Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Trend: A growing toolkit for brain training and brain enhancement

holdingbrainCan Electric ‘Brain Training’ Devices Make You Smarter? (Fortune):

“If there were a system or a product that could make you, say, 10% smarter, you’d buy it in a second, right? That’s been the promise of the “brain training” field…

Now, faster than the current coursing through your cerebellum, the field is burgeoning into what could be called Brain Training 2.0. Read the rest of this entry »

The (Tailored) Future of New Driver Training

New driver training study highlights importance of post-licence skills (Science Network):

“Crash rates are highest immediately after licensing…so there is potential for improving safety during the first six months,” Dr Beanland says…“Driving involves a highly complex skill set, so drivers need some kind of training and practice to acquire those skills…The paper found cognitive skills training (particularly hazard perception) had the potential to significantly reduce crash risk, and Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Music Training Can Enhance Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function

Very interesting new study published in Psychological Science: Short-Term Music Training Enhances Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function.

Abstract: Researchers have designed training methods that can be used to improve mental health and to test the efficacy of education programs. However, few studies have demonstrated broad transfer from such training to performance on untrained cognitive activities. Here we report the effects of two interactive computerized training programs developed for preschool children: one for music and one for visual art. After only 20 days of training, Read the rest of this entry »

Debunking 10 Cognitive Health and Fitness Myths

As part of the research behind the book The SharpBrains Guide for Brain Fitness we interviewed dozens of leading cognitive health and fitness scientists and experts worldwide to learn about their research and thoughts, and have a number of take-aways to report.

What Santiago Ramon y Cajal can we clearly say today that we couldn’t have said only 10 years ago? That what neuroscience pioneer Santiago Ramon y Cajal claimed in the XX century, “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor his own brain”, may well become reality in the XXI.

And transform Education, Health, Training, and Gaming in the process, since Read the rest of this entry »

Barcelona talk: How Digital Tech will Transform Education, Training and Brain Health

If you happen to be in Barcelona, Spain, on September 14th, make sure to attend Alvaro Fernandez talk there titled “How and Why Digital Technology Will Transform Education, Training and Brain Health”.

  • Date: 14/09/2010
  • Time: 19:00
  • Place: ESADEFORUM. Av. Pedralbes 60-62.

Description: You have a brain. Make it reflect on this provocative vision of how the convergence of demographic and political trends with the discoveries of neuroscience and digital technology can give rise to a global market capable of transforming the way in which we develop and maintain our brains, in order to attain the highest possible level of brain health and performance throughout our lives. The neuroscientist Ramón y Cajal once said: “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor of his own brain”. This has become a prevailing desire, promoted by baby boomers who, as they approach their 60th birthday, embark on a search for lifelong “brain fitness”.

Learn more and Register Here.

References on Cognitive Health/ Brain Fitness

This is a partial list of the literature we reviewed during the research phase of our new book, The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness.  We know many friends of SharpBrains are researchers, healthcare professionals, graduate/ Ph.D. students, who want have direct access to the references (perhaps PubMed should promote itself as a never ending source of mental stimulation?), so here you have this list, organized by relevant chapter. Please note that the list below appears in the book – whose manuscript we had to close in January 2009.


Basak, C. et al. (2008). Can training in a real-time strategy video game attenuate cognitive decline in older adults? Psychology and Aging.
Begley, S. (2007). Train your mind, change your brain: How a new science reveals our extraordinary potential to transform ourselves. Ballantine Books.
DeKosky, S. T., et al. (2008). Ginkgo biloba for prevention of dementia: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 300, 2253-2262.
Doidge, N. (2007). The Brain that changes itself: Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. Viking Adult.

Chapter 1. The Brain and Brain Fitness 101

Bunge, S. A., & Wright, S. B. (2007). Neurodevelopmental changes in working memory and cognitive control. Current Opinion In Neurobiology, 17(2), 243-50.
Damasio, A. (1995). Descartes error: Emotion, reason, and the human brain. Penguin Press.
David Kolb, D. (1983). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. FT Press.
Draganski, B., Gaser, C., Kempermann, G., Kuhn, H. G., Winkler, J., Buchel, C., & May A. (2006). Temporal and spatial dynamics of brain structure changes during extensive learning. The Journal of Neuroscience, 261231, 6314-6317.
Gage, F. H., Kempermann, G., & Song, H. (2007). Adult Neurogenesis. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, NY.
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Gaser, C. & Schlaug, G. (2003). Brain structures differ between musicians and non-musicians. The Journal of Neuroscience, 23, 9240-9245. Read the rest of this entry »

Games for Brain Health – Novelty, Variety and Challenge

Landmark study just published: Basak C, et al “Can training in a real-time strategy video game attenuate cognitive decline in older adults?” Psychol Aging 2008; DOI: 10.1037/a0013494.

Playing computer games improves brain power of older adults, claim scientists (Telegraph)

– The team at the University of Illinois recruited 40 adults over 60 years old, half of whom were asked to play a computer game called Rise of Nations, a role-playing game in which you have to build your own empire.

– Game players have to build cities, feed and employ their people, maintain an adequate military and expand their territory.

– Both groups were assessed before, during and after the video game training on a variety of tests.

– As a group, the “gamers” became significantly better – and faster – at switching between tasks as compared to the comparison group. Their working memory, as reflected in the tests, was also significantly improved and their reasoning ability was enhanced.

– (Professor Art Kramer, an author of the study published in the journal Psychology & Aging) “This is one mode in which older people can stay mentally fit, cognitively fit. I’m not suggesting, however, that it’s the only thing they should do.”

Professor Kramer and I discussed this study last June during our conversation on Why We Need Walking Book Clubs:

Question (me): Tell us more about your work with cognitive training for older adults.

Answer (Prof Kramer): We have now a study in press where we evaluate the effect of a commercially available strategy videogame on older adults’ cognition.

Let me first give some context. It seems clear that, as we age, our Read the rest of this entry »

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