Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Wellness Coaching for Brain Health and Fitness

We just received this quote of how a major health system is using our Brain Fitness Market Report:

“At Sutter Health Partners we recognize the importance of brain health and how much the health of the brain and the body are interdependent.  The market report helped us further target our coaching efforts to integrate brain fitness and upgrade our entire coaching platform.  It is easy to read and gives you the industry perspective in a thorough yet concise manner.  I highly recommend it!”

— Margaret Sabin, CEO of Sutter Health Partners and VP, New Product Development, at Sutter Health.

You may wonder, “what is the link between  wellness coaching and brain fitness”?

In practice, good health and wellness coaches provide excellent brain health advice, given that the areas they focus on (nutrition, physical exercise, stress management) do play an important role in maintaining our brains in top shape.

Additionally, pioneers  such as Sutter Health Partners are adding a Brain “lens” to their work. How?

First, by better understanding and explaining the brain benefits of what they already do, in order to provide additional motivation to stick with healthy behaviors. For example, most people will be able to recite multiple benefits of moderate cardiovascular exercise. But how many know  that it can also contribute to neurogenesis -the creation of new neurons – in adult brains?

Second, by starting to offer brain fitness guidelines to clients who want too go beyond crossword puzzles and sudoku.

I had a great training session with a number of Sutter Health coaches last week – let me summarize some of the main points we covered. Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Update: Use It and Improve It

Here you are have the bi-monthly update with our 10 most Popular blog posts. (Also, remember that you can subscribe to receive our RSS feed, or to our newsletter, at the top of this page, if you want to receive this digest by email).Crossword Puzzles Brain fitness

In this edition of our newsletter we bring a few articles and recent news pieces that shed light on what “Use It or Lose It” means, and why we can start going beyond that to say “Use It and Improve It.”

The Neuron, The Brain, and Thinking Smarter

Read the rest of this entry »

New Neurons: Good News, Bad News

Over the last year we have gladly seen an avalanche of news on adult neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons in adult brains), following recent research reports. Further, we have seen how the news that physical exercise can enhance neurogenesis is becoming common knowledge among many health systems we work with.

Now, the obvious question that doesn’t always get asked is, “What good are new neurons if they don’t survive?”. And that’s where learning, enrichment, mental exercise, are critical.

We are glad to introduce a new Expert Contributor, Dr. Bill Klemm, a professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University, who summarizes much research on how new neurons are born-and what they need to live long happy lives.

– Alvaro

New Neurons: Good News, Bad News

— By Dr. Bill Klemm

In the last few years, researchers have discovered that new nerve cells (neurons) are born, presumably from residual stem cells that exist even in adults. That should be good news for all of us as we get older and fear mental decline. The bad news is that these new neurons die, unless our minds are active enough.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mental Training for Gratitude and Altruism

Brandon Keim writes a nice post on The Future Science of Altruism at Wired Science Blog, based on an interview with Jordan Grafman, chief of cognitive neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Brandon provides good context saying that “Scientists, said Grafman, are understanding how our brains are shaped by culture and environment, and a mechanism of these changes may involve fluctuation in our genes themselves, which we’re only beginning to understand”. (more on this in our post Richard Dawkins and Alfred Nobel: beyond nature and nurture).

And gives us some very nice quotes from Dr. Grafman, including

  • “One of the ways we differentiate ourselves from other species is that we have a sense of future. We don’t have to have immediate gratification…. But how far can we go into the future? How much of our brain is aimed at doing that? […]”
  • “Other great apes have a frontal lobe, fairly well developed, but not nearly as well developed as our own. If you believe in Darwin and evolution, you argue that the area grew, and the neural architecture had to change in some way to accommodate the abilities associated with that behavior. There’s no doubt that didn’t occur overnight; probably a slow change, and it was one of the last areas of the brain to develop as well. It’s very recent evolutionary development that humans took full advantage of. What in the future? What in the brains can change?”
  • “The issue becomes — do we teach this? Train people to do this? Children tend to be selfish, and have to be taught to share.”

The UC Berkeley magazine Greater Good tries to answer that question with a series of articles on Gratitude. I especially enjoyed A Lesson in Thanks, described as Read the rest of this entry »

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