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Brain Fitness Update: Best of 2008

Dear read­er and mem­ber of Sharp­Brains’ com­mu­ni­ty,
We want to thank you for your atten­tion and sup­port in 2008, and wish you a Hap­py, brain fitness and health newsletterPros­per­ous, Healthy and Pos­i­tive 2009!

Below you have the Decem­ber edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter. Enjoy:

Best of 2008

Announc­ing the Sharp­Brains Most Impor­tant Book of 2008: Neu­ro­sci­en­tist Torkel Kling­berg has writ­ten a very stim­u­lat­ing and acces­si­ble book on a cru­cial top­ic for our Infor­ma­tion Age: The Over­flow­ing Brain: Infor­ma­tion Over­load and the Lim­its of Work­ing Mem­o­ry. We have named it The Sharp­Brains Most Impor­tant Book of 2008, and asked Dr. Kling­berg to write a brief arti­cle to intro­duce his research and book to you. Enjoy it here.

Top 30 Brain Fit­ness Arti­cles of 2008: We have com­piled Sharp­Brains’ 30 most pop­u­lar arti­cles, writ­ten by thir­teen Expert Con­trib­u­tors and staff mem­bers for you. Have you read them all?

Novem­ber-Decem­ber News: No month goes by with­out sig­nif­i­cant news in the field of cog­ni­tive fit­ness. Sum­ma­rized here are 10 recent devel­op­ments wor­thy of atten­tion, includ­ing an upcom­ing brain train­ing prod­uct for ice hock­ey play­ers, my lec­ture at New York Pub­lic Library, and more.

Inter­views: Videogames, Med­i­ta­tion

Are videogames good for your brain?: A land­mark study by Dr. Arthur Kramer and col­leagues has shown that play­ing a strat­e­gy videogame can bring a vari­ety of sig­nif­i­cant men­tal ben­e­fits to old­er brains. Anoth­er recent study, also by Kramer and col­leagues, does not show sim­i­lar ben­e­fits to younger brains (despite play­ing the same game). How can this be? Dr. Kramer, who has kind­ly agreed to serve on Sharp­Brains’ Sci­en­tif­ic Advi­so­ry Board, elab­o­rates.

Med­i­ta­tion on the Brain: Dr. Andrew New­berg pro­vides an excel­lent overview of the brain ben­e­fits of prac­tices such as med­i­ta­tion. He rec­om­mends, “look for some­thing sim­ple, easy to try first, ensur­ing the prac­tice is com­pat­i­ble with one’s beliefs and goals. You need to match prac­tice with need: under­stand the spe­cif­ic goals you have in mind, your sched­ule and lifestyle, and find some­thing prac­ti­cal.”

The Need for Objec­tive Assess­ments

Cog­ni­tive screen­ings and Alzheimer’s Dis­ease: The Alzheimer’s Foun­da­tion of Amer­i­ca just released a thought­ful report advo­cat­ing for wide­spread cog­ni­tive screen­ings after the age of 65 (55 giv­en the right con­di­tions). Sharp­Brains read­ers, probed by Dr. Joshua Stein­er­man, seem to agree.

Quan­ti­ta­tive EEG for ADHD diag­no­sis: Dr. David Rabin­er reports on the find­ings from a recent study that doc­u­ments the util­i­ty of Quan­ti­ta­tive EEG as an objec­tive test to assist in the diag­no­sis of ADHD. If this pro­ce­dure were to become more wide­ly used, he sug­gests, the num­ber of chil­dren and ado­les­cents who are inap­pro­pri­ate­ly diag­nosed and treat­ed for the dis­or­der would dimin­ish sub­stan­tial­ly.

Shall we ques­tion the brand new book of human trou­bles?: The fights over the new ver­sion of the psy­chi­atric diag­nos­tic man­u­al, the DSM‑V, are start­ing to come to light. Dr. Vaugh­an Bell won­ders why the pub­lic debate avoids the key ques­tion of whether diag­no­sis itself is use­ful for men­tal health and why psy­cho­met­rics are sim­ply ignored.

Resources for Life­long Learn­ing

Edu­ca­tion builds Cog­ni­tive Reserve for Alzheimers Dis­ease Pro­tec­tion: Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon reviews a recent study that sup­ports the Cog­ni­tive Reserve hypoth­e­sis — men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ing expe­ri­ences through­out life, such as for­mal edu­ca­tion, help build a reserve in our brains that con­tributes to a low­er prob­a­bil­i­ty of devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s symp­toms.

5 Tips on Life­long Learn­ing & the Adult Brain: Lau­rie Bar­tels asks us to please please 1) chal­lenge our­selves with new learn­ing, 2) remem­ber that neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis are hall­marks of our brains, 3) check for mis-learn­ing on an ongo­ing basis, 4) more visu­als, less text, 5) move it, move it — start today!

Neu­ro­science Core Con­cepts: We all have heard “Use It or Lose It”. Now, what is “It”? The Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science (SfN) has just released a user-friend­ly pub­li­ca­tion titled Neu­ro­science Core Con­cepts, aimed at help­ing edu­ca­tors and the gen­er­al pub­lic learn more about the brain.

