Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Music: Another Pillar of Brain Fitness?

Musicians’ brains are often used as models of neuroplasticity. Indeed, numerous studies to date have shown that musical training can change the brain. Musicians have larger brain volume in areas that are important for playing an instrument: motor, auditory and visuo-spatial regions.

A recent Nature Review Neuroscience article shows that music training can benefit the brain beyond music. Specifically, musicians may have an advantage for processing speech in challenging listening environments compared with non-musicians Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Brain Health Promotion Event and Predictions

Here you have the twice-a-month newsletter with our most popular blog posts. Please brainremember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, simply by submitting your email at the top of this page.

News and Events

Brain Health Promotion by the American Society on Aging: You may be interested in the excellent agenda the American Society on Aging has put together for health professionals, from September 2-5th in San Francisco, devoting a full day to Brain Health. Alvaro will participate in 3 of the sessions, including giving a keynote on the Future of Brain Health.

Can Google Kill Neurons and Rewire Your Whole Brain?: The Atlantic Monthly published an article titled Is Google Making Us Stupid, which basically blamed Google for literally rewiring our brains into more stupid brains (not being able to pay attention, read deep books…). We are not very impressed by the superficial treatment given to this very important topic.

Mobile Brain Training, Scientific Learning, and More News: Overview of cognitive health and fitness news, including recent research on how physical exercise can help diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients, the new Mac version of Posit Science’s auditory processing training program, and more.

Market Analysis

Top 10 Brain Health Predictions: In an emerging market, like brain health and training, it is difficult to make precise projections. Here we point out a number of trends that executives, consumers, public policy makers, and the media should watch closely in the coming years. Your feedback is very welcome…we will give a complimentary copy of our market report to the person who provides the most insightful additional prediction by August 10th.

Cognitive Health Pioneers: Thank You! The quality and variety of our client list brings up the cross-sector demand for quality information in the emerging brain fitness/ cognitive health category. And it helps us prioritize efforts and coverage of market and research news and trends.

Research Analysis

Encephalon blog carnival: Brain & Mind Research: We hosted Encephalon´s 50th edition, where you will find a selection of superb blog posts on all things Brain and Mind. Examples? you may enjoy Facebook Ate My Psychiatrist or perhaps the Compulsive Collecting of Toy Bullets and Televisions.

Attention Deficits At Work: Dr. Pascale Michelon provides an in-depth overview of a recent study by Ron de Graaf and colleagues, in which they found that an average of 3.5% of workers (in ten countries) meet the criteria for adult ADHD, In the US, the percentage increased to 4.5%. This has clear effects on productivity.

Education and Learning

Learning & the Brain: Resources for Educators: Educator Laurie Bartels reviews her favorite brain resources for teaching and learning: books, conferences, and websites.

Brain Teasers

Top 25 Brain and Mind Haikus. Yours?: Readers have contributed a good number of haikus on brain-related topics. You can follow the link to check out our Favorite 7, and many other fun ones…which ones do you like the most?

Brain Fitness/ Training Newsletter: January Edition

Brain exercise, brain exercisesAs we have been doing for the last 6 months, here you are have the Monthly Digest of our Most Popular Blog Posts. You can consider it your monthly Brain Fitness/ Training Newsletter.

(Also, remember that you can subscribe to receive our blog RSS feed, or to our monthly newsletter at the top of this page if you want to receive this Monthly Digest by email).

Let me first introduce our new roster of Expert Contributors, highlighting first an article by Duke University’s Dr. David Rabiner, a leading authority on attention deficits and author of the Attention Research Update newsletter, on the “promising, yet unproven” value of neurofeedback for attention deficits: How Strong is the Research Support for Neurofeedback.

Two other great articles by our Expert Contributors this month:

Looking inside the Brain: cognitive scientist Dr. Pascale Michelon introduces us to the world of neuroimaging and building mental reserves.

Meditation in Schools: thanks to our collaboration with Greater Good Magazine, we offer an excellent article on the emerging trend of schools using meditation to help students manage anxiety and stress.

The following Expert Contributors will be featured in February, so make sure to visit our blog often:

Wes Carroll, Puzzle Master for Ask a Scientist lecture series.

Simon Evans, PhD., and Paul Burghardt, PhD., from University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry and the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute.

Gregory Kellett, masters in Cognitive Neurology/Research Psychology from SFSU and researcher at UCSF.

Joanne Jacobs, education expert and blogger, will participate in the “SharpBrains Author Speaks Series” to present her most recent book.

Eric Jensen, well-known resource on brain research information with implications for K12 education.

Tom O’Brien, Professor Emeritus in Mathematics education and author of prize-winning games.

Adrian Preda, M.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

Joshua Steinerman, M.D., Postdoctoral Clinical Fellow in the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center.

Brain Fitness and SharpBrains in the News

Brain Fitness Software Trends (January 3rd): Scientific Learning Corp. (cognitive training for children with dislexia and reading difficulties) acquires Soliloquy Learning, and Paris-based Scientific Brain Training acquires Technomedia, a Canadian provider of corporate training.

More News on the Field (January 14th): Posit Science (auditory processing training) acquires Visual Awareness, Inc (visual processing training for driving skills, used in ACTIVE trials). Cogmed announces working memory training for adults. Nature Neuroscience brings great resources on the classic London Taxi Drivers study. The 2008 Mind & Life Summer Research Institute starts accepting applications by researchers interested in studying the effects of meditation on the brain.

