Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Music as Therapy: Music, Movement, Cognition!

The Sound of Music
Whether you real­ize it or not, you already know a lot when it comes to music. Accord­ing to Daniel Lev­itin, for­mer record pro­ducer, cur­rent neu­ro­sci­en­tist, psy­chol­o­gist and author of This Is Your Brain On Music, you know: Read the rest of this entry »

Why our brains weigh 1.3 kilograms, have ~100 billion neurons, consume 20% of the oxygen we breathe

Team­work Builds Big Brains (Sci­ence Now):
– “The aver­age adult human’s brain weighs about 1.3 kilo­grams, has 100 bil­lion or so neu­rons, and sucks up 20% of the oxy­gen we breathe. It’s much big­ger than an ani­mal our size needs. Accord­ing to a new com­puter model, the brains of humans and related pri­mates are so large because we evolved to be social crea­tures.“
– “The idea behind the so-called social intel­li­gence hypoth­e­sis is that we need Read the rest of this entry »

To Be (Your Connectome), or Not to Be (Your Genome)

NO ROAD, NO trail can pen­e­trate this for­est. The long and del­i­cate branches of its trees lie every­where, chok­ing space with their exu­ber­ant growth. No sun­beam can fly a path tor­tu­ous enough to nav­i­gate the nar­row spaces between these entan­gled branches. All the trees of this dark for­est grew from 100 bil­lion seeds planted together. And, all in one day, every tree is des­tined to die.

This for­est is majes­tic, but also comic and even tragic. It is all of these things. Indeed, some­times I think it is every­thing. Every novel and every sym­phony, every cruel mur­der and every act of mercy, every love affair and every quar­rel, every joke and every sor­row — all these things come from the for­est. Read the rest of this entry »

To Harness Neuroplasticity, Start with Enthusiasm

We are the archi­tects and builders of our own brains.

For mil­len­nia, how­ever, we were obliv­i­ous to our enor­mous cre­ative capa­bil­i­ties. We had no idea that our brains were chang­ing in response to our actions and atti­tudes, every day of our lives. So we uncon­sciously and ran­domly shaped our brains and our lat­ter years because we believed we had an immutable brain that was at the mercy of our genes.

Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Quotes on Lifelong Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis (and a Call to eBook Readers)

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 »

Stress and the Brain: To Fight, Flee or Freeze –That is the Question

(Editor’s note: below you have the final part of the 6-part Stress and the Brain series. If you are join­ing the series now, you can read the pre­vi­ous parts via the links below.)

Stayin’ Alive

Under­stand­ing the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

TO FIGHT, FLEE, OR FREEZE — THAT IS THE QUESTION

With a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy of stress, the LD — ADHD — stress con­nec­tion becomes clear.  Stu­dents with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties or ADHD, con­fronted with the stress cre­ated by expo­sure to tasks that are in real­ity or in their per­cep­tion too dif­fi­cult (and thus threat­en­ing), exhibit the pro­tec­tive behav­ior of any organ­ism under extreme stress:  They fight, they flee, or they freeze. When these kids don’t under­stand why they can’t do what other kids can do (mas­ter the stres­sor), and they can’t see any way to get out of a sit­u­a­tion that won’t go away, they begin to shut down. Read the rest of this entry »

The Neurobiology of Stress: The Human Brain Likes to Be in Balance

(Editor’s note: below you have part 5 of the 6-part The Neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy of Stress series. If you are join­ing the series now, you can read the pre­vi­ous part Here.)

Stayin’ Alive

Under­stand­ing the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

The Human Brain Likes to Be in Balance

For­tu­nately, the brain has some built — in safety sys­tems. Too much cor­ti­sol in the blood sig­nals the brain and adrenal glands to decrease cor­ti­sol pro­duc­tion. And under nor­mal con­di­tions, when the stress is over­come or brought under con­trol (by fight­ing, flee­ing, or turn­ing into an immo­bile statue, or by mas­ter­ing the threat), the hypo­thal­a­mus starts send­ing out the orders to stand down. Stop pro­duc­ing cor­ti­sol!  Event over!  Under con­tin­u­ous stress, how­ever, this feed­back sys­tem breaks down. The hypo­thal­a­mus keeps read­ing the stress as a threat, furtively send­ing mes­sages to the pitu­itary gland, which screams out to the adrenal glands to keep pump­ing out cor­ti­sol, which at this point begins to be neu­ro­toxic — poi­son to the brain. Read the rest of this entry »

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