Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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To delay dementia, try challenging (vs. routine) brain stimulation…up to a point

brain__skeletonBrain games that could pay off in retirement (MarketWatch):

“Cognitive aging is the biggest health crisis in our country,” said Denise C. Park…the monetary cost of dementia in the U.S. tops $157 billion annually, according to estimates by the Rand Corp.—and that number could more than Read the rest of this entry »

Calisthenics and Brain Games for a Child’s Mind

calisthenics-for-a-childs-mind_1Brain Games Aim to Make Kids Smarter (SciAm Mind, requires subscription):
“Scientists have concocted mental fitness regimens to strengthen weak thinking skills in students—in effect, making kids smarter…Psychologists have long believed that thinking capacities such as attention, memory and reasoning were fixed, but 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 »

Enhancing Cognition and Emotions for Learning – Learning & The Brain Conference

Alvaro and I had the good fortune to attend a great conference last week called Learning & The Brain: Enhancing Cognition and Emotions for Learning. It was a fascinating mix of neuroscientists and educators talking with and listening to each other. Some topics were meant to be applied today, but many were food for thought – insight on where science and education are headed and how they influence each other.

Using dramatic new imaging techniques, such as fMRIs, PET, and SPECT, neuroscientists are gaining valuable information about learning. This pioneering knowledge is leading not only to new pedagogies, but also to new medications, brain enhancement technologies, and therapies…. The Conference creates an interdisciplinary forum — a meeting place for neuroscientists, educators, psychologists, clinicians, and parents — to examine these new research findings with respect to their applicability in the classroom and clinical practice.

Take-aways

  • Humans are a mixture of cognition and emotion, and both elements are essential to function and learn properly
  • Educators and public policy makers need to learn more about the brain, how it grows, and how to cultivate it
  • Students of all ages need to be both challenged and nurtured in order to succeed
  • People learn differently – try to teach and learn through as many different modalities as possible (engage language, motor skills, artistic creation, social interaction, sensory input, etc.)
  • While short-term stress can heighten your cognitive abilities, long term stress kills you — you need to find balance and release
  • Test anxiety and subsequent poor test results can be improved with behavioral training with feedback based on heart rate variability
  • Dr. Robert Sapolsky is a very very enlightening and fun speaker
  • Allow time for rest and consolidation of learned material
  • Emotional memories are easier to remember
  • Conferences like these perform a real service in fostering dialogues between scientists and educators

Read the rest of this entry »

Are yoga and meditation good for my brain?

Yoga
Here is question 16 of 25 from Brain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Questions.

Question:
Are yoga and meditation good for my brain?

Key Points:

  • Yoga, meditation, and visualization are all excellent ways to learn to manage your stress levels.
  • Reducing stress, and the stress hormones, in your system is critical to your brain and overall fitness.

Answer:
Yes. It’s clear that our society has changed faster than our genes. Instead of being faced with physical, immediately life-threatening crises that demand instant action, these days we deal with events and illnesses that gnaw away at us slowly, without any stress release.
Read the rest of this entry »

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