Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Optical illusions and brain teasers

Quick note: Yahoo! has created an expanded section with optical illusions and brain teasers, and we were glad to contribute to it. You can enjoy it Here.

Once you are done, you can find many more brain teasers here.

Update: Public Libraries as Health Clubs for the Brain

Here you have the July edition of our monthly newsletter covering cognitive health and Brain Fitnessbrain fitness topics. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

Public libraries have long offered the public more than books. And now, recent demographic and scientific trends are converging to fundamentally transform the role of libraries in our culture. You may enjoy reading this recent article I wrote for the May-June 2009 Issue of Aging Today, the bimonthly publication of the American Society on Aging: Public Libraries: Community-Based Health Clubs for the Brain.

The Big Picture

Can You Outsmart Your Genes? An Interview with Author Richard Nisbett: David DiSalvo interviews Richard Nisbett, the author of Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count, who has emerged as a persuasive voice marshalling evidence to disprove the heredity-is-destiny argument.

Yes, You Can Build Willpower: Daniel Goleman discusses how the brain makes about 10,000 new cells every day, how they migrate to where they are needed, and how each cell can make around 10,000 connections to other brain cells. Implication? Meditate, mindfully, and build positive habits.

Bird’s Eye View of Cognitive Health Innovation: Alvaro Fernandez opened the Cognitive Health Track during the Games for Health Conference (June 11-12th, Boston) with an overview of the serious games, software and online applications that can help assess and train cognitive abilities. The presentation is available Here.

Brain Tests and Myths

The Best Memory Tests, from the Alzheimer’s Action Plan: Dr. Murali Doraiswamy discusses the Pros and Cons of the most common assessments to identify cognitive problems, including what the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) does and doesn´t, and innovative computerized neuropsychological tests.

Debunking 10 Brain Health Myths: Does your brain have a “Brain Age”? Is a Magic Pill to “prevent memory problems” right around the corner? Does “aging” equal “decline”? Check out the facts to debunk 10 common myths on brain health.

Resources

Free Webinar: On July 21st, 10am Pacific Time/ 1pm Eastern Time, Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg and Alvaro Fernandez, co-authors of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness, will cover the main highlights from this new book and address the questions submitted by readers. You can learn more and register HERE.

Research References:  This is a partial list of the scientific studies reviewed during the research phase of SharpBrains’s new book, organized by relevant chapter, for those of you who like to explore topics in depth by reading original research (perhaps PubMed should promote itself as a never ending source of mental stimulation?).

Brain Teasers

Brain Teasers on Brain Fitness: Are you ready to test your knowledge of several key brain fitness metrics? For example: How many soldiers in the US Army have gone through computerized cognitive testing before being deployed, and why?
Finally, a request: if you have already read The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness, and could write a brief customer review at Amazon.com, we would surely appreciate! The Amazon.com book page is Here.

Best regards, and enjoy the month

Can you use mental self rotation to read a map?

What is mental self rotation? It is the ability to imagine yourself in different locations in space and imagine your body moving in space. This is an ability that is used in different everyday activities such as navigating in an environment or reading a map.

  • Ability involved: egocentric spatial transformations (yes, that is the scientific expression) or mental self rotation.
  • Brain areas involved: mostly parietal lobes.

Let’s take an example. Imagine that you plan to go to a new Walgreens location. You wonder whether going North on Big Bend Avenue you would have to make a right or a left turn onto Forsyth Blvd to get to Walgreens. You then look at the map that your spouse has laid out on the table. It turns out that the map is upside down so your perspective is not aligned with the one shown on the map (see Figure 1 just below, Box A). How do you get the answer to your question? Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Teasers: Spot the Difference

Dr. Pascale Michelon recently shared with our readers which brain areas and cognitive functions are engaged as we solve the type of brain teaser known as Spot the Difference, where we have to find the differences between two versions of one image: Read the rest of this entry »

Mind Games @ Venture Capital Journal

The August issue of Venture Capital Journal brings a very good piece on the emerging brain fitness software  (also called “neurosoftware”) category:

Mind Games (subscription required)

— Dakim, Lumos Labs, Posit Science and other brain fitness startups are starting to gain mind share and capital from venture firms.

The reporter and I spoke as Lumos Labs received its $3m round, and we discussed other fundable start-ups, featuring CogniFit. Which, as mentioned over the weekend, just raised $5m.

If case you are a new SharpBrains reader, perhaps visiting us after reading this VCJ article, let me provide a quick overview of the category and our Market Report (which is annual, not quarterly as the article states):

A) Report Highlights

We estimate the size of the US brain fitness software market at $225M in 2007, up from $100m in 2005 (50% CAGR), analyzing the size and brain fitness/ training markettrends of four customer segments: consumers, healthcare & insurance providers, K12 school systems, and fortune 1000 companies, military, and sports teams. Two segments fueled the market growth from 2005 to 2007: consumers (grew from $5m to $80m, 300% CAGR) and healthcare & insurance providers (grew from $36m to $65m, 35% CAGR).

Ten Specific Highlights from The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2008 report include:

1) 2007 was a seminal year for the US Brain Fitness software market, which reached $225 million in revenues up from an estimated $100 million in 2005.

2) Over 20 companies are offering tools to assess and train cognitive skills to four customer segments: consumers; healthcare and insurance providers; K12 school systems; and Fortune 1000 companies, the military, and sports teams.

Read the rest of this entry »

#15. Top fun and brainy Haikus. Yours?

haikus brainReaders have contributed a good number of haikus on brain-related topics. Below you have our favorite ones.

Our favorite fun and brainy Haikus

– Techne, the philosopher, wonders:

Solve the big questions:
How do I know when I know?
Who knows the knower?

– Steve, the environmentalist, requests:

Neuroplastic good.
Plastic, though lasts forever.
Always recycle!

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Teasers to Exercise Our Minds: Our Top Five

Here you have 4 of the most popular brain games in our blog, plus a bonus stress management tip.

Brain Teaser 1. In which direction is the bus pictured below traveling?

Schoolbus

Read the rest of this entry »

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