Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Math Brain Teaser: How to Choose a Mans Shirt

You have been invited to an important fundraising gala at your old college and decided that this black-tie event demands a short collar super white Italian shirt, like the one you bought years ago for your wedding. When you bravely tried the wedding shirt on (size 16), your wife noted that the collar suffocates you and you need about 1/4? more space everywhere in-between your neck and the collar all around your neck. What size shirt do you need to buy?  In case you don’t know the shirt size 16 means that a tape wrapped around your neck and two fingers positioned flat upfront will measure 16 inches.

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Math Brain Teaser: Unfinished Thesis

You are spending the summer polishing your thesis in the university library. Every day you take the escalator into the subway, turn right and catch a train going up North to the university. One day you realize that the trains on your left going in the opposite direction can bring you to the beach. It is summer and nothing is wrong with some leisure. You carefully calculate that even if you spend half of the remaining summer vacation in the library it should be enough to finish the thesis. You decide to spice up your summer by Read the rest of this entry »

Update: How Stress and Emotions Impact Brain Performance

Sponsored Ad (How to Advertise on SharpBrains.com)

Time for the October edi­tion of the monthly SharpBrains eNewsletter, featuring this time several articles on the impact of stress, emotions, and self-regulation, on our brain’s structure and performance.

We are pleased to bring to Sharp­Brains read­ers a new 6-part series on the Neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy of Stress, based on a recent book by Sharp­Brains con­trib­u­tor Dr. Jerome Schultz. The first two parts are already available: Part 1 – The Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress and Part 2 – Gray Matters.

Brain Study Links Emotional Self-Regulation and Math Performance: A new study strongly suggests the need to “help stu­dents reap­praise the sit­u­a­tion and con­trol emo­tions before they even get into a task”. While the study focused on math anxiety and performance, the implications are relevant outside the classroom too.

Reminder: Brain Fitness Q&A Sessions in November: As we announced a few weeks ago, we are hon­ored to present an upcom­ing Brain Fit­ness Q&A Series. The first session, featuring Dr. Gary Small, will take place Novem­ber 1st, 2011, 2-3pm US Eeastern Time. Please mark your calendar and join us at sharpbrains.com then! (no need to do anything prior to the session).

Music Training Can Enhance Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function: Very inter­est­ing new study pub­lished in Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence on the value of music training (vs. simply listening to music).

Gaming and Neuroscience: Opportunities and Challenges: A summary of impressions by researcher  Aki Nikolaidis based on his participation in the recent conference Enter­tain­ment Soft­ware and Cog­ni­tive Neu­rother­a­peu­tics Con­fer­ence (ESCoNS) at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia San Fran­cisco.

Families’ Perspectives on ADHD and its Treatment: Dr. David Rabiner presents new data on fam­i­lies’ expe­ri­ence with ADHD and its treat­ment.

Brain Games and Optical Illusions @ National Geographic: Sev­eral Sharp­Brains friends rec­om­mend this recent 3-part National Geo­graphic TV mini-series.

Math Brain Teaser for Kids and Adults: Archimedes Grave: A fun puzzle to exer­cise our brains a bit, sub­mit­ted by new con­trib­u­tor Maria Lando. Enjoy!

Brain Study Links Emotional Self-Regulation and Math Performance

Brain Study Points to Potential Treatments for Math Anxiety (Education Week):

  • “The study, published this morning in the journal Cerebral Cortex, is a continuation of work on highly math-anxious people being conducted by Sian L. Beilock, associate psychology professor at the University of Chicago, and doctoral candidate Ian M. Lyons. In prior research, Beilock has found that just the thought of doing math problems can trigger stress responses in people with math anxiety, and adult teachers can pass their trepidation about math on to their students.” Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Development Through Bilingual Education and Activities Requiring Self-Control

How To Help Your Child’s Brain Grow Up Strong (NPR):

– “Kids who learn two languages young are better able to learn abstract rules and to reverse rules that they’ve already learned,” says Aamodt. “They’re less likely to have difficulty choosing between conflicting possibilities when there are two possible responses that both present themselves. They’re also better at figuring out what other people are thinking, which is probably because they have to figure out which language to use every time they talk to Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Working memory training can improve fluid intelligence

Very interesting new study on computerized cognitive training (or brain training), well summarized in LA Times article Memory training improves intelligence in some children, report says. Quote:

The training program used by Jaeggi and co-workers focused on ramping up working memory: the ability to hold in mind a handful of information bits briefly, and to update them as needed. Cognitive scientists consider working memory a key component of intelligence. But they have Read the rest of this entry »

Working memory: a better predictor of academic success than IQ?

Working memory is the ability to hold information in your head and

via Flickr (Plasticinaa)

Pic: Flickr (Plasticinaa)

manipulate it mentally. You use this mental workspace when adding up two numbers spoken to you by someone else without being able to use pen and paper or a calculator. Children at school need this memory on a daily basis for a variety of tasks such as following teachers’ instructions or remembering sentences they have been asked to write down.

The main goal of our recent paper published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology was to investigate the predictive power of working memory and IQ in learning in typically developing children over a six-year period. This issue is important because distinguishing between the cognitive skills underpinning success in learning is crucial for early screening and intervention.

In this study, typically developing students were tested for their IQ and working memory at 5 years old and again when they were 11 years old. They were also tested on their academic attainments in reading, spelling and maths.

Findings and Educational Implications

The findings revealed that a child’s success in all aspects of learning is down to how good their working memory is regardless of IQ score. Critically, working memory at the start of formal education is a more powerful predictor of subsequent academic success than IQ in the early years.

This unique finding is important as it addresses Read the rest of this entry »

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