Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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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.

Enjoy!

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.

Enjoy,

Alvaro

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.

Register at special low fees before July 31st

2016 SharpBrains Virtual Summit: Reinventing Brain Health

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