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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Top 10 Cognitive Health and Brain Fitness Books

Here you have The 10 Most Popular Brain Fitness & Cognitive Health Books, based on book purchases by SharpBrains’ readers during 2008.

Enjoy!

Brain Rules-John Medina
1. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (Pear Press, March 2008)
– Dr. John Medina, Director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University, writes an engaging and comprehensive introduction to the many daily implications of recent brain research. He wrote the article Brain Rules: science and practice for SharpBrains readers.
2. The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person (Oxmoor House, March 2007)
– Dr. Judith Beck, Director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, connects the world of research-based cognitive therapy with a mainstream application: maintaining weight-loss. Interview notes here.
3. The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (Viking, March 2007)
– Dr. Norman Doidge, psychiatrist and author of this New York Times bestseller, brings us “a compelling collection of tales about the amazing abilities of the brain to rewire, readjust and relearn”. Laurie Bartels reviews the book review here.
Spark John Ratey
4. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain(Little, Brown and Company, January 2008)
– Dr. John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, summarizes the growing research on the brain benefits of physical exercise. Laurie Bartels puts this research in perspective here.
5. The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning (Stylus Publishing, October 2002)
– Dr. James Zull, Director Emeritus of the University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education at Case Western Reserve University, writes a must-read for educators and lifelong learners. Interview notes here.
6. Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves (Ballantine Books, January 2007)
– Sharon Begley, Newsweek’ excellent science writer, provides an in-depth introduction to the research on neuroplasticity based on a Mind & Life Institute event.
7. Thanks: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Houghton Mifflin, August 2007)
– Prof. Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis and Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology, writes a solid book that combines a research-based synthesis of the topic as well as practical suggestions. Interview notes here.
8. The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind (Oxford University Press, January 2001)
– Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, clinical professor of neurology at New York University School of Medicine, provides a fascinating perspective on the role of the frontal roles and executive functions through the lifespan. Interview notes here.
Brain Trust Program 9. The Brain Trust Program: A Scientifically Based Three-Part Plan to Improve Memory (Perigee Trade, September 2007)
– Dr. Larry McCleary, former acting Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Denver Children’s Hospital, covers many lifestyle recommendations for brain health in this practical book. He wrote the article Brain Evolution and Health for SharpBrains.
10. A User’s Guide to the Brain: Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain (Pantheon, January 2001)
– In this book (previous to Spark), Dr. John Ratey provides a stimulating description of how the brain works. An excellent Brain 101 book to anyone new to the field.

5 Tips on Lifelong Learning and Neuroplasticity for the Adult Brain

productivity_brain.

Learning & the Brain is a conference that gets marked on my calendar annually because I always return home having either been exposed to new information, or with a new perspective on an old topic. Last month’s conference in Cambridge, MA, themed Using Emotions Research to Enhance Learning & Achievement, was no exception. As with previous conferences, in addition to the many keynote sessions, I focused on the adult learning strand, since so much of my time is spent providing professional development for, and collaborating with adults. Here are five conference cues as they relate to education.

1. CHALLENGE YOURSELF WITH NEW LEARNING

Aaron Nelson stated that our memory starts to decline between ages twenty-five and thirty, or to phrase it a bit more positively, Sam Wang says our memory peaks around age thirty. On the other end of the age spectrum, according to Ken Kosik, there is unequivocal evidence that education protects against Alzheimer’s. Both Nelson and Kosik mentioned the theory of cognitive reserve, which translates roughly to the more we learn, the more connections we create, and therefore the greater the neuronal buffer we have to draw upon as we age.

Elkhonon Goldberg of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness stated at last April’s conference that “as one ages, the domain of the novel shrinks, and the domain of what is known grows”. He cautioned the audience to beware of being on mental autopilot. Thus, the goal is not to simply get better at doing more of the same. The type of learning that makes a difference consists specifically of new, novel challenges. The result of such engagement is that Read the rest of this entry »

Neurogenesis and Brain Plasticity in Adult Brains

Back in July, I wrote a post entitled 10 Brain Tips To Teach and Learn. Those tips apply to students of any age, including adults, for ideally adults are still learners. Why is adult learning relevant in a brain-focused blog, you may wonder:

The short of it

As we age, our brain:

still forms new brain cells
can change its structure & function
finds positive stress can be beneficial; negative stress can be detrimental
can thrive on novel challenges
needs to be exercised, just like our bodies

The long of it

Adults may have a tendency to get set in their ways have been doing it this way for a long time and it works, so why change? Turns out, though, that change can be a way to keep aging brains healthy. At the April Learning & the Brain conference, the theme of which was neuroplasticity, I attended several sessions on adult learning. Here’s what the experts are saying.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning & the Brain: Resources for Educators

As promised in my previous post (10 Brain Training Tips To Teach and Learn), here are some of the resources that inform my understanding of the brain: books, conferences, and websites.

BOOKS

There are a multitude of books about the brain. For educators, the best of these are books that demystify the language of neuroscience while providing information applicable to the teaching/learning process.

Among the more prolific or well-known authors of this type include Jeb Schenck, Robert Sylwester, Barbara Givens, Robert Marzano, Marilee Sprenger, and Eric Jensen.

I have found books Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Newsletter: mid-February Edition

Brain exercise, brain exercisesOur January Newsletter received a good deal of feedback from many readers. Based on it, our new approach is to select the top 10 most important articles every other week. Please take a look at this first experiment, and let us know you feedback.

(Also, remember that you can subscribe to receive our blog RSS feed, or to our monthly newsletter at the top of this page if you want to receive this newsletter by email).

Top 10 Articles February 1st-15th:

News and Events

Stress Management is Key Factor For Cognitive Fitness: a great cover story in US News & World Report, and an excellent article in Prevention Magazine that was highlighted on the Today Show this week, both feature the importance of Read the rest of this entry »

Musical training as mental exercise for cognitive performance

We often hear (gladly!) how teachers use our blog articles and brain teasers in their classes. We also hear how many psychology and biology teachers are getting their students excited about brain research, and, to contribute to their efforts, we like to recognize some great initiatives.

Last year, Jeffrey Gonce, a Psychology teacher at Red Land High School (West Shore School District, PA) asked his students to “complete a project describing a recent brain (or genetic) study that affects behavior.” The students could opt to post their articles online, and Jeffrey was kind enough to send us a link to read the results. We enjoyed reading them all, and published in our blog this beautiful essay, titled “Tis better to give than receive”, written by Alexandra, which Piano musical training was subsequently included in a number of neuroscience an psychology blogs.

This year, Jeffrey also sent us his students’ essays, and we are going to recognize and publish this great essay by high school student Megan. Enjoy!
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It has long been the source of scientific debate as to whether music can improve the cognitive processes in children. Referred to by some as “The Mozart Effect,” a strong Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Plasticity, Health and Fitness Books

As you may have noticed, we just changed a few things in our site, including preparing a more solid Resources section. Please take a look at the navigation bar at the top.

One of the new pages, that we will update often, is an expanded Books page. Here are the books that we are recommending now.

Fascinating books on neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to rewire itself through experience):

Sharon Begley: Train Your Mind, Change Your BrainTrain Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves – by Sharon Begley.

 

The Brain That Changes Itself - Norman DoidgeThe Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science – by Norman Doidge.

 

Great popular science books by Read the rest of this entry »

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