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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


  1. Richard on April 29, 2010 at 5:11

    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.

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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