SharpBrains Featured in Newsweek & Fox Business Network (January 19th): several great articles on the emerging brain fitness/ training field. New Scientist (subscription-only) provides a broad picture of the research. Newsweek kindly invites readers to “check out, which promotes science-based cognitive training”. Fox Business Network includes our market estimates of $225 million for the whole brain fitness software field in 2007 in the US. The New York Times has a great article on the value of music training.

Is Your Brain Ready To Drink Cheap Wine?: Prof. Baba Shiv, one of our advisors, published a fascinating paper on the power of our beliefs to influence brain activation, and on how marketing can influence those beliefs.

Sharpen Your Brain to Improve Performance, Lower Stress (subscription required): Nicholas Genes from Medscape interviews me on the background behind cognitive fitness and

Health and Wellness

It is Not Only Cars That Deserve Good Maintenance: If we can all agree on the importance of maintaining our cars that get us around town, what about maintaining our brains sitting behind the wheel?.

Grand Rounds: Briefing the Next US President on 40 Health Issues: we hosted an open letter to the “Next US President”, gathering the questions and impressions of 40 health and medical bloggers. We will do the same on Education issues on February 20th-see below.

Cognitive Training Clinical Trial: Seeking Older Adults:  Neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center asked for help in recruiting volunteers for an exciting clinical trial. If you are based in New York City, and between the ages of 60 and 75, please consider joining this study.

10 Brain Fitness New Year’s Resolutions: probably a bit late…but contains potential New Years Resolutions with the three principles of brain fitness in mind – novelty, variety and challenge.


Interview with Robert Sylwester on The Adolescent Brain: Dr. Robert Sylwester is an educator of educators, having received multiple awards during his long career as a master communicator of the implications of brain science research for education and learning. Enjoy this interview.

Don’t Outsource Your Brain: neither to other people… nor to your GPS system. Funny, true story.

February 20th Blog Carnival of education: we will host this edition and present it as an open letter to the “Next US President”, gathering the questions and impressions of a number of education bloggers.


20 Brain Plasticity Books: we just changed a few things in our site, including preparing a more solid Resources section. Please take a look at the navigation bar at the top, including an expanded Books page.

PBS Brain Fitness DVD: the PBS shop is already selling DVDs of its great December special on Brain Fitness and Neuroplasticity.

Brain Teasers

Monkeys and Brain Games: did you read about the recent experiment where young chimps displayed amazing visual working memory capability, beating humans? you can release your competitive juices here.

Brain Exercises for the Weekend: Harriet Vines, Ph.D., an experienced author and retired college professor, sends us a few fun brain exercises to train our attention and working memory.

Events and Speaking Engagements (more details in our Speaking page)

>> Feb. 2th: I will lead a Workshop on Brain Fitness: The Science and Practice, sponsored by San Jose State University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

>> Feb. 7th: will speak on “Sharpening Minds through Computerized Cognitive and Emotional Training Programs,” at the Learning & The Brain Conference.

>> Feb. 12th: will speak on The Emerging Brain Fitness Software Market: Building Better Brains: sponsored by The MIT Club of Northern California, American Society on Aging, The Business Forum on Aging and SmartSilvers, we will cover how “Scientific, technological and demographic trends have converged to create an exciting new market in brain fitness, where software and online applications can assess and train cognitive abilities.”

>> March 4th: I will be a panelist on how to Use Your Head-The Future of Mind Hacks, at O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference.

>> March 27th, 2008: will present an Overview of Cognitive Training Research and Programs, at the NCOA/ ASA Aging in America Conference.

David Pescovitz, Research Director, Institute for the Future, says “Alvaro Fernandez synthesizes and translates the latest neuroscience into provocative, compelling, and entertaining stories of mental fitness and the future of the brain.” Please contact us, simply responding to this email, if your organization is interested in learning more about Brain and Cognitive Fitness and this emerging field.

All feedback and contributions are welcome, too. Please leave your comments below.

Books on neuroplasticity and memory training

Neuroplasticity: the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections throughout life. (see more concepts in our Glossary).

We coudn’t be happier about the growing number of books popularizing the key lessons about brain training that Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg has been researching and writing about for years, and that motivated us to embark ourselves in the SharpBrains adventure.

Discover Magazine presents a great article, Rewiring the Brain, reviewing two recent books.

  • The subtitle is “Neuroplasticity can allow for treatment of senility, post-traumatic stress, ­obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression and Buddhists have been capitalizing on it for millenia.” I would add that the strong value of lifelong learning present in jesuit and jewish traditions reflects the same wisdom. Some quotes:
  • “Two new books, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (Ballantine Books, $24.95) by science journalist Sharon Begley and The Brain That Changes Itself (Viking, $24.95) by psychiatrist Norman Doidge, offer masterfully guided tours through the burgeoning field of neuroplasticity research. Each has its own style and emphasis; both are excellent.”
  • “Finally, both authors conclude that adult neuroplasticity is a vastly undertapped resource, one with which Western medicine and psychology are just now coming to grips. An important emerging research agenda is to Read the rest of this entry »

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