Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Update: New Research, Resources, and Teasers for All

Every­one these days is talk­ing about edu­ca­tion and test­ing reform, but why is rel­e­vant brain research often ignored? Which organ if not the brain does the learn­ing and teach­ing part? Renowned edu­ca­tor and brain expert Dr. Robert Syl­west­er shares his rec­om­mend­ed Top Brain Books for Edu­ca­tors and Learn­ers to help inform the con­ver­sa­tion. A must read!

Save the Date: the 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit, the sec­ond edi­tion of our annu­al indus­try and research con­fer­ence, will take place vir­tu­al­ly from March 28th to March 31st 2010. Details will fol­low soon.

With­out fur­ther ado…please enjoy the Novem­ber edi­tion of our month­ly eNewslet­ter:

Research Bites

Foot­ball and brain dam­age: In high-con­tact sports such as foot­ball, even hits not lead­ing to con­cus­sions can affect the brain.

How to take omega‑3: Eat­ing fish (source of omega‑3) reduces risks of demen­tia but DHA sup­ple­ments have no effect on Alzheimer’s symp­toms.

Vit­a­mins against Alzheimer’s? A good review shows that Vit­a­min B has unclear effects on mem­o­ry and cog­ni­tive decline.

Brain train­ing helps old­er dri­vers: tar­get­ed cog­ni­tive train­ing can help reduce old­er dri­vers’ car crash­es. Dr. Mich­e­lon explains why and how.

Resources and Tips

Top 10 Q&A about Child’s Brain Devel­op­ment: In the 1st part of our series, The Brain across the Lifes­pan, we answer 10 ques­tions to help you under­stand the devel­op­ing brain.

Our Brain on Music: Scott Kauf­man shows that there is lit­tle evi­dence that lis­ten­ing to Mozart’s music boosts brain func­tions. Music can have an effect, but we need to do more than lis­ten.

Work­ing Mem­o­ry: What is work­ing mem­ory? Why do we care? How can we best enhance it? Dr. Mich­e­lon answers these ques­tions through con­crete exam­ples and a Q&A.


Rethink­ing Alzheimer’s Pre­ven­tion and Treat­ment: In this excerpt from their recent book “The Alzheimer’s Solu­tion” Ken Kosik and Lin­da Clegg pro­pose a new mod­el for brain care: The “cog­ni­tive shop”.

Did You See the Goril­la? Daniel Simons, co-author of  “The Invis­i­ble Goril­la”, inter­viewed by David DiS­al­vo, tells us about the myth of mul­ti-task­ing.

Cog­ni­tive Devel­op­ment in the first 20 years: In this excerpt from his lat­est book “A Child’s Brain”, Dr. Syl­west­er syn­the­sizes the first 20 years of devel­op­ment.

Council Insights

How will we assess, enhance and repair cog­ni­tion across the lifes­pan?: Learn about a brain health rev­o­lu­tion in the mak­ing and how we can shape it, straight from the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion.

Brain Teasers

Brain Games for each Cog­ni­tive Abil­i­ty: To under­stand why we need to go beyond cross­word puz­zles, stim­u­late your whole brain with this selec­tion of brain teasers and games.

Have a great Decem­ber, and please don’t for­get to engage via Face­book and Twit­ter!

A Controlled Trial of Herbal Treatment for ADHD

Many par­ents, health care pro­fes­sion­als, and edu­ca­tors agree that there is a press­ing need to devel­op effec­tive treat­ments for ADHD to com­ple­ment or sub­sti­tute for tra­di­tion­al med­ica­tion and behav­ior ther­a­py approach­es. This is because such treat­ments do not work for every­one, impor­tant dif­fi­cul­ties often remain even when these treat­ments are effec­tive, and evi­dence for the long-term ben­e­fits of these treat­ments remains less com­pelling than one would like. In addi­tion, in the case of med­ica­tion treat­ment, some indi­vid­u­als expe­ri­ence intol­er­a­ble side effects and many have con­cerns about tak­ing ADHD med­ica­tion for an extend­ed peri­od.

One alter­na­tive approach to treat­ing ADHD has relied on the use of Com­pound Herbal Prepa­ra­tions (CHP) derived from tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese med­i­cine. Prac­ti­tion­ers of this approach believe that such prepa­ra­tions have impor­tant cog­ni­tive enhanc­ing prop­er­ties because they sup­ply essen­tial nutri­ents, fat­ty acids, phos­pho­lipids, amino acids, B vit­a­mins, min­er­als, and oth­er micronu­tri­ents that are impor­tant for opti­mal brain growth and devel­op­ment. As a treat­ment for ADHD, the idea is that many indi­vid­u­als with ADHD have defi­cien­cies in essen­tial nutri­ents that com­pro­mise healthy brain devel­op­ment and result in ADHD symp­toms. Pro­vid­ing these nutri­ents via an appro­pri­ate­ly pre­pared herbal com­pound thus has the poten­tial to be ther­a­peu­tic and reduce these symp­toms.

This idea was test­ed recent­ly in a ran­dom­ized-con­trolled tri­al of a spe­cif­ic CHP for chil­dren with ADHD [Katz, Kol-Degani, & Kav-Vena­ki (2010). A com­pound herbal prepa­ra­tion (CHP) in the treat­ment of ADHD: A ran­dom­ized con­trolled tri­al. Jour­nal of Atten­tion Dis­or­ders. Pub­lished online on March 12, 2010.] Par­tic­i­pants were 120 6–12 year-old chil­dren new­ly diag­nosed with ADHD based on a com­pre­hen­sive diag­nos­tic eval­u­a­tion. These chil­dren were all eval­u­at­ed at the She­ba Med­ical Cen­ter, one of the largest uni­ver­si­ty-affil­i­at­ed ter­tiary care cen­ters in Israel.

(Editor´s note: Dr. David Rabin­er, author of this arti­cle, pre­vi­ous­ly reviewed a 2005 meta-analy­sis whose find­ings need to be kept in mind to con­tex­tu­al­ize this new study. In the arti­cle Dietary Inter­ven­tion for ADHD: A Meta-Analy­sis, Dr. Rabin­er con­clud­ed that “Results from this meta-analy­sis pro­vide strong evi­dence that the behav­ior of chil­dren with ADHD can be made worse by dietary fac­tors, and that elim­i­nat­ing AFCs from their diets will, on aver­age, result in behav­ioral improve­ments. This result is con­sis­tent with with accu­mu­lat­ing evi­dence that neu­robe­hav­ioral tox­i­c­i­ty may result from a wide vari­ety of dis­trib­uted chem­i­cals.”)

Chil­dren were ran­dom­ly assigned to receive either the CHP (n=80) or a place­bo (n=40) that was spe­cial­ly pre­pared to Read the rest of this entry »

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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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