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 »

Cognitive training research: MindFit, Lumosity, Posit Science, Cogmed

The field of computer-based cognitive training (part of what we call “Brain Fitness”) is starting to get traction in the media and becoming an emerging industry, and we are happy to see how a growing number of researchers and science-based companies are leading studies that will allow to better measure results and refine the brain exercise software available.

Published new research

  • Computerized working memory training after stroke-A pilot study. A published study on how Cogmed working memory training may help stroke patients. See the reference at Cogmed Research page (and full article here)
  • The Journals of Gerontology published a series of related papers in their June issue, including this by Karlene Ball, Jerri D. Edwards, and Lesley A. Ross on The Impact of Speed of Processing Training on Cognitive and Everyday Functions, J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 2007 62: 19-31.  Abstract: “We combined data from six studies, all using the same speed of processing training program, to examine the mechanisms of training gain and the impact of training on cognitive and everyday abilities of older adults. Results indicated that training produces immediate improvements across all subtests of the Useful Field of View test, particularly for older adults with initial speed of processing deficits. Age and education had little to no impact on training gain. Participants maintained benefits of training for at least 2 years, which translated to improvements in everyday abilities, including efficient performance of instrumental activities of daily living and safer driving performance.”

Ongoing/ starting research

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm and think tank tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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