Time for a universal “exercise prescription” for kids and adults to boost cognition and mental health?

Wel­come to a new edi­tion of Sharp­Brains e‑newsletter, fea­tur­ing this time a range of brain research find­ings, tools and con­tro­ver­sies plus some brain teasers to chal­lenge your (and our) work­ing memory.

#1. Major evi­dence review sup­ports an “exer­cise pre­scrip­tion” for most adults to boost men­tal health

“High­er inten­si­ty phys­i­cal activ­i­ty was asso­ci­at­ed with greater improve­ments” and “Effec­tive­ness of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty inter­ven­tions dimin­ished with longer dura­tion interventions.”
The sweet spot was four or five half-hour effort­ful ses­sions per week. Are you hit­ting it?

#2. (Sep­a­rate) Evi­dence review: Phys­i­cal exer­cise helps boost atten­tion, cog­ni­tive flex­i­bil­i­ty and inhibito­ry con­trol in chil­dren and ado­les­cents with ADHD

Not sur­pris­ing but impor­tant find­ings. Next to research: the type, inten­si­ty, and dura­tion that may help the most.

#3. Read­ing for plea­sure dur­ing child­hood may lead to high­er brain/ cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment and men­tal well-being dur­ing adolescence

Cru­cial­ly, “… read­ing for plea­sure in ear­ly child­hood was linked with bet­ter scores on com­pre­hen­sive cog­ni­tion assess­ments and bet­ter edu­ca­tion­al attain­ment in young ado­les­cence. It was also asso­ci­at­ed with few­er men­tal health prob­lems and less time spent on elec­tron­ic devices … can be ben­e­fi­cial regard­less of socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus. It may also be help­ful regard­less of the children’s ini­tial intel­li­gence lev­el.” — Long Live Books and Read­ing (and, yes, Exercise)!

#4. Vir­tu­al cog­ni­tive behav­iour­al ther­a­py (CBT) accounts for over 30% of NHS men­tal health treat­ments — up from 10% in 2017

“Ear­ly inter­ven­tion is crit­i­cal in pre­vent­ing a patient’s mild to mod­er­ate symp­toms from wors­en­ing” … (but) online ther­a­py may not suit every­one and that it was still up to health­care pro­fes­sion­als to iden­ti­fy “who may and may not benefit”

#6. Neu­rotech and brain data in con­text: Are “neu­ror­ights” the way to men­tal privacy?

Impor­tant point: “The poten­tial to col­lect brain data more direct­ly, with high­er res­o­lu­tion, and in greater amounts has height­ened wor­ries about men­tal and brain pri­va­cy …(but) We argue that by empha­siz­ing what is dis­tinct about brain pri­va­cy issues, rather than what they share with oth­er data pri­va­cy con­cerns, risks weak­en­ing broad­er efforts to enact more robust pri­va­cy law and policy.”

#7. Hopes and Ques­tions raised by Alzheimer’s drug Leqem­bi (lecanemab)

Will Leqembi’s pri­ma­ry ben­e­fit — a slight slow­ing of decline in cog­ni­tion and func­tion­ing — make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to patients and fam­i­ly mem­bers or will it be dif­fi­cult to dis­cern? … How many old­er adults in their 70s and 80s will be able and will­ing to trav­el to med­ical cen­ters for infu­sions twice a month and have reg­u­lar MRI scans and physi­cian vis­its to mon­i­tor for poten­tial side effects such as brain bleeds or swelling? Even with Medicare cov­er­age, how many peo­ple will be able to afford the suite of med­ical ser­vices required?”

#8. Its mas­sive price tag: $109,000 per patient, per year

“To qual­i­fy for Leqem­bi, patients must under­go a PET scan that looks for amy­loid plaques, the pro­tein clumps that clog the brains of many Alzheimer’s patients. About 1 in 5 patients who took Leqem­bi in the major clin­i­cal test of the drug devel­oped brain hem­or­rhag­ing or swelling, a risk that requires those tak­ing the drug to under­go fre­quent med­ical check­ups and brain scans called MRIs … Out­stand­ing doubts about Leqem­bi and relat­ed drugs have giv­en urgency to efforts to mon­i­tor patient experiences.”
#9. Final­ly, let’s piv­ot into some­thing more fun. Here are a few brain teasers aimed at chal­leng­ing your work­ing mem­o­ry and help­ing get that brain and mind in great shape for the new academic/ life­long learn­ing year. Please give them a try … they are not as easy as they may sound:


Say the days of the week in alpha­bet­i­cal order, then back­wards. If too hard, try the 5 work days first.

If you speak a lan­guage oth­er than Eng­lish, do the same in said language.

Say the months of the year in alpha­bet­i­cal order. Too easy? Well, try doing so back­wards, in reverse alpha­bet­i­cal order. (You will prob­a­bly need some pen and paper for this one.)

Find the sum of your date of birth, mm/dd/yyyy. For a tougher brain teas­er, do the same with your best friend’s date of birth (with­out look­ing it up…)

Look around you and, with­in a minute, find three green things that may fit in your pock­ets, and three red objects that are clear­ly too big to fit.

(more brain teasers here, for teens and adults of every age)
Have a great month of September!

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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