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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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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness, Peak Performance, Professional Development, Technology

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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