Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Fitness Webinar Series

I have been trav­el­ling much over the last 2 weeks to speak at a num­ber of con­fer­ences and uni­ver­si­ties. I promised I would be shar­ing some of the key high­lights, but we have decided to do some­thing bet­ter to do jus­tice to the rich­ness and com­plex­ity of the field we cover. We are going to launch an exper­i­ment: a Brain Fit­ness Webi­nar Series.

This inau­gural Brain Fit­ness Webi­nar Series will con­sist of 3 free live ses­sions. The series cov­ers the most fun­da­men­tal advances in cog­ni­tive sci­ence and their impli­ca­tions for indi­vid­u­als, com­pa­nies and orga­ni­za­tions. And we are hon­ored to have John Med­ina lead of the sessions!

Each event is inde­pen­dent, in topic and in reg­is­tra­tion process.

Webi­nar #1: In “The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket, 2008, I will pro­videBrain Fitness Market Report an overview of the sci­ence, mar­ket, and ven­dor land­scape of the emerg­ing brain fit­ness soft­ware mar­ket, based on our recent mar­ket report on this grow­ing cat­e­gory.
– Tar­get audi­ence: Exec­u­tives, pro­fes­sion­als, investors, reporters and blog­gers inter­ested in learn­ing more about the brain fit­ness mar­ket.
– More infor­ma­tion: Mar­ket Report.
– Date and time: Tues­day May 27th, 2pm EDT/ 11am PDT
Reg­is­ter: Here

Webi­nar #2: In “Brain Rules for Think­ing Smarter, John Med­ina, devel­op­men­tal Brain Rules-John Medinamol­e­c­u­lar biol­o­gist and author of Brain Rules: 12 Prin­ci­ples for Striv­ing and Thriv­ing at Work, Home, and School will empha­size the impor­tance of phys­i­cal exer­cise, stress man­age­ment and avoid­ing mul­ti­task­ing alto­gether.
– Tar­get audi­ence: Any­one who wants to learn more about brain health and per­for­mance.
– More infor­ma­tion: The Sci­ence of Think­ing Smarter, by John Med­ina.
– Date and time: Tues­day June 3rd, 2pm EDT/ 11am PDT
Reg­is­ter: Here

Webi­nar #3: In “The Sci­ence and Prac­tice of Brain Fit­ness,” I will Brain Fitness 101 eGuidepro­vide an overview of the Brain 101, lat­est research find­ings and impli­ca­tions for how to improve brain health and per­for­mance based on my classes and speak­ing engage­ments.
– Tar­get audi­ence: Any­one who wants to learn more about brain health and per­for­mance
– Date and time: Tues­day June 10th, 2pm EDT/ 11am PDT
Reg­is­ter: Here

I hope you find this series stim­u­lat­ing. Just pick the event that sounds more rel­e­vant to your interests!

On The Brain

neuronsVery intense week, and very fun. I will be writ­ing more about this week’s 3 speak­ing events, but let me say now that our key messages

1) our brains remain flex­i­ble dur­ing our lifetimes,

2) we can refine our brains with tar­geted practice,

3) good brain exer­cise, or “men­tal cross-training”, requires nov­elty, vari­ety, and increas­ing level of chal­lenge (but with­out cre­at­ing too much stress),

are being very well accepted from both healthy aging and work­place pro­duc­tiv­ity points of view. We have ONE brain: health and pro­duc­tiv­ity are 2 sides of the same coin.

If you want to make sure we learn more about our brains, you can help fel­low blog­ger Shel­ley Batts get a col­lege schol­ar­ship by voting here. She has a great neu­ro­science blog, is now final­ist in a com­pe­ti­tion to win a nice schol­ar­ship, and needs out help.

Have some more time? You can watch this excellent 90-second video of cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tist Dr Lisa Sak­sida doing yoga in front of the fire while explain­ing the nature of Brain and Mind (via Mind­Hacks). Quotes:

I wish peo­ple under­stood that there is no mind/brain dual­ity. Specif­i­cally, I wish peo­ple under­stood that there is no such thing as a purely psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­der. Every event in your psy­cho­log­i­cal life, and there­fore every psy­cho­log­i­cal change, is reducible in the­ory to events and changes in your brain. We should there­fore not judge peo­ple dif­fer­ently, accord­ing to whether they are con­sid­ered to have a ‘psy­cho­log­i­cal’ as opposed to a ‘neu­ro­log­i­cal’ problem.”

Of course, a lack of mind/brain split does not mean that we should aban­don all talk of psy­chol­ogy. Psy­chol­ogy and neu­ro­science are two ways of study­ing the same thing, and both are essen­tial for under­stand­ing the human condition.”

