Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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First Book Review is in…Two Stethoscopes Up!

The San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle brings two great pieces today — includ­ing an excel­lent review of our new Book!

Is Your Brain A Couch Potato? (online book review)

At 165 pages, we’re talk­ing a short, sweet, enter­tain­ing read of a com­plex topic, with timely (writ­ten in 1/09) reviews of 21 top tech­nol­ogy prod­ucts, as well as informed and expert pre­dic­tions of where this bur­geon­ing brain-fitness field is headed. More impor­tantly, after you read it, you’ll have a good, detailed sense of where you, per­son­ally, can act to improve your own couch-potato brain — and how to keep it fit and flex­i­ble your whole life. The Sharp­Brains Guide To Brain Fit­ness reminds of us all why books (and not just googling a topic) can be well worth your time and money. Two Stetho­scopes Up — check it out.”

Soft­ware designed to make older dri­vers sharper (arti­cle in print ver­sion)

- “All­state is exper­i­ment­ing with the soft­ware because it wants its cus­tomers who are over 50 to become bet­ter dri­vers so they have fewer acci­dents and can drive longer, per­haps in return for lower pre­mi­ums, said Tom War­den, an assis­tant vice pres­i­dent in Allstate’s research and plan­ning center.”

- “All­state found Posit after the insur­ance company’s own sci­en­tists, who were work­ing on the phys­i­ol­ogy and psy­chol­ogy of good dri­vers, dis­cov­ered research done by Visual Aware­ness, a com­pany in Alabama that has worked with State Farm and var­i­ous state motor vehi­cle depart­ments on expand­ing dri­vers’ fields of view. Posit acquired Visual Aware­ness last year.”

Brain Evolution and Why it is Meaningful Today to Improve Our Brain Health

Over the last months, thanks to the traf­fic growth of SharpBrains.com (over 100,000 unique vis­i­tors per month these days, THANK YOU for vis­it­ing today and please come back!), a num­ber of proac­tive book agents, pub­lish­ers and authors have con­tacted us to inform us of their lat­est brain-related books. We have taken a look at many books, wrote reviews of The Dana Guide to Brain Health book review‚ and Best of the Brain from Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can, and inter­viewed sci­en­tists such as Judith Beck, Robert Emmons and James Zull.

Brain Trust ProgramNow we are launch­ing a new Author Speaks Series to pro­vide a plat­form for lead­ing sci­en­tists and experts writ­ing high-quality brain-related books to reach a wide audi­ence. We are hon­ored to start the series with an arti­cle by Larry McCleary, M.D, for­mer act­ing Chief of Pedi­atric Neu­ro­surgery at Den­ver Children’s Hos­pi­tal, and author of The Brain Trust Pro­gram: A Sci­en­tif­i­cally Based Three-Part Plan to Improve Mem­ory, Ele­vate Mood, Enhance Atten­tion, Alle­vi­ate Migraine and Menopausal Symp­toms, and Boost Men­tal Energy (Perigee Trade, 2007).

With­out fur­ther ado, let’s enjoy Dr. McCleary’s article:

Brain Evo­lu­tion and Why it is Mean­ing­ful Today to Improve Our Brain Health

You may feel over­whelmed by the stream of seem­ingly con­tra­dic­tory sug­ges­tions regard­ing the best way to main­tain men­tal clar­ity as you age. Based on an analy­sis of sem­i­nal fac­tors in the devel­op­ment of mod­ern brain anatomy, I believe it is pos­si­ble to make some very com­pelling rec­om­men­da­tions for grow­ing big brains, enhanc­ing their func­tion, and mak­ing them resis­tant to the aging process. These may be loosely cat­e­go­rized as fac­tors per­tain­ing to the men­tal or phys­i­cal attrib­utes of the brain. Although they are not truly inde­pen­dent enti­ties, such a con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion pro­vides a basis for the gen­er­a­tion of brain healthy pre­scrip­tions. Diet, phys­i­cal exer­cise, and stress reduc­tion enhance neu­ronal resilience. Sleep and men­tal stim­u­la­tion are vital for cog­ni­tive abil­ity, learn­ing, and memory.

Diet: Fol­low a mod­ern shore-based/marine diet includ­ing seafood in its most gen­eral sense, non-starchy veg­eta­bles of all col­ors, berries, and eggs. Other sources of lean pro­tein con­tain­ing long-chain omega 3 fatty acids such as free range beef, chicken, bison, or elk are nutri­tious alternatives.

Phys­i­cal exer­cise (Think fight or flight — activ­ity.): Include all types. Aer­o­bic activ­i­ties such as swim­ming, bicy­cling, walk­ing, or hik­ing for pro­mo­tion of vas­cu­lar health and weight con­trol; resis­tance train­ing for pro­mo­tion of neu­rotrophic fac­tors, nat­u­rally occur­ring com­pounds that make brain cells more resis­tant to aging, such as IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor-1) and BDNF (Brain-derived neu­rotrophic fac­tor); and bal­ance, coor­di­na­tion, and agility train­ing such as ping-pong, bal­ance beam, tram­po­line, and jump­ing rope to enhance cog­ni­tive speed and motor skills.

