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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain Health Business Grows With Research and Demand

I wrote this arti­cle for the March/ April edi­tion of the pub­li­ca­tion Aging Today, pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging, and received per­mis­sion to repro­duce it here.

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In recent years, most pro­fes­sion­als in aging have become aware of the grow­ing sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence show­ing that human brains retain the abil­i­ty to gen­er­ate neu­rons and change over a life­time, dis­cov­er­ies that have bro­ken the sci­en­tif­ic par­a­digm preva­lent dur­ing the 20th cen­tu­ry. Fur­ther­more, neu­roimag­ing and cog­ni­tive train­ing stud­ies are show­ing how well-direct­ed exer­cise presents peo­ple major oppor­tu­ni­ties for healthy brain aging.

How can peo­ple use emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies to keep their brains healthy and pro­duc­tive as long as pos­si­ble? An emerg­ing mar­ket for brain health– $225 mil­lion mar­ket in 2007, in the Unit­ed States alone, of which con­sumers account for $80 million–is try­ing to address that ques­tion in a way that com­ple­ments oth­er impor­tant more tra­di­tion­al pil­lars (and mul­ti-bil­lion indus­tries) of brain health, such as phys­i­cal exer­cise, bal­anced diet, stress man­age­ment (stress has been shown to actu­al­ly kill neu­rons and reduce the rate of cre­ation of new ones) and over­all men­tal stim­u­la­tion and life­long learn­ing.

2007 AN ACTIVE YEAR

A series of impor­tant events took place in 2007, a sem­i­nal year for the brain health field, begin­ning in Jan­u­ary when many main­stream media pub­li­ca­tions, such as Time Mag­a­zine and CBS News, start­ed to pub­lish major sto­ries on neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and brain exer­cise. This media cov­er­age fol­lowed the pub­li­ca­tion of the long-await­ed results from nation­al clin­i­cal tri­als show­ing that sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­ages of the par­tic­i­pants age 65 and old­er who trained for five weeks improved their mem­o­ry, rea­son­ing and infor­ma­tion-pro­cess­ing speed. Find­ings from the Advanced Cog­ni­tive Train­ing for Inde­pen­dent and Vital Elder­ly (ACTIVE) Study appeared in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion (Dec. 20, 2006) and revealed that even after five years, par­tic­i­pants in the ACTIVE com­put­er-based pro­gram showed less of a decline in infor­ma­tion-pro­cess­ing skills than those in a con­trol group that received no cog­ni­tive train­ing.

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Neuroplasticity = Lifelong Learning

I have just read the best blog post I have read in a loooong while, so let me share it here now. Brett Steen­barg­er is a Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try & Behav­ioral Sci­ences and a Trad­ing Psy­chol­o­gy expert who I had the plea­sure to inter­view a while back. He is a mas­ter at trad­ing, learn­ing, teach­ing and coach­ing.

And has writ­ten this superb post: When Traders Lose Con­fi­dence — Part Three: Struc­tur­ing Your Expe­ri­ence. We talk in this blog a lot about neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and cog­ni­tive and emo­tion­al train­ing, but what Brett out­lines is, in sum­ma­ry, a very healthy atti­tude to life, life­long brain plas­tic­i­ty, brain health, and suc­cess. Not bad!

See below a few of his quotes-but please read the full arti­cle here:

  • What we call the “self”–how we expe­ri­ence ourselves–is the result of all that we inter­nal­ize from peo­ple and events.
  • Because we are always hav­ing new experiences–and can inter­nal­ize these–we are always, to some degree, remak­ing who we are.
  • Every activ­i­ty we engage in pro­vides us with feed­back about our­selves: our abil­i­ties, how we’re per­ceived by oth­ers, our char­ac­ter. In select­ing what we do, who we do it with, and how we do it, we can struc­ture our expe­ri­ence to cre­ate mir­rors of suc­cess and mas­tery.
  • Expe­ri­ence is our psy­cho­log­i­cal food; it’s vital that we feed our­selves well. But what does it mean to struc­ture our expe­ri­ence and feed our­selves well psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly?
  • The rea­son I’m effec­tive as a psy­chol­o­gist, I believe, is not because I’m all that more edu­cat­ed than oth­ers or uti­lize such bet­ter tech­niques. Rather, I have an uncan­ny abil­i­ty to see the best in peo­ple; to push aside the prob­lems of the moment and see through to qual­i­ties of great­ness that are present with­in most of us, how­ev­er fleet­ing­ly. It’s because I see the best in peo­ple that I can be a good mirror–and help oth­ers see in them­selves what they oth­er­wise can­not appre­ci­ate on their own Con­fi­dence comes from the right kind of mirroring–and we can choose our mir­rors.

Please enjoy When Traders Lose Con­fi­dence — Part Three: Struc­tur­ing Your Expe­ri­ence.

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