Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


What is the combined effect of physical and mental training?

exercisePhys­i­cal exer­cise and men­tal exer­cise are both ben­e­fi­cial for the brain. Each can improve brain func­tions and decrease risks of cog­ni­tive decline over time. This raises the ques­tion of their com­par­a­tive and com­bined effects: Is one bet­ter than the other? Are their ben­e­fits addi­tive (1 + 1 =2) or per­haps even syn­er­gis­tic (1 + 1 =3)? Read the rest of this entry »

Transcript: Alvaro Fernandez on Brain Health and Non-invasive Cognitive Enhancement

Below you can find the full tran­script of our engag­ing Q&A ses­sion yes­ter­day on life­long cog­ni­tive fit­ness, “men­tal cap­i­tal­ism”, and more,  with Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, co-author of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, mod­er­ated by Harry Moody, Direc­tor of Aca­d­e­mic Affairs at AARP.

Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Brain Training Trends — Putting our Cognitive Reserve to Work

Yes­ter­day I had the chance to chat with Yaakov Stern, lead­ing Cog­ni­tive Reserve researcher at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity, and then with a group of 25 life­long learn­ers in Ari­zona who attended a brain fit­ness class (hello, Robert and friends!) based on our con­sumer guide The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness. On reflec­tion, I found both con­ver­sa­tions to be very stim­u­lat­ing for the same rea­son: they were forward-looking, focused not so much on sta­tus quo but on how emerg­ing research, tech­nol­ogy and trends may impact our soci­ety and lives in years to come. Let’s con­tinue the con­ver­sa­tion. Let me share the 10 main trends that we analyzed/ fore­casted in our book, and then ask you, sharp read­ers, to add your own 2 cents to the dis­cus­sion. Read the rest of this entry »

Top Ten Brain Teasers and Games for Kids and Adults alike

Over the last Hourglass four years we have posted over 100 puz­zles, teasers, rid­dles, illu­sions, and every form of men­tal exer­cise that both chal­lenges and enlight­ens our minds.

Below you have a selec­tion of the ten most pop­u­lar ones among Sharp­Brains read­ers. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Mind. Learn. Eat. Shape. Play

You may find that too much media cov­er­age on how to take good care of our brains is con­fus­ing, if not poten­tially mis­lead­ing. In The True Story — is men­tal exer­cise good, bad, or irrel­e­vantDr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon dis­sects for you a recent large study which was largely reported as bad news when in fact it brings good news (no mir­a­cles, but good news).  We hope you enjoy her insight­ful analy­sis — and all the excel­lent arti­cles that fol­low in the Sep­tem­ber edi­tion of our monthly eNewslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can use the box in the right col­umn to sub­scribe and receive this newslet­ter via email.

Do you Mind

Dear sapi­ens sapi­ens, do you mind: Dr. Joshua Stein­er­man encour­ages you to ask your­self the tough ques­tions: Do you mind your brain? Do you know your nog­gin’? Can you claim cere­bral own­er­ship or is your men­tal a rental? Plus, why we need a new lex­i­con for pos­i­tive cog­ni­tion interventions.

Time for a Cog­ni­tive Reserve Day: with 36 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide with demen­tia today and related care costs around 1 per­cent of the world’s gross domes­tic prod­uct (GDP), and grow­ing fast, may it be time to com­ple­ment World Alzheimer’s Day with Word Cog­ni­tive Reserve’s Day?

Food for Thought

Debunk­ing learn­ing styles: a recent arti­cle in The New York Times debunks many old myths about learn­ing and learn­ing styles, sum­ma­riz­ing emerg­ing cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science findings.

Sci­ence for the Peo­ple: quick now — think of a ques­tion, any ques­tion, that comes to mind. Chances are some one in the excel­lent ros­ter of 28 sci­ence blog­gers who took part in Sharp­Brains’ edi­tion of Sci­en­tia Pro Pub­lica blog car­ni­val answered it.

Food for Thought — II

‘West­ern’ Style Diet Increases Risk of ADHD: Dr. David Rabiner reports how, on the one hand, a recent large study track­ing 1172 Aus­tralian ado­les­cents and their par­ents found that dietary fac­tors can play an impor­tant role in the devel­op­ment of atten­tion deficits, at least for some children.

A Con­trolled Trial of Herbal Treat­ment for ADHD: on the other hand, Dr. Rabiner adds, a recent randomized-controlled trial sup­ports the idea that appro­pri­ately pre­pared and tar­geted herbal com­pounds have the poten­tial to be ther­a­peu­tic and reduce atten­tion deficit symptoms.

Shap­ing the Future

Q&A about the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion: we have received many good ques­tions about the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil … here you are our answers.

