On physical activity, neuroplasticity, depression, screen time, neuromodulation and more

Wel­come to a new edi­tion of Sharp­Brains’ e‑newsletter, fea­tur­ing this time eight sci­en­tif­ic reports and indus­try resources plus a few fun brain teasers.

#1. Study finds ulti­mate hack to pro­tect teen brains from harm­ful screen time: Exer­cise (and good role-mod­el­ing):

Girls who spent less than an hour on screens and boys who spent less than 90 min­utes on screens were not neg­a­tive­ly impact­ed by it. But at high­er amounts of screen time, their life sat­is­fac­tion dropped significantly—they were less hap­py with their lives, and it got worse the more time they spent … (the) study also found that teens who got more reg­u­lar exer­cise had greater life sat­is­fac­tion and few­er phys­i­cal com­plaints for both gen­ders. Not only that, the effects were large­ly unre­lat­ed to how much time a teen spent on screens, so that if teens exer­cised more, it could poten­tial­ly undo the dam­age to their well-being that went along with even six or eight hours of screen time.”

#2. Stud­ies find grow­ing evi­dence link­ing weight, phys­i­cal activ­i­ty, neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and depres­sion:

Obe­si­ty and depres­sion are both major glob­al health chal­lenges, and our study pro­vides the most robust evi­dence to date that high­er BMI caus­es depres­sion,’ said lead author Jess O’Loughlin. ‘Under­stand­ing whether phys­i­cal or social fac­tors are respon­si­ble for this rela­tion­ship can help inform effec­tive strate­gies to improve men­tal health and wellbeing.’

#3. Dr. Judith Beck on the future of cog­ni­tive ther­a­py and psy­chother­a­py:

Let’s hope! — “I think Cog­ni­tive Behav­ioral Ther­a­py (CBT) will con­tin­ue to be adapt­ed for more prob­lems, diag­noses, and con­di­tions. We will train many kinds of care­givers, teach­ers, front-line work­ers, police, and even politicians.”

#4. Ratio­nal­i­ty doesn’t equal effi­cien­cy: Cell­phone data shows how we nav­i­gate cities:

“We dis­cov­ered that the most pre­dic­tive mod­el – rep­re­sent­ing the most com­mon mode of city nav­i­ga­tion – was not the quick­est path, but instead one that tried to min­i­mize the angle between the direc­tion a per­son is mov­ing and the line from the per­son to their des­ti­na­tion … Evo­lu­tion is a sto­ry of trade-offs, not opti­miza­tions, and the cog­ni­tive load of cal­cu­lat­ing a per­fect path rather than rely­ing on the sim­pler point­ing method might not be worth a few saved min­utes. After all, ear­ly humans had to pre­serve brain pow­er for dodg­ing stam­ped­ing ele­phants, just like peo­ple today might need to focus on avoid­ing aggres­sive SUVs.”

#5. Trend: Har­ness­ing dig­i­tal tech to improve men­tal health and well­ness:

Designed with the help of Dutch aca­d­e­m­ic Isabela Granic … the game is cen­tred around an avatar who stays in bed for the day and aims to relax play­ers by using sooth­ing music, mut­ed colours and self-care prac­tices. Think med­i­ta­tive tasks such as word games and guid­ed breath­ing exer­cis­es. There’s no way to win, com­pete or binge – in fact, it delib­er­ate­ly starts to feel bor­ing after a few min­utes of play, which dis­in­cen­tivizes mind­less scrolling. #Self­Care was an instant hit, gar­ner­ing half a mil­lion down­loads in its first six weeks with­out any advertising…”

#6. Study: Per­son­al­ized, closed-loop neu­ro­mod­u­la­tion can (one day) become a “pace­mak­er for the brain”:

“What made this proof-of-prin­ci­ple tri­al suc­cess­ful was the dis­cov­ery of a neur­al bio­mark­er – a spe­cif­ic pat­tern of brain activ­i­ty that indi­cates the onset of symp­toms – and the team’s abil­i­ty to cus­tomize a new DBS device to respond only when it rec­og­nizes that pat­tern. The device then stim­u­lates a dif­fer­ent area of the brain cir­cuit, cre­at­ing on-demand, imme­di­ate ther­a­py that is unique to both the patient’s brain and the neur­al cir­cuit caus­ing her illness.”

#7. Six guide­lines to nav­i­gate the Aduhelm con­tro­ver­sy and (hope­ful­ly) help patients with Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment and ear­ly-stage Alzheimer’s Dis­ease:

“After ini­tial­ly indi­cat­ing that Aduhelm could be pre­scribed to any­one with demen­tia, the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion now spec­i­fies that the pre­scrip­tion drug be giv­en to indi­vid­u­als with mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment or ear­ly-stage Alzheimer’s, the groups in which the med­ica­tion was studied.
Yet this nar­row­er rec­om­men­da­tion rais­es ques­tions. What does a diag­no­sis of mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment mean? Is Aduhelm appro­pri­ate for all peo­ple with mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment, or only some? And who should decide which patients qual­i­fy for treat­ment: demen­tia spe­cial­ists or pri­ma­ry care physicians?”

#8. The Fed­er­al Trade Com­mis­sion (FTC) hard­ens data secu­ri­ty rules for health apps and devices:

“With data breach­es on the rise, the FTC is look­ing to make health apps more account­able for telling patients when their data has been exposed.”


Wish­ing you and yours a sweet Hal­loween and a healthy month of November,

The Sharp­Brains Team

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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