Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Virtual “Brain Games” roundtable: Why we can, and SHOULD, train our brains

brainGames_new seasonIn preparation for the new season of National Geographic’s Brain Games, starting this Sunday February 14th, their producers asked us to participate in a virtual roundtable around this thought-provoking question:

Do you think individuals can train their brain to respond in a particular way to certain situations, or do you think our brain’s innate “startle response” is too hardwired to alter?

Short answer: Read the rest of this entry »

Lumos Labs (maker of Lumosity) pays $2 million to settle FTC deceptive advertising charges

Exterior of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in Washington, D.C.

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Lumosity must pay $2 million after “unfounded” brain game claims (Fast Company):

“The maker of brain game app Lumosity has agreed to pay $2 million to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission, which alleged it deceived consumers about the product’s brain-training benefits.

The FTC said Tuesday that Lumosity made “unfounded claims” that its games could help users do better at work and school and help reduce the effects of conditions including Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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