Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Can you grow your hippocampus? Yes. Here’s how, and why it matters

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A pair of thumb-sized struc­tures deep in the cen­ter of the human brain are crit­i­cal for our abil­i­ty to learn and remem­ber. Thanks to their shape, each of them is called hip­pocam­pus — which means sea­horse in Greek. These brain areas have the unique capac­i­ty to gen­er­ate new neu­rons every day. In fact, recent human stud­ies have shown that Read the rest of this entry »

Why Scientific Literacy and Learning Enhance Brain Function and Neural Health

Often in dis­cussing health relat­ed find­ings with non-sci­en­tists, I’ve found that sci­en­tif­ic lit­er­a­cy in the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion tends to be inad­e­quate for eval­u­at­ing sci­en­tif­ic claims. A sur­pris­ing num­ber of peo­ple are reluc­tant to study sci­ence despite the poten­tial to ben­e­fit from the vast amount of use­ful knowl­edge being accu­mu­lat­ed by sci­en­tists. Neil DeGrasse Tyson dis­cussed a sim­i­lar issue with the New York Dai­ly News sev­er­al years ago (A Cry to Pass the Sci­ence Test, 2006). In a time when sci­en­tif­ic infor­ma­tion is con­stant­ly reshap­ing our under­stand­ing Read the rest of this entry »

Research: How Exercise Benefits the Brain

How Exer­cise Ben­e­fits the Brain (NewYork Times):

To learn more about how exer­cise affects the brain, sci­en­tists in Ire­land recent­ly asked a group of seden­tary male col­lege stu­dents to take part in a mem­o­ry test fol­lowed by stren­u­ous exer­cise.

First, the young men watched a rapid-fire line­up of pho­tos with the faces and names of strangers. After a break, they tried to recall the names they had just seen as the pho­tos again zipped across a com­put­er screen. Read the rest of this entry »

5 Tips on Lifelong Learning and Neuroplasticity for the Adult Brain

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Learn­ing & the Brain is a con­fer­ence that gets marked on my cal­en­dar annu­al­ly because I always return home hav­ing either been exposed to new infor­ma­tion, or with a new per­spec­tive on an old top­ic. Last month’s con­fer­ence in Cam­bridge, MA, themed Using Emo­tions Research to Enhance Learn­ing & Achieve­ment, was no excep­tion. As with pre­vi­ous con­fer­ences, in addi­tion to the many keynote ses­sions, I focused on the adult learn­ing strand, since so much of my time is spent pro­vid­ing pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment for, and col­lab­o­rat­ing with adults. Here are five con­fer­ence cues as they relate to edu­ca­tion.

1. CHALLENGE YOURSELF WITH NEW LEARNING

Aaron Nel­son stat­ed that our mem­o­ry starts to decline between ages twen­ty-five and thir­ty, or to phrase it a bit more pos­i­tive­ly, Sam Wang says our mem­o­ry peaks around age thir­ty. On the oth­er end of the age spec­trum, accord­ing to Ken Kosik, there is unequiv­o­cal evi­dence that edu­ca­tion pro­tects against Alzheimer’s. Both Nel­son and Kosik men­tioned the the­o­ry of cog­ni­tive reserve, which trans­lates rough­ly to the more we learn, the more con­nec­tions we cre­ate, and there­fore the greater the neu­ronal buffer we have to draw upon as we age.

Elkhonon Gold­berg of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness stat­ed at last April’s con­fer­ence that “as one ages, the domain of the nov­el shrinks, and the domain of what is known grows”. He cau­tioned the audi­ence to beware of being on men­tal autopi­lot. Thus, the goal is not to sim­ply get bet­ter at doing more of the same. The type of learn­ing that makes a dif­fer­ence con­sists specif­i­cal­ly of new, nov­el chal­lenges. The result of such engage­ment is that 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 and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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