Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

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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 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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