Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Why, to improve memory, we need to think of the brain as a system

(Editor’s Note: every month we host an online Q&A with par­tic­i­pants in the e-course How To Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach. This is the light­ly edit­ed and anonymized tran­script from the Jan­u­ary Q&A ses­sion; the Feb­ru­ary Q&A will take place on Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 12th)

2:02
OK, ready to go! Hap­py 2013 again. You can start writ­ing your ques­tions and com­ments in the box at the bot­tom, and hit Send.

2:04
Ques­tion 
Which activ­i­ties or games or web­sites do you rec­om­mend to improve mem­o­ry? Read the rest of this entry »

Brain fitness class’ monthly Q&A: Memory, stress, emotions, and more

Reg­is­tered par­tic­i­pants in the new e-course How to Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach can take part in a month­ly online Q&A ses­sion to dis­cuss progress and open ques­tions with the course fac­ul­ty and with fel­low par­tic­i­pants. Below is the tran­script of the Octo­ber 30th Q&A ses­sion, light­ly edit­ed and anonymized.

Course Fac­ul­ty (or F): OK, we are ready to start. You can start writ­ing and sub­mit­ting any ques­tions and com­ments!  Read the rest of this entry »

New Online Course: How to Be Your Own Brain Fitness Coach in 2012

We are pleased to announce a new online course designed to equip par­tic­i­pants with the under­stand­ing and infor­ma­tion required to apply emerg­ing sci­ence and tools to enhance brain health and func­tion­al­ity across the lifes­pan.

Course descrip­tion: Infor­ma­tion over­load and longer lives expose our brains to more demands than even before. This fast-paced and inter­ac­tive online course will exam­ine the emerg­ing sci­ence of neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and cog­ni­tive reserve and sur­vey lat­est tools and best prac­tices to equip you to become your own ‘brain fit­ness coach’ and address per­sonal and pro­fes­sional pri­or­i­ties. Avail­able online from any­where with an Inter­net con­nec­tion, this course will help you pin­point ways to opti­mize brain health and func­tion­al­ity and delay decline, nav­i­gat­ing the maze of frag­mented research, super­fi­cial media cov­er­age and exag­ger­ated mar­ket­ing claims. The course is based on The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness –recent­ly named a Best Book by AARP– and Sharp­Brains’ new ABBC frame­work (Address Basics, Build Capac­i­ties), and includes week­ly read­ings and activ­i­ties.

Mechan­ics: The course con­sists of four two-hour-long live online ses­sions to be held in March 2012 (detailed syl­labus avail­able), and an online pri­vate forum for Fac­ulty and Par­tic­i­pants to inter­act dur­ing March and April 2012.

Who this is for: This course is for any­one who wants to under­stand how emerg­ing cog­ni­tive and affec­tive neu­ro­science can be applied to enhance brain health and per­for­mance, and who is will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in a fast-paced course that lever­ages e-learn­ing to facil­i­tate a glob­al learn­ing expe­ri­ence.

Note: In order to ensure a valu­able and inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ence, par­tic­i­pa­tion will be lim­ited to the first 200 indi­vid­u­als who reg­is­ter.

Fac­ul­ty:

  • Instruc­tor: Alvaro Fer­nan­dez (Sharp­Brains)
  • Guest Lec­tur­ers: Alvaro Pas­cual-Leone (Har­vard Med­ical School), Robert M. Bilder (UCLA Semel Insti­tute for Neu­ro­science and Human Behav­ior)

To Learn More and Reg­is­ter, please vis­it the course page: How to Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach in 2012.

Top 10 Brain Training Trends — Putting our Cognitive Reserve to Work

Yes­ter­day I had the chance to chat with Yaakov Stern, lead­ing Cog­ni­tive Reserve researcher at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, and then with a group of 25 life­long learn­ers in Ari­zona who attend­ed a brain fit­ness class (hel­lo, Robert and friends!) based on our con­sumer guide The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness. On reflec­tion, I found both con­ver­sa­tions to be very stim­u­lat­ing for the same rea­son: they were for­ward-look­ing, focused not so much on sta­tus quo but on how emerg­ing research, tech­nol­o­gy and trends may impact our soci­ety and lives in years to come. Let’s con­tin­ue the con­ver­sa­tion. Let me share the 10 main trends that we analyzed/ fore­cast­ed in our book, and then ask you, sharp read­ers, to add your own 2 cents to the dis­cus­sion. Read the rest of this entry »

Update: 15 FAQs on Neuroplasticity / Brain Plasticity

Here you have the Octo­ber edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics.

