Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Change Your Environment, Change Yourself

(Editor’s note: one of the most common enemies of getting quality cognitive exercise is being on The Daily Trading Coach, by Brett Steenbarger“mental autopilot”. I recently came across an excellent new book, titled The Daily Trading Coach: 101 Lessons for Becoming Your Own Trading Psychologist, by trading performance expert Dr. Brett Steenbarger, which explicitly calls for addressing the “mental autopilot” problem in his Lesson 4. Even for those of us who are not traders, Dr. Steenbarger advice provides excellent guidance for peak cognitive performance. Dr. Steenbarger graciously gave us permission to share with you, below, Lesson 4: Change Your Environment, Change Yourself. Enjoy!).

Human beings adapt to their environments. We draw on a range of skills and personality traits to fit into various settings. That is why we can behave one way in a social setting and then seem like a totally different human being at work. One of the enduring attractions of travel is that it takes us out of our native environments and forces us to adapt to new people, new cultures, and new ways. When we make those adaptations, we discover new facets of ourselves. As we’ll see shortly, discrepancy is the mother of all change: when we are in the same environments, we tend to draw upon the same, routine modes of thought and behavior.

A few months ago I had an attack of acute appendicitis while staying in a LaGuardia airport hotel awaiting a return flight to Chicago. When I went to the nearest emergency room at Elmhurst Hospital outside Jackson Heights, Queens, I found that I was seemingly the only native English speaker in a sea of people awaiting medical care. After some difficulty attracting attention, I was admitted to the hospital and spent the next several days of recuperation navigating my way through patients and staff of every conceivable nationality. By the end of the experience, I felt at home there. I’ve since stayed at the same airport hotel and routinely make visits into the surrounding neighborhoods—areas I would have never in my wildest dreams ventured into previously. In adapting to that environment, I discovered hidden strengths. I also overcame more than a few hidden prejudices and fears.

The greatest enemy of change is routine. When we lapse into routine and operate on autopilot, we are no longer fully and actively conscious of what we’re doing and why. That is why some of the most fertile situations for personal growth—those that occur within new environments—are those that force us to exit our routines and actively master unfamiliar challenges.

In familiar environments and routines, we operate on autopilot. Nothing changes.

When you act as your own trading coach, your challenge is to stay fully conscious, alert to risk and opportunity. One of your greatest threats will be the autopilot mode in which you act without thinking, without full awareness of your situation. If you shift your trading environment, you push yourself to adapt to new situations: you break routines. If your environment is always the same, you will find yourself gravitating to the same Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Global Consortium for Neurocognitive Fitness Innovation

As mentioned before, the World Economic Forum asked me to write “an 800 words summary of your most compelling actionable idea on the challenges of gerontology”, in preparation for the Inaugural Summit of the Global Agenda that will take place November 7 to 9th in Dubai.A good number of SharpBrains readers and clients offered their insights – and expressed an interest in reading the draft. So below you have – a proposal to create a Global Consortium for Neurocognitive Fitness Innovation, building on our existing market research and advisory services work. Your thoughts?

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The Context

Growing Demands on Our Brains: Picture 6.7 billion Primitive Brains inhabiting a Knowledge Society where lifelong learning and mastering constant change in complex environments are critical for productive work, health and personal fulfillment.

Welcome to Planet Earth, 2008.

Further stretched by increased longevity: Now picture close to 1 billion of those brains over the age of 60 – and please remember that, less than 100 years ago, life expectancy was between 30 to 40 years. The rapidly evolving Knowledge Society is placing new and enormous demands on our “primitive” human brains. And the longer our lifespans, the more obvious the “cognitive gap”. Hence, from a health point of view, the growing Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Newsletter: Premium Research Sponsors

Here you have the twice-a-month newsletter with our most popular blog posts. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, simply by brain fitness and health newslettersubmitting your email at the top of this page.

Have you ever wondered how we can maintain SharpBrains’ website, blog and newsletter without selling any products and with only limited advertising? The answer is, we offer market research to organizations such as healthcare providers, research centers, technology developers, venture capital firms, consulting and training companies, and more.

Our new Premium Research Sponsors program will allow pioneering organizations to collaborate with us to shape the future of the brain fitness and cognitive health field, by sponsoring and accessing the most up-to-date information on the science and best practices to assess and improve cognitive functioning across the lifespan. You can learn more about the Premium Research Sponsors program Here.

Market News

Allstate: Can we Improve Driver Safety using Computerized Cognitive Training?: Insurance company Allstate and brain fitness software developer Posit Science just announced a very intelligent initiative, and Tom Warden, Assistant Vice President and Leader of Allstate’s Research and Planning Center, explains to us why cognitive training may be the new safety feature following seat belts and airbags.

The Cognitive Health and Fitness Market On The Move: As you have probably seen, the Cognitive Health and Brain Fitness field is rapidly evolving. Here we highlight some of the main developments affecting the field over the last 6-months: public policy initiatives in Canada and the US, the growing role of computerized assessments, several venture capital rounds, major initiatives by insurance companies, and significant research findings.

The Big Picture

Executive Summary of the Brain Fitness Market: Let’s step back and ask ourselves, “Why is the field evolving in such a fast way? What is hope, what is hype, what is reality?” A spate of recent global news coverage on brain fitness and brain training reflects a growing interest in natural, non drug-based interventions to keep our brains sharp as we age. This interest is very timely, given an aging population, the increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s rates, and soaring health care costs in the US that place more emphasis than ever on prevention and lifestyle changes. This article summarizes the main market dynamics, open questions, and top trends to watch for.

Nourishing Our Brains and Minds

Teaching is the Art of Changing the Brain: Laurie Bartels promises, “I have read a number of books that translate current brain research into practice while providing practical suggestions for teachers to implement. This is the first book I have read that provides a biological, and clearly rational, overview of learning and the brain.” Go and enjoy her review of a very interesting book by James Zull, Director Emeritus of the University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education at Case Western Reserve.

Philosophy as the Missing Link in School Curricula: Kimberly Wickham answers provides some good answers to the question, “Why would anyone want to teach philosophy to pre-adolescent children? that will engage your critical thinking skills.

A User’s Guide to Lifelong Brain Health: Drs Simon Evans and Paul Burghardt hope (as we do) that the emerging emphasis on cognitive exercise and fitness helps complement -not substitute- other lifestyle factors important for the “physical health of the brain and all the systems it communicates with”. Think: nutrition, exercise, sleep.

Exercising Our Brains

Excellent Reader Comments: Our last newsletter generated a round of excellent  comments by readers on cognitive training, Posit Science and Alzheimer’s Australia, gerontology and the brain, and the value of videogames. Come enjoy this collective wisdom and participate as you wish.

Brainy Haikus:
river with haikus
flowing in since the summer
keeping  us afloat

The Challenges of Gerontology?: The World Economic Forum has asked me, as one of the 16 members of the Global Agenda Council on the Challenges of Gerontology, for “an 800 word summary of your most compelling actionable idea on the challenges of gerontology.” Feel free to help me out by offering your own actionable ideas, either related to the discipline of gerontology itself or on ways to best engage the growing number of brains over the age of 60 in our planet.

Enjoy!

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 Plasticity: How learning changes your brain

neuroplasticity and brain research

You may have heard that the brain is plastic. As you know. the brain is not made of plastic…Neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity, refers to the brain’s ability to CHANGE throughout life. The human brain has the amazing ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections between brain cells (neurons).

In addition to genetic factors, the environment in which a person lives, as well as the actions of that person, play a significant role in plasticity.

Neuroplasticity occurs in the brain:

Read the rest of this entry »

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