Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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AARP’s Best Brain Fitness Books

We are hon­ored to announce that AARP has included our very own book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (182 pages; $14.95) in its new List of Best Books on Brain Fit­ness, which will be unveiled dur­ing AARP’s upcom­ing Life@50 National Event. We hope this list will help many more indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions learn about our resource: given that 80% of respon­dents to a recent AARP sur­vey selected “Stay­ing Men­tally Sharp” as their top pri­or­ity, we cer­tainly know there is a sig­nif­i­cant need for qual­ity information!

AARP’s Best Books Guide


Brain Fit­ness


The Dana Guide to Brain Health, by Floyd E. Bloom, M. Flint Beal, and David J. Kupfer (Dana Press, 2006).

The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp, by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Elkhonon Gold­berg. (Sharp­Brains Inc., 2009).

Save Your Brain: The 5 Things You Must Do To Keep Your Mind Young and Sharp
, by Paul Nuss­baum. (McGraw-Hill, 2010).

The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Sur­pris­ing Tal­ents of the Middle-Aged Mind, by Bar­bara Strauch (Viking, 2010).

The Mem­ory Bible: An Inno­v­a­tive Strat­egy for Keep­ing Your Brain Young
, by Gary Small (Hype­r­ion, 2003).

___________

Also Rec­om­mended:

The Mature Mind: The Pos­i­tive Power of the Aging Brain, by Gene Cohen (Basic Books, 2006).

The Brain That Changes Itself, by Nor­man Doidge (Pen­guin, 2007).

Spark: The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary New Sci­ence of Exer­cise and the Brain, by John Ratey and Eric Hager­man (Lit­tle, Brown and Co., 2008).

Think Smart: A Neuroscientist’s Pre­scrip­tion for Improv­ing Your Brain’s Per­for­mance, by Richard Restak (River­head, 2010).

Com­piled by:
Office of Aca­d­e­mic Affairs, AARP

Top 30 Brain Fitness Articles

Here are the top 30 Sharp­Brains arti­cles based on our read­ers’ rank­ing since 2006 and since 2010. Brain sci­ence news, brain fit­ness trends, brain health and main­te­nance tips, read on to expand your mind!

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  1. Top 50 Brain Teasers, by Sharp­Brains Team
  2. The Ten Habits of Highly Effec­tive Brains, by Alvaro Fernandez
  3. How can I improve my short term mem­ory?, by Pas­cale Michelon
  4. Brain Plas­tic­ity: How learn­ing changes your brain, by Pas­cale Michelon
  5. Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram and Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity @ PBS, by Alvaro Ferandez
  6. What are Cog­ni­tive Abil­i­ties?, by Pas­cale Michelon
  7. How can I improve my short term mem­ory?, by Car­o­line Latham
  8. Your Brain on Trad­ing, by Jan­ice Dorn
  9. Stress Man­age­ment Work­shop for Inter­na­tional Women’s Day, by Alvaro Fernandez
  10. Video Games Pros and Cons, by Jeremy Adam Smith Read the rest of this entry »

New Brain Health Series: The Child, Adolescent, Adult and Aging Brain

Peo­ple of all ages read SharpBrains.com, so we are prepar­ing a series of arti­cles on Brain Health across the Lifes­pan.

The series will include 4 parts:

  • The Child Brain, pub­lished in Novem­ber 2010
  • The Ado­les­cent Brain, in Decem­ber 2010
  • The Adult Brain, in Jan­u­ary 2011
  • The Aging Brain, in Feb­ru­ary 2011
  • Each part will :

    • Include sur­pris­ing facts on how the brain works
    • Debunk com­mons myths about cog­ni­tion and brain health
    • Link to resources such as books and documentaries.

    If you want to read these arti­cles as we pub­lish them via SharpBrains.com, you can either fol­low us in Face­book and Twit­ter or, if you have not done so already, sub­scribe to our monthly update (eNewslet­ter).

    Tell your friends and col­leagues about the series!

    Brain Health News: Top Articles and Resources in March

    There’s such a flood of very sig­nif­i­cant research stud­ies, edu­ca­tional resources and arti­cles related to brain health, it’s hard to keep track — even for us!

    Let me intro­duce and quote some of the top Brain Health Stud­ies, Arti­cles and Resources pub­lished in March:

    1) Cog­ni­tive Decline Begins In Late 20s, Study Sug­gests (Sci­ence Daily)

    - “These pat­terns sug­gest that some types of men­tal flex­i­bil­ity decrease rel­a­tively early in adult­hood, but that how much knowl­edge one has, and the effec­tive­ness of inte­grat­ing it with one’s abil­i­ties, may increase through­out all of adult­hood if there are no patho­log­i­cal dis­eases,” Salt­house said.

