Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: Can Brain Science Enhance Living?

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Time for our monthly eNewslet­ter track­ing recent news and devel­op­ments on how the neu­ro­science of cog­ni­tion and emo­tions can inform edu­ca­tion and health across the lifes­pan. Let us try to be as con­cise as pos­si­ble, so you can spend as much time as pos­si­ble con­nect­ing with your Loved Ones instead of with the World Wide Web.

Wish­ing you a won­der­ful end of 2011 and a happy and suc­cess­ful 2012!

PS: thirty-nine peo­ple have reg­is­tered since this past Tues­day to par­tic­i­pate in the upcom­ing Online Course: How to Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach in 2012. Please remem­ber we will only be able to acco­mo­date the first two hun­dred reg­is­trants, so please take a look soon to see if you are inter­ested in joining!

Cognitive Health News Roundup

July is shap­ing up to be a fas­ci­nat­ing month, full of cog­ni­tive health research reports and appli­ca­tions. Here you have a roundup, cov­er­ing food for the brain, cog­ni­tive assess­ments, men­tal train­ing and DNA, and more.

1) Brain foods: the effects of nutri­ents on brain func­tion (Nature Neuroscience)

“Brain foods: the effects of nutri­ents on brain func­tion”, by Fer­nando Gmez-Pinilla.

Abstract: Read the rest of this entry »

10 Highlights from the 2007 Aspen Health Forum

AspenThe Aspen Health Forum gath­ered an impres­sive group of around 250 peo­ple to dis­cuss the most press­ing issues in Health and Med­ical Sci­ence (check out the Pro­gram and the Speak­ers bios), on Octo­ber 3-6th. It was the first con­fer­ence, by the way, where I have heard a speaker say: “I resus­ci­tated a woman yesterday”.

Key high­lights and trends:

1– Global health prob­lems require the atten­tion of the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity. Richard Klaus­ner encour­aged the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity to focus on Global Prob­lems: mater­nal mor­tal­ity rates, HIV/ AIDS, nutri­tion, can­cer, clean water.  Bill Frist, for­mer Sen­ate Major­ity Leader, added to that list the increas­ing epi­demic risks of global zootic dis­eases (trans­mit­ted between humans and ani­mals), sup­ported by 2 inter­est­ing data points: at any one moment, there are 500,000 peo­ple fly­ing world­wide; in a year, air­lines trans­port the equiv­a­lent of 2 bil­lion passengers.

2– “Let’s get real…Ideology kills”. Mary Robin­son, for­mer Pres­i­dent of Ire­land, on what it takes to stop HIV/ AIDS: “I am from Ire­land, a Catholic coun­try. And I am Catholic. But I can see how ide­ol­ogy kills..we need more empa­thy with real­ity, and to work with local women in those coun­tries who need things like female con­doms.” She was implic­itly crit­i­ciz­ing the large bud­get devoted to unre­al­is­tic absti­nence pro­grams. This ses­sion included a fas­ci­nat­ing exchange where Bill Frist rose from the audi­ence to defend the role of US aid, explain­ing how 60% of retro­vi­ral drugs in African coun­tries have been funded by the Amer­i­can tax­payer, high­light­ing Pres­i­dent Bush’s courage to make HIV/AIDS a top agenda item in many devel­op­ing coun­tries, and crit­i­ciz­ing other coun­tries for not doing enough. Which made Nobel Prize Lau­re­ate Peter Agre, also in the audi­ence, stand up and encour­age the US to really step up to the plate and devote 1% of the GDP to aid, as a num­ber of Euro­pean coun­tries do, instead of 0.1%.

3– Where is the new “Sput­nik”?: Basic sci­ence is cru­cial for inno­va­tion and for eco­nomic growth, but it is often under­ap­pre­ci­ated. Sci­en­tists are not “nerds”, as some­times they are por­trayed in pop­u­lar cul­ture, but peo­ple with a deep curios­ity and drive to solve a Big prob­lem. Many of the speak­ers had been inspired by the Sput­nik and the Apollo mis­sions to become sci­en­tists, at a time when the pro­fes­sion was con­sid­ered cool. Two Nobel Prize Lau­re­ates (Peter Agre, Michael Bishop), talked about their lives and careers try­ing to demys­tify what it takes to be a sci­en­tist and to win a Nobel Prize. Both are grate­ful to the tax­pay­ers dol­lars that funded their research, and insist we must do a bet­ter job at explain­ing the Sputniksci­en­tific process to soci­ety at large. Both are proud of hav­ing attended small lib­eral arts col­leges, and hav­ing evolved from there, fueled by their great curios­ity and unpre­dictable, serendip­i­tous paths, into launch­ing new sci­en­tific and med­ical fields.  Bishop listed a num­ber of times where he made deci­sions that were con­sid­ered “career sui­cide” by men­tors and col­leagues, and men­tioned “I was con­fused” around 15 times in 15 minutes…down to earth and inspiring.

4– We need a true Health Care Cul­ture: Mark Ganz sum­ma­rized it best by explain­ing how his health provider group improved care when they rede­fined them­selves from “we are 7,000 employ­ees” to “we are a 3 mil­lion strong com­mu­nity”, mov­ing from Read the rest of this entry »

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