Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Sandra Chapman: Using innovative thinking, and brain training, we can rewire the brain at every level

Sandra Bond Chapman

San­dra Bond Chap­man, PhD

What is your cur­rent job title and orga­ni­za­tion, and what excites you the most about work­ing there? 
As the founder and chief direc­tor at the Cen­ter for Brain­Health at UT-Dal­las, what gets me excit­ed every day is being on the fore­front of defin­ing and encour­ag­ing cog­ni­tive brain health fit­ness for peo­ple of all ages. We are iden­ti­fy­ing mea­sures of brain health and what it takes to achieve it for healthy brains, injured brains and dis­eased brains. It is just as impor­tant to care for your brain when it is healthy as when it is dis­eased or injured.

Please tell us about your inter­est in applied brain sci­ence. What areas are you most inter­est­ed in? What moti­vat­ed you to pur­sue work in your field?
My research takes a lifes­pan approach to har­ness the pow­er of the frontal lobes to make cog­ni­tive and phys­i­o­log­i­cal improve­ments to the brain through high per­for­mance brain train­ing. Most research focus­es on what’s wrong with the brain, but when I real­ized how quick­ly we could trans­late research dis­cov­er­ies into solu­tions to help peo­ple think smarter, I knew I had to estab­lish a cen­ter to make that pos­si­ble.

What is one impor­tant thing you are work­ing on now, and where can peo­ple learn more about it?
We have just launched the Brain Per­for­mance Insti­tute, which will become the clin­i­cal arm for our research. Through the Insti­tute we will dis­sem­i­nate the val­i­dat­ed train­ing pro­grams being devel­oped at the Cen­ter for Brain­Health. We hope to reach more than 500,000 peo­ple in the next 10 years. To learn more about it, vis­it Friends of Sharp­Brains can also enjoy my my TEDx Talk and Make Your Brain Smarter book.

What are 1–2 key things you’d like every per­son to under­stand regard­ing his/ her own brain and mind, that you think is com­mon­ly mis­rep­re­sent­ed or not addressed in the pop­u­lar media?
Your brain changes every sin­gle day by how you use it. It either moves for­ward or back­ward. Tak­ing proac­tive steps to keep it healthy is an impor­tant, life long pur­suit. Your brain can begin to decline in your 20s, if you let it. But you can make your brain smarter and health­i­er in your 20s, 40s or 80s by becom­ing a more a strate­gic thinker and adopt­ing healthy brain habits.

Do not let labels like IQ, aca­d­e­m­ic degrees or class rank lim­it your high­est lev­el of brain per­for­mance. Smart is defined by being able to syn­the­size infor­ma­tion, cre­ate new ideas and inno­vate solu­tions.

Where do you see clear “low-hang­ing fruit” to enhance behav­ioral and brain health based on neu­ro­science and inno­va­tion?
Using inno­v­a­tive think­ing, we can rewire the brain at every lev­el. That’s why we are cre­at­ing high per­for­mance brain train­ing strate­gies, to bet­ter har­ness that poten­tial.

What would you like the 2013 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit to accom­plish?
I want to find part­ners, from researchers to health exec­u­tives and entre­pre­neurs, to help move more and more peo­ple from facts to action. Learn­ing about the brain is inter­est­ing, but it is thrilling to see your brain on inno­va­tion. I hope the Sum­mit helps accel­er­ate exist­ing dri­vers for change and spark new ones, so that more peo­ple can access tools and sup­port to reach their full cog­ni­tive poten­tial and become high­er brain per­form­ers.

Final­ly, what do YOU do to stay sharp?
I try to run a mind marathon every­day. All day long, and even in my sleep, when I take infor­ma­tion in, I always syn­the­size, inno­vate and inte­grate across diverse think­ing areas. I am always on alert to avoid rote think­ing. I also make sure that I get eight hours of sleep each night and aer­o­bic exer­cise reg­u­lar­ly.

2013 SharpBrains SummitThis con­ver­sa­tion is part of a new inter­view series with Speak­ers and Par­tic­i­pants in the upcom­ing 2013 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit (Sep­tem­ber 19–20th). You can reg­is­ter with a 20% dis­count using pro­mo­tion­al code: sharp2020

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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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