Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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To build a healthier future, let’s empower and equip individuals to be in control of their well-being

health and fitness

How we can all build a healthier future (World Economic Forum blog):

“Just 40 years ago life expectancy in Asia was slightly above age 50. In 2000, the continent’s 210 million people aged over 65 could expect to live just another five years, to 70 on average. By 2050, Read the rest of this entry »

A Course Correction for Positive Psychology: A Review of Martin Seligman’s Latest Book

(Editor’s Note: we are pleased to bring you this arti­cle thanks to our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greater Good Science Center).

A Course Correction for Positive Psychology

A review of Martin Seligman’s latest book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being.

– By Jill Suttie

As president of the American Psychological Association in 1998, Martin Seligman challenged the psychological community to radically change its approach. For too long, he charged, psychology had been preoccupied solely with relieving symptoms of mental illness; instead, he believed it should explore how to thrive in life, not just survive it. He called for a psychology that would uncover what makes people creative, resilient, optimistic, and, ultimately, happy. The “positive psychology” movement was born.

Yet in his latest book, Flourish, Seligman tries to provide something of a course correction for positive psychology. Read the rest of this entry »

March/ April Update: Brain Health Status Quo No Longer An Option

The 2011 SharpBrains Virtual Summit (March 30th – April 1st) gath­ered more than 260 research and indus­try lead­ers from 16 countries for 3 days to dis­cuss the chang­ing land­scape of Brain Health and Cognitive Fitness. It was a great success! Find the key lessons and take-home points from the Summit in these 2 articles by Drs. Jamie Wilson and Luc Beaudoin, respectively: 10 Emerging Themes:  Why Brain Health Status Quo is Not an Option and 7 Key Lessons from the SharpBrains Summit.

Consider this: “Col­lab­o­ra­tion is emerg­ing in ways that were unthink­able only a few years ago. Researchers are open­ing up their data and method­olo­gies to gain insights from one another. Com­mer­cial orga­ni­za­tions are part­ner­ing via dig­i­tal chan­nels, con­tent syn­di­ca­tion and other areas of best prac­tice. Social entre­pre­neurs and local prac­ti­tion­ers are shar­ing  moti­va­tional tips and edu­ca­tional resources in their efforts to build pro­grams from the bot­tom up.  Open inno­va­tion is dri­ving a bet­ter mar­ket­place for con­sumers. All these col­lab­o­ra­tive efforts are the seeds of suc­cess­ful inno­va­tion, and despite still being in the foothills, it would seem bet­ter to go hand in hand, than tak­ing a lonely road.”

We hope the articles of this free newsletter will help you think about the future and your own role in shaping it as a professional and/ or a lifelong learner.

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Brain and Neuroplasticity

Meditation and the Brain: This article by Greater Good Magazine discusses how med­i­tat­ing can increase the den­sity of gray mat­ter in brain regions asso­ci­ated with mem­ory, stress, and empa­thy. 

The Benefits of a One-Time Cognitive Training Program: They last but wane over time as shown in the 3-month follow-up results of the IMPACT study.

Can Direct Brain Stimulation Boost Performance? The answer seems to be yes, according to three studies using different types of electrical/magnetic brain stimulation.

How the Brain of a Blind Person Rewires Itself: The brain areas devoted to vision in peo­ple with eye sight turn out to be respond­ing to speech in blind people.

How are Young Brains Affected by Stress? An interesting article from the Dana Foundation on the consequences of early life stress.

Can weight loss boost memory? The mem­ory of obese patients undergoing gastric-bypass surgery is shown to improve 12 weeks after surgery.

The Inner Savant In All of Us: Scott Kaufman interviews Dr. Treffert, expect on savantism and autism, tech­ni­cal con­sul­tant to the award-winning movie Rain Man, to discuss the hidden brain potentials that may lie dormant in all of us.

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Assessments and Remediation

Driving Safely after a Stroke: Scores for 3 sim­ple cog­ni­tive tests were found to pre­dict the actual dri­ving eval­u­a­tion out­come of many people after a stroke.

Schizophrenia Research is Leading the Way: An interesting review of the dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive reme­di­a­tion tech­niques used with peo­ple suf­fer­ing from schiz­o­phre­nia.

Virtual Reality Games for Stroke Patients: Promising results show that vir­tual real­ity and other video games involv­ing motion can enhance motor improve­ment after a stroke.

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Books

Children’s Self Control and Creativity: Two Seeds of Intelligence: An excerpt from the book Brain Rules for Baby, by John Med­ina, that pro­vides a good sum­mary of the cog­ni­tive sci­ence find­ings shedding light on how a baby’s brain grows from 0 to 5.

Integrative Neuroscience, Personalized Medicine: This book takes an in depth and hard look at the cur­rent sta­tus and future direc­tion of treat­ment pre­dic­tive mark­ers in Per­son­al­ized Med­i­cine for the brain.

