Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Study: Brain changes seen in cabbies who take ‘The Knowledge’

Brain changes seen in cab­bies who take ‘The Knowl­edge (BBC Health):

The struc­ture of a Lon­don taxi driver’s brain changes dur­ing the gru­el­ing process of learn­ing the quick­est way around the cap­i­tal, scans reveal. Dozens of trainee dri­vers had MRI scans before and after they acquired “The Knowl­edge”, mem­o­riz­ing hun­dreds of jour­neys and street names.

The Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege Lon­don team, writ­ing in Cur­rent Biol­o­gy, found brain parts linked to mem­o­ry grew big­ger. Read the rest of this entry »

Brain News: Lifelong Learning for Cognitive Health

Here you have the March edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health Brain Fitnessand brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, using the box at the top of this page. I know I am biased — but do believe this Newslet­ter issue might well be our best so far. I hope you find the time to enjoy it!

Bird’s Eye View

Top Arti­cles and Resources in March: High­lights — a) great arti­cles in Sci­Am Mind and the Wall Street Jour­nal, b) new resources (book and free DVD) by the Dana Foun­da­tion, c) research stud­ies on how our cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties tend to evolve as we age, the impact of phys­i­cal exer­cise on the brain, the lack of long-term effec­tive­ness of ADHD drugs, and how work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing may ben­e­fit math per­for­mance.

Brain Fit­ness Sur­vey: Over 2,000 thought­ful respons­es to our Jan­u­ary sur­vey (Thank You!) rein­force the need for pub­lic aware­ness ini­tia­tives and qual­i­ty infor­ma­tion to help eval­u­ate and nav­i­gate lifestyle and prod­uct claims, as well as the need for more research, an expand­ed health­care cul­ture, as more. Giv­en this con­text, we are pub­lish­ing The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness in May 2009, a book with 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, in addi­tion to our annu­al mar­ket report for pro­fes­sion­als and exec­u­tives (to be pub­lished in April). If you have ideas to help us pro­mote the book, please reply to this email and let us know!

Life­long Learn­ing

Elderhostel’s Mar­ty Knowl­ton dies at 88: He helped launch Elder­hos­tel, rein­vent­ed “aging”, “retire­ment” and “learn­ing”, and con­tributed to the brain fit­ness of mil­lions of indi­vid­u­als as a result.

MetLife Mature Mar­ket Insti­tute Report: Geron­tol­o­gist Fay Radding presents the find­ings of a recent MetLife report, con­clud­ing that “As indi­vid­u­als age, mean­ing­ful inter­ac­tions and pur­pose­ful activ­i­ty become even more val­ued and cru­cial to cog­ni­tive health- and cog­ni­tive health itself becomes more of a pri­or­i­ty.”

Change Your Envi­ron­ment, Change Your­self: Dr. Brett Steen­barg­er explains in his recent book that, “The great­est ene­my of change is rou­tine. When we lapse into rou­tine and oper­ate on autopi­lot, we are no longer ful­ly and active­ly con­scious of what we’re doing and why. That is why some of the most fer­tile sit­u­a­tions for per­son­al growth those that occur with­in new envi­ron­ments are those that force us to exit our rou­tines and active­ly mas­ter unfa­mil­iar chal­lenges.”

Food for Thought

Michael Merzenich: Brain Plas­tic­i­ty offers Hope for Every­one: Dr. Gin­ger Camp­bell recent­ly inter­viewed Dr. Michael Merzenich. Pod­cast Quote: “What­ev­er you strug­gle with in a sense as it stems from your neu­rol­o­gy, the inher­ent plas­tic­i­ty of the brain gives you a basis for improve­ment. This is a way under­uti­lized and under-appre­ci­at­ed resource that well all have.”

Ther­a­py vs. Med­ica­tion, Con­flicts of Inter­est, and Intim­i­da­tion: What start­ed as an aca­d­e­m­ic dis­pute regard­ing dis­clo­sure of con­flict of inter­est is now snow­balling. Dr. Jonathan Leo crit­i­cized two impor­tant aspects of a recent a study pub­lished in JAMA that com­pared the effi­ca­cy of ther­a­py vs. med­ica­tion. JAMA edi­tors then tried to intim­i­date Dr. Leo and his uni­ver­si­ty. An inves­ti­ga­tion by the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion is under way.

