Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Research: Could studying the placebo effect change the way we think about medicine?

The Power of Noth­ing: Could study­ing the placebo effect change the way we think about med­i­cine? (The New Yorker):

For years, Ted Kaptchuk per­formed acupunc­ture at a tiny clinic in Cam­bridge, a few miles from his cur­rent office, at the Har­vard Med­ical School. He opened for busi­ness in 1976, hav­ing just returned from Asia, where he had spent four years hon­ing his craft. Not long after he arrived in Boston, he treated an Armen­ian woman for chronic bron­chi­tis. A few weeks later, the woman returned with her hus­band and told Kaptchuk that he had “cured” her.” Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Training Clinical Trial: Seeking Older Adults

fmri.jpgNeu­ro­sci­en­tists at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity Med­ical Cen­ter (see our pre­vi­ous inter­view with Yaakov Stern on the Cog­ni­tive Reserve) have asked for help in recruit­ing vol­un­teers for an excit­ing clin­i­cal trial. If you are based in New York City, and between the ages of 60 and 75, please con­sider join­ing this study.

More infor­ma­tion below:

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Use it or Lose it?

Train your Brain! Healthy adults between the ages of 60 and 75 liv­ing in NYC are invited to join a study of men­tal fit­ness train­ing. Qual­i­fied indi­vid­u­als will play a scientifically-based video game in our lab­o­ra­tory, and will be tested to deter­mine the effects on atten­tion, mem­ory, and cog­ni­tive performance.

You will earn up to $600 plus trans­porta­tion costs if you com­plete the 3-month program.

This excit­ing study is being per­formed by the Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science Divi­sion of the Sergievsky Cen­ter at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity Med­ical Center.

If inter­ested, con­tact us today: Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday Afternoon Quiz

Here’s a quick quiz to test your mem­ory and think­ing skills which should work out your tem­po­ral and frontal lobes. See how you do!

  1. Name the one sport in which nei­ther the spec­ta­tors nor the par­tic­i­pants know the score or the leader until the con­test ends.
  2. What famous North Amer­i­can land­mark is con­stantly mov­ing backward?
  3. Of all veg­eta­bles, only two can live to pro­duce on their own for sev­eral grow­ing sea­sons. All other veg­eta­bles must be replanted every year. What are the only two peren­nial vegetables?
  4. What fruit has its seeds on the outside?
  5. In many liquor stores, you can buy pear brandy, with a real pear inside the bot­tle. The pear is whole and ripe, and the bot­tle is gen­uine; it hasn’t been cut in any way. How did the pear get inside the bottle?
  6. Only three words in Stan­dard Eng­lish begin with the let­ters “dw” and they are all com­mon words. Name two of them.
  7. There are 14 punc­tu­a­tion marks in Eng­lish gram­mar. Can you name at least half of them?
  8. Name the one veg­etable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form except fresh.
  9. Name 6 or more things that you can wear on your feet begin­ning with the let­ter “S.”

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Answers To Quiz:

  1.  The one sport in which nei­ther the spec­ta­tors, nor the par­tic­i­pants, know the score or the leader until the con­test ends: boxing
  2.  The North Amer­i­can land­mark con­stantly mov­ing back­ward: Nia­gara Falls (the rim is worn down about two and a half feet each year because of the mil­lions of gal­lons of water that rush over it every minute.)
  3. Only two veg­eta­bles that can live to pro­duce on their own for sev­eral grow­ing sea­sons: aspara­gus and rhubarb.
  4. The fruit with its seeds on the out­side: strawberry.
  5. How did the pear get inside the brandy bot­tle? It grew inside the bot­tle. (The bot­tles are placed over pear buds when they are small and are wired in place on the tree. The bot­tle is left in place for the entire grow­ing sea­son. When the pears are ripe, they are snipped off at the stems.)
  6. Three Eng­lish words begin­ning with “dw”: dwarf, dwell, and dwindle.
  7. Four­teen punc­tu­a­tion marks in Eng­lish gram­mar: period, comma, colon, semi­colon, dash, hyphen, apos­tro­phe, ques­tion mark, excla­ma­tion point, quo­ta­tion marks, brack­ets, paren­the­sis, braces, and ellipses.
  8. The only veg­etable or fruit never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form but fresh: lettuce.
  9. Six or more things you can wear on your feet begin­ning with “s”: shoes, socks, san­dals, sneak­ers, slip­pers, skis, skates, snow­shoes, stock­ings, stilts.

PS: Enjoy these 50 brain teasers to test your cog­ni­tive abil­ity. Free, and fun for adults of any age!

Executive Function Workout

Here is new brain teaser from puz­zle mas­ter Wes Carroll.

The Fork in the Road

fork in the road number puzzles

Ques­tion:
Start at the cen­ter num­ber and col­lect another four num­bers by fol­low­ing the paths shown (and not going back­wards). Add the five num­bers together. What is the low­est num­ber you can score?

