Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Change Your Environment, Change Yourself

(Editor’s note: one of the most com­mon ene­mies of get­ting qual­ity cog­ni­tive exer­cise is being on The Daily Trading Coach, by Brett Steenbarger“men­tal autopi­lot”. I recently came across an excel­lent new book, titled The Daily Trad­ing Coach: 101 Lessons for Becom­ing Your Own Trad­ing Psy­chol­o­gist, by trad­ing per­for­mance expert Dr. Brett Steen­barger, which explic­itly calls for address­ing the “men­tal autopi­lot” prob­lem in his Les­son 4. Even for those of us who are not traders, Dr. Steen­barger advice pro­vides excel­lent guid­ance for peak cog­ni­tive per­for­mance. Dr. Steen­barger gra­ciously gave us per­mis­sion to share with you, below, Les­son 4: Change Your Envi­ron­ment, Change Your­self. Enjoy!).

Human beings adapt to their envi­ron­ments. We draw on a range of skills and per­son­al­ity traits to fit into var­i­ous set­tings. That is why we can behave one way in a social set­ting and then seem like a totally dif­fer­ent human being at work. One of the endur­ing attrac­tions of travel is that it takes us out of our native envi­ron­ments and forces us to adapt to new peo­ple, new cul­tures, and new ways. When we make those adap­ta­tions, we dis­cover new facets of our­selves. As we’ll see shortly, dis­crep­ancy is the mother of all change: when we are in the same envi­ron­ments, we tend to draw upon the same, rou­tine modes of thought and behavior.

A few months ago I had an attack of acute appen­dici­tis while stay­ing in a LaGuardia air­port hotel await­ing a return flight to Chicago. When I went to the near­est emer­gency room at Elmhurst Hos­pi­tal out­side Jack­son Heights, Queens, I found that I was seem­ingly the only native Eng­lish speaker in a sea of peo­ple await­ing med­ical care. After some dif­fi­culty attract­ing atten­tion, I was admit­ted to the hos­pi­tal and spent the next sev­eral days of recu­per­a­tion nav­i­gat­ing my way through patients and staff of every con­ceiv­able nation­al­ity. By the end of the expe­ri­ence, I felt at home there. I’ve since stayed at the same air­port hotel and rou­tinely make vis­its into the sur­round­ing neighborhoods—areas I would have never in my wildest dreams ven­tured into pre­vi­ously. In adapt­ing to that envi­ron­ment, I dis­cov­ered hid­den strengths. I also over­came more than a few hid­den prej­u­dices and fears.

The great­est enemy of change is rou­tine. When we lapse into rou­tine and oper­ate on autopi­lot, we are no longer fully and actively con­scious of what we’re doing and why. That is why some of the most fer­tile sit­u­a­tions for per­sonal growth—those that occur within new environments—are those that force us to exit our rou­tines and actively mas­ter unfa­mil­iar challenges.

In famil­iar envi­ron­ments and rou­tines, we oper­ate on autopi­lot. Noth­ing changes.

When you act as your own trad­ing coach, your chal­lenge is to stay fully con­scious, alert to risk and oppor­tu­nity. One of your great­est threats will be the autopi­lot mode in which you act with­out think­ing, with­out full aware­ness of your sit­u­a­tion. If you shift your trad­ing envi­ron­ment, you push your­self to adapt to new sit­u­a­tions: you break rou­tines. If your envi­ron­ment is always the same, you will find your­self grav­i­tat­ing to the same Read the rest of this entry »

Your Trading Brain: Expert or Novice

We had the for­tune to inter­view Dr. Brett Steen­barger on Enhanc­ing Trader Per­for­mance and The Psy­chol­ogy of Trad­ing as we launched our Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series.

Below, Expert Con­trib­u­tor Dr. Jan­ice Dorn pro­vides an in-depth brain-based dis­cus­sion of the topic, con­clud­ing that “The brain is the most pow­er­ful struc­ture in the known uni­verse and the only trad­ing tool that the trader needs to become an expert.”