The Longevity Project: UC-Riverside researchers Howard Fried­man and Leslie Mar­tin draw key lessons from an eight-decade-long Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity Ter­man study of 1,500 people.

Exploiting Technology and Collaboration to Enable Quality Aging. In this essay, extracted from the book Longevity Rules, Joseph Cough­lin explores the role that tech­nol­ogy can play in aging well.

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Brain Teaser

Brain Games to Test Your Memory: Discover how well you can remem­ber ran­dom words and names.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of the SharpBrains eNewsletter. Please do feel free to share this with friends and colleagues. The more, the merrier!

Longevity, Conscientiousness and Work

There’s an excellent article in the New York Times (Eighty Years Along, a Longevity Study Still Has Ground to Cover) about a very worthy new book based on a fascinating series of research studies: The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study is the book where UC-Riverside researchers Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin draw key lessons from an eight-decade-long Stanford University Terman study of 1,500 people.

Quotes from the article:

– Many assume biology is the critical factor in longevity. If your parents lived to be 85, you probably will, too. Not so, Dr. Friedman said. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploiting Technology and Collaboration to Enable Quality Aging

Editor’s Note: This article is excerpted from Longevity Rules: How to Age Well Into the Future,  a compendium 0f 34 excellent essays where leading longevity experts help policymakers and the public better understand the aging experience. In the essay below, Joseph Coughlin, the Director of MIT AgeLab, explores the role that technology can play in aging well. Copyright 2010, Eskaton.

Aging is not for wimps. While living longer has become remarkably commonplace, living well takes a lot of work. Longevity is creating new and expanded “jobs” for individuals, families, formal caregivers and public agencies. During the past decade many have argued that technology is the answer to aging — without really asking what the question is. This definition of the “aging and technology opportunity” is driven by those who are wildly passionate about invention, but not fluent in the art of innovation — that is, putting ideas to practical use. The questions that should be asked by policymakers, business and the aging community are:

  • What are the jobs of aging services that we are trying to achieve?
  • How might technology and collaborative partnerships accomplish these tasks or produce superior outcomes?
  • Where should policymakers and business direct their limited resources to creatively exploit technology to enable individuals and families to live better — not just longer?

Read the rest of this entry »

Ever heard of the Longevity Dividend? Perhaps Gray is the New Gold

The Longevity Dividend is a theory that says we hope to intervene scientifically to slow the aging process, which will also delay the onset of age-related diseases. Delaying aging just seven years would slash rates of conditions like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease in half. That’s the longevity part.

The dividend comes from the social, economic, and health bonuses that would then be available to spend on schools, energy, jobs, infrastructure trillions of dollars that today we spend on healthcare services. In fact, at the rate we’re going, by the year 2020 one out of every $5 spent in this country will be spent on healthcare. Obviously, something has to change.

Enter the Longevity Dividend. The Longevity Dividend doesn’t suggest that we live longer; instead, it calls for living better. The idea is that if we use science to increase healthspan, not lifespan. In other words, tomorrows 50-year-old would have the health profile of a 43-year-old.

It might sound like science fiction, but, in fact, it’s quite possible. We’re already doing it in some animal models using genetic and dietary interventions, techniques related to what scientists call “the biology of aging.”

Getting there in humans, however, means embracing an entirely new approach to our thinking about disease and aging, and how we conduct scientific research into the two.

Getting Scientists’ Attention

A group of eminent researchers first proposed the Longevity Dividend in a 2006 article published in The Scientist. The authors, S. Jay Olshansky, PhD, professor of epidemiology and biostatics at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Daniel P. Perry, executive director of the Alliance for Aging Research in Washington, DC, Richard A. Miller, MD, PhD, professor of pathology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Robert N. Butler, MD, president and CEO of the International Longevity Center in New York, intended their essay to be a “general statement to scientists about the need for a paradigm shift in the way we think about aging and disease.

The researchers also met with U.S. senators who served on the Senate committee that oversaw the budget for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “We told them we believed Read the rest of this entry »

MetLife Mature Market Institute: Meaning, Purpose and Cognitive Health for a Lifelong Good Life

Increased longevity has generated many questions and much interest in healthy aging and retirement lifestyles over the recent decades. As Americans become educated regarding lifestyle choices that contribute to both physical and mental health, the definition of healthy aging has expanded to include brain health.

The notion of retirement as a time of withdrawal from society, to be spent on rest and repose reflected the thinking of a previous era when people expected shorter life spans. It is now known that the human brain benefits from environments rich in novel and complex stimuli, and that by actively participating in society and taking on personally relevant roles, people find meaning and purpose, which gives them a reason to get up in the morning and pursue new challenges.

This year, the MetLife Mature Market Institute published a research study titled Discovering What Matters: Balancing Money, Medicine and Meaning. The study explored how people rebalance their priorities over time and juggle various competing aspects of life including money, medicine (a metaphor for health) and meaning, in order to live the Good Life.  Having purpose was found to Read the rest of this entry »

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