Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: On Brain Training, Positive Psychology and the FDA

Time for the Sep­tem­ber edi­tion of the monthly Sharp­Brains eNewslet­ter, start­ing with a good brief New Sci­en­tist arti­cle, Maker of cog­ni­tive train­ing game seeks FDA approval: Imag­ine walk­ing away from a doctor’s office with a pre­scrip­tion to play a video game. Brain Plas­tic­ity, the devel­oper of a cog­ni­tive train­ing game, has begun talks with the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) to mar­ket the game as a ther­a­peu­tic drug.

A Course Cor­rec­tion for Pos­i­tive Psy­chol­ogy: A Review of Mar­tin Seligman’s Lat­est Book: As pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion in 1998, Mar­tin Selig­man chal­lenged the psy­cho­log­i­cal com­mu­nity to rad­i­cally change its approach. For too long, he charged, psy­chol­ogy had been pre­oc­cu­pied solely with reliev­ing symp­toms of men­tal ill­ness; instead, he believed it should explore how to thrive in life, not just sur­vive it.

Study: Cog­ni­tive Mark­ers or Bio­mark­ers to man­age Cog­ni­tive Health across the Lifes­pan? Mea­sur­ing people’s changes in cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties is a bet­ter pre­dic­tor of Alzheimer’s dis­ease than changes in bio­mark­ers, researchers from the Ben­ito Menni Com­plex Assis­ten­cial en Salut Men­tal, Barcelona, Spain, reported in Archives of Gen­eral Psy­chi­a­try, a JAMA journal.

Brain Train­ing for Babies: Hope, Hype, Both? We should expect that the brain of a baby could be eas­ily trained. This is what Wass and his col­leagues recently demon­strated in a new study with 11-month-old babies.

Brain Devel­op­ment Through Bilin­gual Edu­ca­tion and Activ­i­ties Requir­ing Self-Control: Kids who learn two lan­guages young are bet­ter able to learn abstract rules and to reverse rules that they’ve already learned.

Who Says This is The Class­room of the Future? What if we ques­tioned the very premise behind nam­ing some class­rooms the “class­rooms of the future” sim­ply because they have been adding tech­nol­ogy in lit­er­ally mind­less ways?

AARP’s Best Brain Fit­ness Books: We are hon­ored to announce that AARP has included our very own book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (182 pages; $14.95) in its new List of Best Books on Brain Fitness.

Inter­ac­tive Human Brain in 3D: Here’s a cool inter­ac­tive Human Brain in 3D you can play with.

Have a great month of Octo­ber and, as always, feel free to share this enewslet­ter with friends and colleagues.

PS: Did you miss the 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit: Retool­ing Brain Health for the 21st Cen­tury (Mar 30 — Apr 1, 2011)? Here you can learn more about how to access the recordings.

Learning with Video Games: A Revolution in Education and Training?

In recent years, we have wit­nessed the begin­nings of a rev­o­lu­tion in edu­ca­tion.  Tech­nol­ogy has fun­da­men­tally altered the way we do many things in daily life, but it is just start­ing to make head­way in chang­ing the way we teach.  Just as tele­vi­sion shows like Sesame Street enhanced the pas­sive learn­ing of infor­ma­tion for kids by teach­ing in a fun for­mat, elec­tronic games offer to greatly enhance the way kids and adults are taught by actively engag­ing them in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

7 Key Lessons from the 2011 SharpBrains Summit: Retooling Brain Health for the 21st Century

Sharp­Brains served a highly thought-provoking and infor­ma­tive 2011 Vir­tual Sum­mit on Retool­ing Brain Health for the 21st Cen­tury over 3 days, March 30th — April 1st. Here is a brief dis­til­la­tion of the large num­ber (40+) of presentations.

1.The range and vari­ety of pre­sen­ta­tions left no room for doubt that the dig­i­tal brain health mar­ket is con­cerned with much more than improv­ing cog­ni­tive per­for­mance and preventing/treating dis­ease. There is a need for many tools in each of the fol­low­ing cat­e­gories: 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.”

Neuroscience, brain development and cognitive health

Round-up of recent arti­cles on neu­ro­science, brain devel­op­ment and cog­ni­tive health:

Encephalon 68: A car­ni­val of neu­ro­science:

Chris hosts a great col­lec­tion of neu­ro­science and psy­chol­ogy posts in his sig­na­ture Q&A style.

Bilin­gual Babies Get Head Start — Before They Can Talk:

- Unlike the mono­lin­gual group, the bilin­gual group was able to suc­cess­fully learn a new sound type and use it to pre­dict where each char­ac­ter would pop up.

- The bilin­gual babies’ skill applies to more than just switch­ing between lan­guages. Mehler likened this appar­ently enhanced cog­ni­tive abil­ity to a brain select­ing “the right tool for the right oper­a­tion” also called exec­u­tive function.

- In this basic process, the brain, ever flex­i­ble, nim­bly switches from one learned response to another as sit­u­a­tions change.

- Mono­lin­gual babies hone this abil­ity later in their young lives, Mehler suggests.”

Study shows how kids’ stress hurts mem­ory:

Now, research is pro­vid­ing what could be cru­cial clues to explain how child­hood poverty trans­lates into dim­mer chances of suc­cess: Chronic stress from grow­ing up poor appears to have a direct impact on the brain, leav­ing chil­dren with impair­ment in at least one key area — work­ing memory.”

