Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Learning about Learning: an Interview with Joshua Waitzkin

In 1993, Para­mount Pic­tures released Search­ing for Bobby Fis­cher, which depicts Joshua Waitzkin’s early chess suc­cess as he embarks on a jour­ney to win his first National chessJoshua Waitzkin cham­pi­onship. This movie had the effect of weak­en­ing his love for the game as well as the learn­ing process. His pas­sion for learn­ing was reju­ve­nated, how­ever, after years of med­i­ta­tion, and read­ing phi­los­o­phy and psy­chol­ogy. With this rekin­dling of the learn­ing process, Wait­zkin took up the mar­tial art Tai Chi Chuan at the age of 21 and made rapid progress, win­ning the 2004 push hands world cham­pi­onship at the age of 27.

After read­ing Joshua’s most recent book The Art of Learn­ing, I thought of a mil­lion top­ics The Art of LearningI wanted to dis­cuss with him–topics such as being labelled a “child prodigy”, bloom­ing, cre­ativ­ity, and the learn­ing process. Thank­fully, since I was pro­fil­ing Wait­zkin for an arti­cle I was for­tu­nate enough to get a chance to have such a con­ver­sa­tion with him. I hope you find this dis­cus­sion just as provoca­tive and illu­mi­nat­ing as I did.

The Child Prodigy

S. Why did you leave chess at the top of your game?

J. This is a com­pli­cated ques­tion that I wrote about very openly in my book. In short, I had lost the love. My rela­tion­ship to the game had become externalized-by pres­sures from the film about my life, by los­ing touch with my nat­ural voice as an artist, by mis­takes I made in the growth process. At the very core of my rela­tion­ship to learn­ing is the idea that we should be as organic as pos­si­ble. We need to cul­ti­vate a deeply refined intro­spec­tive sense, and build our rela­tion­ship to learn­ing around our nuance of char­ac­ter. I stopped doing this and fell into cri­sis from a sense of alien­ation from an art I had loved so deeply. This is when I left chess behind, started med­i­tat­ing, study­ing phi­los­o­phy and psy­chol­ogy, and ulti­mately moved towards Tai Chi Chuan.

S. Do you think being a child prodigy hurt your chess career in any way?

J. I have never con­sid­ered myself a prodigy. Oth­ers have used that term, but I never bought in to it. From a young age it was always about embrac­ing the bat­tle, lov­ing the game, and over­com­ing adver­sity. Grow­ing up as Read the rest of this entry »

Resources for Brain Health Across the Lifespan

As promised in my pre­vi­ous post on Neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis and Brain Plas­tic­ity in Adult Brains, I will now list some inter­views, video, arti­cles, and books that go hand-in-hand with these brain booksfas­ci­nat­ing top­ics we are dis­cussing. Please com­ment below if you have favorite addi­tional resources!


MIT news – Picower researcher finds neu­ron growth in adult brain

Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science brain brief – Adult Neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis


Neu­ro­science for Kids – Brain Plas­tic­ity: What Is It?

Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science brain brief – Brain Plas­tic­ity, Lan­guage Pro­cess­ing and Reading

Brain Sci­ence Pod­cast – Gin­ger Camp­bell inter­view with Nor­man Doidge, MD, Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Newsletter: November Edition

Brain exercise, brain exercisesHere you are have the Monthly Digest of our Most Pop­u­lar Blog Posts. You can con­sider it your monthly Brain Exer­cise Magazine.

(Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our RSS feed, check our Top­ics sec­tion, and sub­scribe to our monthly newslet­ter at the top of this page if you want to receive this Digest by email).

Grat­i­tude is a very impor­tant emo­tion to cul­ti­vate, as Pro­fes­sor Robert Emmons tells us in this inter­view, based on his last book. Please take some time to read it, and to find at least one thing you are thank­ful for-it will be good for your health.

We are grate­ful about a very stim­u­lat­ing November:

Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket News

10 Neu­rotech­nol­ogy Trends: a lead­ing indus­try orga­ni­za­tion released their Top 10 Neu­roTrends for 2007, and brain fit­ness mat­ters appeared in 3 of them.

Thank Boomers for Buff­ing Up Brain Mar­ket: great overview of the mar­ket from a tech­nol­ogy point of view, quot­ing our mar­ket pro­jec­tions. To clar­ify the num­bers men­tioned: we project $225m in the US alone for the brain fit­ness soft­ware mar­ket (grow­ing from $70m in 2003), broken-down as fol­lows: $80m for the Con­sumer seg­ment, $60m in K12 Edu­ca­tion, $50m in Clin­i­cal appli­ca­tions, and $35m in the Cor­po­rate seg­ment. The Con­sumer seg­ment, with a healthy aging value propo­si­tion, is the most recent one but the most rapidly grow­ing.

Exer­cise On the Brain: a NYT OpEd: a widely read opin­ion piece in the New York Times, writ­ten by 2 neu­ro­sci­en­tists, that some­how seems to miss the research behind the value of men­tal stim­u­la­tion and cog­ni­tive train­ing. Other neu­ro­science teams and us write let­ters to the edi­tor that go unpub­lished. Should you have any con­tacts with jour­nal­ists, please ask them to con­tact us: we are always happy to serve as a resource to the media.

Posit Sci­ence @ GSA: well-designed Brain Train­ing Works: a timely heads up on how well-designed computer-based pro­grams can be a great com­ple­ment to other inter­ven­tions. We will be inter­view­ing the lead­ing researcher behind that study dur­ing the next 2 weeks, so keep tuned!

