Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Neuroimaging study finds extensive brain rewiring–in just six months–among illiterate adults learning to read and write

Learn­ing to read and write rewires adult brain in six months (New Sci­en­tist):

Learn­ing to read can have pro­found effects on the wiring of the adult brain – even in regions that aren’t usu­al­ly asso­ci­at­ed with read­ing and writ­ing.

That’s what Michael Skei­de of the Max Planck Insti­tute for Human Cog­ni­tive and Brain Sci­ences in Leipzig, Ger­many, and his col­leagues found when they taught a group of illit­er­ate adults in rur­al India to read and write Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Combining aerobic and mental training can significantly improve mental and cognitive health

mental_physical_training(Editor’s Note: Hat tip to co-author Tj Shors for bring­ing this fas­ci­nat­ing new study to our atten­tion)

It is wide­ly accept­ed that aer­o­bic exer­cise and med­i­ta­tion train­ing are use­ful behav­ioral ther­a­pies for reme­di­at­ing clin­i­cal symp­toms of depres­sion. How­ev­er, no study to date has assessed the com­bined effects of the two behav­ioral inter­ven­tions. Here, we present data indi­cat­ing that Read the rest of this entry »

New Brain Health Series: The Child, Adolescent, Adult and Aging Brain

Peo­ple of all ages read SharpBrains.com, so we are prepar­ing a series of arti­cles on Brain Health across the Lifes­pan.

The series will include 4 parts:

  • The Child Brain, pub­lished in Novem­ber 2010
  • The Ado­les­cent Brain, in Decem­ber 2010
  • The Adult Brain, in Jan­u­ary 2011
  • The Aging Brain, in Feb­ru­ary 2011
  • Each part will :

    • Include sur­pris­ing facts on how the brain works
    • Debunk com­mons myths about cog­ni­tion and brain health
    • Link to resources such as books and doc­u­men­taries.

    If you want to read these arti­cles as we pub­lish them via SharpBrains.com, you can either fol­low us in Face­book and Twit­ter or, if you have not done so already, sub­scribe to our month­ly update (eNewslet­ter).

    Tell your friends and col­leagues about the series!

    Update: Let’s move, slow down, innovate, think and play

    You have heard that phys­i­cal exer­cise is good for the brain. How much exer­cise are we talk­ing about? Can the ben­e­fits be seen both for chil­dren and adults? In Fit­ter bod­ies = fit­ter brains. True at all ages? Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon answers these ques­tions for you, based on lat­est sci­en­tif­ic stud­ies.

    We need fun ways to get out the couch more and exer­cise both phys­i­cal­ly and cog­ni­tive­ly. What about set­ting up com­mu­ni­ty-based adult play­grounds, such as this one in Bei­jing?

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    New Brain Health Series

    Peo­ple of all ages read SharpBrains.com and this month­ly update, so we are prepar­ing a series of arti­cles on Brain Health across the Lifes­pan. The series will include 4 parts:

  • The Child Brain, pub­lished in Novem­ber 2010
  • The Ado­les­cent Brain, in Decem­ber 2010
  • The Adult Brain, in Jan­u­ary 2011
  • The Aging Brain, in Feb­ru­ary 2011
  • Each part will include sur­pris­ing facts on how the brain works, debunk com­mons myths about cog­ni­tion and brain health, and link to resources such as books and doc­u­men­taries. If you want to read these arti­cles as we pub­lish them via SharpBrains.com, you can fol­low us in Face­book and Twit­ter. Tell your friends and col­leagues about the series!

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    Let’s Move

    Walk­ing increas­es Brain Vol­ume: A recent neu­ro-imag­ing study shows that walk­ing reg­u­larly can increase brain vol­ume and reduce the risks of devel­op­ing cog­ni­tive impair­ment.

