Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: A Fresh Look at Enhancing Brain & Mental Health Across the Lifespan

kid brainTime for SharpBrains’ May 2013 e-newsletter, which features a variety of articles offering a more optimistic and evidence-based approach to brain and mental health than current practices.

First of all, let us highlight that Scientific American just published an excellent review of our new book. The author sums it up by saying that “…I wish I had read this awesome guide when I was much younger…I find the emerging field of neuroplasticity immensely exciting, and guides like this one are both hopeful and reasonable.” As a reader points out, the word “awesome” does not appear often in science-oriented publications…so we are especially proud to see the book merit such treatment.

New thinking:

New science:

New tools:

That’s it for now. Have a stimulating June!

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 Amazon.com’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.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking applied brain science. Explore our most popular resources HERE.

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