Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Dr. Chapman Q&A Transcript: Best Brain Health Fitness Tip? “Never let status quo be an option”

Here’s the lightly edited transcript of the January 4th online Q&A session with Dr. Sandra Chapman, Director of the Center for BrainHealth at UT-Dallas and author of the new book Make Your Brain Smarter (Free Press; January 2013). Enjoy!

1:59

AlvaroF: You can start writing questions so we have a few to choose from as we start in a couple of minutes. Thank you!

2:03
AlvaroF: Just one second and we’ll be ready. Already getting great questions!

2:05
AlvaroF: Let me first thank Dr. Sandra Chapman for being with us today. She was one of the best speakers at our 2012 Summit, and since then we wanted to share her research and thinking with all SharpBrains readers. Read the rest of this entry »

Helicor StressEraser: Brain Training Product Review Survey

As part of our ongo­ing mar­ket research we’d like to ask past and cur­rent users of Helicor prod­ucts to share their expe­ri­ence with us via this 3-question anony­mous sur­vey.  Read the rest of this entry »

Research: Veterans learn to use yoga and meditation exercises to reconnect with their emotions

Veterans learn to use yoga and meditation exercises to reconnect with their emotions (Wisconsin State Journal):

“Rich Low of Madison served as an infantry officer in the Army in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, leading some 280 combat missions. When he came back from the service, he didn’t think his experience affected him in any major way. He had nightmares, and he startled easily, but he chalked that up to just something veterans live with. Read the rest of this entry »

Transcript: Paul Nussbaum on Meditation, Neuropsychology and Thanksgiving

Below you can find the full tran­script of our engag­ing Q&A ses­sion yesterday on holistic brain health with clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Paul Nussbaum, author of Save Your Brain. You can learn more about the full Brain Fit­ness Q&A Series Here.

Per­haps one of the best exchanges was: Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness: Definition, Priorities, and Links to Neuroleadership and Human Capital

Yesterday we had a fun session on Brain Fitness during the Neuroleadership Summit taking place now in San Francisco, exploring opportunities to enhance performance and health of leaders and workforces by deploying both old tools (like breathing and meditation) and new ones (such as biofeedback and database-driven personalized brain training solutions). Here are a couple of the main ideas I wanted to introduce:

A. Let’s define Brain Fitness as an “integrated approach to enhance brain functionality”, combining as appropriate lifestyle, invasive and non-invasive options. “Brain fitness” is above all an outcome, a culture, similar to “physical fitness” (jokingly, I also said that “brain fitness” is the part of “physical fitness” that “physical fitness” doesn’t yet know what to do with)

B. Then, the question becomes, “what are the most important brain functions to enhance/ develop/ maintain?”. Here I shared the following results Read the rest of this entry »

Resources to help students build emotional intelligence

(Editor’s note: Daniel Goleman is now conducting a great series of audio interviews including one with Richard Davidson on Training the Brain: Cultivating Emotional Skills. We are honored to bring you this guest post by Daniel Goleman, thanks to our collaboration with Greater Good Magazine.)

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Resources to help students build emotional intelligence

By Daniel Goleman

The scene: a first-grade classroom in a Manhattan school. Not just any classroom this one has lots of Special Ed students, who are very hyperactive. So the room is a whirlpool of frenzied activity. The teacher tells the kids that they’re going to listen to a CD. The kids quiet down a bit.

Then they get pretty still as the CD starts, and a man’s voice asks the kids to lie down on their backs, arms at their sides, and get a “breathing buddy,” like a stuffed animal, who will sit on their stomachs and help them be aware of their breathing. The voice takes the children through a series of breathing and body awareness exercises, and the kids manage to calm down and stay focused through the entire six minutes, which ends with them wiggling their toes.

“You’ve just learned how to make your body feel calm and relaxed,” says the voice. “And you can do this again any time you want.”

The voice on the CD is mine, though I’m reading the words of Linda Lantieri, who has pioneered public school programs in social and emotional learning that have been adopted worldwide.

Her newest program adds an important tool to the emotional intelligence kit: mindfulness, a moment-by-moment awareness of one’s internal state and external environment. In a Building emotional intelligencenew book, Building Emotional Intelligence, which comes with the CD, Lantieri uses mindfulness training to enhance concentration and attention among kids, and to help them learn to better calm themselves. Building Emotional Intelligence comes with instructions that explain how teachers and parents can adapt Latieri’s exercises to kids at different age levels (five to seven, eight to 11, or 12 and up) and provides detailed explanations of each exercise.

Lantieri’s project exemplifies the ways we can build on scientific insights to help children master the skills of emotional intelligence. As Richard Davidson, founder of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, explained to me in Read the rest of this entry »

Meditation on the Brain: a Conversation with Andrew Newberg

Dr. Andrew Newberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology and Psychiatry and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at theAndrew Newberg University of Pennsylvania. He has published a variety of neuroimaging studies related to aging and dementia. He has also researched the neurophysiological correlates of meditation, prayer, and how brain function is associated with mystical and religious experiences.

Dr. Newberg, thank you for being with us today. Can you please explain the source of your interests at the intersection of brain research and spirituality?

Since I was a kid, I had a keen interest in spiritual practice. I always wondered how spirituality and religion affect us, and over time I came to appreciate how science can help us explore and understand the world around us, including why we humans care about spiritual practices. This, of course, led me to be particularly interested in brain research.

During medical school I was particularly attracted by the problem of consciousness. I was fortunate to meet researcher Dr. Eugene D’Aquili in the early 1990s, who had been doing much research on religious practices effect on brain since the 1970s. Through him I came to see that brain imaging can provide a fascinating window into the brain.

Can we define religion and spirituality -which sound to me as very different brain processes-, and why learning about them may be helpful from a purely secular, scientific point of view?

Good point, definitions matter, since different people may be searching for God in different ways. I view being religious as participating in organized rituals and shared beliefs, such as going to church. Being spiritual, on the other hand, is more of an individual practice, whether we call it meditation, or relaxation, or prayer, aimed at expanding the self, developing a sense of oneness with the universe.

What is happening is that specific practices that have traditionally been associated with religious and spiritual contexts may also be very useful from a mainstream, secular, health point of view, beyond those contexts. Scientists are researching, for example, what Read the rest of this entry »

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