Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Debunking 10 Cognitive Health and Fitness Myths

As part of the research behind the book The Sharp­Brains Guide for Brain Fit­ness we inter­viewed dozens of lead­ing cog­ni­tive health and fit­ness sci­en­tists and experts world­wide to learn about their research and thoughts, and have a num­ber of take-aways to report.

What Santiago Ramon y Cajal can we clear­ly say today that we could­n’t have said only 10 years ago? That what neu­ro­science pio­neer San­ti­a­go Ramon y Cajal claimed in the XX cen­tu­ry, “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculp­tor his own brain”, may well become real­i­ty in the XXI.

And trans­form Edu­ca­tion, Health, Train­ing, and Gam­ing in the process, since Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Newsletter: October Edition

Brain exercise, brain exercisesFol­low­ing our Sep­tem­ber edi­tion, here you are have our Month­ly Digest of the Most Pop­u­lar Blog Posts. You can con­sid­er it your month­ly Brain Exer­cise Mag­a­zine.

(Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our RSS feed, check our Top­ics sec­tion, and sub­scribe to our month­ly newslet­ter at the top of this page if you want to receive this Digest by email).

Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket News

Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness as a New Fron­tier of Fit­ness: excel­lent Los Ange­les Times arti­cle, cov­er­ing the cog­ni­tive exer­cise angle of healthy aging and lead­ing sci­ence-based play­ers.

A Brain Fit­ness Vaca­tion: what does this mean? Well, read this fun arti­cle to dis­cov­er.

Rethink­ing the Brain Fit­ness Busi­ness: thought-pro­vok­ing arti­cle on the future of the sec­tor from a busi­ness point of view.

Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness @ Har­vard Busi­ness Review: HBR makes a first attempt to bring neu­ro­science research into help­ing lead­ers per­form at peak lev­els and main­tain sharp brains.

News You Can Use

Train Your Brain to Be Hap­pi­er: impli­ca­tions of neu­ro­science and pos­i­tive psy­chol­o­gy research for our dai­ly lives-and our hap­pi­ness. Please keep tuned if you are inter­est­ed in this top­ic: we will pub­lish soon a great inter­view with Dr. Robert Emmons, lead­ing researcher in the field of grat­i­tude.

Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness: 10 Debunked Myths: what are some mis­con­cep­tions that pre­vent many peo­ple from see­ing the tremen­dous poten­tial from this emerg­ing research?. Read this post to dis­cov­er and dis­cuss.

10 (Sur­pris­ing) Mem­o­ry Improve­ment Tips: and why stress man­age­ment is impor­tant for mem­o­ry and our brain.

Teasers

Top 50 Brain Teasers and Games with a neu­ro­science angle: a list of the most pop­u­lar mind games in our blog.

Events

10 High­lights from the 2007 Aspen Health Forum: a sum­ma­ry of impres­sions from this great event, includ­ing what can hap­pen when you have sci­en­tists and politi­cians in the same room.

Brain Fit­ness @ Edu­ca­tion, Train­ing, Health events: an overview of a num­ber of con­fer­ences and uni­ver­si­ty class­es with a brain fit­ness angle.

Thought-pro­vok­ing posts

Dar­win’s adult neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty: reflec­tions of a beau­ti­ful mind that ‑as self-report­ed at the age of 72- could have been even more beau­ti­ful.The Gene Delu­sion: IQ and the envi­ron­ment: do genes deter­mine our fates? They don’t. They why do we seem to believe so so often?.

Dis­counts for Sharp­Brains read­ers

Learn­ing & The Brain Con­fer­ence: the best con­fer­ence bring­ing neu­ro­science research to edu­ca­tors’ minds, Feb­ru­ary 7–9th in San Fran­cis­co. Reg­is­ter before Jan­u­ary 25th, 2008, for a dis­count­ed price and to make sure you can attend and see our work­shop!

Mind­Fit 10% spe­cial dis­count: a 10% dis­count on one of the most pop­u­lar brain fit­ness pro­grams, that com­bines both an in-depth assess­ment of cog­ni­tive skills with per­son­al­ized train­ing.