For more, check the posts in these always great blog car­ni­vals (selected col­lec­tions of blog posts by a num­ber of blog­gers around spe­cific topics)

Tan­gled Bank (sci­ence in general)

Encephalon (neu­ro­science)

Credit: Photo of Neu­rons by sym­pha­nee via flickr

Brain Fitness @ Education, Training, Health events

Brain Fitness eventsIn what cat­e­gory does Brain Fit­ness fit? Edu­ca­tion, Pro­duc­tiv­ity and Train­ing, Health? Most of the inter­est so far has come from a Healthy Aging angle, but we are start­ing to see broader inter­est, as in the events below. After all, isn’t work­ing on our brains rel­e­vant to all those markets?.

2 busy weeks: I am attending/ speak­ing at a vari­ety of events. I will make sure to blog at least the take-aways from the main events daily, and Car­o­line will also add her per­spec­tive as much as possible.

A) Octo­ber 3-6th: The Aspen Health Forum at the Aspen Institute

B) Octo­ber 9th: First ses­sion of my class The Sci­ence of Brain Health and Brain Fit­ness at the UC-Berkeley Osher Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute (OLLI)

C) Octo­ber 10th: Teach­ing Brain Fit­ness in Your Com­mu­nity, work­shop at an Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging (ASA) con­fer­ence for health professionals

D) Octo­ber 10th: Sci­ence at Work, Inter­view at the event The Future of Work: Ampli­fied Indi­vid­u­als, Ampli­fied Orga­ni­za­tions, orga­nized by the Insti­tute for the Future


A) Octo­ber 3-6th: The Aspen Health Forum at the Aspen Insti­tute. This promises to be a fas­ci­nat­ing event. See below the pan­els I am attending-I will make sure to write some notes every day to keep you in the discussion.

Wednes­day Octo­ber 3rd:

Great Expec­ta­tions: Amer­i­can Atti­tudes toward Per­sonal Respon­si­bil­ity and Medicine

Health­care Re-Imagined: Learn­ing from Olympic Athletes

Thurs­day 4th:

The Dam­aged Brain: The Fight Against Neurodegeneration

The Human Ele­ment: A Can­did Con­ver­sa­tion about Pio­neers of Mod­ern Medicine

The Last Fron­tier: The Mind

Global Sci­en­tific Investment

Sci­ence Ver­sus the Bio­log­i­cal Clock Read the rest of this entry »

Best of the Brain from Scientific American

Best of Brain, Scientific American

The Dana Foun­da­tion kindly sent us a copy of the great book Best of the Brain from Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can, a col­lec­tion of 21 superb arti­cles pub­lished pre­vi­ously in Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can mag­a­zine. A very nicely edited and illus­trated book, this is a must for any­one who enjoys learn­ing about the brain and spec­u­lat­ing about what the future will bring us.

Some essays, like the ones by Eric Kan­del (The New Sci­ence of Mind), Fred Gage (Brain, Repair Your­self), Carl Zim­mer (The Neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy of the Self) and that by Steven Hol­lon, Michael Thase and John Markowitz (Treat­ing Depres­sion: Pills or Talk), are both intel­lec­tual feasts and very rel­e­vant to brain fit­ness. And finally start­ing to per­co­late into main­stream consciousness.

Let me quote some quotes and reflec­tions as I was read­ing the book a cou­ple of days ago, in the court­yard of a beau­ti­ful French cafe in Berkeley:

1) On Brain Plas­tic­ity (the abil­ity of the brain to rewire itself), Fred Gage says: “Within the past 5 years, how­ever, neu­ro­sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered that the brain does indeed change through­out life-…The new cells and con­nec­tions that we and oth­ers have doc­u­mented may pro­vide the extra capac­ity the brain requires for the vari­ety of chal­lenges that indi­vid­u­als face through­out life. Such plas­tic­ity offers a pos­si­ble mech­a­nism through which the brain might be induced to repair itself after injury or dis­ease. It might even open the prospect of enhanc­ing an already healthy brain’s power to think and abil­ity to feel”

2)  and How Expe­ri­ence affects Brain Struc­ture: Under the sec­tion title “A Brain Work­out”, Fred Gage says “One of the mot strik­ing aspects of neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis (Note: the cre­ation of new neu­rons) is that expe­ri­ence can reg­u­late the rate of cell divi­sion, the sur­vival of new­born neu­rons and their abil­ity to inte­grate into the exist­ing neural circuits…The best way to aug­ment brain func­tion might not involve drugs or cell implants but lifestyle changes.”

3) Biol­ogy of Mind: Eric Kan­del pro­vides a won­der­ful overview of the most Read the rest of this entry »

What’s on your mind now?

I’d love to know what was going in your mind just a few sec­onds ago, when you started read­ing the title of this post. That will help us under­stand your mind­set, pri­or­i­ties, ques­tions, con­cerns, interests, and keep improv­ing our blog!

Thank you


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