Meet the Experts: since 2006 we have inter­viewed dozens of experts on the future of cog­ni­tive enhance­ment and men­tal health, build­ing up the foun­da­tion for the type of inno­va­tion the Sharp­Brains Coun­cil wants to fos­ter. Here you can find what 26 leading-edge sci­en­tists and experts believe and why.

Get­ting ther­apy through your iPhone: The Daily Beast (a great new media out­let) just pub­lished this excel­lent arti­cle on an emerg­ing “small rev­o­lu­tion” in men­tal health care.

Brain Teaser

Brain Teaser: are you ready to test your men­tal rota­tion skills?

Please feel free to share this monthly eNewslet­ter to friends and col­leagues. Have a great month of October!

Brain Fitness Book: talks, interviews, reviews

Next Tues­day, Novem­ber 3rd: I’ll be pre­sent­ing the Sharp­Brains Guide to a business/ entre­pre­neur­ial audi­ence at the San Fran­cisco Chap­ter of the Asso­ci­a­tion for Cor­po­rate Growth (you can reg­is­ter online).

Descrip­tion: While most of us have heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” very few under­stand what “it” means, or how to prop­erly “use it” in order to improve brain func­tion and fit­ness. This talk will pro­vide an overview of the most recent research, guide­lines and resources to “Use It and Improve It”, sum­ma­riz­ing the main find­ings and top­ics from the new book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness. We will debunk 10 com­mon brain fit­ness myths; dis­cuss how the brain works and the 4 pil­lars of brain main­te­nance; explain the dif­fer­ence between men­tal exer­cise and men­tal activ­ity and iden­tify prac­ti­cal ways to inte­grate this research into our work and lives for max­i­mum brain health and performance.

To order book: Here. (has been among’s Top 10 Pre­ven­tive Med­i­cine books basi­cally since publication!)

Over the last few weeks I have given a cou­ple of Alvaro presenting 2AARP-sponsored talks, both in Eng­lish and in Span­ish (this was my first Span­ish pre­sen­ta­tion on a topic I mostly dis­cuss in Eng­lish, so I did get some extra brain points by try­ing to trans­late “neu­ro­plas­tic­ity” and “hip­pocam­pus” on the fly), and had a great cou­ple of meet­ings with AARP staff to explore col­lab­o­ra­tions. AARP can obvi­ously play a major role in how ratio­nally this whole cat­e­gory of “brain fit­ness” evolves.

Here you have a cou­ple of my favorite recent media interviews:

4-minute Video inter­view on the Gilbert Guide:
Book Reveals Secrets Once Only Known to Scientists

30-minute radio inter­view on WMBR (MIT cam­pus radio sta­tion):
Par­a­digm Shifts: Brain Fit­ness (mine is the sec­ond inter­view, starts around the middle)

Finally, a grow­ing num­ber of blog­gers are review­ing the book. This is what they say:

You can order The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness here.

Brain Fitness at New York Public Library, next week

Title: The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness — Prac­ti­cal Advice to Keep Your Brain Sharp NYPL

- Two community-based book talks hosted by New York Pub­lic Library and sup­ported by the Ein­stein Aging Study at Albert Ein­stein Col­lege of Medicine.

Descrip­tion: A fit brain? Can you exer­cise your brain and become men­tally fit? Einstein Aging StudyCan you con­tinue to learn and increase your brain’s capac­ity at any age? Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, CEO and Co-Founder of Sharp­Brains, says Yes!, and in this pro­gram he will show you how. Based on research com­piled from lead­ing sci­en­tists in fields of Neu­ro­science, Geron­tol­ogy, and Cog­ni­tive Sci­ence, and pre­sented in his book “The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness”, Alvaro Fer­nan­dez will pro­vide ways to main­tain and improve your cog­ni­tive health.

He will:
– Debunk 10 Myths of Brain Fit­ness
– Exam­ine the 4 Pil­lars of Brain Main­te­nance
– Dis­cuss the dif­fer­ence between Men­tal Exer­cise and Men­tal Activ­ity
– Eval­u­ate Brain Train­ing Soft­ware
– Explore emerg­ing trends

Book and Bio: Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, CEO and Co-Founder of Sharp­Brains, teaches “Sci­ence of Brain Health and Brain Fit­ness” at UC-Berkeley and San Fran­cisco State Uni­ver­sity. He is the co-author of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness.

When and where:
> Sep­tem­ber 23rd, 10am, New York Pub­lic Library, Bronx Library Cen­ter. 310 East Kings­bridge Road. (718) 579‑4244. More infor­ma­tion here.

> Sep­tem­ber 25rd, 1pm, New York Pub­lic Library, Stephen Schwarz­man Build­ing Audi­to­rium. Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street. 917-ASK-NYPL (917–275-6975). More infor­ma­tion here.


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