Books and Resources

Best of the Brain from Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can: a superb col­lec­tion of essays for the curi­ous among us.

Select­ed Resources: Arti­cles, Books, Papers: numer­ous links to media arti­cles, sci­en­tif­ic papers, and rec­om­mend­ed books.

Enjoy!

Cognitive Fitness and Brain Improvement: 10 Debunked Myths

Over the last year we have inter­viewed a num­ber of lead­ing brain health and fit­ness sci­en­tists and prac­ti­tion­ers world­wide to learn about their research and thoughts, and have news to report.

What can we say today that we could­n’t have said only 10 years ago? That what neu­ro­science pio­neer San­ti­a­go Ramon ySantiago Ramon y Cajal Cajal claimed in the XX cen­tu­ry, “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculp­tor his own brain”, may well become real­i­ty in the XXI. And influ­ence Edu­ca­tion, Health, Train­ing, and Gam­ing in the process.

We have only scratched the sur­face of what sci­ence-based struc­tured cog­ni­tive (i.e., men­tal) exer­cise can do for brain health and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. We are now wit­ness­ing the birth of a new indus­try that cross­es tra­di­tion­al sec­tor bound­aries and that may help us under­stand, assess and train our brains, har­ness­ing the grow­ing research about neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis (the cre­ation of new neu­rons), neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty (the abil­i­ty of the brain to rewire itself through expe­ri­ence), cog­ni­tive train­ing and emo­tion­al reg­u­la­tion.

Let’s now debunk 10 myths, still too preva­lent, that may pre­vent us from see­ing the full poten­tial of this emerg­ing field:

Myth 1: It’s all in our genes.

Real­i­ty: A big com­po­nent of our life­long brain health and devel­op­ment depends on what we do with our brains. Our own actions, not only our genes, influ­ence our lives to a large extent. Genes pre­dis­pose us, not deter­mine our fates.

Indi­vid­u­als who lead men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ing lives, through edu­ca­tion, occu­pa­tion and leisure activ­i­ties, have reduced risk of devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s. Stud­ies sug­gest that they have 35–40% less risk of man­i­fest­ing the dis­ease” — Dr. Yaakov Stern, Divi­sion Leader of the Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science Divi­sion of the Sergievsky Cen­ter at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty.

Myth 2: The field of Cognitive/ Brain Fit­ness is too new to be cred­i­ble.

Real­i­ty: The field rests on sol­id foun­da­tions dat­ing back more decades — what is new is the num­ber and range of tools that are now start­ing to be avail­able for healthy indi­vid­u­als.

Rig­or­ous and tar­get­ed cog­ni­tive train­ing has been used in clin­i­cal prac­tice for many years. Exer­cis­ing our brains sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly is as impor­tant as exer­cis­ing our bod­ies.” — Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg, neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist, Frontal Lobes fMRIclin­i­cal pro­fes­sor of neu­rol­o­gy at New York Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine, and dis­ci­ple of Alexan­der Luria.

Today, thanks to fMRI and oth­er neu­roimag­ing tech­niques, we are start­ing to under­stand the impact our actions can have on spe­cif­ic parts of the brain.” — Dr. Judith Beck, Direc­tor of the Beck Insti­tute for Cog­ni­tive Ther­a­py and Research.

Myth 3: Med­ica­tion is and will remain the only evi­dence-based inter­ven­tion for a num­ber of brain-relat­ed prob­lems.

Real­i­ty: Cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams are start­ing to Read the rest of this entry »

Top Ten Tips for Women Who Lead Men

Thinking menEllen recent­ly wrote a nice post titled Top Ten Tips for Men Who Lead Women, and asked for vol­un­teers to offer a com­ple­men­tary per­spec­tive. I hope you enjoy!

