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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Should Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (not antidepressant drugs) be the first-line treatment for depression?


Depres­sion: A change of mind (Nature):

Cog­ni­tive ther­apy, com­monly known as cog­ni­tive behav­ioural ther­apy (CBT), aims to help peo­ple to iden­tify and change neg­a­tive, self-destructive thought pat­terns. And although it does not work for every­one with depres­sion, data have been accu­mu­lat­ing in its favour. “CBT is one of the clear suc­cess sto­ries in psy­chother­apy,” says Ste­fan Hof­mann, a psy­chol­o­gist at Boston Uni­ver­sity in Massachusetts…

Anti­de­pres­sant drugs are usu­ally the first-line treat­ment for depres­sion. Read the rest of this entry »

Trend: School-based programs to enhance resilience and emotional/ cognitive flexibility


Dozens of pro­grams to encour­age resilience have been intro­duced in schools all over the world, both to help chil­dren recover from trauma, but also cope bet­ter with their day-to-day stresses. Many use tech­niques such as Read the rest of this entry »

Use and misuse of ADHD drugs and nootropics among teenagers and toddlers

Human-brain-pillsRitalin may pose brain risks for young peo­ple with­out ADHD, study shows (Fox News):

Smart” drugs, like Ritalin, also known as nootrop­ics, are known to increase a person’s atten­tion span, mem­ory and abil­ity to stay alert. As a result, they have become increas­ingly abused by stu­dents seek­ing an extra edge in their stud­ies. Accord­ing to a report from The Part­ner­ship at and the MetLife Foun­da­tion, approx­i­mately 1.3 mil­lion Amer­i­can teenager Read the rest of this entry »

Can electricity-based brain stimulation harness neuroplasticity safely?

brainstimulationDIY Brain Stim­u­la­tion Raises Con­cerns (Med­scape Today):

Recent increased inter­est in the electricity-based brain stim­u­la­tion method of tran­scra­nial direct-current stim­u­la­tion (tDCS) as a means of improv­ing cog­ni­tive abil­ity has some experts rais­ing con­cerns about the neu­roeth­i­cal issues sur­round­ing the tech­nique — par­tic­u­larly its ease of use as a make-it-yourself home device…

Those wish­ing to play it a lit­tle safer Read the rest of this entry »

Research on ‘Chemo Brain’: MRI Shows Brain Changes After Chemotherapy

‘Chemo Brain’: MRI Shows Brain Changes After Chemother­apy (Medscape):

- “Breast can­cer sur­vivors who have been treated with chemother­apy show sig­nif­i­cant changes in brain activ­ity, mea­sured by func­tional mag­netic res­o­nance imag­ing (fMRI), accord­ing to a study pub­lished in the Novem­ber issue of the Archives of Neu­rol­ogy.”

- “The find­ing val­i­dates patients’ claims of reduced cog­ni­tive func­tion after receiv­ing chemother­apy, a phe­nom­e­non referred to as “chemo brain,” said lead author Shelli R. Kesler, PhD, from Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity School of Med­i­cine in California.”

Link to study Pre­frontal Cor­tex and Exec­u­tive Func­tion Impair­ments in Pri­mary Breast Can­cer (Archives of Neu­rol­ogy): Read the rest of this entry »

Promoting Healthy, Meaningful Aging Through Social Involvement: Building an Experience Corps

(Editor’s note: Path­ways respon­si­ble for higher-order think­ing in the pre­frontal cor­tex (PFC), or exec­u­tive cen­ter of the brain, remain vul­ner­a­ble through­out life—during crit­i­cal early-life devel­op­men­tal win­dows, when the PFC fully matures in the early 20s, and finally from declines asso­ci­ated with old age. At all ages, phys­i­cal activ­ity and PFC-navigated social con­nec­tions are essen­tial com­po­nents to main­tain­ing brain health. The Expe­ri­ence Corps, a community-based social-engagement pro­gram, part­ners seniors with local schools to pro­mote purpose-driven involve­ment. Par­tic­i­pat­ing seniors have exhib­ited imme­di­ate short-term gains in brain regions vul­ner­a­ble to aging, such as the PFC, indi­cat­ing that peo­ple with the most to lose have the most to gain from envi­ron­men­tal enrichment.)

Over the last decade, sci­en­tists made two key dis­cov­er­ies that reframed our under­stand­ing of the adult brain’s poten­tial to ben­e­fit from life­long envi­ron­men­tal enrich­ment. First, they learned that the adult brain remains plas­tic; it can gen­er­ate new neu­rons in response to phys­i­cal activ­ity and new expe­ri­ences. Sec­ond, they con­firmed the impor­tance of social con­nect­ed­ness to late-life cog­ni­tive, psy­cho­log­i­cal, and phys­i­cal health. The inte­gra­tion of these find­ings with our under­stand­ing of indi­vid­u­als’ devel­op­men­tal needs through­out life under­scores the impor­tance of the “social brain.” The pre­frontal cor­tex (PFC) is par­tic­u­larly inte­gral to nav­i­gat­ing com­plex social behav­iors and hier­ar­chies over the life course. Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Contrasting Brain Growth in Baby Humans and Baby Chimpanzees

Chart­ing Brain Growth in Humans and Chimps (New York Times):
– “Although baby humans and baby chim­panzees both start out with unde­vel­oped fore­brains, a new study reports that the human brain increases in vol­ume much more rapidly early on.“
– “The growth is in a region of the brain known as the pre­frontal cor­tex and is part of what makes humans cog­ni­tively advanced com­pared with other ani­mals, includ­ing the chim­panzee, our clos­est rel­a­tive. The pre­frontal cor­tex plays a major role in decision-making, self-awareness and cre­ative thinking.”

–> To learn more about study Dif­fer­en­tial Pre­frontal White Mat­ter Devel­op­ment in Chim­panzees and Humans: click Here (requires subscription).

–> To explore what may have hap­pened oth­er­wise, you may want to watch the new movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

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