Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Study: High television viewing and low physical activity can significantly worsen long-term cognitive function



Too much TV, low phys­i­cal activ­ity may worsen cog­ni­tive func­tion (Med­ical News Today):

The team’s study included more than 3,200 adults aged 18–30…Over 25 years, the researchers recorded par­tic­i­pants’ tele­vi­sion view­ing time and phys­i­cal activ­ity levels…In the study, high tele­vi­sion view­ing was defined as more than 4 hours daily, while low phys­i­cal activ­ity was defined as Read the rest of this entry »

Why Both Aerobic and Cognitive Exercise Promote Brain Health

USC Davis researcher Liz Zelin­ski just brought to our atten­tion a very insight­ful meta-analysis  (sys­tem­atic analy­sis of pre­vi­ous sci­en­tific stud­ies) titled Extended prac­tice and aer­o­bic exer­cise inter­ven­tions ben­e­fit untrained cog­ni­tive out­comes in older adults: a meta-analysis.

Research on ‘Chemo Brain’: MRI Shows Brain Changes After Chemotherapy

‘Chemo Brain’: MRI Shows Brain Changes After Chemother­apy (Medscape):

- “Breast can­cer sur­vivors who have been treated with chemother­apy show sig­nif­i­cant changes in brain activ­ity, mea­sured by func­tional mag­netic res­o­nance imag­ing (fMRI), accord­ing to a study pub­lished in the Novem­ber issue of the Archives of Neu­rol­ogy.”

- “The find­ing val­i­dates patients’ claims of reduced cog­ni­tive func­tion after receiv­ing chemother­apy, a phe­nom­e­non referred to as “chemo brain,” said lead author Shelli R. Kesler, PhD, from Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity School of Med­i­cine in California.”

Link to study Pre­frontal Cor­tex and Exec­u­tive Func­tion Impair­ments in Pri­mary Breast Can­cer (Archives of Neu­rol­ogy): Read the rest of this entry »

Update: How Stress and Emotions Impact Brain Performance

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Time for the Octo­ber edi­tion of the monthly Sharp­Brains eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing this time sev­eral arti­cles on the impact of stress, emo­tions, and self-regulation, on our brain’s struc­ture and performance.

We are pleased to bring to Sharp­Brains read­ers a new 6-part series on the Neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy of Stress, based on a recent book by Sharp­Brains con­trib­u­tor Dr. Jerome Schultz. The first two parts are already avail­able: Part 1 — The Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress and Part 2 — Gray Mat­ters.

Brain Study Links Emo­tional Self-Regulation and Math Per­for­mance: A new study strongly sug­gests the need to “help stu­dents reap­praise the sit­u­a­tion and con­trol emo­tions before they even get into a task”. While the study focused on math anx­i­ety and per­for­mance, the impli­ca­tions are rel­e­vant out­side the class­room too.

Reminder: Brain Fit­ness Q&A Ses­sions in Novem­ber: As we announced a few weeks ago, we are hon­ored to present an upcom­ing Brain Fit­ness Q&A Series. The first ses­sion, fea­tur­ing Dr. Gary Small, will take place Novem­ber 1st, 2011, 2-3pm US Eeast­ern Time. Please mark your cal­en­dar and join us at then! (no need to do any­thing prior to the session).

Music Train­ing Can Enhance Ver­bal Intel­li­gence and Exec­u­tive Func­tion: Very inter­est­ing new study pub­lished in Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence on the value of music train­ing (vs. sim­ply lis­ten­ing to music).

Gam­ing and Neu­ro­science: Oppor­tu­ni­ties and Chal­lenges: A sum­mary of impres­sions by researcher  Aki Niko­laidis based on his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the recent con­fer­ence Enter­tain­ment Soft­ware and Cog­ni­tive Neu­rother­a­peu­tics Con­fer­ence (ESCoNS) at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia San Francisco.

Fam­i­lies’ Per­spec­tives on ADHD and its Treat­ment: Dr. David Rabiner presents new data on fam­i­lies’ expe­ri­ence with ADHD and its treatment.

Brain Games and Opti­cal Illu­sions @ National Geo­graphic: Sev­eral Sharp­Brains friends rec­om­mend this recent 3-part National Geo­graphic TV mini-series.

Math Brain Teaser for Kids and Adults: Archimedes Grave: A fun puz­zle to exer­cise our brains a bit, sub­mit­ted by new con­trib­u­tor Maria Lando. Enjoy!

Study: Music Training Can Enhance Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function

Very inter­est­ing new study pub­lished in Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence: Short-Term Music Train­ing Enhances Ver­bal Intel­li­gence and Exec­u­tive Func­tion.

Abstract: Researchers have designed train­ing meth­ods that can be used to improve men­tal health and to test the effi­cacy of edu­ca­tion pro­grams. How­ever, few stud­ies have demon­strated broad trans­fer from such train­ing to per­for­mance on untrained cog­ni­tive activ­i­ties. Here we report the effects of two inter­ac­tive com­put­er­ized train­ing pro­grams devel­oped for preschool chil­dren: one for music and one for visual art. After only 20 days of train­ing, Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Needed: funding for innovative research on slowing cognitive decline via cognitive training

I was really inter­ested in the recent cri­tique of the BBC brain train­ing exper­i­ment by Dr. Eliz­a­beth Zelin­ski. I think Owens et al (2010) was a crit­i­cal piece of research which was not con­ducted in the right way and was focus­ing on the wrong sam­ple pop­u­la­tion.  I totally agree with the com­ments by Dr. Zelin­ski regard­ing the poten­tial for sam­ple bias and the use of some ques­tion­able cog­ni­tive mea­sures. How­ever, I would like to take this cri­tique fur­ther and ques­tion whether the study was value for money when there are other stud­ies which can­not achieve fund­ing but would, in my opin­ion, show the criticism/scepticism of the use-it-or-lose-it theory.

I think there is not enough crit­i­cism about the age of the sam­ple pop­u­la­tion used in Owens et al. (2010). We have con­clu­sive cog­ni­tive and neu­ro­log­i­cal evi­dence that cognitive/neurological plas­tic­ity exists in young adults. There is also ade­quate evi­dence that neu­ro­plas­tic­ity is evi­dent in older adults. The crit­i­cal point which I want to make about the sam­ple pop­u­la­tion in Owens et al. study is that it did not tar­get the cor­rect sam­ple pop­u­la­tion, that is, older adults who are at risk of cognitive/neuronal atro­phy. It does not mat­ter if younger adults improve on brain train­ing tasks, or if skills picked up by younger adults from brain train­ing are not trans­ferred to other cog­ni­tive domains, sim­ply because younger adults are good at these skills/cognitive func­tions. There­fore there is a pos­si­bil­ity that ceil­ing or scal­ing effects mask the true find­ings in Owens et al. (2010), as indi­cated by Zelinski.

The recruit­ment of the sam­ple pop­u­la­tion is also very con­cern­ing and I do not feel that their con­trol group was appro­pri­ate. Read the rest of this entry »




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