    - How­ever, Salt­house points out that there is a great deal of vari­ance from per­son to person

    2) Cere­brum 2009: Emerg­ing Ideas in Brain Sci­ence — new book by the Dana Foun­da­tion that “explores the cut­ting edge of brain research and its impli­ca­tions in our every­day lives, in lan­guage under­stand­able to the gen­eral reader.”

    A cou­ple of excel­lent chap­ters of direct rel­e­vance to everyone’s brain health are:
    – Chap­ter 4: A Road Paved by Rea­son, by Eliz­a­beth Nor­ton Lasley

    - Chap­ter 10: Neural Health: Is It Facil­i­tated by Work Force Par­tic­i­pa­tion?, by Denise Park, Ph.D

    3) Stay­ing Sharp DVD Pro­gram: “Dr. Jor­dan Graf­man, chief of the Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science Sec­tion at the National Insti­tute of Neu­ro­log­i­cal Dis­or­ders and Stroke out­side of Wash­ing­ton, DC, and a mem­ber of the Dana Alliance for Brain Ini­tia­tives, is your guide as we cover what to expect from the aging brain and what we can do to ‘stay sharp.’

    For a free DVD of this pro­gram you can con­tact stayingsharp@dana.org. (they say free in their web­site, I don’t know if that includes ship­ping & handling)

    4) Dri­vers to be tested on cog­ni­tive abil­ity start­ing at age 75 (Japan Times)

    The out­line of a cog­ni­tive test that dri­vers aged 75 or over will be required to take from June when renew­ing their licenses was released Thursday…The test is intended to reduce the num­ber of traf­fic acci­dents involv­ing elderly dri­vers by mea­sur­ing their cog­ni­tive level.

    5) Phys­i­cal Fit­ness Improves Spa­tial Mem­ory, Increases Size Of Brain Struc­ture (Sci­ence Daily)

    - “Now researchers have found that elderly adults who are more phys­i­cally fit tend to have big­ger hip­pocampi and bet­ter spa­tial mem­ory than those who are less fit.”

    6) Brain Train­ers: A Work­out for the Mind (Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can Mind)

    I recently tried out eight of the lat­est brain fit­ness pro­grams, train­ing with each for a week. The pro­grams ranged widely in focus, qual­ity and how fun they were to use. “Like phys­i­cal exer­cise equip­ment, a brain exer­cise pro­gram doesn’t do you any good if you don’t use it, says Andrew J. Carle, direc­tor of the Pro­gram in Assisted Living/Senior Hous­ing Admin­is­tra­tion at George Mason Uni­ver­sity. And peo­ple tend not to use bor­ing equip­ment. “I remem­ber when Nor­dic­Track was the biggest thing out there. Every­one ran out and bought one, and 90 per­cent of them ended up as a clothes rack in the back of your bedroom.

    The reporter used: Posit Science’s Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram Clas­sic, Hap­pyNeu­ron, Nin­tendo BrainAge, CogniFit’s MindFit/ Cog­niFit Per­sonal Coach, Lumos­ity, MyBrain­Trainer, Brain­Twister, Cogmed Work­ing Mem­ory Training.

    7) The Lat­est in Men­tal Health: Work­ing Out at the ‘Brain Gym’ (Wall Street Journal)

    - “Mar­shall Kahn, an 82-year-old fam­ily doc­tor in Fuller­ton, Calif., says he got such a boost from brain exer­cises he started doing at a “Nifty after Fifty” club that he decided to start see­ing patients again part-time. “Doing all the men­tal exer­cise,” he says, “I real­ized I’ve still got it.”

    8) Debate Over Drugs For ADHD Reignites (Wash­ing­ton Post)

    - “New data from a large fed­eral study have reignited a debate over the effec­tive­ness of long-term drug treat­ment of chil­dren with hyper­ac­tiv­ity or attention-deficit dis­or­der, and have drawn accu­sa­tions that some mem­bers of the research team have sought to play down evi­dence that med­ica­tions do lit­tle good beyond 24 months.”

    - “The study also indi­cated that long-term use of the drugs can stunt children’s growth.”