Stress Con­trol: From an evo­lu­tion­ary per­spec­tive, stres­sors (such as meet­ing a cave bear) and intense phys­i­cal activ­ity (run­ning or fight­ing) were brief in dura­tion and usu­ally occurred together. Mod­ern stres­sors (psy­cho­log­i­cal or emo­tional stress) tend to be unremit­ting and are gen­er­ally uncou­pled from the phys­i­cal (fight or flight) com­po­nent, mean­ing stress devel­ops with­out any asso­ci­ated phys­i­cal activ­ity. Such intense phys­i­cal pur­suits are now called exer­cise. Not sur­pris­ingly, exer­cise is a per­fect phys­i­o­logic anti­dote for stress due to its ben­e­fi­cial impact on cor­ti­sol (the stress hor­mone) and blood pres­sure and should be incor­po­rated into any pro­gram of stress reduction.

Ade­quate sleep: The body needs rest, but the brain requires sleep. Acute or chronic sleep depri­va­tion causes dev­as­tat­ing short and long-term con­se­quences to brain anatomy (synap­tic loss) and func­tion (mem­ory and learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties). Off-line infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing and mem­ory con­sol­i­da­tion are addi­tional sleep-related benefits.

Men­tal stim­u­la­tion: Brain-training, a cog­ni­tively chal­leng­ing lifestyle, nov­elty, and social­iza­tion are vital for the pro­mo­tion of neu­ronal plas­tic­ity and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis (the for­ma­tion of new nerve cells and neu­ronal con­nec­tions), the enhance­ment of spe­cific brain func­tions such as mem­ory, and the devel­op­ment of cog­ni­tive reserve — addi­tional men­tal pro­cess­ing poten­tial that may be brought online when needed.

The com­bi­na­tion of these rec­om­men­da­tions, each of which was instru­men­tal in the trans­for­ma­tion from prim­i­tive to mod­ern ner­vous sys­tems, pro­vides a tem­plate for the most log­i­cal approach for enhanc­ing men­tal func­tion and resist­ing neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion as we travel through life.

The Evo­lu­tion­ary Rationale

The human brain clearly has the genetic poten­tial for dra­matic expan­sion. This was illus­trated about Read the rest of this entry »

Medicine, Neuroscience, Psychology, Education, Videogames, and much more…

Well, today we have an excep­tional col­lec­tion of blog car­ni­vals to men­tion. Please only start brows­ing if you do have some time to spare…otherwise you will end up spend­ing more time read­ing the arti­cles than you really can afford to :-)

First, some superb edi­tions of:

Grand Rounds (Med­i­cine). An amaz­ing col­lec­tion of medicine-related arti­cles, with fun guid­ance. You can also check the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of this car­ni­val, greatly pre­sented, that we had for­got­ten to men­tion (no brain is per­fect, if you mind to ask!). 

Encephalon (neu­ro­science and psychology)

Edu­ca­tion Wonks (edu­ca­tion, perhaps?)

Tan­gled Bank (gen­eral science)

A new edi­tion of Brain Fit­ness (we launched this car­ni­val in Jan­u­ary and Talia hosted this edi­tion; let us know if you want to host future ones).

And posts on a vari­ety of topics:

Brain Blog­ging,   Video Game Blog­gers,   Nurs­ing,   Eco­nom­ics and Social Pol­icy,   Entre­pre­neurs,   Fam­ily Life,   Teacher In Ser­vice,   Online Edu­ca­tion,   Per­sonal Devel­op­ment,   Online Uni­ver­sity,   ADD Blog,   Total Mind and Body Fit­ness,   Arse­nal Of Goals & Plans,   Doing it Dif­fer­ently,   Obser­va­tions on Life,   Brain Code,   Edu­ca­tion and School Issues,   Depres­sion and Men­tal health,   Spe­cial Needs,   Per­sonal Growth.

Science Blogs - Blog Top Sites

Recommended Reading

Here are a few blog car­ni­vals we rec­om­mend check­ing out:

These car­ni­vals have pulled together some top arti­cles on every­thing from sci­ence to life skills to fun things. So, enjoy your reading!

Blog Carnivals

Here you have a selec­tion of blog posts on these topics:

Grand Rounds

Blog­ging Boomers

Nurs­ing

Med­i­ta­tion, Yoga & Spir­i­tual Growth

Read the rest of this entry »

Blog Carnivals

Here you have some weekly blog post col­lec­tions, around the fol­low­ing topics

Blog­ging Boomers

Grand Rounds

Brain Blog­ging

Read the rest of this entry »

Blog carnivals

A great edi­tion of Encephalon: Neu­ro­science and Psy­chol­ogy, includ­ing an essay from a promis­ing high-school student.

Other good blog carnivals:

Tan­gled Bank

Edu­ca­tion –Thoughts And Ideas Freely Exchanged

Home­school­ing

Read the rest of this entry »

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