Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain & Health Interview Series

Since 2006, as part of the research sup­port­ing The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness and Sharp­Brains’ mar­ket reports, we have inter­viewed dozens of lead­ing-edge sci­en­tists and experts. Below are some of our favorite inter­views and quotes:

“…putting good evi­dence to work in prac­tice requires more than pub­lish­ing good research. I’d say that sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence is direct­ly rel­e­vant to per­haps 15% of clin­i­cal deci­sions…we require tech­nolo­gies that trans­late emer­gent knowl­edge into prac­tice.” — Dr. John Docher­ty, Adjunct Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try at Weill Med­ical Col­lege, and for­mer Branch Chief at NIMH.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“We should be think­ing about the brain through its whole life­time…We need to break the silos, to aggre­gate knowl­edge, to help advance our knowl­edge of the brain 50 years in 5 years.” — Patrick Dono­hue, founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Project.
Full Inter­view Notes.
My dream in all of this is to have stan­dard­ized and cred­i­ble tools to train the 5–6 main neu­rocog­ni­tive domains for cog­ni tive health and per­for­mance through life, cou­pled with the right assess­ments to iden­ti­fy one’s indi­vid ual needs and mea sure progress” — Dr. Michael Merzenich, Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor at UCSF, and pio­neer in brain plas­tic­i­ty research.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“We have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI cen­tu­ry, sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with Car­diovascular Health in the XX, and tech­nol­o­gy will play a cru­cial role.” — Dr. William E. Reich­man, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Bay­crest.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Growth only real­ly comes at the point of resis­tance, but that is the moment that we tend to stop. Because it hurts…pushing our lim­its is a mus­cle that can be cul­ti­vat­ed like any other–incrementally” — Joshua Wait­zkin, chess cham­pi­on and author of The Art of Learn­ing.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“The cor­re­la­tion between iden­ti­cal twins reared apart gives an over­es­ti­mate of her­i­tabil­i­ty because the envi­ron­ments of iden tical twins reared apart are often high­ly sim­i­lar. But the main con­tra­dic­tion of her­i­tabil­i­ty esti­mates lies in the fact that adop­tion pro­duces a huge effect on IQ” -Dr. Richard Nis­bett, Pro­fes­sor at Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan and author of Intel­li­gence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cul­tures Count.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Michael Posner “Let me add that we have found no ceil­ing for abil­i­ties such as atten­tion, includ­ing among adults. The more train­ing, even with nor­mal peo­ple, the high­er the results.” — Dr. Michael Pos­ner, promi­nent cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tist, Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ore­gon, and first recip­i­ent of the Dogan Prize.
Full Inter­view Notes.
In an Instant - Bob and Lee Woodruff “There is much more opti­mism and hope today than only a few years ago about how many trau­mat­ic brain injury patients can improve, if giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to, through a sup­port­ive envi­ron­ment and phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive ther­a­py.” — Lee Woodruff, co-author of In An Instant with hus­band, reporter and TBI sur­vivor Bob Woodruff.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Art Kramer “Ide­al­ly, com­bine both phys­i­cal and men­tal stim­u­la­tion along with social inter­ac­tions. Why not take a good walk with friends to dis­cuss a book? We lead very busy lives, so the more inte­grat­ed and inter­est­ing activ­i­ties are, the more like­ly we will do them.” — Dr. Arthur Kramer, Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­o­gy and Direc­tor of the Bio­med­ical Imag­ing Cen­ter at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Martin Buschkuehl “(What sur­prised us the most was) the clear trans­fer into flu­id intel­li­gence, which many researchers and psy­chol­o­gists take as fixed. Sec­ond, I was sur­prised to see that the more train­ing the bet­ter the out­come. The improve­ments did not seem to peak ear­ly. Third, that all trained groups improved, no mat­ter their respec­tive start­ing points”. — Dr. Mar­tin Buschkuehl, Researcher at Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Robert Sylwester
“Par­ent­ing, men­tor­ing, teach­ing, and mass media are exam­ples of the cul­tur­al sys­tems that humans have devel­oped to help young peo­ple mas­ter the knowl­edge and skills they need to sur­vive and thrive in com­plex envi­ron­ments.” — Dr. Robert Syl­west­er, author of The Ado­les­cent Brain: Reach­ing for Auton­o­my and Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor of Edu­ca­tion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ore­gon
Full Inter­view Notes.
“I would say that a cross­word puz­zle is not a form of cog­ni­tive train­ing. It can be stim­u­lat­ing, but it is not a form of struc­tured men­tal exer­cise that has been shown to improve spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive skills.” — Dr. Jer­ri Edwards, Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor at Uni­ver­si­ty of South Florida’s School of Aging Stud­ies and Co-Inves­ti­ga­tor of the influ­en­tial ACTIVE study.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Eric Jensen Learning and the Brain
“It seems clear that there are impor­tant skills that can be trained, that make for a bet­ter and more suc­cess­ful human being — such as the abil­i­ty to defer grat­i­fi­ca­tion, sequenc­ing, emo­tion­al intel­li­gence, improved work­ing mem­o­ry, vocab­u­lary, and pro­cess­ing skills. How­ev­er, the type of assess­ments used today to mea­sure schools’ per­for­mance don’t focus on these.” -Eric Jensen, founder of Learn­ing Brain Expo.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Judith Beck