    Move to anoth­er Coun­try, to anoth­er Occu­pa­tion: A cou­ple recent stud­ies rein­force the Cog­ni­tive Reserve frame­work that sug­gests we can pro­tect our brains by speak­ing more than one lan­guage and by not retir­ing ear­ly.

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    Let’s Slow Down

    Take that Nap — It May Boost Your Learn­ing Capac­i­ty: Scott Bar­ry Kauf­man tells us why sleep is good for the brain. It turns out that sleep is tied to a bet­ter immune sys­tem, meta­bolic con­trol, mem­ory, learn­ing, cre­ativ­i­ty and emo­tional func­tion­ing.

    Boost your Atten­tion with Med­i­ta­tion: Anoth­er way to slow down is to med­i­tate. Through sum­maries of stud­ies and an inter­view with Dr. New­berg, we dis­cuss how med­i­ta­tion can improve your con­cen­tra­tion skills.

    Train your Brain to Focus on Pos­i­tive Expe­ri­ences: In this arti­cle by the Greater Good Mag­a­zine, Rick Han­son explains the “neg­a­tiv­i­ty bias” of the brain and what steps we can take to rewire our brains for last­ing hap­pi­ness.

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    Let’s Innovate

    If much health care is actu­al­ly evi­dence-free, what type of evi­dence and tools do we need to make real-world progress?: build­ing on a recent OpEd by Peter Orszag, Alvaro Fer­nan­dez asks us to assess the val­ue and lim­i­ta­tions of inno­v­a­tive brain health tools based on how they seem to per­form com­pared to exist­ing alter­na­tives- not com­pared to Pla­ton­ic research ideals. This basic con­cept serves as the foun­da­tion of the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion.

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    Let’s Think

    Cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion helps Alzheimer’s patients: Anoth­er sci­en­tif­ic review shows that pro­grams focus­ing on glob­al cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease by 5 years. The authors con­clude that efforts to devel­op and imple­ment cog­ni­tive-based inter­ven­tion for the treat­ment of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease must be pur­sued.

    The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: In his new book, Dr. Gary Small describes how the onset of brain health prob­lems may resem­ble a brain fog, mak­ing the role of the physi­cian and the care­giv­er par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant.

    Have you read The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg?: if so, please take 5 min­utes to answer this brief sur­vey. Your feed­back will ensure that future edi­tions are even more rel­e­vant and valu­able. If you haven’t read it yet, you can learn more and order here.

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    Let’s Play: Top 10 Illusions

    Are you ready to expe­ri­ence our selec­tion of Visu­al Illu­sions? See if you can trust your brain…enjoy these Top 10 Visu­al Illu­sions..

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    Brain Fitness Update: Best of 2008

    Dear read­er and mem­ber of Sharp­Brains’ com­mu­ni­ty,
    We want to thank you for your atten­tion and sup­port in 2008, and wish you a Hap­py, brain fitness and health newsletterPros­per­ous, Healthy and Pos­i­tive 2009!

    Below you have the Decem­ber edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter. Enjoy:

    Best of 2008

    Announc­ing the Sharp­Brains Most Impor­tant Book of 2008: Neu­ro­sci­en­tist Torkel Kling­berg has writ­ten a very stim­u­lat­ing and acces­si­ble book on a cru­cial top­ic for our Infor­ma­tion Age: The Over­flow­ing Brain: Infor­ma­tion Over­load and the Lim­its of Work­ing Mem­o­ry. We have named it The Sharp­Brains Most Impor­tant Book of 2008, and asked Dr. Kling­berg to write a brief arti­cle to intro­duce his research and book to you. Enjoy it here.

    Top 30 Brain Fit­ness Arti­cles of 2008: We have com­piled Sharp­Brains’ 30 most pop­u­lar arti­cles, writ­ten by thir­teen Expert Con­trib­u­tors and staff mem­bers for you. Have you read them all?

