Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


The “Holy Grail”: How to drive behavior change by harnessing neuroplasticity and emotions


CWRU nursing school awarded $2.35 million to study the link between the brain and health behavior change (press release):

“A five-year, $2.35 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research will allow researchers from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University to study how brain activity motivates the chronically ill to manage their illnesses Read the rest of this entry »

Learning to Cope with Google/ Information Overload

Google changing how humans think (Canadian Business):

– “…the psychologists concluded that our reliance on the Internet has affected how we relate to information—instead of remembering the information itself, we just remember where to find it.”

– “While the move from knowing information to knowing where to find it has many benefits—including freeing up your brain for more reasoning and analytical thinking—there’s a downside too.” Read the rest of this entry »

Transcript: David DiSalvo on How Cultural Evolution Outpaces Natural Evolution and Old Brain Metaphors

Below you can find the full tran­script of our engag­ing Q&A ses­sion today with David DiSalvo, author of What makes your brain happy and why you should do the oppo­site, moderated by Alvaro Fernandez. You visit previous Q&A Ses­sions Here.

Full Tran­script (Lightly edited) of Live Q&A held on December 9th, 2-3pm ET

Read the rest of this entry »

What makes your brain happy and why you should do the opposite

(Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from David DiSalvo’s new book What makes  your brain happy and why you should do the opposite.)

Taking a position in any argument—large or small—is slippery business for our brains. We can have every intention of honestly pursuing an answer, yet still fool ourselves into thinking our method is objective when it is, in fact, anything but. Cognitive science has helped decipher this enigma with research on the theoretical mental structures our brains use to organize information, called schemata. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning with Video Games: A Revolution in Education and Training?

In recent years, we have witnessed the beginnings of a revolution in education.  Technology has fundamentally altered the way we do many things in daily life, but it is just starting to make headway in changing the way we teach.  Just as television shows like Sesame Street enhanced the passive learning of information for kids by teaching in a fun format, electronic games offer to greatly enhance the way kids and adults are taught by actively engaging them in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

Test your attentional focus: is multi-tasking a good thing?

aaHow often do you listen to the office gossip while filling in forms? Or read a document while talking on the phone with a client? Or think about your problems at work while helping your child with his homework?

We are constantly assaulted by lots of information and often required to perform several tasks at once. It is not easy to stay focused. However being able to stay focused is crucial to achieve success. Indeed, if you are listening to the office gossip while filling in forms, you will probably make mistakes. If you try to read a document while talking on the phone with a client, you will probably sound distant and uninterested to your client and may not get the contract you expected to get. If you think about your problems at work while helping your child with his homework, you will probably miss opportunities to teach her something.

As you may notice all the situations above involve doing more than one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is enemy number one when it comes to accurate and speedy performance.

Human attention is limited. Think about your attentional focus as the beam of a light. If the light is on an object it cannot be on other objects at the same time with the same intensity. Only dim light will be available to light up the objects in the periphery. The same happens in your attentional system. Dividing attention results in less attentional power devoted to all the different tasks that you are trying to do at the same time. The more tasks, the less attention can be devoted to each. The result is more errors and waste of time. Although we all have the feeling that multitasking saves us time, it is often not the case.

Try the exercise below to test your attentional focus. Three words have been combined to make this grid of letters. How many times does each of these words appear…? Can you compare your performance while searching for just one word vs. two of them at the same time?

How many times is the word SUN shown?
How many times is the word BUS shown?
How many times is the word NONE shown?

Solutions: Read the rest of this entry »

Why working memory matters in the knowledge age: study

Do you ever have days when you wake up and everything seems wrong with the world? Hopefully for most of these types of days are not the norm but the exception. However, there are some people who see everything as ‘half-empty’ instead of ‘half-full. Using cutting-edge psychological research, I am interested in finding out if it really matters–Does it matter if we see the glass as half-empty?

We are on the cusp of a new revolution in intelligence that affects every aspect of our lives from work and relationships, to our childhood, education, and old age. Working Memory, the ability to remember and mentally process information, is so important that without it we could not function as a society or as individuals. One way to visualise working memory is as the brain’s “Post-it Note”: we make mental scribbles of bits of information we need to remember and work with. For example, we use working memory to remember directions while driving or someone’s name and phone number. Without it, we would be literally lost; we wouldn’t know how to get to that important meeting and would forget important contacts. Working memory is critical for many activities Read the rest of this entry »

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