Top 30 Brain Health and Fitness Articles of 2008

Here brain teasers job interview you have Sharp­Brains’ 30 most pop­u­lar arti­cles, ranked by the num­ber of peo­ple who have read each arti­cle in 2008.

Please note that, since the first arti­cle already includes most of our most pop­u­lar brain teasers, we have exclud­ed teasers from the rest of the rank­ing. (If those 50 are not enough for you, you can also try these brain teasers).

Blog Chan­nel
Arti­cle
1. Top 50 Brain Teasers and Games to Test your Brain
It is always good to stim­u­late our minds and to learn a bit about how our brains work. Here you have a selec­tion of the 50 Brain Teasers that peo­ple have enjoyed the most.
2. The Ten Habits of High­ly Effec­tive Brains
Let’s review some good lifestyle options we can fol­low to main­tain, and improve, our vibrant brains. My favorite: don’t out­source your brain (even to us).
3. Why do You Turn Down the Radio When You’re Lost?
You’re dri­ving through sub­ur­bia one evening look­ing for the street where you’re sup­posed to have din­ner at a friend’s new house. You slow down to a crawl, turn down the radio, stop talk­ing, and stare at every sign. Why is that? Nei­ther the radio nor talk­ing affects your vision. Or do they?
4. Brain Plas­tic­i­ty: How learn­ing changes your brain
You may have heard that the brain is plas­tic. As you know the brain is not made of plas­tic! Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty or brain plas­tic­i­ty refers to the brain’s abil­i­ty to CHANGE through­out life.
5. Top 10 Brain Train­ing Future Trends
In an emerg­ing mar­ket like brain fit­ness train­ing, it is dif­fi­cult to make pre­cise pro­jec­tions. But, we can observe a num­ber of trends that exec­u­tives, con­sumers, pub­lic pol­i­cy mak­ers, and the media should watch close­ly in the com­ing years, as brain fit­ness and train­ing becomes main­stream, new tools appear, and an ecosys­tem grows around it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Neurogenesis and Brain Plasticity in Adult Brains

Back in July, I wrote a post enti­tled 10 Brain Tips To Teach and Learn. Those tips apply to stu­dents of any age, includ­ing adults, for ide­al­ly adults are still learn­ers. Why is adult learn­ing rel­e­vant in a brain-focused blog, you may won­der:

The short of it

As we age, our brain:

still forms new brain cells
can change its struc­ture & func­tion
finds pos­i­tive stress can be ben­e­fi­cial; neg­a­tive stress can be detri­men­tal
can thrive on nov­el chal­lenges
needs to be exer­cised, just like our bod­ies

The long of it

Adults may have a ten­den­cy to get set in their ways have been doing it this way for a long time and it works, so why change? Turns out, though, that change can be a way to keep aging brains healthy. At the April Learn­ing & the Brain con­fer­ence, the theme of which was neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty, I attend­ed sev­er­al ses­sions on adult learn­ing. Here’s what the experts are say­ing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Update: The Future of Brain Assessments

Here you are 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.

News and Analy­sis

Com­put­er­ized Cog­ni­tive Assess­ments: oppor­tu­ni­ties and con­cerns: health com­pa­nies and the mil­i­tary are start­ing to use new tools to assess brain func­tions in con­texts that nei­ther neu­roimag­ing nor tra­di­tion­al neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal test­ing can reach. This is a crit­i­cal piece of the brain fit­ness puz­zle that is worth keep­ing track of, full of oppor­tu­ni­ties, but also pri­va­cy con­cerns.

Cog­ni­tive Health News Roundup: recent news cov­er­ing stud­ies on men­tal train­ing and DNA, on nutri­tion and the brain, and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Memory Improvement Techniques and Brain Exercises

Fitness TrainerA read­er (thanks Mike!) sends us this fun arti­cle, titled A mat­ter of train­ing, on how to train our mem­o­ry. Some quotes:

It’s a skill, not a tal­ent. It’s some­thing any­one could have picked up … I’m not born with this. It’s about train­ing and tech­nique, he says, explain­ing his unusu­al abil­i­ty. Anant holds the Lim­ca Record  the Indi­an equiv­a­lent of the Guin­ness Record œ for mem­o­ris­ing 75 tele­phone num­bers, along with the names of their own­ers, in less than an hour. He is recog­nised as “the man with the most phe­nom­e­nal mem­o­ry in India.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, most peo­ple think that mem­o­ris­ing is very dif­fi­cult. The moment they see some­one demon­strate some­thing like this, they think it’s out of this world.

If you want to remem­ber some­thing, you have to link it to some­thing you already know. Asso­ci­a­tion is the nat­ur­al prin­ci­pal. For exam­ple, if you need direc­tions to a place, a land­mark is often used as a point of ref­er­ence. And if you derive plea­sure from some­thing you do, there’s a good chance you’ll remem­ber it. Since the brain already works in this man­ner, why don’t we take con­trol of it?

To me, an intel­li­gent per­son is some­one who is able to put togeth­er more of his skills to solve a prob­lem. Intel­li­gence is about using strate­gies.

The key con­cept here is that mem­o­ry, as well as oth­er cog­ni­tive skills, can be trained through 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,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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