Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Tease your mind with visual illusions

This is one of the Win­ners of the 2014 Best Illu­sion of The Year Con­test. Enjoy!

Expla­na­tion: Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Games and Optical Illusions @ National Geographic

optical illusion gamesSev­eral Sharp­Brains friends rec­om­mend the recent 3-part National Geo­graphic TV mini-series Brain Games focused on Per­cep­tion, Atten­tion and Mem­ory. You can learn about the series and exper­i­ment a good num­ber of visual illu­sions Here.

You may also enjoy this arti­cle on Visual Illu­sions in Art and Sci­ence, and these clas­sic illu­sions from our own brain teaser library:
- The Muller-Lyer Illu­sion.
– Don’t try this with your part­ner, or you may fight.
– How many col­ors do you see in The Her­mann Grid?
– This is less obvi­ous than it may appear.
– Is this a cir­cle or what?
– Are these 2 rows par­al­lel?
– What do you see?

Update: Let’s move, slow down, innovate, think and play

You have heard that phys­i­cal exer­cise is good for the brain. How much exer­cise are we talk­ing about? Can the ben­e­fits be seen both for chil­dren and adults? In Fit­ter bod­ies = fit­ter brains. True at all ages? Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon answers these ques­tions for you, based on lat­est sci­en­tific studies.

We need fun ways to get out the couch more and exer­cise both phys­i­cally and cog­ni­tively. What about set­ting up community-based adult play­grounds, such as this one in Beijing?


New Brain Health Series

Peo­ple of all ages read and this monthly update, so we are prepar­ing a series of arti­cles on Brain Health across the Lifes­pan. The series will include 4 parts:

  • The Child Brain, pub­lished in Novem­ber 2010
  • The Ado­les­cent Brain, in Decem­ber 2010
  • The Adult Brain, in Jan­u­ary 2011
  • The Aging Brain, in Feb­ru­ary 2011
  • Each part will include sur­pris­ing facts on how the brain works, debunk com­mons myths about cog­ni­tion and brain health, and link to resources such as books and doc­u­men­taries. If you want to read these arti­cles as we pub­lish them via, you can fol­low us in Face­book and Twit­ter. Tell your friends and col­leagues about the series!


    Let’s Move

    Walk­ing increases Brain Vol­ume: A recent neuro-imaging study shows that walk­ing reg­u­larly can increase brain vol­ume and reduce the risks of devel­op­ing cog­ni­tive impairment.

    Move to another Coun­try, to another Occu­pa­tion: A cou­ple recent stud­ies rein­force the Cog­ni­tive Reserve frame­work that sug­gests we can pro­tect our brains by speak­ing more than one lan­guage and by not retir­ing early.


    Let’s Slow Down

    Take that Nap - It May Boost Your Learn­ing Capac­ity: Scott Barry Kauf­man tells us why sleep is good for the brain. It turns out that sleep is tied to a bet­ter immune sys­tem, meta­bolic con­trol, mem­ory, learn­ing, cre­ativ­ity and emo­tional func­tion­ing.

    Boost your Atten­tion with Med­i­ta­tion: Another way to slow down is to med­i­tate. Through sum­maries of stud­ies and an inter­view with Dr. New­berg, we dis­cuss how med­i­ta­tion can improve your con­cen­tra­tion skills.

    Train your Brain to Focus on Pos­i­tive Expe­ri­ences: In this arti­cle by the Greater Good Mag­a­zine, Rick Han­son explains the “neg­a­tiv­ity bias” of the brain and what steps we can take to rewire our brains for last­ing happiness.


    Let’s Inno­vate

    If much health care is actu­ally evidence-free, what type of evi­dence and tools do we need to make real-world progress?: build­ing on a recent OpEd by Peter Orszag, Alvaro Fer­nan­dez asks us to assess the value and lim­i­ta­tions of inno­v­a­tive brain health tools based on how they seem to per­form com­pared to exist­ing alter­na­tives– not com­pared to Pla­tonic research ideals. This basic con­cept serves as the foun­da­tion of the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion.