“Today, thanks to fMRI and oth­er neu­roimag­ing tech­niques, we are start­ing to under­stand the impact our actions can have on spe­cif­ic parts of the brain.”- Dr. Judith S. Beck, Direc­tor of the Beck Insti­tute for Cog­ni­tive Ther­a­py and Research, and author of The Beck Diet Solu­tion: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Per­son.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Yaakov Stern
“Indi­vid­u­als who lead men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ing lives, through edu­ca­tion, occu­pa­tion and leisure activ­i­ties, have reduced risk of devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s symp­toms. Stud­ies sug­gest that they have 35–40% less risk of man­i­fest­ing the dis­ease”- Dr. Yaakov Stern, Divi­sion Leader of the Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science Divi­sion of the Sergievsky Cen­ter at the Col­lege of Physi­cians and Sur­geons of Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, New York.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Bradley S. Gibson, Ph.D.
Train­ing is very impor­tant: atten­tion­al con­trol is one of the last cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties to devel­op in nor­mal brain development…I can eas­i­ly see the rel­e­vance in 2 fields. One, pro­fes­sion­al sports. Two, mil­i­tary train­ing.” Pro­fes­sor Bradley Gib­son is the Direc­tor of the Per­cep­tion and Atten­tion Lab at Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Robert Emmons Thanks
“The prac­tice of grat­i­tude can increase hap­pi­ness lev­els by around 25%, and this is not hard to achieve — a few hours writ­ing a grat­i­tude jour­nal over 3 weeks can cre­ate an effect that lasts 6 months if not more.” — Pro­fes­sor Robert Emmons, Edi­tor-In-Chief of the Jour­nal of Pos­i­tive Psy­chol­o­gy and Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­o­gy at UC Davis.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Arthur Lavin
I don’t see that schools are apply­ing the best knowl­edge of how minds work. Schools should be the best place for applied neu­ro­science, tak­ing the lat­est advances in cog­ni­tive research and apply­ing it to the job of edu­cat­ing minds.” — Dr. Arthur Lavin, Asso­ciate Clin­i­cal Pro­fes­sor of Pedi­atrics at Case West­ern School of Med­i­cine, pedi­a­tri­cian in pri­vate prac­tice.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Elizabeth Zelinski IMPACT “What was very sur­pris­ing was that there was also a clear ben­e­fit in audi­to­ry mem­o­ry, which wasn’t direct­ly trained. In oth­er words, peo­ple who were 75-years-old per­formed audi­to­ry mem­o­ry tasks as well as aver­age 65-year-olds, so we can say they reversed 10 years of aging for that cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty.” — Dr. Liz Zelin­s­ki, Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Andrus Geron­tol­ogy Cen­ter.
Full Inter­view Notes.
James Zull
“Learn­ing is phys­i­cal. Learn­ing means the mod­i­fi­ca­tion, growth, and prun­ing of our neu­rons, connections–called synaps­es– and neu­ronal net­works, through experience…When we do so, we are cul­ti­vat­ing our own neu­ronal net­works. We become our own gar­den­ers”- Dr. James Zull, Pro­fes­sor of Biol­o­gy and Bio­chem­istry at Case West­ern Uni­ver­si­ty.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg
“Exer­cis­ing our brains sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly is as impor­tant as exer­cis­ing our bod­ies. In my expe­ri­ence, “Use it or lose it” should real­ly be “Use it and get more of it”.- Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg, neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist, clin­i­cal pro­fes­sor of neu­rol­o­gy at New York Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine, and dis­ci­ple of the great neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist Alexan­der Luria.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Picture of Daniel Gopher
“What research has shown is that cog­ni­tion, or what we call think­ing and per­for­mance, is real­ly a set of skills that we can train sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly. And that com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive train­ers or “cog­ni­tive sim­u­la­tions” are the most effec­tive and effi­cient way to do so.” — Dr. Daniel Gopher, Direc­tor of the Research Cen­ter for Work Safe­ty and Human Engi­neer­ing at Tech­nion Insti­tute of Sci­ence.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Go Hirano
“It is hard­ly deni­able that brains enchant Japan­ese peo­ple. We love brain train­ing. Dentsu, the biggest adver­tis­ing agency, announced the No.1 Con­sumer-cho­sen 2006 Prod­uct was game soft­ware and books for brain train­ing.”- Go Hira­no, Japan­ese exec­u­tive, founder of NeuWell.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Picture of Brett Steenbarger
“Elite per­form­ers are dis­tin­guished by the struc­tur­ing of their learn­ing process… It is impor­tant to under­stand the role of emo­tions: they are not “bad”. They are very use­ful sig­nals. It is impor­tant to become aware of them to avoid being engulfed by them, and learn how to man­age them.” — Dr. Brett Steen­barg­er, Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try and Behav­ioral Sci­ences, SUNY Med­ical Uni­ver­si­ty, and author of Enhanc­ing Trad­er Per­for­mance.
Full Inter­view Notes.
torkel_s.jpg
“We have shown that work­ing mem­o­ry can be improved by train­ing…I think that we are see­ing the begin­ning of a new era of com­put­er­ized train­ing for a wide range of appli­ca­tions” – Dr. Torkel Kling­berg, Direc­tor of the Devel­op­men­tal Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science Lab at Karolin­s­ka Insti­tute.
Full Inter­view Notes.
David Rabiner “Cog­ni­tive train­ing rests on sol­id premis­es, and some pro­grams already have very promis­ing research results. Some of the most are promis­ing areas are: neu­ro­feed­back, which as a whole is start­ing to present good research results, and work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing.” — Pro­fes­sor David Rabin­er, Senior Research Sci­en­tist and the Direc­tor of Psy­chol­o­gy and Neu­ro­science Under­grad­u­ate Stud­ies at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty.
Full Inter­view Notes.

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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 tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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