Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Boost your Attention with Meditation

Brain training does not necessarily mean computerized games. For instance, mediation may be a great tool to train your brain.

Different parts of the brain support different functions. One function, central to many of our actions, is “attention”. Attention can be defined as the ability to sustain concentration on a particular object, action, or thought.
It can also be defined as the ability to manage competing demands in our environment.connections between neurons, die. In the brain it is supported mainly by neuronal networks in the parietal (yellow in the figure) and frontal (blue in the figure) lobes.

What can be done to maintain and boost such a fundamental ability?

Dr. Andrew Newberg (Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology and Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania), here interviewed by Alvaro Fernandez (CEO of SharpBrains) suggests that meditation may have cognitive benefits, especially related to attention: Read the rest of this entry »

Fitter bodies = fitter brains. True at all ages?

The results of recently published studies suggest that fitter children also have fitter brains. It looks like exer­cis­ing your body pro­motes brain health. Is this true at all ages? How does it work? How much exercise should we do?

Physical activity and brain health in children

An emerging literature suggests that physical activity and high levels of aerobic fitness during childhood  may enhance cognition. In the 2 most recent studies by Kramer and colleagues (2010), the cognitive performance and the brains of higher-fit and lower-fit 9- and 10-year-old children were examined.

In one study, fitter children did better than less fit children in a task requiring to ignore irrelevant information and attend to relevant cues. Fitter children also had larger basal ganglia (more specifically dorsal striatum) than less fit children. The basal ganglia play a key role in cognitive control (e.g. preparing, initiating, inhibiting, switching responses).

In another study, fitter children did better than less fit children in a task requiring to memorize information. Read the rest of this entry »

Tracking decline in the brain from the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s

Inter­est­ing arti­cle on The Dana Foundation website on how to monitor cognitive decline in the brain in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s: Functional MRI May Be Useful for Monitoring Cognitive Decline in the Elderly (Dana Foundation)

Alzheimer’s researchers have long wanted to find better ways not only to diagnose the disease but also to monitor its progression from the earliest stages.

A new study suggests that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technique currently used mainly for neuroscience research or to guide brain surgery, could be useful in this clinical role.

[…] an elegant and thought-provoking study.

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.

Take-aways

  • 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 »

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 and think tank tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

Learn More & Reserve Your Spot At Discounted Rates

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.