Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain teasers and tips to stay sharp in between jobs (and when you have one too)

worker-brains

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7 WAYS TO STAY PRODUCTIVE WHEN YOU’RE IN BETWEEN JOBS (Fast Company):

“Sure, you didn’t plan on being on permanent vacation, a.k.a. unemployed, but here you are. And believe it or not, this can be a blessing in disguise…

3. VOLUNTEER AT AN UPCOMING INDUSTRY CONFERENCE.
Research any associations in your industry that might have an upcoming luncheon, conference, or networking event. Reach out to the coordinators to see if you could use your expertise at their next event…

5. STAY SHARP.
Exercise your mind with Read the rest of this entry »

The Ten Habits of a Sharp Brain

As our final article for 2011, let us repurpose one of SharpBrains’ most popular blog posts since 2006. It may give you a few pointers to sharpen those New Years Resolutions. Let’s summarize some lifestyle guidelines we can all follow to enhance and maintain a sharp brain through life...

  1. Learn what is the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic understanding will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses.
  2. Take care of your nutrition. Did you know that the brain only weighs 2% of body mass but consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients we intake? As a general rule, you don’t need expensive ultra-sophisticated nutritional supplements, just make sure you don’t stuff yourself with the “bad stuff”.
  3. Remember that the brain is part of the body. Things that exercise your body can also help sharpen your brain: physical exercise enhances neurogenesis.
  4. Practice positive, future-oriented thoughts until they become your default mindset and you Read the rest of this entry »

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, which will be unveiled during AARP’s upcoming Life@50 National Event. We hope this list will help many more individuals and institutions learn about our resource: given that 80% of respondents to a recent AARP survey selected “Staying Mentally Sharp” as their top priority, we certainly know there is a significant need for quality information!

AARP’s Best Books Guide


Brain Fitness


The Dana Guide to Brain Health, by Floyd E. Bloom, M. Flint Beal, and David J. Kupfer (Dana Press, 2006).

The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: 18 Interviews with Scientists, Practical Advice, and Product Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp, by Alvaro Fernandez and Elkhonon Goldberg. (SharpBrains Inc., 2009).

Save Your Brain: The 5 Things You Must Do To Keep Your Mind Young and Sharp
, by Paul Nussbaum. (McGraw-Hill, 2010).

The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind, by Barbara Strauch (Viking, 2010).

The Memory Bible: An Innovative Strategy for Keeping Your Brain Young
, by Gary Small (Hyperion, 2003).

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Also Recommended:

The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain, by Gene Cohen (Basic Books, 2006).

The Brain That Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge (Penguin, 2007).

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John Ratey and Eric Hagerman (Little, Brown and Co., 2008).

Think Smart: A Neuroscientist’s Prescription for Improving Your Brain’s Performance, by Richard Restak (Riverhead, 2010).

Compiled by:
Office of Academic Affairs, AARP

Last 33 Hours to Register/ US Asst. Secretary of Adult Education to Open 2011 SharpBrains Summit

Registration to participate in 2011 SharpBrains Virtual Summit closes tomorrow Tuesday, March 29th, at 1pm US Pacific Time/ 4pm US Eastern Time. If you are planning to attend, please Register Now.

We are hon­ored to announce that Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, US Depart­ment of Education’s Assis­tant Sec­re­tary for Voca­tional and Adult Edu­ca­tion, will open 2011 Sharp­Brains Virtual Summit on Wednesday, March 30th, shar­ing her Wel­come Remarks with 220+ registered participants.

Brenda Dann-Messier was nom­i­nated by Pres­i­dent Obama as assis­tant sec­re­tary for voca­tional and adult edu­ca­tion on July 14, 2009. On Oct. 5, 2009 she was con­firmed by the U.S. Sen­ate and began her offi­cial duties on Oct. 13, 2009. More information on Dr. Dann-Messier’s bio Here.

