Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


The Next Frontier: Neuroscience, Business and the Arts

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer your­self any direc­tion you choose.” — Oh The Places You’ll Go, Dr.Seuss.

The space between cre­ativ­ity and entre­pre­neur­ship is one of the most excit­ing areas unfold­ing in our mod­ern world right now. Read the rest of this entry »

Update: The Challenges of Gerontology

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

First, I am pleased to report that have been invited to par­tic­i­pate in a new ini­tia­tive by the World Eco­nomic Forum. Described as “In a global envi­ron­ment marked by short-term ori­en­ta­tion and silo-thinking, Global Agenda Coun­cils will fos­ter inter­dis­ci­pli­nary and long-range think­ing to address the pre­vail­ing chal­lenges on the global agenda”, my spe­cific Coun­cil will focus on the Chal­lenges of Geron­tol­ogy. More infor­ma­tion on the Global Agenda Coun­cils here. Will keep you updated via this blog.

In the News

Yes, It is Smart to Learn New Tricks: a recent Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle presents a good overview of brain health trends, but framed around a highly arti­fi­cial choice for con­sumers: either you a) do phys­i­cal exer­cise, or b) take part in social inter­ac­tions, or c) engage in men­tal exer­cise. What about switch­ing off those TVs and hav­ing time for all a, b, c, and more?

Mind Games: the August issue of Ven­ture Cap­i­tal Jour­nal brings a very good piece on the emerg­ing brain fit­ness soft­ware cat­e­gory (sub­scrip­tion required), which we enhance by pro­vid­ing a quick overview of the field.

Cog­niFit raises USD 5 mil­lion: if 2007 was the year of brain fit­ness media cov­er­age, 2008 seems to be the year of seri­ous invest­ments. This Cog­niFit round fol­lows other recent ven­ture invest­ments: Dakim ($10.6m), Lumos Labs ($3m). We hear all these com­pa­nies are devot­ing part of these resources to fund clin­i­cal trials…never too late.

Brain Sci­ence and Life­long Learning

Schools as Brain Train­ing Hubs?: in a recent post we asked for sug­ges­tions to refine our pre­dic­tions for the 2007–2015 period. A good num­ber of read­ers con­tributed, and the win­ner of this infor­mal con­test is… Scott Spears, retired pub­lic schools super­in­ten­dent, for his thoughts on the future impli­ca­tions of cog­ni­tive research on schooling.

Neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis and Brain Plas­tic­ity in Adult Brains: while “adults may have a ten­dency to get set in their ways I’ve been doing it this way for a long time and it works, so why change?”, change itself is an excel­lent prac­tice for healthy brain aging, as Lau­rie Bar­tels explains.

A Farewell to Demen­tia?: a fas­ci­nat­ing recent edi­to­r­ial in Archives of Neu­rol­ogy, titled Demen­tia: A Word to be For­got­ten, calls for more con­struc­tive ter­mi­nol­ogy. Dr. Joshua Stein­er­man weighs in.

Other Thought-Provoking Articles

To Think or to Blink?: should Ham­let be liv­ing with us now and read­ing best­sellers, he might be won­der­ing: To Blink or not to Blink? To Think or not to Think? We are pleased to present an arti­cle by Madeleine Van Hecke, offer­ing the “on the other hand” to Mal­colm Gladwell’s Blink argument.

The impact of web 2.0 on health­care: we hosted Med­i­cine 2.0, a bi-weekly col­lec­tion of arti­cles that ana­lyze the cur­rent and poten­tial impact of web 2.0 tech­nolo­gies on med­i­cine and healthcare.

Brain Teasers

Brain Teasers: Spot the Dif­fer­ence: how many dif­fer­ences can you spot (and how many cog­ni­tive func­tions can you engage with this sim­ple exercise?)

I hope you are hav­ing a great August!

Good blogs on health, medicine, neuroscience, psychology, education, business and more

Here you have a few recent great blog car­ni­vals (col­lec­tions of selected blog posts focused on spe­cific topics):

- Grand Rounds: health and medicine

- Encephalon: neu­ro­science and psychology

- COTC: busi­ness and entrepreneurship

- Human Resources: arti­cles for HR professionals

- Edu­ca­tion: arti­cles for K12 teach­ers and staff

- Tan­gled Bank: gen­eral science 

- Books: good book reviews


We also just found a great overview of the brain fit­ness mar­ket in French, sum­ma­riz­ing many of the top­ics we have writ­ten about:

Des logi­ciels qui boos­t­ent le cerveau… et son marché

Every man can, if he so desires, sculpt his own brain

Santiago Ramon y CajalA Span­ish friend and neu­ro­sci­en­tist just reminded me of a great quote by San­ti­ago Ramon y Cajal (1852–1934): “todo hom­bre puede ser, si se lo pro­pone, escul­tor de su pro­pio cere­bro”.

Which means: “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculp­tor his own brain”.

Which really means: “Each of us can lit­er­ally refine the struc­ture and func­tion of our brains, the same way we can do so with the rest of our body mus­cles” (my 2 cents…).

Our daily thoughts and actions, learn­ings, med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­apy, the grow­ing num­ber of software-based pro­grams, and more, are “sculpt­ing” tools…no more no less than tools. Good for some goals and con­texts, like improv­ing con­cen­tra­tion and mem­ory, becom­ing “sharper”, help­ing pro­tect our minds from decline, or man­age stress better.

I just bought Cajal’s auto­bi­og­ra­phy, titled Rec­ol­lec­tions of My Life (thanks, Mind Hacks). Will be writ­ing about it in a month or so-I have too many books on the table now, and only one brain.

If you want to read some good neu­ro­science blog posts, you can find a nice col­lec­tion in the lat­est edi­tion of Encephalon, hosted by Dr Deb­o­rah Serani.

For gen­eral sci­ence ones, try Tan­gled Bank. For edu­ca­tion, enjoy The Edu­ca­tion Car­ni­val.

Finally, I will be host­ing the next edi­tion of Car­ni­val of the Cap­i­tal­ists (I don’t really love the name…but it is the old­est and best blog car­ni­val for busi­ness and eco­nom­ics). If you have some good posts, please sub­mit them here.

For some addi­tional thoughts on sculpt­ing brains, intel­li­gence, and becom­ing smarter, you can check this post.

Are there specific brain fitness programs for kids? My kids have problems with math.

Here is ques­tion 22 from Brain Fit­ness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Ques­tions.


Are there spe­cific brain fit­ness pro­grams for kids? My kids have prob­lems with math-why should they do these things that may dis­tract them?

Key Points:
  • Learn­ing stress man­age­ment skills can reduce test anx­i­ety and improve learn­ing readiness.
  • If stress lev­els are too high, con­cen­tra­tion and focus are neg­a­tively impacted.

Read the rest of this entry »

I am busy executive with a challenging job. How is brain fitness relevant to me?

Here is ques­tion 21 from Brain Fit­ness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Ques­tions.


I am busy exec­u­tive with a chal­leng­ing job. How is brain fit­ness rel­e­vant to me?

Key Points:
  • Reduce your stress to improve con­cen­tra­tion and learn­ing readi­ness and reduce distractions.
  • Increase your men­tal stim­u­la­tion to help main­tain a healthy, flex­i­ble brain.

Exec­u­tives, or any­one involved in com­plex and rapidly evolv­ing envi­ron­ments, need to make pres­sured deci­sions based on sound logic, instead of emo­tional impulses. It is not easy to deal with the frus­tra­tion, for exam­ple, when Read the rest of this entry »

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