Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


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 »

Encephalon #61: Brain & Mind Reading for the Holidays

Wel­come to the 61st edi­tion Encephalon brain blog carnivalof Encephalon, the blog car­ni­val that offers some of the best neu­ro­science and psy­chol­ogy blog posts every other week.

We do have an excel­lent set of arti­cles today. cov­er­ing much ground. Enjoy the reading:

Neu­ro­science and Society

by Greg Downey
The Flynn Effect: Trou­bles with Intel­li­gence
Aver­age IQ test scores had risen about 3 points per decade and in some cases more. Tests of vocab­u­lary, arith­metic, or gen­eral knowl­edge (such as the sorts of facts one learns in school) have showed lit­tle increase, but scores have increased markedly on tests thought to mea­sure gen­eral intelligence.
by Vaughan Bell
Med­ical jar­gon alters our under­stand­ing of dis­ease
Under­stand­ing how pop­u­lar ideas influ­ence our per­sonal med­ical beliefs is an essen­tial part of under­stand­ing med­i­cine itself.
Cog­ni­tive Daily,
by Dave Munger
Is it sex­ist to think men are angrier than women?
Are we more likely to per­ceive a male face as angry and a female face as happy? A recent study sheds light on the issue.
Neu­r­o­critic Crime, Pun­ish­ment, and Jerry Springer
Judges and jurors must put aside their emotionally-driven desire for revenge when com­ing to an impar­tial ver­dict. Does neu­roimag­ing (fMRI) add any­thing to our under­stand­ing of justice?

Alzheimer’s Dis­ease and Neu­rocog­ni­tive Health Read the rest of this entry »

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