Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Why retirement planning should include mental fitness

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Are You Men­tally Fit Enough to Plan for Retire­ment? (Money):

In this era of “self-directed” retire­ment (no pen­sions, you make all the invest­ment choices) post­pon­ing mak­ing a real plan poses a par­tic­u­lar risk to future secu­rity. Not only are the logis­tics of plan­ning hard enough—when to col­lect Social Secu­rity, how to bud­get for expenses, what to do with savings—but the decline in cog­ni­tion that Read the rest of this entry »

Want to train your brain? Work as a physician, air traffic controller, financial analyst (or similar)

Brain Firing NeuronsMen­tally stim­u­lat­ing jobs keep your mind sharp post-retirement (Tech Times):

If you want to stay sharp in your golden years, it’s best to get the hard yards in early — a new study has found that peo­ple with men­tally demand­ing jobs fare bet­ter in the years after retirement.…Mental acu­ity and mem­ory reten­tion was found to be higher in retirees who had spent their careers in men­tally stim­u­lat­ing roles, such as Read the rest of this entry »

Augmenting lifelong performance with deliberate practice

Alums-danceWith Will­ing Spirit, a Reprise for Ailey Dancers (The New York Times):

  • The voice on the phone belonged to Masazumi Chaya, the asso­ciate artis­tic direc­tor of Alvin Ailey Amer­i­can Dance The­ater, and he had a star­tling propo­si­tion. Would she — Eliz­a­beth Roxas-Dobrish, 55 years old, 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 »

Report: Boomers’ Ability to Make Financial Decisions Often Declines With Age

(Editor’s Note: this timely new report illus­trates the need for inno­v­a­tive brain fit­ness inter­ven­tions focused on main­tain­ing if not enhanc­ing tar­geted cog­ni­tive func­tion­al­ity, such as dri­ving safety or finan­cial decision-making, lever­ag­ing life­long neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and cog­ni­tive reserve. What the report presents as inex­orable, some­what genet­i­cally pre-programmed decline, it is not.)

BMO Retire­ment Insti­tute Report: Boomers’ Abil­ity to Make Finan­cial Deci­sions Often Declines With Age (Mar­ket Watch):

- “The BMO Retire­ment Insti­tute released a report today which raises aware­ness of the poten­tial impact on aging Cana­di­ans of declin­ing cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties — often caused by Alzheimer’s dis­ease and other forms of demen­tia — and describes how this decline can affect their abil­ity to make finan­cial deci­sions.” Read the rest of this entry »

Longevity, Conscientiousness and Work

There’s an excel­lent arti­cle in the New York Times (Eighty Years Along, a Longevity Study Still Has Ground to Cover) about a very wor­thy new book based on a fas­ci­nat­ing series of research stud­ies: The Longevity Project: Sur­pris­ing Dis­cov­er­ies for Health and Long Life from the Land­mark Eight-Decade Study is the book where UC-Riverside researchers Howard Fried­man and Leslie Mar­tin draw key lessons from an eight-decade-long Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity Ter­man study of 1,500 people.

Quotes from the article:

- Many assume biol­ogy is the crit­i­cal fac­tor in longevity. If your par­ents lived to be 85, you prob­a­bly will, too. Not so, Dr. Fried­man said. Read the rest of this entry »

When early retirement equals mental retirement and memory decline

The New-York Times reports on the study pub­lished a few days ago in the Jour­nal of Eco­nomic Per­spec­tives, “Men­tal retirement”:

… Data from the United States, Eng­land and 11 other Euro­pean coun­tries sug­gest that the ear­lier peo­ple retire, the more quickly their mem­o­ries decline.

… what aspect of work is doing that, Dr. Suz­man said. “Is it the social engage­ment and inter­ac­tion or the cog­ni­tive com­po­nent of work, or is it the aer­o­bic com­po­nent of work?” he asked. “Or is it the absence of what hap­pens when you retire, which could be increased TV watching?”

Com­ments: This new study is another piece of evi­dence accu­mu­lat­ing with more and more oth­ers sug­gest­ing that a brain healthy life-style requires con­stant cog­ni­tive chal­lenge to help main­tain high-level cog­ni­tive func­tions. Whether it is speak­ing mul­ti­ple lan­guages, phys­i­cally exer­cis­ing or stay­ing men­tally active, our every­day life can pos­i­tively impact our brain health.  Some­thing to keep in mind after retirement…and to even retire the word “retirement”!

The results are also intrigu­ing because work­ing com­bines mul­ti­ple aspects of a brain-healthy lifestyle (social engage­ment, men­tal stim­u­la­tion) with aspects not so good for the brain (stress, absence of phys­i­cal exer­cise in some cases). How­ever, it seems that, over­all, the good aspects of work­ing take over the bad ones as far as mem­ory func­tions are concerned.

Haven’t read this book yet?

May 2015 Online Course: How to Nav­i­gate Con­ven­tional and Com­ple­men­tary ADHD Treat­ments for Healthy Brain Development

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