Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: How Stress and Emotions Impact Brain Performance

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Time for the October edi­tion of the monthly SharpBrains eNewsletter, featuring this time several articles on the impact of stress, emotions, and self-regulation, on our brain’s structure and performance.

We are pleased to bring to Sharp­Brains read­ers a new 6-part series on the Neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy of Stress, based on a recent book by Sharp­Brains con­trib­u­tor Dr. Jerome Schultz. The first two parts are already available: Part 1 – The Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress and Part 2 – Gray Matters.

Brain Study Links Emotional Self-Regulation and Math Performance: A new study strongly suggests the need to “help stu­dents reap­praise the sit­u­a­tion and con­trol emo­tions before they even get into a task”. While the study focused on math anxiety and performance, the implications are relevant outside the classroom too.

Reminder: Brain Fitness Q&A Sessions in November: As we announced a few weeks ago, we are hon­ored to present an upcom­ing Brain Fit­ness Q&A Series. The first session, featuring Dr. Gary Small, will take place Novem­ber 1st, 2011, 2-3pm US Eeastern Time. Please mark your calendar and join us at sharpbrains.com then! (no need to do anything prior to the session).

Music Training Can Enhance Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function: Very inter­est­ing new study pub­lished in Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence on the value of music training (vs. simply listening to music).

Gaming and Neuroscience: Opportunities and Challenges: A summary of impressions by researcher  Aki Nikolaidis based on his participation in the recent conference Enter­tain­ment Soft­ware and Cog­ni­tive Neu­rother­a­peu­tics Con­fer­ence (ESCoNS) at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia San Fran­cisco.

Families’ Perspectives on ADHD and its Treatment: Dr. David Rabiner presents new data on fam­i­lies’ expe­ri­ence with ADHD and its treat­ment.

Brain Games and Optical Illusions @ National Geographic: Sev­eral Sharp­Brains friends rec­om­mend this recent 3-part National Geo­graphic TV mini-series.

Math Brain Teaser for Kids and Adults: Archimedes Grave: A fun puzzle to exer­cise our brains a bit, sub­mit­ted by new con­trib­u­tor Maria Lando. Enjoy!

Study: Music Training Can Enhance Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function

Very interesting new study published in Psychological Science: Short-Term Music Training Enhances Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function.

Abstract: Researchers have designed training methods that can be used to improve mental health and to test the efficacy of education programs. However, few studies have demonstrated broad transfer from such training to performance on untrained cognitive activities. Here we report the effects of two interactive computerized training programs developed for preschool children: one for music and one for visual art. After only 20 days of training, Read the rest of this entry »

Playing Music as a Protection Against Dementia

In a recent post we saw that music may help people with dementia learn new facts. This article explores another relationship between music and dementia: playing a musical instrument, even as an amateur, may protect the brain later on against dementia-related damages.

Researchers had 70 people ages 60 to 83 perform a variety of tests to measure visuospatial memory, ability to name objects, the brain’s ability to adapt to new information […] those who had engaged in musical activity for 10 years or longer scored substantially better than those with no musical activity in their past.

the longer people play instruments, the more benefits they may derive.

All were amateurs who had started playing when they were 10 years old. Read the rest of this entry »

Music: Another Pillar of Brain Fitness?

Musicians’ brains are often used as models of neuroplasticity. Indeed, numerous studies to date have shown that musical training can change the brain. Musicians have larger brain volume in areas that are important for playing an instrument: motor, auditory and visuo-spatial regions.

A recent Nature Review Neuroscience article shows that music training can benefit the brain beyond music. Specifically, musicians may have an advantage for processing speech in challenging listening environments compared with non-musicians Read the rest of this entry »

Do we need more music education?

We recently published an article examining the “Mozart effect” and the conclusions were that there is very little evidence that listening to music does boost mental functions. However learning to play an instrument does seem to do the trick.

In this recent Scientific American article, the editors point out that: Read the rest of this entry »

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