ETech09 on Life Hack­ing and Brain Train­ing: Here you have the pre­sen­ta­tion Alvaro Fer­nan­dez deliv­ered at O’Reilly Emerg­ing Tech­nol­o­gy Con­fer­ence 2009, a gath­er­ing of tech­nol­o­gy pio­neers with a grow­ing inter­est in sci­ence and biol­o­gy top­ics.

Atten­tion!

Dis­tract­ed in the Work­place?: In a very-thought­ful 2-part inter­view (part 1 here, part 2 here), author Mag­gie Jack­son chal­lenges us to “First, ques­tion the val­ues that ven­er­ate McThink­ing and under­mine atten­tion.”

New Study Sup­ports Neu­ro­feed­back Treat­ment for ADHD: Dr. David Rabin­er reports the promis­ing find­ings from the first well-designed con­trolled tri­al on the effect of neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD.

Twit­ter

Final­ly, I want­ed to let you know that you can fol­low quick Sharp­Brains updates and some of my thoughts via Twit­ter: http://twitter.com/AlvaroF

Have a great Nation­al Car Care Month in April! (now, wouldn’t you please pay at least equal atten­tion to Brain Care than to Car Care?)

Teaching is the art of changing the brain

James Zull is a pro­fes­sor of Biol­o­gy. He is also Direc­tor Emer­i­tus of the Uni­ver­si­ty Cen­ter for Inno­va­tion in Teach­ing and Edu­ca­tion at Case West­ern Reserve Uni­ver­si­ty in Ohio. The Art of Changing  the Brain - James ZullThese roles most assured­ly coa­lesced in his 2002 book, The Art of Chang­ing the Brain: Enrich­ing the Prac­tice of Teach­ing by Explor­ing the Biol­o­gy of Learn­ing.

This is a book for both teach­ers and par­ents (because par­ents are also teach­ers!) Writ­ten with the earnest­ness of first-per­son expe­ri­ence and reflec­tion, and a life­time of exper­tise in biol­o­gy, Zull makes a well-round­ed case for his ideas. He offers those ideas for your perusal, pro­vid­ing much sup­port­ing evi­dence, but he doesn’t try to ram them into your psy­che. Rather, he prac­tices what he preach­es by engag­ing you with sto­ries, inform­ing you with fact, and encour­ag­ing your think­ing by the way he posits his ideas.

I have read a num­ber of books that trans­late cur­rent brain research into prac­tice while pro­vid­ing prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions for teach­ers to imple­ment. This is the first book I have read that pro­vides a bio­log­i­cal, and clear­ly ratio­nal, overview of learn­ing and the brain. Zull pro­vokes you into think­ing Read the rest of this entry »

Training Young Brains to Behave

Great arti­cle in the New York Times titled Train­ing Young Brains to Behave. A cou­ple of quotes:

- “But just as biol­o­gy shapes behav­ior, so behav­ior can accel­er­ate biol­o­gy. And a small group of edu­ca­tion­al and cog­ni­tive sci­en­tists now say that men­tal exer­cis­es of a cer­tain kind can teach chil­dren to become more self-pos­sessed at ear­li­er ages, reduc­ing stress lev­els at home and improv­ing their expe­ri­ence in school. Researchers can test this abil­i­ty, which they call exec­u­tive func­tion, and they say it is more strong­ly asso­ci­at­ed with school suc­cess than I.Q.”

- “We know that the pre­frontal cor­tex is not ful­ly devel­oped until the 20s, and some peo­ple will ask, Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Work as a Brain Fitness Program

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.

There is one type of “brain fit­ness pro­gram” which is not only free but also pays you back. You guessed it, that pro­gram is your “job”. Our occu­pa­tions can pro­vide ben­e­fi­cial men­tal exer­cise if they incor­po­rate the key ingre­di­ents of nov­el­ty, vari­ety, and chal­lenge, and are not a source of chron­ic stress.

