Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Study Links Obesity and Cognitive Fitness – In Both Directions

Obesity linked to Cognition (HealthCanal):

– “Obese people tend to perform worse than healthy people at cognitive tasks like planning ahead, a literature review has found, concluding that psychological techniques used to treat anorexics could help obese people too.” Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Contrasting Brain Growth in Baby Humans and Baby Chimpanzees

Charting Brain Growth in Humans and Chimps (New York Times):
– “Although baby humans and baby chimpanzees both start out with undeveloped forebrains, a new study reports that the human brain increases in volume much more rapidly early on.”
– “The growth is in a region of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex and is part of what makes humans cognitively advanced compared with other animals, including the chimpanzee, our closest relative. The prefrontal cortex plays a major role in decision-making, self-awareness and creative thinking.”

–> To learn more about study Differential Prefrontal White Matter Development in Chimpanzees and Humans: click Here (requires subscription).

–> To explore what may have happened otherwise, you may want to watch the new movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Brain Training to Enhance Performance, both post-Traumatic Brain Injury and for the workplace

A couple of very interesting recent announcements show (in a military context) how well-targeted brain training can complement and augment existing approaches, both to help “normal” and “clinical” populations, in ways that silo-based, rear-mirror thinking often misses: Read the rest of this entry »

A Brain Game to Tease your Frontal Skills

The frontal lobes of the brain (in gray here) have been compared to an orchestra conductor, ­influencing, directing, and moderating many other brain functions. Indeed, the frontal lobes support the so-called executive functions: decision-making, problem-solving, planning, inhibiting, as well as other high-level functions (social behavior, emotional control, working memory, etc.). Ready for an executive workout? Read the rest of this entry »

Why we need to Retool Use it or lose it

The July/ August 2009 issue of The Journal on Active Aging includes my article Why We Need to RetoolUse It Or Lose It

An excerpt:

“By now you have probably heard about brain plasticity, the lifelong capacity of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to the stimulation of learning and experience. The latest scientific research shows that specific lifestyles and actions can improve the health and level of functioning of our brains, no matter our age.

Of particular importance to maintaining cognitive functioning through life are the hippocampus (deep inside the brain, part of what is called the limbic system), which plays a role in learning and memory; and the frontal lobes (behind your forehead), which are key to maintaining decision-making and autonomy. Is there a way to physically protect these parts of the aging brain? Yes. But the right answer is far from “do one more crossword puzzle” or “do more X” (whatever X is). The key is to add significantly different activities to ensure a flow of novelty, variety and challenge, combining physical and mental exercise while not ignoring factors such as stress management and balanced nutrition.

We need, in other words, to retool our understanding and practice of “Use it or lose it.” We must focus on the importance of getting out of our physical and mental routines and activities to get the benefits of real exercise—physical and mental.”

Continue reading Why We Need to RetoolUse It Or Lose It

ETech09: on Life Hacking and Brain Training

Here you have the presentation I delivered on Tuesday at ETech 2009 (this year’s O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference):

Emerging Research and Technology for Life Hacking/ Brain Training

(click to open presentation in new window)

Description: Life hacking. Brain training. They are one and the same. The brain’s frontal lobes enable our goal-oriented behavior, supporting executive functions, such as decision-making, attention, emotional self-regulation, goal-setting, and working memory. These functions can be enhanced with targeted practice  such as life hacking. This session will provide an overview of the cognitive neuroscience underpinning life hacking, and review the state-of-the-art of non-invasive tools for brain training: neurofeedback, biofeedback, software applications, cognitive simulations, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, and plain-old meditation.

It was great to meet fellow bloggers and presenters, such as Shelley Batts of Of Two Minds and Chris Patil of Ouroboros, and very inquisite and throughful audience members. Getting ready to speak at ASA/ NCOA and IHRSA next week!

Top 7 Brainteasers for Job Interviews and Brain Challenge

A recent CNN article explains well why a growing number of companies use brainteasers and logic puzzles of a type called “guesstimations” during job interviews:

– “Seemingly random questions like these have become commonplace in Silicon Valley and other tech outposts, where companies aren’t as interested in the correct answer to a tough question as they are in how a prospective employee might try to solve it. Since businesses today have to be able to react quickly to shifting market dynamics, they want more than engineers with high IQs and good college transcripts. They want people who can think on their feet.”

What are technology companies (Google, Microsoft, Amazon) and consulting companies (McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Accenture…) looking for? They want employees withbrain teasers job interview good so-called Executive Functions: problem-solving, cognitive flexibility, planning, working memory, decision-making, even emotional self-regulation (don’t try to solve one of these puzzles while being angry, or stressed out).

Want to try a few? Below you have our Top 7 Guesstimations/ Logic Puzzles for Brain Challenge:

Please try to GUESS the answers to the questions below based on your own logical approach. The goal is not to find out (or Google) the right answer, but to Read the rest of this entry »

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