Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Neuroscience Interview Series: on learning and “brain gyms”

Given that we are get­ting new read­ers let’s re-introduce our Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series. If you click on the cat­e­gory (in the right bar) that says Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series, you will find the updated list of inter­views we have con­ducted (and also some that we have found else­where, such as the one with Posit Science’s Dr. Michael Merzenich and Dr. John Ratey).

The inter­views we have con­ducted and pub­lished so far, with most recent first:

And we have a few more inter­views in the works-please keep tuned.


2007 New Year Resolution: Carnival of Brain Fitness

Happy 2007 to everyone!

We have just for­mu­lated our New Year Res­o­lu­tion: make 2007 the year when brain plas­tic­ity and Brain Fit­ness became main­stream concepts.

How do we start? well, let’s announce the launch of the Car­ni­val of Brain Fit­ness (a Blog Car­ni­val is basi­cally the vehi­cle that blogs use to share posts around spe­cific topics).

Goal: to facil­i­tate a dia­logue about this emerg­ing field across mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives, from sci­en­tists and health pro­fes­sion­als, to edu­ca­tion and train­ing ones, to basi­cally every­one who has con­ducted an exper­i­ment on his on her brain and mind, and has news to report.

Con­text: The sci­en­tific foun­da­tions lie in neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, neu­ro­plas­tic­ity, cog­ni­tive train­ing and stress man­age­ment. Med­ical and health appli­ca­tions range from stroke and TBI reha­bil­i­ta­tion to ADD/ADHD and early Alzheimer’s to Mind­ful­ness Based Stress Reduc­tion and cog­ni­tive ther­apy. Edu­ca­tional and train­ing appli­ca­tions go from help­ing kids improve read­ing abil­i­ties to help­ing man­age stress and anx­i­ety — includ­ing work with the “men­tal game” in sports and high-demand activ­i­ties pr pro­fes­sions. Each of us may also have expe­ri­ences to report, where we saw first hand, no mat­ter our age, our innate abil­ity to refine and trans­form our­selves (and our brains).

Mechan­ics: If you’d like to con­tribute, Read the rest of this entry »

Blog Carnivals, Thanksgiving and Mission Accomplishing

Big party today. Car­ni­vals everywhere. 

Car­o­line and I admit we are quite biased. We see the world through our own lenses. Which, these days, means a lot of pas­sion for the science-based Brain Fit­ness Rev­o­lu­tion. We have been try­ing hard to com­bine fun brain teasers with seri­ous posts on how brain research is start­ing to influ­ence Edu­ca­tion, Health and Train­ing, and are thank­ful that these efforts are start­ing to pay off-Mission Accomplishing!

The week­end started very well. Kevin from IQ Cor­ner and Tick­Tock­BrainTalk had brought great early aus­pices by intro­duc­ing a Sharp­Brains feed box into his blog. A num­ber of trad­ing blogs, includ­ing Brett Steenbarger’s and Trader Mike’s, enjoyed our posts on trader per­for­mance and biofeedback.

Today has been the full Car­ni­val day. Read the rest of this entry »

Trader Peak Performance and biofeedback programs

Brett Steen­barger, the renowned expert in Trader Per­for­mance and author of the blog Trader­Feed: Exploit­ing the edge from his­tor­i­cal mar­ket pat­terns, among many things, just posted a kind note on our Peak Performance/ emo­tional man­age­ment solu­tion for traders.

He says: “This is the first biofeed­back appli­ca­tion that I’m aware of that is uniquely mar­keted to traders. I’ve used biofeed­back to mon­i­tor my body’s level of arousal dur­ing trad­ing and have found it to be quite useful.”

How does this work?

Frustration vs The Zone

Traders, or any­one involved in very com­plex and rapidly evolv­ing envi­ron­ments, need to make split sec­ond deci­sions based on sound logic, instead of emo­tional impulses. It is not easy to deal with frus­tra­tion, for exam­ple, when a trade doesn’t go the way we antic­i­pate. Stress can also cause us to miss new pat­terns in the mar­ket, thereby pre­vent­ing us from adapt­ing to, and suc­ceed­ing in, new circumstances.

A biofeedback-based Peak Performance/Stress Man­age­ment pro­gram may be use­ful, because a tool such as The Freeze-Framer biofeed­back sys­tem pro­vides real-time visual feed­back on our “inter­nal per­for­mance” and helps us iden­tify and learn how to man­age the emo­tional arousal that can dis­rupt exec­u­tive func­tions: judg­ment, plan­ning, ana­lyz­ing, and rea­son­ing. The graphs above show the dif­fer­ence in our body rhythms between frus­tra­tion and the smooth tar­get pat­tern of “The Zone” in an opti­mal learn­ing process and peak performance.

