Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Study: Some “brain-boosting” supplements sold in the US contain not-approved drugs at supratherapeutic doses, exposing users to unknown side effects

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Some brain-boost­ing sup­ple­ments con­tain an unap­proved drug that could harm users, study warns (STAT news):

Promis­ing to lift brain fog or improve mem­o­ry, brain-boost­ing sup­ple­ments have joined sex­u­al-enhance­ment and weight-loss reme­dies in the light­ly reg­u­lat­ed world of dietary sup­ple­ments. These prod­ucts may be sold legal­ly with broad-brush come-ons like these, as long as they don’t make spe­cif­ic claims about treat­ing a dis­ease — or con­tain actu­al drugs.

New research led by Dr. Pieter Cohen of Har­vard Med­ical School doc­u­ments five sup­ple­ment brands for sale in the U.S. that con­tain var­i­ous amounts of pirac­etam Read the rest of this entry »

Study finds lifelong neurogenesis in the hippocampus, but rates decline with age and, especially, Alzheimer’s disease

Recent, imma­ture neu­rons (in red) and old­er, mature neu­rons (in blue) in the hip­pocam­pus of a 68-year-old’s brain. Cred­it: CSIC

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Old brains still make neu­rons, study finds, offer­ing a pos­si­ble way to pro­tect against Alzheimer’s (STAT):

Reports of old brains’ decrepi­tude have been great­ly exag­ger­at­ed, sci­en­tists report­ed on Mon­day, unveil­ing results that con­tra­dict a much-dis­cussed 2018 study and instead sup­port the idea that human gray mat­ter is capa­ble of gen­er­at­ing new neu­rons up to the ninth decade of life.

The research, pub­lished in Nature Med­i­cine, also found that old brains from peo­ple with­out demen­tia have much high­er rates of such neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis than Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Cognitive deficits continue long term in cancer survivors in domains important for social and executive functioning

elderly_senior_memory_loss_confusionCog­ni­tive Deficits Con­tin­ue Long Term in Can­cer Sur­vivors (Med­scape):

Although can­cer patients fre­quent­ly expe­ri­ence short-term cog­ni­tive deficits, lit­tle is known about how long these deficits last or whether they wors­en over time. Now, data from a large nation­al sam­ple sug­gest that cog­ni­tive deficits may per­sist long term. Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Videogames or Meditation?; Internship Program @ SharpBrains

First of all, an announce­ment. We are start­ing a Vir­tu­al Intern­ship Pro­gram @ Sharp­Brains, allow­ing full-time under­grad and grad stu­dents and post­docs to lead 100-hour projects joint­ly defined by them­selves and by Sharp­Brains. Inter­est­ed can­di­dates should Con­tact Us indi­cat­ing a) a pre­lim­i­nary project pro­pos­al (200 words or less), and b) brief bio and qual­i­fi­ca­tions (200 words or less). Intern­ships don’t require trav­el and will be paid in-kind, with access to Sharp­Brains reports and con­fer­ence record­ings. Sharp­Brains will select a lim­it­ed num­ber of Interns based on fit between can­di­dates’ pro­pos­al and bio and Sharp­Brains mis­sion and activ­i­ties.

Let’s now explore the lat­est edi­tion of the month­ly Sharp­Brains eNewslet­ter, start­ing with a com­pre­hen­sive per­spec­tive on the edu­ca­tion­al val­ue and lim­i­ta­tions of videogames, writ­ten by Mar­shall Wein­stein, a senior at Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity who will be a Sharp­Brains Intern dur­ing the Fall.

Tran­scen­den­tal Med­i­ta­tion and Work­ing Mem­o­ry Train­ing To Enhance Exec­u­tive Func­tions: Two very inter­est­ing new research studies…but please don’t miss the thought-pro­vok­ing com­ments by read­er Jay Kay.

Unlock­ing Dyslex­ia in Japan­ese: New clues emerge based on the obser­va­tion that some dyslex­ics have an eas­ier time with visu­al lan­guages like Japan­ese and Chi­nese.

Does ADHD med­ica­tion treat­ment in child­hood increase adult employ­ment?: A very insight­ful com­men­tary by Dr. David Rabin­er.

Boomers’ Abil­i­ty to Make Finan­cial Deci­sions Often Declines With Age: A new report by Cana­di­an bank BMO illus­trates the need for inno­v­a­tive brain fit­ness inter­ven­tions focused on main­tain­ing tar­geted cog­ni­tive func­tion­al­ity. What the report presents as inex­orable decline, it is not.

Alzheimer’s Dis­ease Aware­ness, Test­ing and Pre­ven­tion:  New data rein­forc­e the need to pay­ seri­ous atten­tion to lifestyle-based and non-inva­sive cog­ni­tive and emo­tional health inter­ven­tions, and the need to per­son­al­ize inter­ven­tions.

Think­ing glob­al­ly to improve men­tal health: The Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health and the Glob­al Alliance for Chron­ic Dis­eases announce a Grand Chal­lenges in Glob­al Men­tal Health Ini­tia­tive. We will keep you post­ed on this.

Have a great month of August and, as always, feel free to share this enewslet­ter with friends and col­leagues… and with poten­tial can­di­dates for the new Vir­tu­al Intern­ship Pro­gram @ Sharp­Brains!

Gardening your hippocampus with Physical and Mental Exercise

Phys­i­cal Fit­ness Improves Spa­tial Mem­o­ry, Increas­es Size Of Brain Struc­ture (Sci­ence Dai­ly)

- “Now researchers have found that elder­ly adults who are more phys­i­cal­ly fit tend to have big­ger hip­pocampi and bet­ter spa­tial mem­o­ry than those who are less fit.”

- “Cer­tain activ­i­ties are believed to mod­i­fy hip­pocam­pus size in humans. For exam­ple, a study of Lon­don taxi dri­vers found that the pos­te­ri­or por­tion of the hip­pocam­pus was larg­er in expe­ri­enced taxi dri­vers than in oth­er sub­jects. And a study of Ger­man med­ical stu­dents found that the same region of the hip­pocam­pus increased in size as they stud­ied for their final exams.”

- “Stud­ies also have found that the hip­pocam­pus shrinks with age, a process that coin­cides with small but sig­nif­i­cant cog­ni­tive declines. The rate at which this occurs, how­ev­er, dif­fers among indi­vid­u­als.”

Relat­ed arti­cles:

Phys­i­cal Exer­cise and Brain Health

Brain Plas­tic­i­ty: How learn­ing changes your brain

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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