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Time for our monthly eNewsletter tracking recent news and developments on how the neuroscience of cognition and emotions can inform education and health across the lifespan. Let us try to be as concise as possible, so you can spend as much time as possible connecting with your Loved Ones instead of with the World Wide Web.
Wishing you a wonderful end of 2011 and a happy and successful 2012!
PS: thirty-nine people have registered since this past Tuesday to participate in the upcoming Online Course: How to Be Your Own Brain Fitness Coach in 2012. Please remember we will only be able to accomodate the first two hundred registrants, so please take a look soon to see if you are interested in joining!
By: Alvaro Fernandez
You may have noticed that Amazon.com is sharing aggregated data on how ebook readers interact with the books they are reading. For example, the “Popular Highlights” section (towards the bottom of our Kindle book page) ranks the Top 10 sentences that Kindle readers have highlighted and shared while reading The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: 18 Interviews with Scientists, Practical Advice and Product Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp (April 2009; 182 pages; ranked #1 in Kindle Store’s Preventive Medicine section).
This information is invaluable to authors and publishers - as you can imagine, we’ll make sure to not only maintain but to elaborate on these topics as we prepare future editions of the book.
So, what are so far the Top Ten Quotes on Lifelong Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis, Read the rest of this entry »
By: Dana Foundation
(Editor’s note: Pathways responsible for higher-order thinking in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), or executive center of the brain, remain vulnerable throughout life—during critical early-life developmental windows, when the PFC fully matures in the early 20s, and finally from declines associated with old age. At all ages, physical activity and PFC-navigated social connections are essential components to maintaining brain health. The Experience Corps, a community-based social-engagement program, partners seniors with local schools to promote purpose-driven involvement. Participating seniors have exhibited immediate short-term gains in brain regions vulnerable to aging, such as the PFC, indicating that people with the most to lose have the most to gain from environmental enrichment.)
Over the last decade, scientists made two key discoveries that reframed our understanding of the adult brain’s potential to benefit from lifelong environmental enrichment. First, they learned that the adult brain remains plastic; it can generate new neurons in response to physical activity and new experiences. Second, they confirmed the importance of social connectedness to late-life cognitive, psychological, and physical health. The integration of these findings with our understanding of individuals’ developmental needs throughout life underscores the importance of the “social brain.” The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is particularly integral to navigating complex social behaviors and hierarchies over the life course. Read the rest of this entry »
By: Dr. Pascale Michelon
If you practice biceps curls at the gym, you will get bigger muscles that are also stronger. So far, the same seemed true for the brain. Thanks to neuroplasticity, practice triggers neuronal and synaptic growth (i.e., brain volume growth), which correlates with better performance. In this fascinating Scientific American article we learn that as the brain masters a new skill, some brain areas do get bigger but eventually shrink back to normal! The performance gain acquired through practice stays present, in spite of the shrinkage.
Studying the auditory cortex of rats, they found that the expansion of a ‘skill-specific’ brain area with training is only short lived, even when changes in ability are long lasting.
So what does change? Although newly learned perceptual skills don’t show up in a bird’s eye view of the cortex, they must have some neurobiological basis. Kilgard suggests that learning probably results from a few parsimonious tweaks at a more microscopic level, Read the rest of this entry »
As part of the research behind the book The SharpBrains Guide for Brain Fitness we interviewed dozens of leading cognitive health and fitness scientists and experts worldwide to learn about their research and thoughts, and have a number of take-aways to report.
What can we clearly say today that we couldn’t have said only 10 years ago? That what neuroscience pioneer Santiago Ramon y Cajal claimed in the XX century, “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor his own brain”, may well become reality in the XXI.
And transform Education, Health, Training, and Gaming in the process, since Read the rest of this entry »
By: Alvaro Fernandez
Given many of us are starting to prepare New Year Resolutions, let’s revisit one of SharpBrains’ most popular-ever articles that can help us all refine our Brain Fitness Resolutions…
The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Brains
- Learn what is the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic understanding will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses.
- Take care of your nutrition. Did you know that Read the rest of this entry »
By: Dr. Pascale Michelon
In the latest issue of Neurology a study by Erickson et al. (2010) suggests that walking regularly can increase brain volume and reduce the risks of developing cognitive impairment.
The researchers stared with 2 mains facts:
They asked 2 questions:
- Can physical activity assessed earlier predict gray matter volume 9 years later?
- Is greater gray matter volume associated with reduced risks of developing cognitive impairment?
Read the rest of this entry »