Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Fitness Software Report: Reviews

A few recent accolades for our just released Market Report:

“An in-depth and credible market research report that provides an objective view for investors and executives looking for gaming and health opportunities in the growing “brain training” space. This report is a must-read to understand the state of the market, the players, and key trends.
— Daniel Goldman, founder of Total Entertainment Network and former executive at Posit Science Corporation.

This report is a must have for those in the brain health industry. Finally, an easy to use objective resource organizing the flurry of global brain health activities. The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market report not only tells the story of cognitive training and brain fitness, but provides a broad range of data allowing one to more swiftly navigate the current terrain and future landscape.”
— Debra Raybold, Director, Brain Health Center, Memorial Hospital Health System, South Bend, Indiana.

This report is comprehensive to say the least. It provides an essential service for long term care organizations who want to provide mind-enhancing programs and services. There is a Read the rest of this entry »

Exercise On the Brain: a NYT OpEd

Brain Health NewsThe New York Times just published an OpEd that may be throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Exercise on the Brain extols the virtue of physical exercise for brain health at the expense of other important pillars such as good nutrition, stress management and mental exercise.

We have sent a Letter to the Editor to clarify the subject and put their main recommendation (go out and walk, or join the gym) in better context.

Let’s quickly review the four essential pillars to help maintain a healthy brain, and suggest some tips. Those pillars are:

  • Physical Exercise
  • Mental Exercise
  • Good Nutrition
  • Stress Management
  1. 1. Physical Exercise
    • – Start by talking to your doctor, especially if you are not currently physically active, have special health concerns, or are making significant changes to your current program.
    • – Set a goal that you can achieve. Do something you enjoy for even just 15 minutes a day. You can always add more time and activities later.
    • – Schedule exercise into your daily routine. It will be become a habit faster if you do.
    • – If you can only do one thing, do something cardiovascular, meaning something that gets your heart beating faster. This includes walking, running, skiing, swimming, biking, hiking, tennis, basketball, playing tag, ultimate Frisbee, and other similar sports/activities.
  2. 2. Mental Exercise
    • – Be curious! Get to know your local library and community college, look for local organizations or churches that offer classes or workshops
    • – Do a variety of things, including things you aren’t good at (if you like to sing, try painting too)
    • – Work puzzles like crosswords and sudoku or play games like chess and bridge
    • – Try a computerized brain fitness program for a customized workout
    • – If you can only do one thing, learn something new every day
  3. Good Nutrition
    • – Eat a variety of foods of different colors without a lot of added ingredients or processes
    • – Plan your meals around your vegetables, and then add fruit, protein, dairy, and/or grains
    • – Add some cold-water fish to your diet (tuna, salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, and herring) which contain omega-3 fatty acids
    • – Learn what a portion-size is, so you don’t overeat
    • – Try to eat more foods low on the Glycemic Index
    • – If you can only do one thing, eat more vegetables, particularly leafy green ones
  4. Stress Management
    • – Get regular cardiovascular exercise
    • – Try to get enough sleep each night
    • – Keep connected with your friends and family
    • – Practice meditation, yoga, or some other calming activity as way to take a relaxing time-out (maybe a bath)
    • – Try training with a heart rate variability biofeedback sensor 
    • – If you can only do one thing, set aside 5-10 minutes to just breathe deeply and recharge

Are there specific brain fitness programs for kids? My kids have problems with math.

Here is question 22 from Brain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Questions.


Are there specific brain fitness programs for kids? My kids have problems with math-why should they do these things that may distract them?

Key Points:
  • Learning stress management skills can reduce test anxiety and improve learning readiness.
  • If stress levels are too high, concentration and focus are negatively impacted.

Read the rest of this entry »

Emotional self-regulation and test anxiety

We wrote yesterday about Growing Super Athletes (each of our students) and how “Learning” goes beyond what we typically call “Education”. One of the skills needed for success at school and life is emotional self-regulation, and a recent article on SharpBrains in La Opinion (main US-based Spanish-language newspaper) touched precisely on that.

Below you have the link, and quotes, in Spanish. The gist of the article is similar to this previous article in Technology & Learning magazine: Take a Deep Breath: Biofeedback software is helping students calm down for better test performance.

La Opinion article, by Lucero Amador: Secreto para triunfar en los exámenes

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.


  • 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 »

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