For more infor­ma­tion on Trader Per­for­mance, an inter­view with Brett Steen­barger, or to buy this this pro­gram, click on Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram for Traders. You may also want to learn more about find­ing your trad­ing niche.



Enhancing Trader Performance and The Psychology of Trading: Interview with Brett N. Steenbarger

Today we are going to talk about the appli­ca­tions of cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science to trad­ing and neu­ro­fi­nance. Brett N. Steen­barger , Ph.D. is Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try and Behav­ioral Sci­ences at SUNY Upstate Med­ical Uni­ver­sity, active trader for over 30 years, for­mer Direc­tor of Trader Devel­op­ment for Kingstree Trad­ing, LLC, and author of The Psy­chol­ogy of Trad­ing: Tools and Tech­niques for Mind­ing the Mar­kets(Wiley, 2003) and the new Enhanc­ing Trader Per­for­mance: Proven Strate­gies From the Cut­ting Edge of Trad­ing Psy­chol­ogy (Wiley, 2007).

He writes fea­ture columns for the Trad­ing Mar­kets web­site and sev­eral trad­ing pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing Stocks Futures and Options Magazine.

Key take-aways

–Elite per­form­ers in any highly-competitive field fol­low struc­tured learn­ing and train­ing processes to develop their skills, ensur­ing con­tin­u­ous feed­back and refinement.

- Traders would ben­e­fit to fol­low­ing this exam­ple. Tools at their dis­posal include books, sim­u­la­tion pro­grams, biofeed­back pro­grams for emo­tional man­age­ment, and coaches.

- Spe­cific skills to train are brain speed and work­ing mem­ory (for short-term traders), ana­lyt­i­cal skills (long-term ones). For both, man­ag­ing emotional-driven impul­sive behavior.

Books on Trad­ing and Peak Performance

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez (Alvaro): Wel­come, Prof. Steen­barger. Why don’t you start by pro­vid­ing us some con­text on your inter­est in trad­ing per­for­mance and how it led you to your new book? Read the rest of this entry »

On attention, trading psychology and “open” minds

Dr. Brett N. Steen­barger, author of The Psy­chol­ogy of Trad­ing and numer­ous arti­cles on trad­ing psy­chol­ogy , has posted a fas­ci­nat­ing arti­cle titled Approach­ing Trad­ing With an Empty Mind, where he describes the risks of becom­ing “pris­on­ers of the men­tal maps we cre­ate”, and miss­ing new pat­terns and real­i­ties, thereby pre­vent­ing us from adapt­ing, and suc­ceed­ing, to new circumstances.

He quotes a book by Deep Sur­vival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, in which Gon­za­lez “has pro­vided a con­cise for­mula for trad­ing suc­cess: bold­ness and humil­ity. The exem­plary trader has the bold­ness to act with con­vic­tion, and the humil­ity to real­ize that what is appar­ent may not be all that is there.”

Does this sound very abstract? Well, why don’t you try this lit­tle exper­i­ment, con­ceived by Simons and Chabris for their clas­sic study on sus­tained inat­ten­tional blind­ness (1999).

You will watch a brief video clip, and your chal­lenge is to count the total num­ber of times that the bas­ket­balls change hands.

Click here to view the Bas­ket­ball Exper­i­ment clip (To view it, you will need to have Java active in your browser. The video is fairly large, 7.5MB, and it might take a while to fin­ish loading.)

You can read about the fas­ci­nat­ing results here.

Why this is impor­tant for traders

Dr. Steen­barger warns traders “not to miss the goril­las in the mar­ket”, by keep­ing a hum­ble and open mind, ready to pay atten­tion to new and to learn.

In his book, Lau­rence Gon­za­lez sug­gests that the prac­tice of Zen med­i­ta­tion may help train this men­tal atti­tude. Arti­cles like this are exam­ples of the grow­ing impor­tance of the field of behav­ioral finance and neu­ro­fi­nance, which are becom­ing fer­tile ground for train­ing ideas that improve trad­ing performance.

Why this is impor­tant for everyone

I have been giv­ing a num­ber of lec­tures on “New Brain Research and its Impli­ca­tions for Our Lives”, com­bin­ing research find­ings with fun activ­i­ties and experiments-such as the “Did you miss the Gorilla” above. Par­tic­i­pants are usu­ally shocked first by the proof that our brains are far from being as per­fect as we usu­ally believe they are…and then a tremen­dous col­lec­tive laugh­ter follows.

The point is: some times we need to nar­row our focus in order to com­plete very demand­ing tasks, some times we need to keep an open mind, empty of con­stant men­tal chat­ter, in order not to miss the big pic­ture. Prac­tices like Zen, yoga, med­i­ta­tion in gen­eral, or, for the visual-and-technology ori­ented among us, biofeed­back devices, may help to train this “keep­ing an open mind” mus­cle part of Brain Fit­ness.

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