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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Mind Hacks and the Placebo Effect

Placebo effect, mind hacksIn the ETech panel a few days ago, we discussed some futuristic and some emerging ways in which we can “hack our minds”, mostly from a technology point of view.

Neither myself nor the other panelists thought of suggesting the most obvious and inexpensive method, proven in thousands of research studies.

The secret compound?: Belief. Also called “the placebo effect”. Let’s see what Wikipedia says:

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Brain Training: the Art and the emerging Science

Tom alerts us (thanks!) of a fun book review in the New York Times today, by Abigail Zuger, titled The Brain: Malleable, Capable, Vulnerable, on the book The Brain That Changes Itself (Viking, $24.95) by psychiatrist Norman Doidge. Some quotes:

  • “In bookstores, the science aisle generally lies well away from the self-help section, with hard reality on one set of shelves and wishful thinking on the other. But Norman Doidge‘s fascinating synopsis of the current revolution in neuroscience straddles this gap: the age-old distinction between the brain and the mind is crumbling fast as the power of positive thinking finally gains scientific credibility.”
  • “So it is forgivable that Dr. Doidge, a Canadian psychiatrist and award-winning science writer, recounts the accomplishments of the “neuroplasticians,”  as he calls the neuroscientists involved in these new studies, with breathless reverence. Their work is indeed mind-bending, miracle-making, reality-busting stuff, with implications, as Dr. Doidge notes, not only for individual patients with neurologic disease but for all human beings, not to mention human culture, human learning and human history.”
  • “Research into the malleability of the normal brain has been no less amazing. Subjects who learn to play a sequence of notes on the piano develop characteristic changes in the brain’s electric activity; when other subjects sit in front of a piano and just think about playing the same notes, the same changes occur. It is the virtual made real, a solid quantification of the power of thought.”
  • “The new science of the brain may still be in its infancy, but already, as Dr. Doidge makes quite clear, the scientific minds are leaping ahead.”

Here you have some of our interviews with a few “scientific minds” that have, for years, been “leaping ahead” beyond “positive thinking” into “positive training”:

And a couple of related blog posts:

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