Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Resources for Brain Health Across the Lifespan

As promised in my pre­vi­ous post on Neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis and Brain Plas­tic­i­ty in Adult Brains, I will now list some inter­views, video, arti­cles, and books that go hand-in-hand with these brain booksfas­ci­nat­ing top­ics we are dis­cussing. Please com­ment below if you have favorite addi­tion­al resources!

NEUROGENESIS

MIT news – Picow­er researcher finds neu­ron growth in adult brain

Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science brain brief – Adult Neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis

BRAIN PLASTICITY

Neu­ro­science for Kids – Brain Plas­tic­i­ty: What Is It?

Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science brain brief – Brain Plas­tic­i­ty, Lan­guage Pro­cess­ing and Read­ing

Brain Sci­ence Pod­cast – Gin­ger Camp­bell inter­view with Nor­man Doidge, MD, Read the rest of this entry »

Exercising the body is exercising the mind

I apol­o­gize for the long delay in get­ting back to this col­umn but I have a good excuse. We just recent­ly had a baby, and boy, that takes care right there of the phys­i­cal exer­cise need. Between car­ry­ing the baby upstairs and down­stairs, run­ning to get the baby, get­ting out of the bed and pick­ing the baby up and putting the baby down a cou­ple of times a night no you need not wor­ry about get­ting your dai­ly exer­cise dose in…Now, the major­i­ty of the answers to my post on the brain virtues of phys­i­cal exer­cise sug­gests that most peo­ple think that the brain ben­e­fits of phys­i­cal exer­cise are most­ly to be under­stood as com­ple­men­tary effects of a healthy life style.

Is this cor­rect? In my post today I will attempt to answer this ques­tion.

First, while gen­er­al­ly health­i­er peo­ple seem to have health­i­er brains, the phys­i­cal exer­cise effect on the brain seems to be inde­pen­dent of oth­er things. One of the most impor­tant devel­op­ment in neu­ro­science was when the offi­cial dog­ma claim­ing that there was no neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis (pro­duc­tion of new brain cells) in the adult brain was top­pled. Now we know that the brain is “plas­tic” mean­ing that, under the right cir­cum­stances, the brain can change Read the rest of this entry »

Neurogenesis and Brain Plasticity in Adult Brains

Back in July, I wrote a post enti­tled 10 Brain Tips To Teach and Learn. Those tips apply to stu­dents of any age, includ­ing adults, for ide­al­ly adults are still learn­ers. Why is adult learn­ing rel­e­vant in a brain-focused blog, you may won­der:

The short of it

As we age, our brain:

still forms new brain cells
can change its struc­ture & func­tion
finds pos­i­tive stress can be ben­e­fi­cial; neg­a­tive stress can be detri­men­tal
can thrive on nov­el chal­lenges
needs to be exer­cised, just like our bod­ies

The long of it

Adults may have a ten­den­cy to get set in their ways have been doing it this way for a long time and it works, so why change? Turns out, though, that change can be a way to keep aging brains healthy. At the April Learn­ing & the Brain con­fer­ence, the theme of which was neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty, I attend­ed sev­er­al ses­sions on adult learn­ing. Here’s what the experts are say­ing.

Read the rest of this entry »

New Neurons: Good News, Bad News

Over the last year we have glad­ly seen an avalanche of news on adult neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis (the cre­ation of new neu­rons in adult brains), fol­low­ing recent research reports. Fur­ther, we have seen how the news that phys­i­cal exer­cise can enhance neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis is becom­ing com­mon knowl­edge among many health sys­tems we work with.

Now, the obvi­ous ques­tion that doesn’t always get asked is, “What good are new neu­rons if they don’t sur­vive?”. And that’s where learn­ing, enrich­ment, men­tal exer­cise, are crit­i­cal.

We are glad to intro­duce a new Expert Con­trib­u­tor, Dr. Bill Klemm, a pro­fes­sor of Neu­ro­science at Texas A&M Uni­ver­si­ty, who sum­ma­rizes much research on how new neu­rons are born-and what they need to live long hap­py lives.

- Alvaro

New Neu­rons: Good News, Bad News

– By Dr. Bill Klemm

In the last few years, researchers have dis­cov­ered that new nerve cells (neu­rons) are born, pre­sum­ably from resid­ual stem cells that exist even in adults. That should be good news for all of us as we get old­er and fear men­tal decline. The bad news is that these new neu­rons die, unless our minds are active enough.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mental Training for Gratitude and Altruism

Bran­don Keim writes a nice post on The Future Sci­ence of Altru­ism at Wired Sci­ence Blog, based on an inter­view with Jor­dan Graf­man, chief of cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science at the Nation­al Insti­tute of Neu­ro­log­i­cal Dis­or­ders and Stroke.

Bran­don pro­vides good con­text say­ing that “Sci­en­tists, said Graf­man, are under­stand­ing how our brains are shaped by cul­ture and envi­ron­ment, and a mech­a­nism of these changes may involve fluc­tu­a­tion in our genes them­selves, which we’re only begin­ning to under­stand”. (more on this in our post Richard Dawkins and Alfred Nobel: beyond nature and nur­ture).

And gives us some very nice quotes from Dr. Graf­man, includ­ing

  • One of the ways we dif­fer­en­ti­ate our­selves from oth­er species is that we have a sense of future. We don’t have to have imme­di­ate grat­i­fi­ca­tion.… But how far can we go into the future? How much of our brain is aimed at doing that? […]”
  • Oth­er great apes have a frontal lobe, fair­ly well devel­oped, but not near­ly as well devel­oped as our own. If you believe in Dar­win and evo­lu­tion, you argue that the area grew, and the neur­al archi­tec­ture had to change in some way to accom­mo­date the abil­i­ties asso­ci­at­ed with that behav­ior. There’s no doubt that didn’t occur overnight; prob­a­bly a slow change, and it was one of the last areas of the brain to devel­op as well. It’s very recent evo­lu­tion­ary devel­op­ment that humans took full advan­tage of. What in the future? What in the brains can change?”
  • The issue becomes — do we teach this? Train peo­ple to do this? Chil­dren tend to be self­ish, and have to be taught to share.”

The UC Berke­ley mag­a­zine Greater Good tries to answer that ques­tion with a series of arti­cles on Grat­i­tude. I espe­cial­ly enjoyed A Les­son in Thanks, described as Read the rest of this entry »

Access all Recordings Now

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

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.

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.