Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Mental athletes gathering in Boston for the USA Memory Championship

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Mem­o­ry Con­test Comes To MIT, Where Brain Sci­en­tists Explain Why Train­ing Works (WBUR):

For the last few months, 13-year-old Claire Wang of Los Ange­les has been train­ing her mem­o­ry with play­ing cards, phone num­bers, soft­ware — “what­ev­er I can get my hands on,” she says.

She’s been buff­ing up her skills to com­pete in an annu­al sport­ing tour­na­ment where the ath­letes are not phys­i­cal but men­tal. Read the rest of this entry »

Study finds clear–yet surprisingly different–benefits in 3 types of meditation-based mental training

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As cit­i­zens of the 21st cen­tu­ry, we face many prob­lems that come with an indus­tri­al­ized and glob­al­ized world. I’m not a lawyer or a politi­cian, but a psy­chol­o­gist and neu­ro­sci­en­tist. So research on how to train help­ful men­tal and social capac­i­ties is my way to con­tribute to a more healthy, com­mu­nal, and coop­er­a­tive civ­i­liza­tion.

For the past five years, that research has tak­en the form of the ReSource Project, one of the longest and most com­pre­hen­sive stud­ies on the effects of med­i­ta­tion-based men­tal train­ing to date. Lots of research treats the con­cept of med­i­ta­tion as a sin­gle prac­tice, when in fact med­i­ta­tion encom­pass­es a diver­si­ty of men­tal prac­tices that train dif­fer­ent skills and dif­fer­ent parts of the brain. Our goal was to study the spe­cif­ic effects of Read the rest of this entry »

Technology and the Cognition Crisis

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Our lives on this plan­et have improved in so many amaz­ing ways over the last cen­tu­ry. On aver­age, we are now health­i­er, more afflu­ent and lit­er­ate, less vio­lent and longer liv­ing. Despite these unprece­dent­ed pos­i­tive changes, clear signs exist that we are in the midst of an emerg­ing crisis–one that has not yet been rec­og­nized in its full breadth, even though it lurks just beneath the sur­face of our casu­al con­ver­sa­tions and swims in the under­cur­rents of our news feeds. This is not the well-known cri­sis that we’ve induced upon the earth’s cli­mate, but one that is just as threat­en­ing to our future. This is a cri­sis of our minds. A cog­ni­tion cri­sis Read the rest of this entry »

To thrive in tomorrow’s economy, workers need to boost lifelong cognitive abilities

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The Cog­ni­tive Lim­its of Life­long Learn­ing (Project Syn­di­cate):

As new tech­nolo­gies con­tin­ue to upend indus­tries and take over tasks once per­formed by humans, work­ers world­wide fear for their futures. But what will real­ly pre­vent humans from com­pet­ing effec­tive­ly in the labor mar­ket is not the robots them­selves, but rather our own minds, with all their psy­cho­log­i­cal bias­es and cog­ni­tive lim­i­ta­tions Read the rest of this entry »

Meta-analysis finds sustained benefits of neurofeedback for kids with ADHD

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In neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD, indi­vid­u­als learn to alter their typ­i­cal pat­tern of brain­wave activ­i­ty, i.e., EEG activ­i­ty, to one that is con­sis­tent with a focused and atten­tive state.

This is done by col­lect­ing EEG data from indi­vid­u­als as they focus on stim­uli pre­sent­ed on a com­put­er screen. Their abil­i­ty to con­trol the stim­uli, e.g., keep­ing the smile on a smi­ley face keep­ing a video play­ing, depends on their main­tain­ing an EEG state that reflects focused atten­tion.

Over time, most indi­vid­u­als bet­ter at this. Sup­port­ers of neu­ro­feed­back argue that learn­ing to alter EEG activ­i­ty and focus bet­ter dur­ing train­ing even­tu­al­ly gen­er­al­izes to real-world tasks that require strong atten­tion skills, e.g., read­ing, home­work, etc.

Although many experts remain skep­ti­cal of this approach, despite numer­ous sup­port­ive stud­ies, a recent­ly pub­lished meta-analy­sis of neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment pro­vides impor­tant new sup­port. Read the rest of this entry »

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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