Return­ing troops get­ting tested for brain injuries:

- “More than 150,000 ser­vice mem­bers from the Marines, Air Force, Army and Navy have under­gone the test­ing that became manda­tory last year. Those who suf­fer a con­cus­sion or sim­i­lar head injury will get a follow-up test.”

Dia­betes ‘impact on brain power’:

- “Fail­ure to con­trol type 2 dia­betes may have a long-term impact on the brain, research has suggested.

- Lead researcher Dr Jackie Price said: “Either hypos lead to cog­ni­tive decline, or cog­ni­tive decline makes it more dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to man­age their dia­betes, which in turn causes more hypos.

- “A third expla­na­tion could be that a third uniden­ti­fied fac­tor is caus­ing both the hypos and the cog­ni­tive decline.”

Brain Teaser to Stimulate your Concentration Skills

Learn­ing can be inci­den­tal. We all mem­o­rize facts with­out pay­ing much atten­tion to these facts or with­out will­ing to mem­o­rize them. How­ever, when one really wants to mem­o­rize a fact, it is cru­cial to pay atten­tion. Many stud­ies have shown that com­pared to full atten­tion con­di­tions, divid­ing atten­tion dur­ing study time leads to poor mem­ory performance.

This exer­cise will help you prac­tice focus­ing your attention.

It may seem easy but make sure you count twice!

Count the num­ber of “Y” in this text:

Yes­ter­day, Lucy went all the way to Boston. She wanted to buy new shoes. She had to go in many shops before she found the shoes she wanted. She was happy to stop at a restau­rant to have some tea and cook­ies before she took the train back home.

Count the num­ber of “F” in this text:

Fin­ished files are the result of years of sci­en­tific study com­bined with the expe­ri­ence of years.

Count the num­ber of “E” in this text:

Last sum­mer, Jean and Har­riet spent their vaca­tion in Michi­gan. They rented a cabin on the lake. The cabin had two bed­rooms and a nice deck. They used to spend a lot of time on the deck, just look­ing at how the light would change on the water. Sev­eral times, they bor­rowed bikes from their neigh­bors and spent a few hours explor­ing the vil­lages not far from their cabin.


Solu­tions

There are 7 “Y” in the first text.

There are 6 “F” in the sec­ond text (got them?)

There are 38 “E” in the third text.

For many other Brain Teasers, click Here.
For many other teasers and arti­cles by Dr. Mich­e­lon, click Here.

Pascale MichelonPas­cale Mich­e­lon, Ph. D., is Sharp­Brains’ Research Man­ager for Edu­ca­tional Projects. Dr. Mich­e­lon has a Ph.D. in Cog­ni­tive Psy­chol­ogy and has worked as a Research Sci­en­tist at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity in Saint Louis, in the Psy­chol­ogy Depart­ment. She con­ducted sev­eral research projects to under­stand how the brain makes use of visual infor­ma­tion and mem­o­rizes facts. She is now an Adjunct Fac­ulty at Wash­ing­ton University.

New Study Supports Neurofeedback Treatment for ADHD

Neu­ro­feed­back — also known as EEG Biofeed­back — is an approach for treat­ing ADHD in which indi­vid­u­als are pro­vided real-time feed­back on their brain­wave pat­terns and taught to alter their typ­i­cal EEG pat­tern to one that is con­sis­tent with a focused, atten­tive state. This is typ­i­cally done by col­lect­ing EEG data from indi­vid­u­als as they focus on stim­uli pre­sented on a com­puter screen. Their abil­ity to con­trol the stim­uli, for exam­ple, keep­ing the smile on a smi­ley face, is con­tin­gent on main­tain­ing the par­tic­u­lar EEG state being trained. Accord­ing to neu­ro­feed­back pro­po­nents, learn­ing how to do this dur­ing train­ing gen­er­al­izes to real world sit­u­a­tions and this results in improved atten­tion and reduced hyperactive/impulsive behavior.

Neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD has been con­tro­ver­sial in the field for many years and remains so today. Although a num­ber of pub­lished stud­ies have reported pos­i­tive results many promi­nent ADHD researchers believe that prob­lems with the design of these stud­ies pre­clude con­clud­ing that neu­ro­feed­back is an effec­tive treat­ment. These lim­i­ta­tions have included the absence of ran­dom assign­ment, the lack of appro­pri­ate con­trol groups, raters who are not ‘blind’ to children’s treat­ment sta­tus, and small sam­ples. For addi­tional back­ground, you can find a recent review I wrote on exist­ing research sup­port for neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment of ADHD — along with links to exten­sive reviews of sev­eral recently pub­lished stud­ies -: How Strong is the Research Sup­port for Neu­ro­feed­back in Atten­tion Deficits?

- Results from a New Study of Neurofeedback -

Recently, a study of neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD was pub­lished that addresses sev­eral lim­i­ta­tions that have under­mined prior research [Gevensleben, et al., (2009). Is neu­ro­feed­back an effi­ca­cious treat­ment for ADHD? A ran­dom­ized con­trolled clin­i­cal trial. Jour­nal of Child Psy­chol­ogy and Psychiatry.]

The study was con­ducted in Ger­many and began with 102 chil­dren aged 8 to 12. All had been care­fully diag­nosed with ADHD and approx­i­mately over 90% had never received med­ica­tion treat­ment. About 80% were boys. Chil­dren were ran­domly assigned to Read the rest of this entry »

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