    Let’s Think

    Cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion helps Alzheimer’s patients: Another sci­en­tific review shows that pro­grams focus­ing on global cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease by 5 years. The authors con­clude that efforts to develop and imple­ment cognitive-based inter­ven­tion for the treat­ment of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease must be pursued.

    The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: In his new book, Dr. Gary Small describes how the onset of brain health prob­lems may resem­ble a brain fog, mak­ing the role of the physi­cian and the care­giver par­tic­u­larly important.

    Have you read The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg?: if so, please take 5 min­utes to answer this brief sur­vey. Your feed­back will ensure that future edi­tions are even more rel­e­vant and valu­able. If you haven’t read it yet, you can learn more and order here.


    Let’s Play: Top 10 Illusions

    Are you ready to expe­ri­ence our selec­tion of Visual Illu­sions? See if you can trust your brain…enjoy these Top 10 Visual Illusions..


    Exercise Your Brains — Visual Logic Brain Teaser

    In which direc­tion is the bus pic­tured below traveling?

    school bus attention game

    Do you know the answer?

    The only pos­si­ble answers are “left” or “right.”

    Still don’t know?

    Keep read­ing for the answer and explanation…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Top 10 Brain Teasers and Games, with a neuroscience angle

    No mat­ter what we are read­ing or doing, there is always the need to take a lit­tle break and chal­lenge our minds (and to learn a bit about how our brains work). Here you have a selec­tion of the 10 Brain Teasers that peo­ple have enjoyed most in this site.

    1. Do you think you know the col­ors?: the Stroop Test

    2. Can you count?: Bas­ket­ball atten­tion experiment

    3. Plan­ning is not that easy: Tow­ers of Hanoi

    4. Inter­ac­tive visual illu­sion: the Muller-Lyer Illusion

    5. Who is this?: A very impor­tant lit­tle guy

    5. How many…: Train your Frontal and Pari­etal lobes

    6. What’s the miss­ing num­ber: Pat­tern Recog­ni­tion Brain Teaser

    7. Who’s the eldest?: Rea­son­ing Skills Brain Teaser

    8. Brain Puz­zle for the Whole Brain: The Blind Beggar

    9. Is a cir­cle a cir­cle?: Visual Per­cep­tion Brain Teaser

    10. How is this pos­si­ble?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    2007 New Year Resolution: Carnival of Brain Fitness

    Happy 2007 to everyone!

    We have just for­mu­lated our New Year Res­o­lu­tion: make 2007 the year when brain plas­tic­ity and Brain Fit­ness became main­stream concepts.

    How do we start? well, let’s announce the launch of the Car­ni­val of Brain Fit­ness (a Blog Car­ni­val is basi­cally the vehi­cle that blogs use to share posts around spe­cific topics).

    Goal: to facil­i­tate a dia­logue about this emerg­ing field across mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives, from sci­en­tists and health pro­fes­sion­als, to edu­ca­tion and train­ing ones, to basi­cally every­one who has con­ducted an exper­i­ment on his on her brain and mind, and has news to report.

    Con­text: The sci­en­tific foun­da­tions lie in neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, neu­ro­plas­tic­ity, cog­ni­tive train­ing and stress man­age­ment. Med­ical and health appli­ca­tions range from stroke and TBI reha­bil­i­ta­tion to ADD/ADHD and early Alzheimer’s to Mind­ful­ness Based Stress Reduc­tion and cog­ni­tive ther­apy. Edu­ca­tional and train­ing appli­ca­tions go from help­ing kids improve read­ing abil­i­ties to help­ing man­age stress and anx­i­ety — includ­ing work with the “men­tal game” in sports and high-demand activ­i­ties pr pro­fes­sions. Each of us may also have expe­ri­ences to report, where we saw first hand, no mat­ter our age, our innate abil­ity to refine and trans­form our­selves (and our brains).

    Mechan­ics: If you’d like to con­tribute, Read the rest of this entry »

    The Hermann Grid Visual Illusion

    How many col­ors do you see in this image?

    Hermann Grid

    Read the rest of this entry »

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