Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


The Best Way to Learn: Taking a Test?

What do you think is the best way to learn: Study­ing the mate­r­ial repeat­edly, draw­ing detailed dia­grams of what you are learn­ing, or tak­ing a test in which you recall what you have read?

A recent study pub­lished in Sci­ence and sum­ma­rized in this New York Times arti­cle found out that tak­ing a test was the best method!

stu­dents who read a pas­sage, then took a test ask­ing them to recall what they had read, retained about 50 per­cent more of the infor­ma­tion a week later than stu­dents who used [the] two other meth­ods. Read the rest of this entry »

Improve Memory with Sleep, Practice, and Testing

There are whole mar­kets (think cross­words, herbal sup­ple­ments, drugs, brain fit­ness soft­ware) aimed at help­ing us improve our memory.

Now, what is “mem­ory”? how does the process of mem­ory sleep and memorywork?

Dr. Bill Klemm, Pro­fes­sor of Neu­ro­science at Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity, explains a very impor­tant con­cept below.

- Alvaro


Get­ting from Here to There:
Mak­ing Mem­ory Con­sol­i­da­tion Work

By Bill Klemm,  Ph. D.

Until con­sol­i­da­tion has occurred, a short-term mem­ory is very vul­ner­a­ble, as all of us have expe­ri­enced from look­ing up a phone num­ber only to have some dis­trac­tion cause us to lose the num­ber before we can get it dialed.

What is “consolidation”?

Brain researchers use the term “con­sol­i­da­tion” for the process whereby short-term mem­ory gets made more permanent.

Here, I would like to dis­cuss some aspects of con­sol­i­da­tion that many peo­ple may not know about: why sleep is so impor­tant, why mem­ory must be prac­ticed, and how test­ing pro­motes con­sol­i­da­tion. Read the rest of this entry »

A Brain Fitness Vacation

San PedroA year ago we wrote a Glos­sary where we defined Brain Fit­ness as “the gen­eral state of good, sharp, brain and mind, espe­cially as the result of men­tal and phys­i­cal exer­cise and proper nutri­tion” and a Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram as a “struc­tured set of brain exer­cises, usu­ally computer-based, designed to train spe­cific brain areas and func­tions in tar­geted ways, and mea­sured by brain fit­ness assessments.”

Now, thanks to this recent arti­cle Alvaro and Lisa’s Brain Vaca­tion, we can add Brain Fit­ness Vaca­tion: “A brain fit­ness vaca­tion is like a reg­u­lar vaca­tion, only you attend events, do exer­cises, and arrange for expe­ri­ences that address the aspects of good brain health: phys­i­cal exer­cise, men­tal exer­cise, good nutri­tion, and stress management.”

Dave Bun­nell, the founder and edi­tor of new mag­a­zine ELDR (and pre­vi­ously edi­tor of PC World, PC Mag­a­zine, Upside, and many other mag­a­zines) met Dr. Gold­berg and myself after our speech in SFSU last May. When he showed an inter­est in writ­ing a story, and I men­tioned half-jokingly that it would have to wait a few weeks since my wife and I were about to take a much needed “brain fit­ness vaca­tion”, he said, well, maybe that’s the story!.

You can read the full arti­cle here. For the ben­e­fit of the atten­dants to my lec­tures this week, who may be look­ing for some addi­tional brain exer­cises, here go some quotes:

  • Guessti­ma­tion. Lisa asks Alvaro a ques­tion, “How many trees are there in San Fran­cisco?” To come up with an answer, Alvaro first tries to guess how many trees, on aver­age, there are in a city block. He then cal­cu­lates approx­i­mately how many blocks there are in a square mile, fol­lowed by how many square miles there are in San Fran­cisco, and so on.
  • Num­ber Series. Alvaro says, “Two, three,” and Lisa replies, “four, six.” Alvaro then says, “Six, nine,” and Lisa replies, “Eight, twelve.” He says,“Ten, fif­teen,” and the sequence goes on as long and as fast as you can keep doing it.
  • Haiku. Dur­ing the entire vaca­tion, Alvaro and Lisa com­posed haiku for each other every morn­ing. The rule was they couldn’t write them down. They had to cre­ate them in their heads and remem­ber them.
  • Sen­sory train­ing. Lisa puts a piece of choco­late into Alvaro’s mouth while his eyes are closed. He lets it melt com­pletely with­out chew­ing and with­out open­ing his eyes. Next, he puts a grape in Lisa’s mouth.
  • Visu­al­iza­tions. Alvaro and Lisa sit qui­etly for about 15 min­utes, breathe deeply using their diaphragms, and visu­al­ize spe­cial moments from their past, such as the most beau­ti­ful view they’ve ever seen, or a lov­ing per­sonal moment.


Pic credit: San Pedro de Alcan­tara, Spain (Wikipedia)


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