Summit Agenda: 80% of the 38,000 adults over 50 sur­veyed in the 2010 AARP Mem­ber Opin­ion Sur­vey indi­cated “Stay­ing Men­tally Sharp” as their top ranked inter­est and con­cern. This consumer-fueled inter­est, com­bined with grow­ing research on life­long neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and the cog­ni­tive reserve and with a grow­ing mar­ket­place of “brain fit­ness” prod­ucts and ser­vices, con­sti­tutes a call to action to expand the brain health toolkit to meet grow­ing needs across the lifespan. Intel CEO Paul Otellini is quoted as say­ing, “You have to start by think­ing about what peo­ple want to do…and work back­ward,” and the 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit: Retool­ing Brain Health for the 21st Cen­tury will do so by show­cas­ing the lat­est trends tak­ing place among con­sumers and pro­fes­sion­als, in indus­try, research, tech­nol­ogy, and care, to iden­tify crit­i­cal oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges to develop a valu­able inno­va­tion ecosys­tem which may exceed $2B world­wide in 2015.

To Learn More About Final Agenda and Speaker Roster, click HERE. Please note all times in the agenda indicate US Pacific Time.

You can Learn More and Register HERE, and get a 15% discount by entering discount code: sharp2011

Kindle version of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness

Given the fact I love Kindle, and some of our Twitter friends had been asking for a Kindle version of our new book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness…well, here it is:
Amazon.com: The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness (Kindle Edition, $9.99)

The book has also received two excellent new endorsements:

“Kudos for an excellent resource! This SharpBrains Guide is full of top notch information, provides practical tips and helps separate hype from hope in the brain health arena.”
— Elizabeth Edgerly, Ph.D., Chief Program Officer, Alzheimer’s Association

“The SharpBrains’ Guide to Brain Fitness helped answer many of my questions on the importance of both physical and mental exercise to stay sharp as we age, as they act in synergy on one another. The Guide also provided guidelines and specific calls to action to expand what we traditionally do in our fitness clubs. This is an important book for anyone in the fitness industry, and, for that matter, for anyone with a brain.”
— Robin Klaus, Chairman, Club One Fitness Centers

More information on the book: The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness

Also: Book Club Discussion Guide

Maintain Your Brain and Stay Sharp: An Upcoming Guide and Resource

You may be reading all about brain fitness and brain training. It seems every week brings a new barrage of articles and studies which often contradict what you read the month before: Does Gingko Biloba help delay Alzheimer’s Disease? Can physical exercise help you stay sharp as you age? Which computer-based “brain fitness programs”, if any, are worth your money?

All this coverage reflects very exciting scientific findings but also poses a key dilemma: How to become an informed lifelong learner and consumer when there are few and contradictory authoritative guidelines?

The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness (to be published in May 2009; $24.95) aims to fill that void. This guide is the result of over a year of extensive research including more than a hundred interviews with scientists, professionals and consumers, and a deep literature review. Below you have some of the main findings from our effort. The guide not only covers these aspects in more depth and offers practical guidance, but also includes 18 interviews with prominent scientists to help you understand the research better.

Can we introduce you to your Brain?

The Guide will start at the obvious starting point: The Human Brain. In order to make informed decisions about brain health, one needs to first understand the basic organization of the human brain and how it tends to change as we get older.

* The brain is composed of a number of regions serving distinct functions. Forget IQ: our life and productivity depend on a variety of brain functions, not just one.

* There is nothing inherently fixed in the trajectory of how brain functions evolve as we age. Your lifestyle, actions, and even thoughts, do matter.

The 4 Pillars of Brain Maintenance

Neuroplasticity is the lifelong capacity of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to the stimulation of learning and experience. The latest scientific research shows that specific lifestyles and actions can, no matter our age, improve the health and level of functioning of our brains.

What factors seem to have the most influence? Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Health News: Top Articles and Resources in March

There’s such a flood of very significant research studies, educational resources and articles related to brain health, it’s hard to keep track – even for us!

Let me introduce and quote some of the top Brain Health Studies, Articles and Resources published in March:

1) Cognitive Decline Begins In Late 20s, Study Suggests (Science Daily)

– “These patterns suggest that some types of mental flexibility decrease relatively early in adulthood, but that how much knowledge one has, and the effectiveness of integrating it with one’s abilities, may increase throughout all of adulthood if there are no pathological diseases,” Salthouse said.

