Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Cognitive Development and Brain Research: Articles, Books, Papers (ASA)

brain fitness eventWe had a very fun ses­sion titled Teach­ing Brain Fit­ness in Your Com­mu­ni­ty at an Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging (ASA) con­fer­ence for health pro­fes­sion­als a cou­ple of weeks ago. Full house, with over 60 atten­dants and very good par­tic­i­pa­tion, show­ing great inter­est in the top­ic. I can’t wait to see the eval­u­a­tions.

These are some of the resources I promised as a fol­low-up, which can be use­ful to every­one inter­est­ed in our field:

Good gen­er­al arti­cles in the busi­ness and gen­er­al media:

Change or Die

Want a sharp mind for your gold­en years? Start now

You’re Wis­er Now

On how new neu­rons are born and grow in the adult brain:

Salk Sci­en­tists Demon­strate For The First Time That New­ly Born Brain Cells Are Func­tion­al In The Adult Brain

Old Brains, New Tricks

On the sur­pris­ing plas­tic­i­ty and devel­op­ment poten­tial through­out life:

Brain Plas­tic­i­ty, Lan­guage Pro­cess­ing and Read­ing

Jug­gling Jug­gles the Brain

Suc­cess­ful Aging of the Healthy Brain

Oth­er impor­tant aspects:

Stress and the Brain

Exer­cise and the Brain

Humor, Laugh­ter and The Brain

On the impor­tance and impact of men­tal stim­u­la­tion and train­ing: Read the rest of this entry »

A Brain Fitness Vacation

San PedroA year ago we wrote a Glos­sary where we defined Brain Fit­ness as “the gen­er­al state of good, sharp, brain and mind, espe­cial­ly as the result of men­tal and phys­i­cal exer­cise and prop­er nutri­tion” and a Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram as a “struc­tured set of brain exer­cis­es, usu­al­ly com­put­er-based, designed to train spe­cif­ic brain areas and func­tions in tar­get­ed ways, and mea­sured by brain fit­ness assess­ments.”

Now, thanks to this recent arti­cle Alvaro and Lisa’s Brain Vaca­tion, we can add Brain Fit­ness Vaca­tion: “A brain fit­ness vaca­tion is like a reg­u­lar vaca­tion, only you attend events, do exer­cis­es, and arrange for expe­ri­ences that address the aspects of good brain health: phys­i­cal exer­cise, men­tal exer­cise, good nutri­tion, and stress man­age­ment.”

Dave Bun­nell, the founder and edi­tor of new mag­a­zine ELDR (and pre­vi­ous­ly edi­tor of PC World, PC Mag­a­zine, Upside, and many oth­er mag­a­zines) met Dr. Gold­berg and myself after our speech in SFSU last May. When he showed an inter­est in writ­ing a sto­ry, and I men­tioned half-jok­ing­ly that it would have to wait a few weeks since my wife and I were about to take a much need­ed “brain fit­ness vaca­tion”, he said, well, maybe that’s the sto­ry!.

You can read the full arti­cle here. For the ben­e­fit of the atten­dants to my lec­tures this week, who may be look­ing for some addi­tion­al brain exer­cis­es, here go some quotes:

  • Guessti­ma­tion. Lisa asks Alvaro a ques­tion, “How many trees are there in San Fran­cis­co?” To come up with an answer, Alvaro first tries to guess how many trees, on aver­age, there are in a city block. He then cal­cu­lates approx­i­mate­ly how many blocks there are in a square mile, fol­lowed by how many square miles there are in San Fran­cis­co, and so on.
  • Num­ber Series. Alvaro says, “Two, three,” and Lisa replies, “four, six.” Alvaro then says, “Six, nine,” and Lisa replies, “Eight, twelve.” He says,“Ten, fif­teen,” and the sequence goes on as long and as fast as you can keep doing it.
  • Haiku. Dur­ing the entire vaca­tion, Alvaro and Lisa com­posed haiku for each oth­er every morn­ing. The rule was they couldn’t write them down. They had to cre­ate them in their heads and remem­ber them.
  • Sen­so­ry train­ing. Lisa puts a piece of choco­late into Alvaro’s mouth while his eyes are closed. He lets it melt com­plete­ly with­out chew­ing and with­out open­ing his eyes. Next, he puts a grape in Lisa’s mouth.
  • Visu­al­iza­tions. Alvaro and Lisa sit qui­et­ly for about 15 min­utes, breathe deeply using their diaphragms, and visu­al­ize spe­cial moments from their past, such as the most beau­ti­ful view they’ve ever seen, or a lov­ing per­son­al moment.

Enjoy

Pic cred­it: San Pedro de Alcan­tara, Spain (Wikipedia)

Stress Management Workshop for International Women’s Day

Today is Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day 2007.

Glob­al con­sult­ing com­pa­ny Accen­ture orga­nized a series of events, and I was for­tu­nate to lead a fun work­shop on The Neu­ro­science of Stress and Stress Man­age­ment in their San Fran­cis­co office, help­ing over 125 accom­plished women (and a few men) learn what stress is, its impli­ca­tions for our brain func­tion­ing, per­for­mance and health, and of course some tips and tech­niques to devel­op our “stress man­age­ment” mus­cles. It was an hon­or to be able to wrap up a great event that includ­ed Dis­trict Attor­ney Kamala D. Har­ris, two of the co-authors of This is Not the Life I Ordered, a video by Sen­a­tor Dianne Fein­stein, and some great Accen­ture women.

We dis­cussed how stress is the emo­tion­al and phys­i­o­log­i­cal reac­tion to a threat, whether real or imag­ined, that results in a series of adap­ta­tions by our bod­ies. And how stress man­age­ment can bring a vari­ety of ben­e­fits: sus­tained peak per­for­mance, cog­ni­tive flex­i­bil­i­ty, mem­o­ry, deci­sion mak­ing, and even longevi­ty.
You can see a very inter­est­ing exam­ple of the rela­tion­ship between atten­tion, mem­o­ry and stress with this exper­i­ment: Atten­tion and work­ing mem­o­ry

Let me share some key take-aways from the work­shop, togeth­er with some exer­cis­es we used to illus­trate key points:

1) Stress can be a major road­block for peak per­for­mance and health
2) Some tips and tech­niques to bet­ter man­age stress:
a) Pick your bat­tles Read the rest of this entry »

Are yoga and meditation good for my brain?

Yoga
Here is ques­tion 16 of 25 from Brain Fit­ness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Ques­tions.

Ques­tion:
Are yoga and med­i­ta­tion good for my brain?

Key Points:

  • Yoga, med­i­ta­tion, and visu­al­iza­tion are all excel­lent ways to learn to man­age your stress lev­els.
  • Reduc­ing stress, and the stress hor­mones, in your sys­tem is crit­i­cal to your brain and over­all fit­ness.

Answer:
Yes. It’s clear that our soci­ety has changed faster than our genes. Instead of being faced with phys­i­cal, imme­di­ate­ly life-threat­en­ing crises that demand instant action, these days we deal with events and ill­ness­es that gnaw away at us slow­ly, with­out any stress release.
Read the rest of this entry »

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