Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Brain fitness is not about crossword puzzles and blueberries

brain_centerTop 15 Insights About Neuroplasticity, Emotions and Lifelong Learning (The Huffington Post):

  • “A consequence of the brain’s plasticity is that the brain may change with every experience, thought and emotion, from which it follows that you yourself have the potential power to change your brain with everything that you do, think, and feel. So brain fitness and optimization are about much more than crossword puzzles and blueberries; they are about cultivating a new mindset and mastering a new toolkit that allow us to appreciate and take full advantage of our brains’ incredible properties.”

Keep reading these  Top 15 Insights About Neuroplasticity, Emotions and Lifelong Learning

Carol Dweck on Mindsets, Learning and Intelligence

Just came across an excellent Interview with Carol Dweck. Thank you Coert!

Carol Dweck is a professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Last year she published a great book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, where she elaborates on her (and ours) key message: the way you view your own intelligence largely determines how it will develop. And no matter how you define “intelligence”. In this interview Coert asks Carol Dweck about the book and about what the practical implications of her work are for managers. See a couple of quotes below:

– “In my book I identify two mindsets that play important roles in people’s success. In one, the fixed mindset, people believe that their talents and abilities are fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that; nothing can be done to change it. Many years of research have now shown that when people adopt the fixed mindset, it can limit their success. They become over-concerned with proving their talents and abilities, hiding deficiencies, and reacting defensively to mistakes or setbacks-because deficiencies and mistakes imply a (permanent) lack of talent or ability. People in this mindset will actually pass up important opportunities to learn and grow if there is a risk of unmasking weaknesses. This is not a recipe for success in business, as ultimately shown by the folks at Enron, who rarely admitted any mistakes. What is the alternative?”
– “In the other mindset, the growth mindset, people believe that their talents and abilities can be developed through passion, education, and persistence. For them, it’s not about looking smart or grooming their image. It’s about a commitment to learning–taking informed risks and learning from the results, surrounding yourself with people who will challenge you to grow, looking frankly at your deficiencies and seeking to remedy them. Most great business leaders have had this mindset, because building and maintaining excellent organizations in the face of constant change requires it.”

Enjoy the whole Interview with Carol Dweck

And this related blog post, where we posited that “In short: there is much that each of us can do to improve our brain fitness, no matter our age, occupation or starting point. There are some fundamental capacities that we can train. And we have to care for good physical exercise and stress management on top of mental exercise.”

Darwin’s adult neuroplasticity

Charles Darwin 1880Charles Darwin (1809-1882)’s autobiography (full text free online) includes some very insightful refections on the evolution of his own mind during his middle-age, showcasing the power of the brain to rewire itself through experience (neuroplasticity) during our whole lifetimes-not just when we are youngest.

He wrote these paragraphs at the age of 72 (I have bolded some key sentences for emphasis, the whole text makes great reading):

“I have said that in one respect my mind has changed during the last twenty or thirty years. Up to the age of thirty, or beyond it, poetry of many kinds, such as the works of Milton, Gray, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Shelley, gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare, especially in the historical plays. I have also said that formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost my taste for pictures or music. Music generally sets me thinking too energetically on what I have been at work on, instead of giving me pleasure. I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did. On the other hand, novels which are works of the imagination, though not of a very high order, have been for years a wonderful relief and pleasure to me, and I often bless all novelists. A surprising number have been read aloud to me, and I like all if moderately good, and if they do not end unhappily– against which a law ought to be passed. A novel, according to my taste, does not come into the first class unless it contains some person whom one can thoroughly love, and if a pretty woman all the better.

This curious and lamentable loss of the higher aesthetic tastes is all the odder, as books on history, biographies, and travels (independently of any scientific facts which they may contain), and essays on all sorts of subjects interest me as much as ever they did. My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive. A man with Read the rest of this entry »

Working Memory Training from a pediatrician perspective, focused on attention deficits

Arthur Lavin Today we interview Dr. Arthur Lavin, Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western School of Medicine, pediatrician in private practice, and one of the first providers of Cogmed Working Memory Training in the US (the program whose research we discussed with Dr. Torkel Klingberg and Dr. Bradley Gibson). Dr. Lavin has a long standing interest in technology-as evidenced by Microsoft’s recognition of his paperless office- and in brain research and applications-he trained with esteemed Mel Levine from All Kinds of Minds-.

————————–

Key take-aways:

– Schools today are not yet in a position to effectively help kids with cognitive issues deal with increasing cognitive demands.

– Working Memory is a cognitive skill fundamental to planning, sequencing, and executing school-related work.

– Working Memory can be trained, as evidenced by Dr. Lavin’s work, based on Cogmed Working Memory Training, with kids who have attention deficits.

