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Feb 28, 2012 Comments Off
By: Alvaro Fernandez
Time for SharpBrains’ February 2012 eNewsletter, featuring in this occasion multiple and complementary perspectives on how to harness neuroplasticity: with enthusiasm, BOTH physical AND cognitive exercise, and (once tools become better standardized and widely available) brain-based personalized medicine.
What’s New and Meaningful:
Finally, let us mention that Brain Awareness Week is approaching (March 12-18th, 2012), and that you can now add comments to SharpBrains articles via Facebook (see below). Looking forward to a great month of March!
Feb 9, 2012 Comments Off
The MC at the University of Michigan’s reunion dinner encouraged audience members to reveal the most significant take-away from their undergraduate nursing education. The greatest benefit was quickly clear to me — problem-solving thinking. Memory produced a mind video: a short, dark-haired, nursing instructor lecturing a small group of first year students in an empty patient room. “Don’t memorize the steps of sterile technique. Use a problem-solving thinking process.” She described the sequential, cyclical process: define the problem, gather information, develop a solution strategy, allocate resources, monitor progress, and evaluate the solution. Read the rest of this entry »
Feb 4, 2011 2
By: Nick Almond
Recently there has been an ongoing debate as to whether attempting crosswords regularly can stave off cognitive decline, which is the hallmark of healthy aging and dementia. As with many areas of psychology the answer to this question may not be as clear-cut as one would hope. Before considering the evidence for whether crossword participation can reduce cognitive decline in later life, it is necessary to consider the different types of crosswords available and understand whether one or another type may be more cognitively stimulating than the other. Generally, when we think of crosswords two kinds spring to mind, either general knowledge or cryptic crosswords.
A general knowledge crossword typically has clues which are similar to answering general knowledge quizzes, but the solver has the benefit of knowing how many letters make up the solution.
For example: “the capital of Peru (4)”… Read the rest of this entry »
Dec 8, 2010 1
By: Laurie Bartels
My interest in the brain stems from wanting to better understand both how to make school more palatable for students, and professional development more meaningful for faculty. To that end, I began my Neurons Firing blog in April, 2007, have been doing a lot of reading, and been attending workshops and conferences, including Learning & the Brain.
If you agree that our brains are designed for learning, then as educators it is incumbent upon us to be looking for ways to maximize the learning process for each of our students, as well as for ourselves. Some of what follows is simply common sense, but I’ve learned that all of it has a scientific basis in our brains. Read the rest of this entry »
Aug 9, 2010 2
By: Nick Almond
I was really interested in the recent critique of the BBC brain training experiment by Dr. Elizabeth Zelinski. I think Owens et al (2010) was a critical piece of research which was not conducted in the right way and was focusing on the wrong sample population. I totally agree with the comments by Dr. Zelinski regarding the potential for sample bias and the use of some questionable cognitive measures. However, I would like to take this critique further and question whether the study was value for money when there are other studies which cannot achieve funding but would, in my opinion, show the criticism/scepticism of the use-it-or-lose-it theory.
I think there is not enough criticism about the age of the sample population used in Owens et al. (2010). We have conclusive cognitive and neurological evidence that cognitive/neurological plasticity exists in young adults. There is also adequate evidence that neuroplasticity is evident in older adults. The critical point which I want to make about the sample population in Owens et al. study is that it did not target the correct sample population, that is, older adults who are at risk of cognitive/neuronal atrophy. It does not matter if younger adults improve on brain training tasks, or if skills picked up by younger adults from brain training are not transferred to other cognitive domains, simply because younger adults are good at these skills/cognitive functions. Therefore there is a possibility that ceiling or scaling effects mask the true findings in Owens et al. (2010), as indicated by Zelinski.
The recruitment of the sample population is also very concerning and I do not feel that their control group was appropriate. Read the rest of this entry »
Feb 1, 2009 Comments Off
By: Alvaro Fernandez
Here you have the January edition of our monthly newsletter covering cognitive health and brain fitness topics. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, simply by submitting your email at the top of this page.
Bird’s Eye View
Brain fitness heads towards its tipping point: How do you know when something is moving towards a Gladwellian tipping point? When health insurance companies and public policy makers launch significant initiatives. Dr. Gerard Finnemore provides a market overview, based on SharpBrains’ client webinar held last December.
Ten Reflections on Cognitive Health and Assessments: Here are 10 highlights from several stimulating January events: Symposium on Adaptive Technology for the Aging (by Arizona State University), Health Bloggers’ Summit (by Consumer Reports), Traumatic Brain Injury (by Veteran Affairs in Palo Alto), and a new Alzheimer’s/ Dementia Expert Panel organized by the city of San Francisco.
News and Events
Nintendo Brain Age vs. Crossword Puzzles: we need much public education in order to help consumers separate reality from hope from hype. Nintendo is not helping, neither is media reporting.
Collection of recent news: including training for senior fitness trainers, reports on the importance of purpose, on older driver safety, and more.
Upcoming events: I will be speaking soon at the New York Academy of Medicine, the American Society on Aging/ NCOA conference, and the Silvering Workforce Summit at the University of North Carolina. Let me know if you are attending any.
Education and Learning
Learning about Learning: an Interview with Joshua Waitzkin: Scott Barry Kaufman interviews “child prodigy” Joshua Waitzkin on The Art of Learning. Many fascinating insights, including “I think losing my first National Chess Championship was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, because it helped me avoid many of the psychological traps…(associated with being called a “child prodigy”)”.
Resources to help students build emotional intelligence: Daniel Goleman introduces educators and parents to a new book that “adds an important tool to the emotional intelligence kit: mindfulness, a moment-by-moment awareness of one’s internal state and external environment.”
Top 10 Cognitive Health and Brain Fitness Books: Here you have The 10 Most Popular Brain Fitness & Cognitive Health Books, based on book purchases by SharpBrains’ readers during 2008.
10-Question Program Evaluation Checklist: To help consumers and professionals navigate through the growing number of programs making “brain fitness” or “brain training” claims, we published last year this Evaluation Checklist. Now we are making the Checklist available as a Bookmark given recent requests by universities and conference organizers.
Brain Teaser to Exercise your Memory and Reasoning Skills: Dr. Pascale Michelon offers a stimulating teaser that not only helps exercise our brain but also educates us on how and why the same activity may exercise different brains differently — depending on where we are from.