– However, Salthouse points out that there is a great deal of variance from person to person

2) Cerebrum 2009: Emerging Ideas in Brain Science – new book by the Dana Foundation that “explores the cutting edge of brain research and its implications in our everyday lives, in language understandable to the general reader.”

A couple of excellent chapters of direct relevance to everyone’s brain health are:
– Chapter 4: A Road Paved by Reason, by Elizabeth Norton Lasley

– Chapter 10: Neural Health: Is It Facilitated by Work Force Participation?, by Denise Park, Ph.D

3) Staying Sharp DVD Program: “Dr. Jordan Grafman, chief of the Cognitive Neuroscience Section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke outside of Washington, DC, and a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, is your guide as we cover what to expect from the aging brain and what we can do to ‘stay sharp.’

For a free DVD of this program you can contact stayingsharp@dana.org. (they say free in their website, I don’t know if that includes shipping & handling)

4) Drivers to be tested on cognitive ability starting at age 75 (Japan Times)

The outline of a cognitive test that drivers aged 75 or over will be required to take from June when renewing their licenses was released Thursday…The test is intended to reduce the number of traffic accidents involving elderly drivers by measuring their cognitive level.

5) Physical Fitness Improves Spatial Memory, Increases Size Of Brain Structure (Science Daily)

– “Now researchers have found that elderly adults who are more physically fit tend to have bigger hippocampi and better spatial memory than those who are less fit.”

6) Brain Trainers: A Workout for the Mind (Scientific American Mind)

“I recently tried out eight of the latest brain fitness programs, training with each for a week. The programs ranged widely in focus, quality and how fun they were to use. “Like physical exercise equipment, a brain exercise program doesn’t do you any good if you don’t use it, says Andrew J. Carle, director of the Program in Assisted Living/Senior Housing Administration at George Mason University. And people tend not to use boring equipment. “I remember when NordicTrack was the biggest thing out there. Everyone ran out and bought one, and 90 percent of them ended up as a clothes rack in the back of your bedroom.

The reporter used: Posit Science’s Brain Fitness Program Classic, HappyNeuron, Nintendo BrainAge, CogniFit’s MindFit/ CogniFit Personal Coach, Lumosity, MyBrainTrainer, BrainTwister, Cogmed Working Memory Training.

7) The Latest in Mental Health: Working Out at the ‘Brain Gym’ (Wall Street Journal)

– “Marshall Kahn, an 82-year-old family doctor in Fullerton, Calif., says he got such a boost from brain exercises he started doing at a “Nifty after Fifty” club that he decided to start seeing patients again part-time. “Doing all the mental exercise,” he says, “I realized I’ve still got it.”

8) Debate Over Drugs For ADHD Reignites (Washington Post)

– “New data from a large federal study have reignited a debate over the effectiveness of long-term drug treatment of children with hyperactivity or attention-deficit disorder, and have drawn accusations that some members of the research team have sought to play down evidence that medications do little good beyond 24 months.”

– “The study also indicated that long-term use of the drugs can stunt children’s growth.”

8) Adaptive training leads to sustained enhancement of poor working memory in children (Developmental Science)

Abstract: Working memory plays a crucial role in supporting learning, with poor progress in reading and mathematics characterizing children with low memory skills. This study investigated whether these problems can be overcome by a training program designed to boost working memory. Children with low working memory skills were assessed on measures of working memory, IQ and academic attainment before and after training on either adaptive or non-adaptive versions of the program. Adaptive training that taxed working memory to its limits was associated with substantial and sustained gains in working memory, with age-appropriate levels achieved by the majority of children. Mathematical ability also improved significantly 6 months following adaptive training. These findings indicate that common impairments in working memory and associated learning difficulties may be overcome with this behavioral treatment.

9) Brain cortex thinning linked to inherited depression (Los Angeles Times)

– “On average, people with a family history of depression appear to have brains that are 28% thinner in the right cortex — the outermost layer of the brain — than those with no known family history of the disease. That cortical thinning, said the researchers, is on a scale similar to that seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia.”

Learn more & Register today at early-bird rates

2016 SharpBrains Virtual Summit: Reinventing Brain Health in the Digital Age

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