Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Next phase in the brain health revolution: Objective, physiological, and widespread measures of brain function

-- Credit: Marianne Meadahl, SFU

— Credit: Marianne Meadahl, SFU

Brainwaves could be the next health vital sign (ScienceDaily):

“Simon Fraser University researchers hope that a brain vital-sign test becomes as routine during a doctor’s check-up as taking a blood pressure or heart rate measurement Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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

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