  1. We men know we are hard to lead, and that can be stress­ful for you and for us. You should know that stress affects short term mem­o­ry, so it is impor­tant to be able to man­age stress well, with med­i­ta­tion or oth­er meth­ods. Check here your lev­el of stress to see how much this point applies to you. Please remem­ber, laugh­ing is good for your brain.
  2. Don’t think too much-we don’t. If we do, we try to find ways to self-talk us out of that uncom­fort­able state.
  3. Please remem­ber our hum­ble ori­gins. We are tool-using ani­mals, which is why we like play­ing with all kinds of toys, from a car to that black­ber­ry.
  4. When we are stub­born, you are enti­tled to remind us that even apes can learn-if you help us see the point. Show us that change is pos­si­ble at any age. Believe it or not, we can lis­ten.
  5. Espe­cial­ly if we can find com­mon ground: what about chat­ting about sports psy­chol­o­gy?.
  6. Please moti­vate us to lis­ten and be open mind­ed to learn with wise words. If that does­n’t work, please per­se­vere with nice words. Please don’t ever say that we are worse than pink dol­phins-if we feel attacked, we’ll just dis­en­gage.
  7. Some­times we don’t coop­er­ate enough?. Please give us time for our brains to ful­ly evolve, we have been try­ing for a while!
  8. You can help us grow. For the next lead­er­ship work­shop, buy us copies of the Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain book. You may think we don’t need this… but at our core we real­ly want to get bet­ter at Grat­i­tude and Altru­ism. We want to be able to play with the ulti­mate toy: our genes!
  9. If that book is sold out, we could also ben­e­fit from read­ing Dama­sio’s Descartes Error and dis­cov­er how emo­tions are impor­tant for good deci­sion-mak­ing. Or help us improve our abil­i­ty to read emo­tion­al mes­sages. As long as we believe we can some­how ben­e­fit from it, we’ll try!
  10. If you lead some­one with Bill Gates-like Frontal Lobes, con­grat­u­late him for his brain. If you don’t, encour­age him to fol­low track. Please be patient

Now, any tak­ers for Top Ten Tips for Women Who Lead Women or Men Who Lead Men?

Mind & Life Institute

My wife and I were for­tu­nate to con­duct recent­ly a mind train­ing exper­i­ment, in the form of a breath­ing & med­i­ta­tion retreat, with some neu­ro­sci­en­tists and Adam Engle, Co-Founder and Chair­man of the Mind & Life Insti­tute (nice name, isn’t it?)

The Mind and Life Dia­logues “start­ed in 1987 as an exper­i­ment to deter­mine whether a sci­en­tif­ic exchange could occur between mod­ern sci­ence and Bud­dhism. MLI has now spon­sored 14 dia­logues (between the Dalai Lama and neu­ro­sci­en­tists) over the last 20 years. In that time MLI has become a rec­og­nized world leader in the emerg­ing sci­en­tif­ic inves­ti­ga­tion of the effects of con­tem­pla­tive prac­tices on the brain, behav­ior, and the trans­la­tion of this data into effec­tive tools to ben­e­fit all peo­ple every­where.”

A few notes from our con­ver­sa­tion with Adam

  • - He helped launch the Mind & Life Insti­tute to build a sci­ence-based field of inter­dis­ci­pli­nary study to inves­ti­gate the appli­ca­tions of the “data­base of prac­tices” that Bud­dhism and some Chris­t­ian tra­di­tions have accu­mu­lat­ed over milen­nia
  • - From ear­ly on it became clear that they need­ed to engage West­ern neu­ro­sci­en­tists in order to be cred­i­ble and become a real East-West bridge with poten­tial to reach main­stream soci­ety. You can see below a par­tial list of par­tic­i­pants in their most recent meet­ing, 2 weeks ago
  • - They are very hap­py that Sharon Beg­ley’s book Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain has become a non-fic­tion Best­seller, since it is based on one of the Mind & Life Dia­logues (more on Books on neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty)
  • - He is glad to see the inroads that Mind­ful­ness-Based Stress Reduc­tion (MBSR) is mak­ing in the med­ical world thanks to sol­id research. He believes the Cor­po­rate Train­ing and Lead­er­ship mar­ket is also going to become very inter­est­ed in this tech­nique for stress man­age­ment. The main bot­tle­neck for growth? the exist­ing num­ber of qual­i­fied instruc­tors does not meet the increas­ing demand.

The Insti­tute spon­sors research in a num­ber of ways, and they just announced that the 3rd annu­al Sci­en­tists Retreat will take place 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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