Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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New resource: Brain Fitness for All

In light of the cur­rent BBC-led con­tro­ver­sy on whether “brain train­ing” works, we believe it is crit­i­cal to spend some time dis­cussing the basics of brain func­tion­ing and brain-healthy lifestyles, what “brain train­ing” is and isn’t (to be accu­rate, the BBC didn’t test Brain Train­ing as a cat­e­go­ry, only the new games that their researchers chose to build from scratch and des­ig­nate as “brain train­ing” ignor­ing pre­vi­ous research), what method­olo­gies for brain train­ing are in fact backed up by sci­ence (med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­a­py, biofeed­back, com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive train­ing) as valu­able for a vari­ety of pop­u­la­tions and goals, and how con­sumers and pro­fes­sion­als can learn to nav­i­gate the grow­ing array of claims. Sharp­Brains wants to con­tribute to a healthy con­ver­sa­tion by shar­ing online a new online resource based on the con­tent from the book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (May 2009, $19.95), by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg.

The new resource is avail­able via the Nav­i­ga­tion Bar as “HOW-TO GUIDE: all about brain fit­ness”, and below are its main sec­tions. You can engage in the con­ver­sa­tion in this blog, via Face­book, Twit­ter, and LinkedIn. Enjoy!

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Debunking 10 Brain Myths

You are a life­long learn­er. You may also be a care­giv­er, or a pro­fes­sion­al in fields such as health­care, edu­ca­tion, or psy­chol­o­gy. The goal of this resource is to help you make informed deci­sions about brain health and cog­ni­tive fit­ness, based on lat­est sci­en­tif­ic find­ings. First of all, let’s debunk some com­mon myths. Keep read­ing.

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1. Brain Fitness Fundamentals

In order to make informed deci­sions about brain health and brain train­ing, you need to first under­stand the under­ly­ing orga­ni­za­tion of the human brain and how it evolves across our lifes­pan. For exam­ple, the brain is com­posed of a num­ber of spe­cial­ized regions serv­ing dis­tinct func­tions, our life and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty depend on a vari­ety of brain func­tions, not just one, and there is noth­ing inher­ent­ly fixed in the tra­jec­to­ry of how brain func­tions evolve as we age. Keep read­ing.

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2. The 4 Pillars of Brain Maintenance

Thanks to life­long neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, our lifestyles and actions play a mean­ing­ful role in how our brains phys­i­cal­ly change. Now, there is no “gen­er­al solu­tion” or “mag­ic pill” for brain main­te­nance. A mul­ti-pronged approach cen­tered on nutri­tion, stress man­age­ment, and both phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise is rec­om­mend­ed for bet­ter brain health. Keep read­ing.

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3. Brain Training vs. Mental Activity

In this sec­tion we focus on men­tal exer­cise – which we will call brain train­ing, to dis­tin­guish it from men­tal activ­i­ty in gen­er­al. Brain train­ing goes beyond men­tal activ­i­ty. It is the struc­tured use of cog­ni­tive exer­cis­es or tech­niques aimed at improv­ing spe­cif­ic brain func­tions, and can be deliv­ered in a num­ber of ways: med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­a­py, cog­ni­tive train­ing, biofeed­back. Keep read­ing.

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4. Making Informed Brain Training Decisions

The state of the research does not allow for strong “pre­scrip­tions” of spe­cif­ic prod­ucts: we want to offer you the best infor­ma­tion avail­able today so that you can make bet­ter informed deci­sions. Dif­fer­ent peo­ple face dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive demands, and have dif­fer­ent start­ing points, so there is no gen­er­al solu­tion for every­one and every­thing. As in phys­i­cal fit­ness, informed con­sumers and pro­fes­sion­als must ask them­selves a num­ber of ques­tions. Keep read­ing.

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5. Brain Fitness through the Lifespan

The same way there are many rea­sons to exer­cise our bod­ies (run in a marathon, stay in shape, lose weight, become an Olympian, have strong abdom­i­nal mus­cles, etc.), there are many rea­sons to exer­cise our brains. In this chap­ter, we review a few cur­rent and future appli­ca­tions of brain train­ing through the lifes­pan, includ­ing edu­ca­tion, cor­po­rate well­ness, retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties, clin­i­cal con­di­tions, and more. Keep read­ing.

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6. Ready for the Future?

In this sec­tion our aim is to describe the trends we think are impor­tant in order to help you be ready for the future. Informed and proac­tive adults will look for solu­tions to inte­grate brain fit­ness to their every­day activ­i­ties. Pro­fes­sion­als will iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties to offer new ser­vices and pro­grams. We hope this chap­ter will give you ideas as to how to intro­duce brain fit­ness in your per­son­al life and/or your work­place. Keep read­ing.

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7. Opening the Debate

Our ulti­mate goal is to stim­u­late dis­cus­sion. In this final sec­tion we want to pro­vide you, proud brain own­ers and ambas­sadors of brain fit­ness, with addi­tion­al food for though. Pro­cess­ing new infor­ma­tion is a stim­u­lat­ing intel­lec­tu­al exer­cise, and dis­cussing insights and open ques­tions with a group of peo­ple can be equal­ly if not more stim­u­lat­ing. Keep read­ing.

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  1. Richard says:

    Inter­est­ing arti­cle. I think peo­ple take too much cred­it for what peo­ple like the BBC or oth­er cor­po­ra­tions say. Go exper­i­ment for your­self and you will know the answers. You can’t explain what a banana tastes like until you have expe­ri­enced it.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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