Brain and Mind News and Arti­cles: a vari­ety of links to good media reports, includ­ing a spec­tac­u­lar spe­cial on mem­ory in National Geographic.

News You Can Use

Mar­ian Dia­mond on the brain: lead­ing neu­ro­sci­en­tist Mar­ian Dia­mond, now 81, shares her pre­scrip­tion for life­long brain health– diet, exer­cise, chal­lenge, new­ness and ten­der lov­ing care.

From Med­i­ta­tion to MBSR (Mind­ful­ness Based Stress Reduc­tion): a report on the ben­e­fits of med­i­ta­tion and how it is becom­ing more main­stream in medicine.


50 Mind and Brain Games for adults: you may have seen these teasers, but we want to alert you we have opened a new sec­tion in the site where you can eas­ily find our grow­ing col­lec­tion of teasers

Your Haiku, please?: a friendly chal­lenge to your brain.

Edu­ca­tion and Life­long Learning

Carol Dweck on Mind­sets, Learn­ing and Intel­li­gence: we found a fas­ci­nat­ing inter­view on the impor­tance on hav­ing a growth and learn­ing ori­ented mind­set. Both for kids and adults.

Is Intel­li­gence Innate and Fixed?: some reflec­tions based on biology.

Cor­po­rate Train­ing, Well­ness and Leadership

Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness and The Future of Work: an excel­lent con­cept map on how neu­ro­science may influ­ence the work­place of the future, drawn in real time as I spoke at an Insti­tute for the Future event.

Emo­tional Intel­li­gence and Faces: how many uni­ver­sal emo­tions and facial expres­sions are there?


Use It or Lose It, and Cells that Fire together Wire together: I spoke at the Ital­ian Con­sulate in San Fran­cisco, where we explored some of the basic con­cepts we should all know about how our brains and mind work.

Let me prac­tice the Grat­i­tude concept…Thank You for your atten­tion and participation!

You can also enjoy our pre­vi­ous edi­tions of this monthly digest:

- Octo­ber

- Sep­tem­ber

- August

- July

Carol Dweck on Mindsets, Learning and Intelligence

Just came across an excel­lent Inter­view with Carol Dweck. Thank you Coert!

Carol Dweck is a pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­ogy at Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity. Last year she pub­lished a great book called Mind­set: The New Psy­chol­ogy of Suc­cess, where she elab­o­rates on her (and ours) key mes­sage: the way you view your own intel­li­gence largely deter­mines how it will develop. And no mat­ter how you define “intel­li­gence”. In this inter­view Coert asks Carol Dweck about the book and about what the prac­ti­cal impli­ca­tions of her work are for man­agers. See a cou­ple of quotes below:

- “In my book I iden­tify two mind­sets that play impor­tant roles in people’s suc­cess. In one, the fixed mind­set, peo­ple believe that their tal­ents and abil­i­ties are fixed traits. They have a cer­tain amount and that’s that; noth­ing can be done to change it. Many years of research have now shown that when peo­ple adopt the fixed mind­set, it can limit their suc­cess. They become over-concerned with prov­ing their tal­ents and abil­i­ties, hid­ing defi­cien­cies, and react­ing defen­sively to mis­takes or setbacks-because defi­cien­cies and mis­takes imply a (per­ma­nent) lack of tal­ent or abil­ity. Peo­ple in this mind­set will actu­ally pass up impor­tant oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn and grow if there is a risk of unmask­ing weak­nesses. This is not a recipe for suc­cess in busi­ness, as ulti­mately shown by the folks at Enron, who rarely admit­ted any mis­takes. What is the alter­na­tive?“
– “In the other mind­set, the growth mind­set, peo­ple believe that their tal­ents and abil­i­ties can be devel­oped through pas­sion, edu­ca­tion, and per­sis­tence. For them, it’s not about look­ing smart or groom­ing their image. It’s about a com­mit­ment to learning–taking informed risks and learn­ing from the results, sur­round­ing your­self with peo­ple who will chal­lenge you to grow, look­ing frankly at your defi­cien­cies and seek­ing to rem­edy them. Most great busi­ness lead­ers have had this mind­set, because build­ing and main­tain­ing excel­lent orga­ni­za­tions in the face of con­stant change requires it.”

Enjoy the whole Inter­view with Carol Dweck

And this related blog post, where we posited that “In short: there is much that each of us can do to improve our brain fit­ness, no mat­ter our age, occu­pa­tion or start­ing point. There are some fun­da­men­tal capac­i­ties that we can train. And we have to care for good phys­i­cal exer­cise and stress man­age­ment on top of men­tal exercise.”

Are there herbal and vitamin supplements that will protect my memory?

Here is ques­tion 17 of 25 from Brain Fit­ness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Ques­tions.

Are there herbal and vit­a­min sup­ple­ments that will pro­tect my memory?

Key Points:

  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids found in cold-water fish may be help­ful to long term brain health.
  • Folic acid may also be help­ful to both cog­ni­tive func­tion and hearing.
  • Ginkgo biloba and DHEA do not appear to help your brain.
  • There is still more research to be done and never dis­miss the placebo effect!

Read the rest of this entry »




Welcome to

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN,, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and wellness applications of brain science. Explore our most popular resources HERE.

Follow Us…


Newsletter Signup

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:
Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.

Subscribe RSS Feed

Subscribe to the RSS Feed


Haven’t you read this book yet?