cles we haven’t been able to com­ment on dur­ing the week. Please feel free to send us your sug­ges­tions too!

(You can join our monthly newslet­ter by sub­scrib­ing at the top of this page).

Brave Heart: does will power reside in heart?

  • A recent study has looked into the issue of whether cog­ni­tive self –reg­u­la­tion (will power / moti­va­tion) is also asso­ci­ated with HRV. The study reported that higher base­line HRV was asso­ci­ated with more will-power and abil­ity to resist temptation.”

Book review: Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley

  • “Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain is as enter­tain­ing as it is edi­fy­ing. This unlikely page turner fas­ci­nates, and sug­gests opti­mism about your brain’s capac­i­ties.
    Con­sid­er­ing the aging baby boom gen­er­a­tion and the demands this group has cre­ated in every phase of life, if a cul­ture of men­tal fit­ness devel­ops, it won’t sur­prise me. Being a boomer myself, I’m all for it. I just hope I don’t have to become a bod­hisattva to reap the benefits.”

Newsweek: Clear link between exer­cise and improved cognition

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