Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Study: To improve memory and thinking skills, try the Mediterranean diet with added olive oil and nuts



Mediter­ranean diet may help coun­ter­act age-related declines in mem­ory and think­ing skills (Har­vard Health Blog):

A new study in this week’s JAMA Inter­nal Med­i­cine sug­gests that eat­ing a Mediterranean-style diet enhanced with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts is good for your mind as well as your heart. Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Cognitive Markers or Biomarkers to manage Cognitive Health across the Lifespan?

Pre­dict­ing Alzheimer’s Dis­ease More Accu­rate Through Cog­ni­tive Changes Than Bio­mark­ers (Med­ical News):

  • Mea­sur­ing people’s changes in cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties is a bet­ter pre­dic­tor of Alzheimer’s dis­ease than changes in bio­mark­ers, researchers from the Ben­ito Menni Com­plex Assis­ten­cial en Salut Men­tal, Barcelona, Spain, reported in Archives of Gen­eral Psy­chi­a­try, a JAMA journal.”
  • The inves­ti­ga­tors used a range of tests to assess Read the rest of this entry »

Brain News: Lifelong Learning for Cognitive Health

Here you have the March edi­tion of our monthly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health Brain Fitnessand brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, using the box at the top of this page. I know I am biased — but do believe this Newslet­ter issue might well be our best so far. I hope you find the time to enjoy it!

Bird’s Eye View

Top Arti­cles and Resources in March: High­lights — a) great arti­cles in SciAm Mind and the Wall Street Jour­nal, b) new resources (book and free DVD) by the Dana Foun­da­tion, c) research stud­ies on how our cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties tend to evolve as we age, the impact of phys­i­cal exer­cise on the brain, the lack of long-term effec­tive­ness of ADHD drugs, and how work­ing mem­ory train­ing may ben­e­fit math performance.

Brain Fit­ness Sur­vey: Over 2,000 thought­ful responses to our Jan­u­ary sur­vey (Thank You!) rein­force the need for pub­lic aware­ness ini­tia­tives and qual­ity infor­ma­tion to help eval­u­ate and nav­i­gate lifestyle and prod­uct claims, as well as the need for more research, an expanded health­care cul­ture, as more. Given this con­text, we are pub­lish­ing The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness in May 2009, a book with 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, in addi­tion to our annual mar­ket report for pro­fes­sion­als and exec­u­tives (to be pub­lished in April). If you have ideas to help us pro­mote the book, please reply to this email and let us know!

Life­long Learning

Elderhostel’s Marty Knowl­ton dies at 88: He helped launch Elder­hos­tel, rein­vented “aging”, “retire­ment” and “learn­ing”, and con­tributed to the brain fit­ness of mil­lions of indi­vid­u­als as a result.

MetLife Mature Mar­ket Insti­tute Report: Geron­tol­o­gist Fay Radding presents the find­ings of a recent MetLife report, con­clud­ing that “As indi­vid­u­als age, mean­ing­ful inter­ac­tions and pur­pose­ful activ­ity become even more val­ued and cru­cial to cog­ni­tive health– and cog­ni­tive health itself becomes more of a priority.”

Change Your Envi­ron­ment, Change Your­self: Dr. Brett Steen­barger explains in his recent book that, “The great­est enemy of change is rou­tine. When we lapse into rou­tine and oper­ate on autopi­lot, we are no longer fully and actively con­scious of what we’re doing and why. That is why some of the most fer­tile sit­u­a­tions for per­sonal growth those that occur within new envi­ron­ments are those that force us to exit our rou­tines and actively mas­ter unfa­mil­iar challenges.”

Food for Thought

Michael Merzenich: Brain Plas­tic­ity offers Hope for Every­one: Dr. Gin­ger Camp­bell recently inter­viewed Dr. Michael Merzenich. Pod­cast Quote: “What­ever you strug­gle with in a sense as it stems from your neu­rol­ogy, the inher­ent plas­tic­ity of the brain gives you a basis for improve­ment. This is a way under­uti­lized and under-appreciated resource that well all have.”

Ther­apy vs. Med­ica­tion, Con­flicts of Inter­est, and Intim­i­da­tion: What started as an aca­d­e­mic dis­pute regard­ing dis­clo­sure of con­flict of inter­est is now snow­balling. Dr. Jonathan Leo crit­i­cized two impor­tant aspects of a recent a study pub­lished in JAMA that com­pared the effi­cacy of ther­apy vs. med­ica­tion. JAMA edi­tors then tried to intim­i­date Dr. Leo and his uni­ver­sity. An inves­ti­ga­tion by the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion is under way.

ETech09 on Life Hack­ing and Brain Train­ing: Here you have the pre­sen­ta­tion Alvaro Fer­nan­dez deliv­ered at O’Reilly Emerg­ing Tech­nol­ogy Con­fer­ence 2009, a gath­er­ing of tech­nol­ogy pio­neers with a grow­ing inter­est in sci­ence and biol­ogy topics.


Dis­tracted in the Work­place?: In a very-thoughtful 2-part inter­view (part 1 here, part 2 here), author Mag­gie Jack­son chal­lenges us to “First, ques­tion the val­ues that ven­er­ate McThink­ing and under­mine attention.”

New Study Sup­ports Neu­ro­feed­back Treat­ment for ADHD: Dr. David Rabiner reports the promis­ing find­ings from the first well-designed con­trolled trial on the effect of neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD.


Finally, I wanted to let you know that you can fol­low quick Sharp­Brains updates and some of my thoughts via Twit­ter:

Have a great National Car Care Month in April! (now, wouldn’t you please pay at least equal atten­tion to Brain Care than to Car Care?)

Therapy vs. Medication, Conflicts of Interest, and Intimidation

What started as an aca­d­e­mic dis­pute regard­ing dis­clo­sure of con­flict of inter­est is now snow­balling into the main­stream media, due to the over-reaction by JAMA edi­tors as reported in this Wall Street Jour­nal blog post, JAMA edi­tor calls Critic a “Nobody and a Noth­ing

In sum­mary, Dr. Jonathan Leo, the “Critic”, dared to draw atten­tion to 2 impor­tant points regard­ing a study com­par­ing the effi­cacy of ther­apy vs. med­ica­tion pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Med­i­cine (JAMA) — one of the most pres­ti­gious sci­en­tific publications:

1) The study results were pre­sented and reported in a biased way, since they favored one spe­cific inter­ven­tion, a drug, while ignor­ing another one, therapy-based, that had equally sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant effects.

2) Both the lead author of the study and one of the main experts asked to com­ment on the study in sev­eral media out­lets had undis­closed and unre­ported con­flicts of inter­est. JAMA could have done a 5-minute Google search to iden­tify and report the con­flict of inter­est of the lead author (received a vari­ety of rev­enues from the drugmaker).

Dr. Leo has sum­ma­rized the con­tin­u­ing mat­ter in sev­eral impres­sive let­ters. The 2 main ones, in chrono­log­i­cal order:

Clin­i­cal Tri­als of Ther­apy vs. Med­ica­tion: Even in a Tie, Med­ica­tion Wins(BMJ)

- “Cen­tral to the idea of evidence-based med­i­cine is that the choices made by patients and doc­tors to use a cer­tain treat­ment should at least in part be based on sci­en­tific stud­ies pub­lished in peer reviewed aca­d­e­mic jour­nals. For a patient diag­nosed with Read the rest of this entry »


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