Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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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!

NEUROGENESIS

MIT news – Picower researcher finds neu­ron growth in adult brain

Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science brain brief – Adult Neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis

BRAIN PLASTICITY

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.

Teasers

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?

Events

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.

Ques­tion:
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!

Answer:
Read the rest of this entry »

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