Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring timely brain & innovation news and a few fun teasers to test your working memory.
#1. Study: Building muscle mass helps delay cognitive decline beyond the value of exercise itself
“Teasing out exactly how muscle helps the brain remains a challenge. There are plenty of indirect links … But Dr. Chevalier’s results suggest there may be more direct mechanisms too. One possibility is the role of myokines, a set of hormone-like molecules produced by muscle cells that can travel to the brain and influence mood, learning and other cognitive functions. Greater muscle mass may also help keep blood glucose levels in check, protecting the brain from damage.”
#2. Clinicians and academics should engage users when reviewing apps, study finds
“More than half of the app ratings showed disagreement between participants and professionals … Participants particularly valued certain aspects of mental health apps, which appear to be overlooked by professional reviewers. These included functions such as the ability to track and measure mental health and providing general mental health education. The cost of apps was among the most important factors for participants.”
#3. Combined tDCS neurostimulation and cognitive training found to improve working memory among older adults–especially those with lower starting capacity
“… individual characteristics influenced the outcome of combined cognitive training and tDCS regimens, with the intervention selectively benefiting old-old adults with lower working memory capacity. Future work should consider developing individualized treatments by considering individual differences in cognitive profiles.”
#4. Headspace Health’s Leslie Witt on the future of mental health
“I fundamentally believe in the power of mindfulness and meditation tools, but they can’t serve all mental health needs. And particularly when someone’s in a state of acute anxiety, acute depression, they need access to professional, human services…We are building out what I often call the middle piece, the bridge that exists between the self-serve content in the Headspace app and the text-based coaching, teletherapy and telepsychiatry of the Ginger service.”
#5. Study: Practicing gratitude helps lower physiological stress levels of the “expresser” AND the “receiver”
“The implication here is that you should let your gratitude out when you feel it … That’s not to say that you should go around and make up gratitude expressions for no reason. But, when you genuinely feel gratitude, you should express it.” — Christopher Oveis, Director of the Empathy & Emotion Lab at UCSD
#6. Taking your brain vitals: Stories from a techno-optimist inventing the future of human performance
“My vision for DANA has always been that every time you go to the doctor, in addition to taking your height, weight, blood pressure, and temperature, they will take your DANA brain vital. When measuring your brain health becomes second nature—as common as checking your blood pressure—it will empower everyone, no matter their age, to spot changes sooner and take action.” — Cori Lathan, CEO of AnthroTronix, in her great new book.
#7. UK agencies to review and update regulation of digital mental health tools
Timely and important work to be done by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
#8. Last but not least, let us share a few quick brain teasers to exercise your working memory … enjoy!
Wishing you and yours a healthy and warm month of November