We start today’s newslet­ter with two arti­cles relat­ed to the brain val­ue of hav­ing men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ing jobs.

Your Brain At Work

Your Brain At Work Brochure: Aren’t “tal­ent” and “human cap­i­tal” all about brain fit­ness and cog­ni­tive per­for­mance, real­ly? Indi­vid­u­als and Human Resources depart­ments can access excel­lent cog­ni­tive fit­ness tips, an action plan, and a great brochure pro­vid­ed by the Dana Alliance for Brain Ini­tia­tives and the Con­fer­ence Board for our read­ers.

ABC Reporter Bob Woodruff’s Recov­ery from Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury: For­mer US pres­i­den­tial con­tender and Sen­a­tor John Edwards recent­ly grant­ed an inter­view to reporter Bob Woodruff. The most remark­able aspect of the inter­view? Bob Woodruff’s spec­tac­u­lar recov­ery from the trau­mat­ic brain injury he suf­fered in Iraq 2 years ago. You can’t miss this inter­view with his wife Lee, where we dis­cuss Bob’s recov­ery process (includ­ing mak­ing a doc­u­men­tary, co-writ­ing a book and oth­er projects at ABC), the Bob Woodruff Foun­da­tion, and the over­all chal­lenge of cog­ni­tive reha­bil­i­ta­tion fol­low­ing trau­mat­ic brain injuries.

Research

San­ti­a­go Ramon y Cajal’s “Rec­ol­lec­tions of My Life”: Remark­able and can­did views on neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty, learn­ing, aging and life, straight from the auto­bi­og­ra­phy of one of the founders of mod­ern neu­ro­science, who once said “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculp­tor of his own brain.”

Can food improve brain health?: Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon pro­vides an overview of the effects of food on the brain, build­ing on Fer­nan­do Gomez-Pinilla’s recent study in Nature Reviews Neu­ro­science. Can­di­dates for “brainy” foods con­tain: Omega-3 fat­ty acid, folic acid, flavonoids, anti-oxi­dant foods. Please note her warn­ing, though: most of the stud­ies show­ing pos­i­tive effects have been con­duct­ed in mice.

The biol­o­gy of aging: A month­ly vir­tu­al gath­er­ing of blog­gers to dis­cuss Biol­o­gy of Aging top­ics includ­ing research, pol­i­cy, lifestyle guid­ance, and open ques­tions. We are aware that “aging” may not be the sex­i­est  of words in our vocab­u­lary… unless you con­sid­er the most com­mon alter­na­tive.

Tech­nol­o­gy

Brain Fit­ness Cen­ters in Senior Hous­ing — A Field in the Mak­ing: The Amer­i­can Seniors Hous­ing Asso­ci­a­tion (ASHA) has released an Spe­cial Issue Brief pre­pared by Sharp­Brains to pro­vide qual­i­ty infor­ma­tion on mar­ket trends, best prac­tices by lead­ing seniors hous­ing and long-term care orga­ni­za­tions, lessons from pilot stud­ies, nav­i­ga­tion­al guid­ance, and more. If you are a pro­fes­sion­al or exec­u­tive in the sec­tor, please con­sid­er pur­chas­ing a copy.

The Future of Com­put­er-assist­ed Cog­ni­tive Ther­a­py: Cog­ni­tive ther­a­py is one of the most researched types of brain train­ing, espe­cial­ly in deal­ing with depres­sion and anx­i­ety. Why don’t more peo­ple ben­e­fit today from it? The lack of a scal­able dis­tri­b­u­tion mod­el may per­haps explain that. We pre­dict that tech­nol­o­gy will help com­ple­ment the role of ther­a­pists, help­ing more peo­ple bet­ter cope with change, life, anx­i­ety, and a range of cog­ni­tive and emo­tion­al chal­lenges. With­out any stig­ma. Just as nat­u­ral­ly as one trains abdom­i­nal mus­cles today.

Brain Teas­er
Games for the Brain: Quick, can you iden­ti­fy what is going on in these pho­tographs?

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We hope you enjoyed this edi­tion. As always, you are wel­come to share these arti­cles with friends, and to give us feed­back, for extra brain work­out.

About SharpBrains

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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