We recent­ly run an online sur­vey among sub­scribers of our month­ly eNewslet­ter, and over 500 peo­ple neuroplasticity faqssaid we have helped them make bet­ter per­son­al or pro­fes­sion­al deci­sions on how to main­tain and improve brain fit­ness. Respon­dents also had many good ques­tions to ask, so I have select­ed 15 com­mon ones, paraphrased/ syn­the­sized them below, and answered them by link­ing to our most rel­e­vant posts and resources. I hope you enjoy the FAQ ses­sion.

Q: I teach a brain fit­ness class at my library/ senior center/ school, using much of your info. Can you share some of your pre­sen­ta­tions?
A: Yes, we have just decid­ed to share, using a Cre­ative Com­mons Attri­bu­tion No Deriv­a­tives License, the full pre­sen­ta­tion of my recent book talk at New York Pub­lic Library (opens video in YouTube). As long as you give cred­it to Sharp­Brains and don’t mod­i­fy it, you are free to use the pre­sen­ta­tion you can view and down­load HERE.

Q: What exact­ly does neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty neurons in actionmean, and why is it so impor­tant for edu­ca­tion and health?
A: Start by read­ing how learn­ing changes your brain.

Q. Is this only rel­e­vant for old­er adults? Can I also apply it in the work­place (I am 47)
A. I strong­ly sus­pect you do have a human brain, so you may ben­e­fit from these Ten Habits of High­ly Effec­tive Brains. Fur­ther, HR depart­ments would do well to start pay­ing more atten­tion to Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness and the Mature Work­force trends.

Q. I read so many con­flict­ing things I don’t know where to start.
A. You are not alone. We should all be aware that It is Not Only Cars That Deserve Good Main­te­nance: Brain Care 101.

Q. How can my orga­ni­za­tion deliv­er brain fit­ness activ­i­ties as a com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice?
A. These arti­cles will pro­vide good guide­lines and ideas: Retool­ing Use It or Lose It , and Pub­lic Libraries: Com­mu­ni­ty-Based Health Clubs for the Brain.

Q. Every­one seems obsessed with brain games. What about med­i­ta­tion?
A. Check out Yes, You Can Build Willpow­er, and Mind­ful­ness Med­i­ta­tion in Schools.

Q. Are soft­ware-based cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions effec­tive?
A. As a cat­e­go­ry, it cer­tain­ly seems so, as long as we ask the right ques­tions, For Whom, For What?. For exam­ple, did you see this Sci­ence paper on how Cog­ni­tive Train­ing Can Influ­ence Dopamine Sys­tem?.

Q. What about the trade-off between time invest­ed vs ben­e­fits real­ized.
A. Effi­cien­cy and replic­a­bil­i­ty of cog­ni­tive and brain-based out­comes seem to be, in fact, the strongest points of struc­tured cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions. They seem to max­i­mize the Cog­ni­tive Val­ue of your Men­tal Work­out.


Q. It some­times looks like the whole field came out of nowhere, due to Nin­ten­do Brain Age’s suc­cess, so we can’t be talk­ing about some­thing seri­ous.

A: Nin­ten­do did indeed cre­ate con­sumer aware­ness (for a prod­uct with lit­tle evi­dence) but “brain train­ing” has sol­id roots in neu­ropsy­chol­o­gy and cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science, as you can read in our inter­view with Elkhonon Gold­berg.

Q. What about neu­ro­feed­back?
A. After years of much clin­i­cal use and lit­tle sol­id evi­dence, sev­er­al impor­tant tri­als have been pub­lished since 2009, show­ing how neu­ro­feed­back can help diag­nose and treat ADHD patients, for exam­ple.

Q. How can one improve mem­o­ry?

A. Well, the answer deserves a whole book, but we can offer some Tips to Improve Mem­o­ry includ­ing Sleep, Prac­tice and Test­ing.

Q. How can I brain fitness bookschoose one among the num­ber of prod­ucts mak­ing mem­o­ry and brain claims?
A. We sug­gest you use this Eval­u­a­tion check­list, and con­sid­er read­ing our con­sumer guide/ book.

Q. Any gen­er­al tips for edu­ca­tors and life­long learn­ers?
A. Indeed, here you have these 10 Brain Tips to Teach and Learn.

Q. How can I keep track of all the new brain fitness market infographictrends, com­pa­nies and prod­ucts? Our health system/ insurer/ senior community/ ven­ture firm/ com­pa­ny needs to make good deci­sions.
A. Well, that’s why we pub­lish mar­ket research, such as the one sum­ma­rized in this Info­graph­ic: State of the Mar­ket 2009 and also recent­ly launched a pro­fes­sion­al Net­work for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion.

Q: Thank you for all the infor­ma­tion you provide…but what I want more of is… brain teasers!
A. Under­stood. We will make sure to offer more, but you can try, right now, these Top 50 Brain Teasers and con­tin­ue with more recent puz­zles and brain games.

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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