No mat­ter whether you are a Pro or Ama­teur Trader…this will cer­tainly exer­cise your brain! (Dr. Dorn is prepar­ing more arti­cles on trad­ing per­for­mance and the brain…so stay tuned).

This is Your Brain On Trading

– By Dr. Jan­ice Dorn

The open­ing bell sounds, and sixty mil­lion traders enter the great­est arena in the world to do bat­tle with each other. They put their money, beliefs and skills on the line as they make deci­sions to buy and sell. Wel­come to the finan­cial mar­kets where bil­lions of dol­lars are won and lost every day. Volatil­ity com­pels all to engage their brains in the con­tin­u­ous process of deci­sion mak­ing. What sep­a­rates the win­ning from los­ing traders is the way they use their most pow­er­ful trad­ing tool—the human brain.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Research Interview Series

We are work­ing on improv­ing sev­eral sec­tions of our web­site, espe­cially our Resources sec­tion. It will look much bet­ter in a few days. Our first step has been to re-organize our Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series, and below you have how it looks today.

Dur­ing the last 18 months I have had the for­tune to inter­view over 15 cutting-edge neu­ro­sci­en­tists and cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gists on their research and thoughts. Here are some of our favorite quotes (you can read the full inter­view notes by click­ing on the links):

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Software Trends

Some very inter­est­ing brain fit­ness soft­ware mar­ket news:

1) Sci­en­tific Learn­ing To Buy Out Soliloquy

- “Sci­en­tific Learn­ing Corp. has announced that it will acquire Solil­o­quy Learn­ing from JTT Hold­ings. Both Sci­en­tific Learn­ing and Solil­o­quy pro­vide tech­nol­ogy solu­tions for edu­ca­tion. The acqui­si­tion will cost SLC about $11 mil­lion and is expected to be com­pleted this month.”

- “Sci­en­tific Learn­ing is the devel­oper of Fast For­Word, a fam­ily of read­ing inter­ven­tion tools tar­geted toward stu­dents who are char­ac­ter­ized as strug­gling learn­ers and designed to develop the required “neu­rocog­ni­tive skills” for read­ing and learn­ing in gen­eral. Solil­o­quy is also a read­ing inter­ven­tion developer.”

Com­ment: this acqui­si­tion con­sol­i­dates Sci­en­tific Learn­ing (NSDQ: SCIL) as the lead­ing com­pany in the edu­ca­tion seg­ment of the brain fit­ness mar­ket. It will be inter­est­ing to track what research gets done on the neural and cog­ni­tive effects of Solil­o­quy, since Sci­en­tific Learning’s Fast For­word is backed by exten­sive literature.

2) Tech­no­me­dia Part­ners With SBT to Accel­er­ate Its Inter­na­tional Expansion

- “Tech­no­me­dia, a Cana­dian provider of tal­ent man­age­ment and human cap­i­tal devel­op­ment solu­tions, announced its part­ner­ship with the SBT (Sci­en­tific Brain Train­ing) group, a Euro­pean provider of train­ing and eval­u­a­tion of cog­ni­tive func­tions.” Read the rest of this entry »

Neuroplasticity = Lifelong Learning

I have just read the best blog post I have read in a loooong while, so let me share it here now. Brett Steen­barger is a Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try & Behav­ioral Sci­ences and a Trad­ing Psy­chol­ogy expert who I had the plea­sure to inter­view a while back. He is a mas­ter at trad­ing, learn­ing, teach­ing and coaching.

And has writ­ten this superb post: When Traders Lose Con­fi­dence — Part Three: Struc­tur­ing Your Expe­ri­ence. We talk in this blog a lot about neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and cog­ni­tive and emo­tional train­ing, but what Brett out­lines is, in sum­mary, a very healthy atti­tude to life, life­long brain plas­tic­ity, brain health, and suc­cess. Not bad!

