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

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