Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


ADHD: Brain Training, Neurofeedback, Diet, and More.

ADHD, or atten­tion deficit hyper­ac­tiv­i­ty dis­or­der, affects mil­lions of chil­dren and adults (up to 5% of chil­dren in the US).  More and more evi­dence sug­gests that brain train­ing may be key to help these indi­vid­u­als. With this in mind, we put togeth­er our most recent arti­cles on the top­ic to  a) help you bet­ter under­stand what is going in the brain of a per­son with ADHD, and b) pro­vide you with up-to-date infor­ma­tion on what can be done to fight the dis­or­der and improve the lives of peo­ple suf­fer­ing from it. We par­tic­u­lar­ly thank Dr. Rabin­er from Duke Uni­ver­sity for writ­ing many of these arti­cles.

What is ADHD?

What kind of atten­tion is involved in ADHD? ADHD may be con­sid­ered as a prob­lem in the will­ful con­trol of atten­tion as opposed to a pure deficit in the abil­i­ty to pay atten­tion.

Self-Reg­u­la­tion and ADHD: The fun­da­men­tal deficit in indi­vid­u­als with ADHD may be one of self-con­trol: Read the rest of this entry »

What kind of attention is involved in ADHD?

An excel­lent arti­cle by the Dana Foun­da­tion clar­i­fies what the “Real Deficit in Atten­tion Deficit/Hyperactivity Dis­or­der” is. Thank you to John from our Sharp­Brains’ group in LinkedIn for point­ing it out.

Among oth­er things, this arti­cle shows you that atten­tion is more com­plex than you prob­a­bly thought: Read the rest of this entry »

Western’ Style Diet Increases Risk of ADHD

I recent­ly report­ed on an intrigu­ing study exam­in­ing the impact of an herbal treat­ment for youth with ADHD. Results from this ran­dom­ized-con­trolled tri­al were quite promis­ing and con­sis­tent with the idea that some indi­vid­u­als with ADHD have defi­cien­cies in essen­tial nutri­ents that com­pro­mise healthy brain devel­op­ment and result in ADHD symp­toms. This idea has sparked the long-stand­ing debate about whether dietary fac­tors play an impor­tant role in the devel­op­ment of ADHD, at least for some chil­dren, and led to many stud­ies of this issue.
Although results of these stud­ies elude any sim­ple con­clu­sions, dietary fac­tors do appear to con­tribute to ADHD symp­toms in some indi­vid­u­als.

Some have argued that research on the rela­tion­ship between diet and ADHD is more impor­tant than ever because the diets of chil­dren in West­ern coun­tries have shown steady increas­es in the amounts of heav­i­ly processed foods rich in sat­u­rat­ed fats, salt, and sug­ars accom­pa­nied by decreas­es in omega-3 fat­ty acids, fiber, and folate. Is it pos­si­ble that such ‘West­ern’ style diets are asso­ci­at­ed with an increased risk of ADHD, and per­haps a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the high preva­lence of the dis­or­der?

This impor­tant ques­tion was exam­ined in a study pub­lished recent­ly online in the Jour­nal of Atten­tion Dis­or­ders [Howard et. al. (2010). ADHD is asso­ci­at­ed with a “West­ern” dietary pat­tern in ado­les­cents. Jour­nal of Atten­tion Dis­or­ders]. Par­tic­i­pants were 1172 14 year-old Aus­tralian ado­les­cents and their par­ents who had been recruit­ed into the study and fol­lowed since the moth­ers were between 16 and 20 weeks preg­nant. Read the rest of this entry »

Enhancing Cognition and Emotions for Learning — Learning & The Brain Conference

Alvaro and I had the good for­tune to attend a great con­fer­ence last week called Learn­ing & The Brain: Enhanc­ing Cog­ni­tion and Emo­tions for Learn­ing. It was a fas­ci­nat­ing mix of neu­ro­sci­en­tists and edu­ca­tors talk­ing with and lis­ten­ing to each oth­er. Some top­ics were meant to be applied today, but many were food for thought — insight on where sci­ence and edu­ca­tion are head­ed and how they influ­ence each oth­er.

Using dra­mat­ic new imag­ing tech­niques, such as fMRIs, PET, and SPECT, neu­ro­sci­en­tists are gain­ing valu­able infor­ma­tion about learn­ing. This pio­neer­ing knowl­edge is lead­ing not only to new ped­a­go­gies, but also to new med­ica­tions, brain enhance­ment tech­nolo­gies, and ther­a­pies.… The Con­fer­ence cre­ates an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary forum — a meet­ing place for neu­ro­sci­en­tists, edu­ca­tors, psy­chol­o­gists, clin­i­cians, and par­ents — to exam­ine these new research find­ings with respect to their applic­a­bil­i­ty in the class­room and clin­i­cal prac­tice.


  • Humans are a mix­ture of cog­ni­tion and emo­tion, and both ele­ments are essen­tial to func­tion and learn prop­er­ly
  • Edu­ca­tors and pub­lic pol­i­cy mak­ers need to learn more about the brain, how it grows, and how to cul­ti­vate it
  • Stu­dents of all ages need to be both chal­lenged and nur­tured in order to suc­ceed
  • Peo­ple learn dif­fer­ent­ly — try to teach and learn through as many dif­fer­ent modal­i­ties as pos­si­ble (engage lan­guage, motor skills, artis­tic cre­ation, social inter­ac­tion, sen­so­ry input, etc.)
  • While short-term stress can height­en your cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, long term stress kills you — you need to find bal­ance and release
  • Test anx­i­ety and sub­se­quent poor test results can be improved with behav­ioral train­ing with feed­back based on heart rate vari­abil­i­ty
  • Dr. Robert Sapol­sky is a very very enlight­en­ing and fun speak­er
  • Allow time for rest and con­sol­i­da­tion of learned mate­r­i­al
  • Emo­tion­al mem­o­ries are eas­i­er to remem­ber
  • Con­fer­ences like these per­form a real ser­vice in fos­ter­ing dia­logues between sci­en­tists and edu­ca­tors

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Blog Carnival #2

Wel­come to the Feb­ru­ary 19, 2007 edi­tion of brain fit­ness.

Today we want to high­light an excel­lent Inter­view with Aaron Beck on the His­to­ry of Cog­ni­tive Ther­a­py sub­mit­ted by the Beck Insti­tute. Dr. Beck was 83 when he gave this inter­view. To the ques­tion “Do you have a view about age­ing?”, he responds “I can only speak for myself. I know that prac­ti­cal­ly all my col­leagues from med­ical school days who are still around have retired. That is not some­thing that I think about. It is no more on my hori­zon now than it was when we first met a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry ago. I keep look­ing ahead.” He also says “I have always liked to uni­fy dif­fer­ent fields. Giv­en my back­ground in neu­rol­o­gy I do not see a con­flict between neu­rol­o­gy and psy­chol­o­gy. But if you look at the train­ing of con­tem­po­rary psy­chi­a­trists, for exam­ple, the two domains are total­ly dis­tinct. If psy­chi­a­try is to sur­vive as a dis­ci­pline, a merg­ing of the con­cepts of neu­rol­o­gy and psy­chol­o­gy will need to occur.” Read the rest of this entry »

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