————————–

Context on cognitive fitness and schools

AF (Alvaro Fernandez): Dr. Lavin, thanks for being with us. It is not very common for a pediatrician to have such an active interest in brain research and cognitive fitness. Can you explain the source of your interest?

AL (Arthur Lavin): Throughout my life I have been fascinated by how the mind works. Both from the research point of view and the practical one: how can scientists’ increasing knowledge improve kids’ lives? We now live in an truly exciting era in which solid scientific progress in neuroscience is at last creating opportunities to improve people’s actual cognitive function. The progress Cogmed has achieved in creating a program that can make great differences in the lives of children with attention deficits is one of the most exciting recent developments. My colleague Ms. Susan Glaser and I recently published two books: Who’s Boss: Moving Families from Conflict to Collaboration (Collaboration Press, 2006) and Baby & Toddler Sleep Solutions for Dummies (Wiley, 2007), so I not only see myself as a pediatrician but also an educator. I see parents in real need of guidance and support. They usually are both very skeptical, since Read the rest of this entry »

Sharpen Your Wits With This Special Offer!

We are offering a limited-time deal for the rest of February 2007.

You will get Brain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 QuestionsBrain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Questions included for free! (an $11.95 savings!)

Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg and Alvaro Fernandez answer in plain English the most common questions around why and how to exercise our brains.

…when you buy any of the following brain exercise programs:

Exercise Your Brain: New Brain Research and Implications

Exercise Your Brain: New Brain Research and Implications DVD

This one-hour and 20 minute class introduces you to the science of brain fitness and includes many engaging brain exercises you can do on your own or in a group setting. You will learn about basic neuroanatomy and physiology, as well as hear about the groundbreaking publications that launched this field. Then, get you will practice how to exercise your own brain and flex all your mental muscles. Perfect introduction to Brain Fitness!
Read the rest of this entry »

Memory training and attention deficits: interview with Notre Dame’s Bradley Gibson

Bradley S. Gibson, Ph.D.Professor Bradley Gibson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at University of Notre Dame, and Director of the Perception and Attention Lab there. He is a cognitive psychologist with research interests in perception, attention, and visual cognition. Gibson’s research has been published in a variety of journals, including Journal of Experimental Psychology, Human Perception and Performance, Psychological Science, and Perception & Psychophysics.

In 2006 he conducted the first independent replication study based on the Cogmed Working Memory Training program we discussed with Dr. Torkel Klingberg.

A local newspaper introduced some preliminary results of the study Attention, please: Memory exercises reduce symptoms of ADHD. Some quotes from the articles:

– “The computer game has been shown to reduce ADHD symptoms in children in experiments conducted in Sweden, where it was developed, and more recently in a Granger school, where it was tested by psychologists from the University of Notre Dame.

– Fifteen students at Discovery Middle School tried RoboMemo during a five-week period in February and March, said lead researcher Brad Gibson

– As a result of that experience, symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity were both reduced, according to reports by teachers and parents, Gibson said.

– Other tests found significant improvement in “working memory”, a short-term memory function that’s considered key to focusing attention and controlling impulses.

– RoboMemo’s effectiveness is not as well established as medications, and it’s a lot more work than popping a pill.

– Gibson said Notre Dame’s study is considered preliminary because it involved a small number of students. Another limitation is that the study did not have a control group of students receiving a placebo treatment.

We feel fortunate to interview Dr. Gibson today.

Alvaro Fernandez (AF): Dr. Gibson, thanks for being with us. Could you first tell us about your overall research interests?

Dr. Bradley Gibson (BG): Thanks for giving me this opportunity. My primary research Read the rest of this entry »

Working Memory Training

Reminder: 60 or so science bloggers are celebrating the Week of Science presented at Just Science, from Monday, February 5, through Sunday, February 11. We will be writing about “just science” this week, by discussing peer-reviewed research papers in the field of brain fitness.

Yesterday we talked about Cognitive Reserve and Lifestyle, a paper and research area that helps build the case for mental stimulation/ brain exercise if we care about long-term healthy aging.

Today we will approach the subject of cognitive training from the opposite corner: we will discuss immediate benefits of training for quality of life and performance in children with ADD/ ADHD. Some of the most promising effects seen are those that show how working memory training can generalize into better complex reasoning (measured by Ravens), inhibition (Stroop) and ADD/ ADHD symptoms ratings, beyond WM improvements.

Our main character: Dr. Torkel Klingberg, whom we had the fortune to interview last September (full notes at Working Memory Training and RoboMemo: Interview with Dr. Torkel Klingberg), and who has since received the pretigious Philip’s Nordic Prize.

We highlight some of the interview notes: Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to SharpBrains

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.

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:
Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.

Search