Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


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 (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


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 »

Resources for brain fitness and applied neuroplasticity

Here you can find a range of resources for life­long brain fit­ness and applied neuroplasticity:

Welcome to

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN,, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and wellness applications of brain science. Explore our most popular resources HERE.

Haven’t you read this book yet?

Follow Us…


Newsletter Signup

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:
Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.

Subscribe RSS Feed

Subscribe to the RSS Feed