See below a few of his quotes-but please read the full arti­cle here:

  • What we call the “self”–how we expe­ri­ence ourselves–is the result of all that we inter­nal­ize from peo­ple and events.
  • Because we are always hav­ing new experiences–and can inter­nal­ize these–we are always, to some degree, remak­ing who we are.
  • Every activ­ity we engage in pro­vides us with feed­back about our­selves: our abil­i­ties, how we’re per­ceived by oth­ers, our char­ac­ter. In select­ing what we do, who we do it with, and how we do it, we can struc­ture our expe­ri­ence to cre­ate mir­rors of suc­cess and mastery.
  • Expe­ri­ence is our psy­cho­log­i­cal food; it’s vital that we feed our­selves well. But what does it mean to struc­ture our expe­ri­ence and feed our­selves well psychologically?
  • The rea­son I’m effec­tive as a psy­chol­o­gist, I believe, is not because I’m all that more edu­cated than oth­ers or uti­lize such bet­ter tech­niques. Rather, I have an uncanny abil­ity to see the best in peo­ple; to push aside the prob­lems of the moment and see through to qual­i­ties of great­ness that are present within most of us, how­ever fleet­ingly. It’s because I see the best in peo­ple that I can be a good mirror–and help oth­ers see in them­selves what they oth­er­wise can­not appre­ci­ate on their own Con­fi­dence comes from the right kind of mirroring–and we can choose our mirrors.

Please enjoy When Traders Lose Con­fi­dence — Part Three: Struc­tur­ing Your Expe­ri­ence.

Trading performance psychology and self-talk

Given the stock mar­ket per­for­mance these days, Brett Steen­barger offers timely tips and resources for traders on man­ag­ing stress and self-confidence: Updated Psy­chol­ogy of Trad­ing Resources, includ­ing a list of rel­e­vant blogs such as Afraid to Trade blog, Trader Psy­chol­ogy blog, the Head Coach blog, his Stock Mar­ket Psy­chol­ogy blog and Smart Trader blog.

He also offers very good advice to build self-confidence, which can be use­ful to us all, no mat­ter our pro­fes­sion: When Traders Lose Con­fi­dence — Part Two: Chang­ing Your Self-Talk .

  • The key to chang­ing the self-talk is to become aware of when you’re doing it. Most often, the neg­a­tive talk is auto­matic. Jour­nals are effec­tive because they force us to reflect on our think­ing and inter­rupt those auto­matic pat­terns. Sim­i­larly, I’ve had great results work­ing with traders who talk their thoughts out loud into a tape recorder and then play them back. It’s an excel­lent way to become aware of your think­ing, stand apart from it, and break the flow.”
  • Yet another strat­egy is to go through guided visu­al­iza­tions of chal­leng­ing mar­ket sce­nar­ios while you’re calm and focused (before trad­ing starts) and then men­tally rehearse the self-talk you’d like to engage in dur­ing those sit­u­a­tions. This helps to build new, pos­i­tive pat­terns of self-talk.
  • The key to all these strate­gies is rep­e­ti­tion: you’re train­ing your­self to process infor­ma­tion in new ways, and such train­ing requires practice.”

You may enjoy our inter­view with Brett N. Steen­barger on Enhanc­ing Trader Per­for­mance. And learn more on other tech­niques at Best prac­tice for top trad­ing per­for­mance: biofeed­back and solu­tions for Traders.

Trading psychology and Trader Performance

Pro­fes­sor, trader and author Brett Steen­barger, one of the main experts on Trad­ing psy­chol­ogy and Trader Per­for­mance (see our inter­view with him here), just announced he will speak at a Free Inter­ac­tive Webi­nar on Trader Performance

  • Dur­ing the Webi­nar, I will sum­ma­rize and elab­o­rate basic ideas from my book and also intro­duce new ideas devel­oped and applied since the book’s pub­li­ca­tion. A unique fea­ture of the ses­sion will be a par­tic­i­pant Q&A mod­er­ated by Steve.” (Steven Buss, a mem­ber of the NeoTicker forum)

He recently wrote a great post on My Favorite Tech­niques for Over­com­ing Per­for­mance Anx­i­ety in Trad­ing, includ­ing a won­der­ful tech­nique (see arti­cle to read the full description)

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