Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Football: Even “minor” hits can cause brain damage

Today the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Neu­rol­o­gy (AAN) “is call­ing for any ath­lete who is sus­pect­ed of hav­ing a con­cus­sion to be removed from play until the ath­lete is eval­u­at­ed by a physi­cian with train­ing in the eval­u­a­tion and man­age­ment of sports con­cus­sion.”

At the same time, an arti­cle in Sports Illus­trat­ed reports a new study in which Pur­due researchers put sen­sors (accelerom­e­ters) in the hel­mets of 23 seniors from Jef­fer­son High in Lafayette, Ind. Results are sur­pris­ing and con­cern­ing: Hits that do not even lead to con­cus­sions can have a much big­ger impact on the brain than we thought. Read the rest of this entry »

Montessori classroom for Alzheimer’s disease patients

A beau­ti­ful ini­tia­tive, fea­tured in the New York Times today:
Com­ing Full Cir­cle:

- “In a typ­i­cal Montes­sori class­room, teach­ers use cat­e­go­ry-sort­ing exer­cis­es to help young stu­dents see pat­terns and con­nec­tions. But the par­tic­i­pants in this group were most­ly in their 80s and on the oth­er side of the cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment curve. They are res­i­dents at an assist­ed-liv­ing facil­i­ty for peo­ple with demen­tia called Hearth­stone at the Esplanade, which has six oth­er homes in New York State and Mass­a­chu­setts. Since July the res­i­dents have par­tic­i­pat­ed in a full-time pro­gram of Montes­sori-based activ­i­ties designed for peo­ple with mem­o­ry defi­cien­cies.”

- “A com­mon mis­con­cep­tion about peo­ple with demen­tia, Dr. Camp said, is that they no longer learn. But they do: res­i­dents learn to find their din­ing room table, for exam­ple, well after the onset of Alzheimer’s dis­ease. And because they no longer have the high­er brain func­tion they had as adults, he rea­soned, they are well suit­ed to Montes­sori.”

Full arti­cle: Com­ing Full Cir­cle.

Relat­ed posts:

- Alzheimer’s Risk and Pre­ven­tion: the Cog­ni­tive Reserve

- Your com­ments on cog­ni­tive train­ing, Posit Sci­ence, Alzheimer’s Aus­tralia, geron­tol­ogy, games

Can food improve brain health?

In oth­er words, may some foods be specif­i­cal­ly good for brain func­tion?

For a great in-depth review of the effects of food on the brain you can check out Fer­nan­do Gomez-Pinil­la’s recent arti­cle in Nature Reviews Neu­ro­science (ref­er­ence below). Here is an overview of the state off the research.

Sev­er­al com­po­nents of diet seem to have a pos­i­tive effect on brain func­tion.

Omega‑3 fat­ty acids

These acids are nor­mal con­stituents of cell mem­branes and are essen­tial for nor­mal brain func­tion. Omega‑3 fat­ty acids can be found in fish (salmon), kiwi, and wal­nuts. Docosa­hexaenoic acid, or DHA, is the most abun­dant omega‑3 fat­ty acid in cell mem­branes in the brain. The human body pro­duces DHA but not enough. So we are depen­dent on the DHA that we get from what we eat.

A ran­dom­ized dou­ble-blind con­trolled tri­al (which means seri­ous­ly con­duct­ed sci­en­tif­ic study) is cur­rent­ly look­ing at the effect of tak­ing omega‑3 fat­ty acids on chil­dren’s per­for­mance at school in Eng­land. Pre­lim­i­nary results (Port­wood, 2006) sug­gest that Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Health News Roundup

July is shap­ing up to be a fas­ci­nat­ing month, full of cog­ni­tive health research reports and appli­ca­tions. Here you have a roundup, cov­er­ing food for the brain, cog­ni­tive assess­ments, men­tal train­ing and DNA, and more.

1) Brain foods: the effects of nutri­ents on brain func­tion (Nature Neu­ro­science)

“Brain foods: the effects of nutri­ents on brain func­tion”, by Fer­nan­do Gmez-Pinil­la.

Abstract: Read the rest of this entry »

On The Brain

neuronsVery intense week, and very fun. I will be writ­ing more about this week’s 3 speak­ing events, but let me say now that our key mes­sages

1) our brains remain flex­i­ble dur­ing our life­times,

2) we can refine our brains with tar­get­ed prac­tice,

3) good brain exer­cise, or “men­tal cross-training”, requires nov­el­ty, vari­ety, and increas­ing lev­el of chal­lenge (but with­out cre­at­ing too much stress),

are being very well accept­ed from both healthy aging and work­place pro­duc­tiv­i­ty points of view. We have ONE brain: health and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty are 2 sides of the same coin.

If you want to make sure we learn more about our brains, you can help fel­low blog­ger Shel­ley Batts get a col­lege schol­ar­ship by voting here. She has a great neu­ro­science blog, is now final­ist in a com­pe­ti­tion to win a nice schol­ar­ship, and needs out help.

Have some more time? You can watch this excellent 90-sec­ond video of cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tist Dr Lisa Sak­si­da doing yoga in front of the fire while explain­ing the nature of Brain and Mind (via Mind­Hacks). Quotes:

I wish peo­ple under­stood that there is no mind/brain dual­i­ty. Specif­i­cal­ly, I wish peo­ple under­stood that there is no such thing as a pure­ly psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­der. Every event in your psy­cho­log­i­cal life, and there­fore every psy­cho­log­i­cal change, is reducible in the­o­ry to events and changes in your brain. We should there­fore not judge peo­ple dif­fer­ent­ly, accord­ing to whether they are con­sid­ered to have a ‘psy­cho­log­i­cal’ as opposed to a ‘neu­ro­log­i­cal’ prob­lem.”

Of course, a lack of mind/brain split does not mean that we should aban­don all talk of psy­chol­o­gy. Psy­chol­o­gy and neu­ro­science are two ways of study­ing the same thing, and both are essen­tial for under­stand­ing the human con­di­tion.”

For more, check the posts in these always great blog car­ni­vals (select­ed col­lec­tions of blog posts by a num­ber of blog­gers around spe­cif­ic top­ics)

Tan­gled Bank (sci­ence in gen­er­al)

Encephalon (neu­ro­science)

Cred­it: Pho­to of Neu­rons by sym­pha­nee via flickr

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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