    Novem­ber-Decem­ber News: No month goes by with­out sig­nif­i­cant news in the field of cog­ni­tive fit­ness. Sum­ma­rized here are 10 recent devel­op­ments wor­thy of atten­tion, includ­ing an upcom­ing brain train­ing prod­uct for ice hock­ey play­ers, my lec­ture at New York Pub­lic Library, and more.

    Inter­views: Videogames, Med­i­ta­tion

    Are videogames good for your brain?: A land­mark study by Dr. Arthur Kramer and col­leagues has shown that play­ing a strat­e­gy videogame can bring a vari­ety of sig­nif­i­cant men­tal ben­e­fits to old­er brains. Anoth­er recent study, also by Kramer and col­leagues, does not show sim­i­lar ben­e­fits to younger brains (despite play­ing the same game). How can this be? Dr. Kramer, who has kind­ly agreed to serve on Sharp­Brains’ Sci­en­tif­ic Advi­so­ry Board, elab­o­rates.

    Med­i­ta­tion on the Brain: Dr. Andrew New­berg pro­vides an excel­lent overview of the brain ben­e­fits of prac­tices such as med­i­ta­tion. He rec­om­mends, “look for some­thing sim­ple, easy to try first, ensur­ing the prac­tice is com­pat­i­ble with one’s beliefs and goals. You need to match prac­tice with need: under­stand the spe­cif­ic goals you have in mind, your sched­ule and lifestyle, and find some­thing prac­ti­cal.”

    The Need for Objec­tive Assess­ments

    Cog­ni­tive screen­ings and Alzheimer’s Dis­ease: The Alzheimer’s Foun­da­tion of Amer­i­ca just released a thought­ful report advo­cat­ing for wide­spread cog­ni­tive screen­ings after the age of 65 (55 giv­en the right con­di­tions). Sharp­Brains read­ers, probed by Dr. Joshua Stein­er­man, seem to agree.

    Quan­ti­ta­tive EEG for ADHD diag­no­sis: Dr. David Rabin­er reports on the find­ings from a recent study that doc­u­ments the util­i­ty of Quan­ti­ta­tive EEG as an objec­tive test to assist in the diag­no­sis of ADHD. If this pro­ce­dure were to become more wide­ly used, he sug­gests, the num­ber of chil­dren and ado­les­cents who are inap­pro­pri­ate­ly diag­nosed and treat­ed for the dis­or­der would dimin­ish sub­stan­tial­ly.

    Shall we ques­tion the brand new book of human trou­bles?: The fights over the new ver­sion of the psy­chi­atric diag­nos­tic man­u­al, the DSM-V, are start­ing to come to light. Dr. Vaugh­an Bell won­ders why the pub­lic debate avoids the key ques­tion of whether diag­no­sis itself is use­ful for men­tal health and why psy­cho­met­rics are sim­ply ignored.

    Resources for Life­long Learn­ing

    Edu­ca­tion builds Cog­ni­tive Reserve for Alzheimers Dis­ease Pro­tec­tion: Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon reviews a recent study that sup­ports the Cog­ni­tive Reserve hypoth­e­sis — men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ing expe­ri­ences through­out life, such as for­mal edu­ca­tion, help build a reserve in our brains that con­tributes to a low­er prob­a­bil­i­ty of devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s symp­toms.

    5 Tips on Life­long Learn­ing & the Adult Brain: Lau­rie Bar­tels asks us to please please 1) chal­lenge our­selves with new learn­ing, 2) remem­ber that neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis are hall­marks of our brains, 3) check for mis-learn­ing on an ongo­ing basis, 4) more visu­als, less text, 5) move it, move it — start today!

    Neu­ro­science Core Con­cepts: We all have heard “Use It or Lose It”. Now, what is “It”? The Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science (SfN) has just released a user-friend­ly pub­li­ca­tion titled Neu­ro­science Core Con­cepts, aimed at help­ing edu­ca­tors and the gen­er­al pub­lic learn more about the brain.

    All Slidedecks & Recordings Available — click image below

    Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

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