Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Scientists issue a call to action for TBI patients to benefit from latest neuroscience findings

Brain Trauma

Credit: Julie McMahon


Brain-injured patients need therapies based on cognitive neuroscience (U. Illinois press release):

“Patients with traumatic brain injuries are not benefiting from recent advances in cognitive neuroscience research – and they should be, scientists report in a special issue of Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. Read the rest of this entry »

Why addressing brain health priorities requires open science (8-minute video)

Description of talk (8 minutes): Why open science? The reasons are many, but here are a few: our service members returning from 14 years of war, the rise in awareness of sports related brain injuries and Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Traumatic Brain Injury patients with high cognitive reserve recover 7 times better

Car_AccidentPeople with More Education May Recover Better from Traumatic Brain Injury (Neurology):

“The study examined people with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries, most of which were from motor vehicle accidents or falls. All were taken to Read the rest of this entry »

Neuroscience, brain development and cognitive health

Round-up of recent articles on neuroscience, brain development and cognitive health:

Encephalon 68: A carnival of neuroscience:

Chris hosts a great collection of neuroscience and psychology posts in his signature Q&A style.

Bilingual Babies Get Head Start — Before They Can Talk:

– Unlike the monolingual group, the bilingual group was able to successfully learn a new sound type and use it to predict where each character would pop up.

– The bilingual babies’ skill applies to more than just switching between languages. Mehler likened this apparently enhanced cognitive ability to a brain selecting “the right tool for the right operation” also called executive function.

– In this basic process, the brain, ever flexible, nimbly switches from one learned response to another as situations change.

– Monolingual babies hone this ability later in their young lives, Mehler suggests.”

Study shows how kids’ stress hurts memory:

“Now, research is providing what could be crucial clues to explain how childhood poverty translates into dimmer chances of success: Chronic stress from growing up poor appears to have a direct impact on the brain, leaving children with impairment in at least one key area – working memory.”

Returning troops getting tested for brain injuries:

– “More than 150,000 service members from the Marines, Air Force, Army and Navy have undergone the testing that became mandatory last year. Those who suffer a concussion or similar head injury will get a follow-up test.”

Diabetes ‘impact on brain power’:

– “Failure to control type 2 diabetes may have a long-term impact on the brain, research has suggested.

– Lead researcher Dr Jackie Price said: “Either hypos lead to cognitive decline, or cognitive decline makes it more difficult for people to manage their diabetes, which in turn causes more hypos.

– “A third explanation could be that a third unidentified factor is causing both the hypos and the cognitive decline.”

Stress Management as Key Factor For Cognitive Fitness, and More News

Brain Health NewsA roundup of several excellent articles this week:

Keeping Your Brain Fit (US News and World Report)

– “In a study of more than 2,800 people ages 65 or older, Harvard researchers found that those with at least five social ties—church groups, social groups, regular visits, or phone calls with family and friends—were less likely to suffer cognitive decline than those with no social ties.”

– “The working hypothesis is that it has something to do with stress management,” says Marilyn Albert, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins and codirector of the Alzheimer’s research center there. In animal studies, a prolonged elevation in stress hormones damages the hippocampus. Social engagement appears to boost people’s sense of control, which affects their stress level. Creative arts seem to be a highly promising way to increase social engagement. George Washington University’s Cohen has found that elderly people who joined choirs also stepped up their other activities during a 12-month period, while a nonsinging control group dropped out of some activities. The singers also reported fewer health problems, while the control group reported an increase.”

We Never Forget Anything (Anymore) (Prevention Magazine)

– “Processing new information when we’re anxious is tough; the stress itself is a distraction. Fernandez taught Laurie this relaxation trick: Read the rest of this entry »

Happier, and Positive Psychology

LifeTwo, the website focused on all aspects of midlife challenges, from midlife crisis to midlife career change, is presenting a “How to be Happy” week, based on the work of Harvard Professor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar and his book “Happier”. Dr. Ben-Shahar teaches Harvard’s most popular class, on Positive Psychology.

Today is their Day 1: From Happy to Happier.

A number of good bloggers are collaborating: Happiness Project, The Brazen Careerist, MenAlive, The Dating Goddess, Boomer Chronicles, Man-o-Pause, AgingBackwards. I will be honored to provide a guest column, this Thursday, on how to identify and overcome some common brain-based obstacles to being happy, and how you apply the latest brain science developments in your own quest to be happier. In the meanwhile, you may enjoy the post On being positive, and check out Day 1: From Happy to Happier.

Enjoy the week!

Books on neuroplasticity and memory training

Neuroplasticity: the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections throughout life. (see more concepts in our Glossary).

We coudn’t be happier about the growing number of books popularizing the key lessons about brain training that Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg has been researching and writing about for years, and that motivated us to embark ourselves in the SharpBrains adventure.

Discover Magazine presents a great article, Rewiring the Brain, reviewing two recent books.

  • The subtitle is “Neuroplasticity can allow for treatment of senility, post-traumatic stress, ­obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression and Buddhists have been capitalizing on it for millenia.” I would add that the strong value of lifelong learning present in jesuit and jewish traditions reflects the same wisdom. Some quotes:
  • “Two new books, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (Ballantine Books, $24.95) by science journalist Sharon Begley and The Brain That Changes Itself (Viking, $24.95) by psychiatrist Norman Doidge, offer masterfully guided tours through the burgeoning field of neuroplasticity research. Each has its own style and emphasis; both are excellent.”
  • “Finally, both authors conclude that adult neuroplasticity is a vastly undertapped resource, one with which Western medicine and psychology are just now coming to grips. An important emerging research agenda is to Read the rest of this entry »

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