Transcript: Q&A with Alvaro Fernandez about The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness

Alvaro Fernandez

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez

You can now read the full tran­script of yes­ter­day’s Q&A ses­sion on a vari­ety of brain health and fit­ness top­ics, from mem­o­ry improve­ment to heart rate mon­i­tors, exer­cise, med­i­ta­tion, “Grain Brain,” brain train­ing, and more. A cou­ple of good exchanges:

Ques­tion by Stephen Jepson
What spe­cif­ic phys­i­cal activ­i­ties con­tribute to the great­est changes in the brain in the short­est peri­od of time? Once the neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis and neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty that results from those changes has occurred what must one do to main­tain that growth?

Answer by Alvaro Fernandez
Take a look at chap­ter 3, ful­ly devot­ed to exer­cise. In short, aer­o­bic exer­cise is what brings high­est returns, espe­cial­ly when you start from a low base­line (much high­er mar­gin­al val­ue in going from 0 to 3 hours per week than from 20 to 23). And great relat­ed ques­tion — men­tal exer­cise is key to influ­ence where those new neu­rons go and how long they sur­vive. So the media con­tro­ver­sy about what is bet­ter, phys­i­cal vs men­tal exer­cise, is essen­tial­ly point­less. You need both, for com­ple­men­tary reasons.


Ques­tion by Jose Estrel­la and Ellen
Thank you for the very use­ful reviews and com­ments about brain train­ing in chap­ter 8. It seems that, if I’d like to embark on an on line brain train­ing pro­gram focus­ing on work­ing and short term mem­o­ry and high­er lev­el cog­ni­tive skills, I could start with Lumos­i­ty, brain­HQ or Cogmed. How do I choose which one? How can I as a lay per­son know if a par­tic­u­lar set of brain exer­cis­es is work­ing for me? How do i gauge this. Thank you!

Answer by Alvaro Fernandez
As we explain in the book we don’t endorse par­tic­u­lar pro­grams but there are a num­ber of brain train­ing options that make may sense based on your own pri­or­i­ties and con­text. We share a lot of the research we did on the sci­ence behind the main pro­grams and their cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion rates so you can see which one to start with…it is not a pure­ly sci­en­tif­ic deci­sion but more of a prac­ti­cal one. What is your bud­get? Do you need a lot of super­vi­sion or are self-direct­ed? Do you pre­fer a “younger” inter­face, like Lumos­i­ty’s, or one designed for 50+ users, like Posit Sci­ence’s brain­HQ? Once you start, what is crit­i­cal is your oth­er ques­tion — how to objec­tive­ly eval­u­ate progress. We sug­gest sev­er­al options in chap­ter 9, from keep­ing sub­jec­tive impres­sions to things like Brain­Base­line app. I believe this self-assess­ment part is a key SharpBrainsGuide_3Dcom­po­nent of the brain fit­ness puz­zle and good news is there’s sig­nif­i­cant progress under way.

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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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