Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Fitness Blog Carnival #1

Brain Fitness CarnivalWelcome to the inaugural edition of the Brain Fitness Blog Carnival. The timing couldn’t be better  you have probably seen the featured CBS News/TIME Series on Brain Neuroplasticity.

Thanks to the over 40 people who submitted posts. We have had to select the posts we enjoyed the most to help facilitate an engaging and informed conversation.

Learning is physical. Our experience literally shapes our brains. And vice versa. The media seems to be focusing mostly on brain fitness for seniors, but its implications go beyond that, as you will see in this post by Caroline: What is Brain Fitness?, and the articles in this carnival.

Science-based understanding is evolving from “Use it or Lose It” to “Use It and Improve It.”  As Fast Company’s Alan Deutschman provocatively puts it in his last book, Change or Die. We couldn’t agree more with his summary recommendation: “Relate. Repeat. Reframe.” Alan presents a blog article announcing his book (here is his original article).

Science and Philosophy

We have a fun variety of posts.

D.A.N. summarizes some of the main themes in brain and mind science with Look at the Human Mind Part 1: An Introduction.

Sandy writes on the impact of stress on neurogenesis, and explains how the reduction in new cell creation due to chronic stress may affect learning and brain fitness. On the bright side, he writes how new technologies like HRV biofeedback can help manage anxiety and possibly depression.

The Beck Institute explains What Cognitive Therapy does to your brain. Cognitive Therapy is a very effective tool we can all learn from, not too different from the “Relate. Repeat. Reframe”.

Senia elaborates on a Scientific American article and explains how Expertise is Trainable (Nurture Wins), illustrating how malleable the brain is as we become expert in something. Specifically, “Expertise is Developed through Practice. The Practice That Has the Best Results is Repetition with Increased Difficulty”.

What may be one of the most ancient tools for our brain health? Bora presents a classic article on sleep, that starts with “What are you doing up so late, staring at the computer screen reading this? For that matter, what am I doing up late writing this at 11pm? Are we all nuts?”.

Simon presents Can you See into the Brains of Other People?, discussing mirror neurons and saying, “Our beliefs control the way our neurons fire in response to our experiences. This dictates how we act and what we will accomplish.”

You may be interested in my own interview with Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg on Brain Fitness Programs and Cognitive Training, trying to synthesize the many years of his research and clinical practice around cognitive fitness.

Neurophilosopher discusses how US Defense agencies are trying to enhance the “brain fitness” of the combination (soldier + technology) with Augmented cognition: Science fact or science fiction? and then explores a possible future target for memory-enhancing drugs.

Education and Professional Development

We have two very well-represented groups: lawyers and traders.

Stephanie presents This is your lawyer brain on blogs good reading for all of us  and The profession of half-empty glasses: The unique personalities of lawyers and an antidote.

Brett Steenbarger, the trading psychology expert we interviewed a few months back, suggests brief therapy techniques that involve rehearsing positive behavior patterns while in a state of high focus or concentration. Read “The reality is that the good psychologist is not a shrink, but instead expands people’s minds and horizons. The goal is not to treat problems, but to make changes” and more in Brief Therapy for the Mentally Well.

Michelle, in her great Out of the SKILL(let) into the Fire, explains how “The market is in constant flux. We cannot structure it according to our needs. We can only structure ourselves in relationship to this free flow of information and participant interaction.” which calls for honest recognition and acceptance of our existing skill level as the first step to learn and improve performance. For a trader, this is a matter of survival. For all the rest of us, just substitute “our environment” for “market” in that quote, and it is obvious why we should be very happy that evolution kindly gave us our beautiful brains.

Health and Wellness

Jon writes a thoughtful piece titled New Breed of Economists Highlight Importance of Behavioral Health. He says “This post looks at how economists are providing new support for behavioral and mental health, by showing that only by getting your brain in the right place, will the rest of the body follow.” and quotes “Lord Layard argues, unemployment is no longer Britain’s biggest social problem. The number of jobless Britons claiming the dole is now about 960,000. But there are over 1m people receiving incapacity benefits because depression and stress have left them unfit to work.”

The Beck Institute clarifies CT Myths: Three of the Most Common Misunderstandings about Cognitive Therapy and Another CT Myth Put on those Rose-Colored Glasses. Very interesting to read about cognitive therapy and then read Senia’s great introduction to What is Positive Psychology?.

We have a few entries on meditation, a highly evolved form of mental training that we are now starting to understand: Brandon presents Second 10-day Vipassana Sit (good history and description of the technique), Barry writes The Benefits of Solitude on the benefits of quiet contemplation, and Raymond advocates Using Visualization for Success.

Our own Head Coach Neal starts his blogging career with Train Your Brain: Get a Head Coach, where we can read how “Maintaining brain fitness is a challenging and lifelong process. It often requires a change from our normal and mostly automatic ways of doing things.”

Personal stories and techniques

Alvin presents Your Brain: A Guide to Fine-Tuned Performance, a great practical introduction to the need for both stress management and metal stimulation.

Scott recommends “try asking yourself a simple question: Is it possible to let this feeling go?” the next time we are feeling down about anything. See Overcoming Emotional Attachment.

Craig Harper presents The Science of Success describing how “I have spoken with many people who have been on the personal development journey for years… and they’re still in the same place (physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, financially and professionally). They’ve read eight million books, been to thirteen thousand workshops, therapists and specialists, and they’re still miserable, unfulfilled, stressed and directionless.” This is where Alan’s “Repeat” becomes a must.

Steven lists 50 of the Best Personal Development blogs. We enjoy his use of “50 of the Best” rather than “the 50 Best”.

Brain Teasers

We didn’t get any entry for this category … so let us just throw out there our popular post: Well-deserved break: Top 10 Brain Teasers.

That concludes this edition. Please help us expand the conversation by linking to this post and encouraging your readers and fellow bloggers to participate.

You can submit your blog article to the next edition of brain fitness using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Enjoy the weekend.

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12 Responses

  1. Richie says:

    Excellent links! Particularly enjoyed Craig Harper’s article.

  2. Alvaro says:

    Glad you enjoyed them!

  3. Turi says:

    Thanks for putting this carnival together. I’m looking forward to reading all these posts, especially the one about how CBT works.

    I also have a guide to brain health that may be a nice compliment to some of these links. It’s The Wise Turtle’s Guide to Philosophical Health.

  4. Alvaro says:

    Hi Turi, those posts are about cognitive therapy, a type of CBT. You will learn more at the Aaron Beck’s Institute.

    Will check your guide-please feel free to submit a post with a summary for next carnival editions.

  5. eleanor says:

    Now I think I understand what a blog carnival is – perhaps I’ll contribute towards the next!

  6. Alvaro says:

    Hi Eleanor! please do 🙂

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