Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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1. Brain Fitness Fundamentals

High­lights from Sec­tion 1. Brain Fit­ness Fun­da­men­tals

  • The brain is com­posed of a num­ber of spe­cial­ized regions serv­ing dis­tinct func­tions.
  • Our life and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty depend on a vari­ety of brain func­tions, not just one.
  • There is noth­ing inher­ent­ly fixed in the tra­jec­to­ry of how brain func­tions evolve as we age.

In order to make informed deci­sions about brain health and brain train­ing, you need to first under­stand the under­ly­ing orga­ni­za­tion of the human brain and how it evolves across our lives.

a

Brain structures: all you need to know

The dom­i­nant struc­ture of the human brain is called the cere­brum, which con­sists of the grey, curly cor­tex. The cere­brum is divid­ed into two hemi­spheres (right and left), each con­sist­ing of four lobes, and con­trols high­er men­tal func­tions. As you can see in Fig­ure 1, the four lobes of the brain are the occip­i­tal, tem­po­ral, pari­etal and frontal lobes. Keep read­ing.

b

Brain functions: perception, attention, memory, and more

You have prob­a­bly heard about cog­ni­tive func­tion or cog­ni­tion. What is cog­ni­tion? Cog­ni­tion has to do with how a per­son under­stands and acts in the world. It is a set of process­es that are part of near­ly every human action. Cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties are the brain-based skills we need to car­ry out any task – from the sim­plest to the most com­plex. They have more to do with the mech­a­nisms of how we learn, remem­ber, prob­lem-solve, and pay atten­tion rather than with any actu­al knowl­edge. Any task can be bro­ken down into the dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive skills or func­tions need­ed to com­plete that task suc­cess­ful­ly. Keep read­ing.

j

The aging brain: cognitive improvement and decline

As we age, our whole body changes. The same is true for the brain. The most com­mon struc­tur­al change is brain atro­phy as neu­rons, and most­ly con­nec­tions between neu­rons, die. In terms of func­tion­al changes, age-relat­ed cog­ni­tive decline typ­i­cal­ly starts at about forty when the brain pro­cess­ing speed slows down. Keep read­ing.

d

Neuroplasticity: the potential for brain development

In the past decade there has been a fun­da­men­tal change in our under­stand­ing of human brain capac­i­ty. New research from sci­en­tists at the Salk Insti­tute, the Karolin­s­ka Insti­tute, Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty and else­where has giv­en a renewed, pos­i­tive view of the human brain and its poten­tial for change and devel­op­ment through­out life. Keep read­ing.

e

Lifelong learning: why it is neuroprotective

Learn­ing is the phys­i­cal process of chang­ing our brains. Today we know this is pos­si­ble at all ages, bring­ing the con­cept and prac­tice of life­long learn­ing to the fore­front. Keep read­ing.

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What is brain fitness: improving cognitive abilities

Brain fit­ness is our brain’s abil­i­ty to read­i­ly cre­ate addi­tion­al con­nec­tions between neu­rons, and even to pro­mote new neu­rons in cer­tain parts of the brain. Research in neu­ropsy­chol­o­gy and neu­ro­science shows that vig­or­ous men­tal activ­i­ty
can lead to good brain fit­ness, which in turn, trans­lates into a sharp­er mem­o­ry, faster pro­cess­ing of infor­ma­tion, bet­ter atten­tion, and oth­er improved cog­ni­tive skills. Keep read­ing.

Keep learn­ing by read­ing more arti­cles in the Resources sec­tion, and also please con­sid­er join­ing our free month­ly Brain Fit­ness eNewslet­ter

This new online resource is based on the con­tent from the book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (May 2009, $19.95), by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg.

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About SharpBrains

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