This puz­zle works your exec­u­tive func­tions in your frontal lobes by using your plan­ning skills, hypoth­e­sis test­ing, and logic.

ANSWER:

30

 

PS: Enjoy these 50 brain teasers to test your cog­ni­tive abil­ity. Free, and fun for adults of any age!

Math Brain Teaser: Concentric Shapes or The Unkindest Cut of All, Part 2 of 2

If you missed Part 1, also writ­ten by puz­zle mas­ter Wes Car­roll, you can start there and then come back here to Part 2.

Con­cen­tric Shapes:
The Unkind­est Cut of All, Part 2 of 2

Dif­fi­culty: HARDER
Type: MATH (Spa­tial)
Vitruvian Man

Ques­tion:
Imag­ine a square within a cir­cle within a square. The cir­cle just grazes each square at exactly four points. Find the ratio of the area of the larger square to the smaller.

In this puz­zle you are work­ing out many of the same skills as in Part I: spa­tial visu­al­iza­tion (occip­i­tal lobes), mem­ory (tem­po­ral lobes), logic (frontal lobes), plan­ning (frontal lobes), and hypoth­e­sis gen­er­a­tion (frontal lobes).

Solu­tion:
Two to one.

Expla­na­tion:
Draw the smaller square’s diag­o­nal to see that the the smaller square’s diag­o­nal is the diam­e­ter of the cir­cle. Divide the larger square into two equal rec­tan­gu­lar halves to see that the larger square’s side is also the diam­e­ter of the cir­cle. This means that the smaller square’s diag­o­nal equals the larger square’s side. (Or, if you pre­fer, sim­ply rotate the inner square by 45 degrees.) As we’ve seen in the ear­lier puz­zle “The Unkind­est Cut Of All,” the area of the smaller square is half that of the larger, mak­ing the ratio two to one.

 

PS: Enjoy these 50 brain teasers to test your cog­ni­tive abil­ity. Free, and fun for adults of any age!

Take the Senses Challenge

This is a very fun link to a series of 20 timed puz­zles put together by the BBC. It should take you about 10 min­utes or less to complete.


–> Take THE SENSES CHALLENGE (BBC)

You also might enjoy their Inter­ac­tive Brain which allows you to explore both the struc­ture and func­tion of your brain. The func­tions will help you learn what areas of your brain you are exer­cis­ing when you do or feel cer­tain things.

They map out for you: anger, con­scious­ness, dis­gust, hap­pi­ness, lan­guage under­stand­ing, move­ment, self aware­ness, smell, taste, touch, breath­ing, coor­di­na­tion, fight or flight, hear­ing, long-term episodic mem­ory, sad­ness, self con­trol, speech pro­duc­tion, thirst and hunger, and vision.

PS: Enjoy these 50 brain teasers to test your cog­ni­tive abil­ity. Free, and fun for adults of any age!

Math Brain Teaser: The Unkindest Cut of All, Part 1 of 2

In honor of Math­e­mat­ics Aware­ness Month, here is another math­e­mat­i­cal brain ben­der from puz­zle mas­ter Wes Carroll.

The Unkind­est Cut of All, Part 1 of 2

Dif­fi­culty: HARD
Type: MATH (Spa­tial)
Square

Ques­tion:
The area of a square is equal to the square of the length of one side. So, for exam­ple, a square with side length 3 has area (32), or 9. What is the area of a square whose diag­o­nal is length 5?

In this puz­zle you are work­ing out your spa­tial visu­al­iza­tion (occip­i­tal lobes), mem­ory (tem­po­ral lobes), and hypoth­e­sis gen­er­a­tion (frontal lobes).

Solu­tion:
12.5

Expla­na­tion:
I am espe­cially fond of these two ways to solve this problem:

1. Draw the right tri­an­gle whose hypotenuse is the square’s diag­o­nal, and whose two legs are two sides of the square. Then use the Pythagorean The­o­rem (a^2 + b^2 = c^2) to solve for the length of each side. Since two sides are equal, we get (a^2 + a^2 = c^2), or (2(a^2) = c^2) ). Since c is 5, 2(a^2) = 25, mak­ing a^2 equal to 25/2, or 12.5. Since the area of the square is a^2, we’re done: it’s 12.5.

2. Tilt the square 45 degrees and draw a square around it such the the cor­ners of the orig­i­nal square just touch the mid­dles of the sides of the new, larger square. The new square has sides each 5 units long (the diag­o­nal of the smaller square), and it there­fore has area 25. How­ever, a closer inspec­tion reveals that the area of the larger square must be exactly twice that of the smaller. There­fore the smaller square has area 25/2, or 12.5.

You can now go on to Con­cen­tric Shapes: The Unkind­est Cut of All, Part 2 of 2

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