    8) Adap­tive train­ing leads to sus­tained enhance­ment of poor work­ing mem­ory in chil­dren (Devel­op­men­tal Science)

    Abstract: Work­ing mem­ory plays a cru­cial role in sup­port­ing learn­ing, with poor progress in read­ing and math­e­mat­ics char­ac­ter­iz­ing chil­dren with low mem­ory skills. This study inves­ti­gated whether these prob­lems can be over­come by a train­ing pro­gram designed to boost work­ing mem­ory. Chil­dren with low work­ing mem­ory skills were assessed on mea­sures of work­ing mem­ory, IQ and aca­d­e­mic attain­ment before and after train­ing on either adap­tive or non-adaptive ver­sions of the pro­gram. Adap­tive train­ing that taxed work­ing mem­ory to its lim­its was asso­ci­ated with sub­stan­tial and sus­tained gains in work­ing mem­ory, with age-appropriate lev­els achieved by the major­ity of chil­dren. Math­e­mat­i­cal abil­ity also improved sig­nif­i­cantly 6 months fol­low­ing adap­tive train­ing. These find­ings indi­cate that com­mon impair­ments in work­ing mem­ory and asso­ci­ated learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties may be over­come with this behav­ioral treatment.

    9) Brain cor­tex thin­ning linked to inher­ited depres­sion (Los Ange­les Times)

    - “On aver­age, peo­ple with a fam­ily his­tory of depres­sion appear to have brains that are 28% thin­ner in the right cor­tex — the out­er­most layer of the brain — than those with no known fam­ily his­tory of the dis­ease. That cor­ti­cal thin­ning, said the researchers, is on a scale sim­i­lar to that seen in patients with Alzheimer’s dis­ease or schizophrenia.”

    Brain Fitness Update: Use It and Improve It

    Here you are have the bi-monthly update with our 10 most Pop­u­lar blog posts. (Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our RSS feed, or to our newslet­ter, at the top of this page, if you want to receive this digest by email).Crossword Puzzles Brain fitness

    In this edi­tion of our newslet­ter we bring a few arti­cles and recent news pieces that shed light on what “Use It or Lose It” means, and why we can start going beyond that to say “Use It and Improve It.”

    The Neu­ron, The Brain, and Think­ing Smarter

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Pump up those little grey cells

    Great arti­cle in the UK’s Sun­day Times yes­ter­day: Pump up those lit­tle grey cells, list­ing a Neuronsvari­ety of free or inex­pen­sive brain health-related resources.

    We are hon­ored (even hon­oured, I’d dare say) that they started the list with our com­pli­men­tary Brain Fit­ness 101 e-Guide:

    - “The sci­ence behind some of the more out­landish claims for com­puter games that are sup­posed to improve your cog­ni­tive pow­ers, is a mat­ter of debate. How­ever, you don’t need to pay £20 to give a game a try. The inter­net fea­tures a host of web­sites that can stretch your imag­i­na­tion and improve your men­tal prowess in a range of skills. Some are expen­sive rip-offs, but many are free, as our guide to the best of them shows.”

    - “Begin by Read the rest of this entry »

    Cognitive Development and Brain Research: Articles, Books, Papers (ASA)

    brain fitness eventWe had a very fun ses­sion titled Teach­ing Brain Fit­ness in Your Com­mu­nity at an Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging (ASA) con­fer­ence for health pro­fes­sion­als a cou­ple of weeks ago. Full house, with over 60 atten­dants and very good par­tic­i­pa­tion, show­ing great inter­est in the topic. I can’t wait to see the evaluations.

    These are some of the resources I promised as a follow-up, which can be use­ful to every­one inter­ested in our field:

    Good gen­eral arti­cles in the busi­ness and gen­eral media:

    Change or Die

    Want a sharp mind for your golden years? Start now

    You’re Wiser Now

    On how new neu­rons are born and grow in the adult brain:

    Salk Sci­en­tists Demon­strate For The First Time That Newly Born Brain Cells Are Func­tional In The Adult Brain

    Old Brains, New Tricks

    On the sur­pris­ing plas­tic­ity and devel­op­ment poten­tial through­out life:

    Brain Plas­tic­ity, Lan­guage Pro­cess­ing and Reading

    Jug­gling Jug­gles the Brain

    Suc­cess­ful Aging of the Healthy Brain

    Other impor­tant aspects:

    Stress and the Brain

    Exer­cise and the Brain

    Humor, Laugh­ter and The Brain

    On the impor­tance and impact of men­tal stim­u­la­tion and train­ing: Read the rest of this entry »

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