Mental and degenerative disorders are among the most costly and common causes of disability in society today. Because the brain is the most complex organ in the human body, diagnosing and treating problems when things go wrong poses enormous challenges. Even before the 1990s was designated the Decade of the Brain, the potential of neuroimaging—the technology that makes it possible to see inside the working brain—was a major focus in [Read more…] about Neuroimaging, big data and mental health: A survey of the land
Scientists have been studying biological signs of depression in the brain, looking for markers that could be used to identify the disorder. A team of scientists recently developed a technique using machine learning that can identify whether a given patient’s brain scan shows one of depression’s neural signatures [Read more…] about Machine learning study finds standardized brain scan biomarker to detect depression with 66% accuracy
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring fascinating findings, books and resources for lifelong brain health.
#1. “The human brain (section; left image above) functions thanks to its wide neuronal network that is deemed to contain approximately 69 billion neurons. On the other hand, the observable universe (section simulation; right image) can count upon a cosmic web of at least 100 billion galaxies. Within both systems, only 30% of their masses are composed of galaxies and neurons. Within both systems, galaxies and neurons arrange themselves in long filaments or nodes between the filaments. Finally, within both systems, 70% of the distribution of mass or energy is composed of components playing an apparently passive role: water in the brain and dark energy in the observable Universe.” Understanding Brain Health via Cosmological Health, and vice versa
#2. One very smart and generous brain to brighten your day: Indian teacher Ranjitsinh Disale wins annual $1M Global Teacher Prize; shares half with 9 finalists
#3. “Of all the qualities parents can cultivate in their children, hope and optimism are the most precious. We can nurture hope and optimism in our kids by demonstrating that we always have some control over our environment and ourselves. The future isn’t a tide that’s going to crush us, it’s a wave we’re a part of.” — Madeline Levine, author of Ready or Not. Three favorite 2020 books on parenting and mental health
#5. This survey of 2500 families about what ADHD treatments seem to work/ not work finds that 49% of parents report Exercise to be ‘Extremely or Very Effective;’ above any other treatment.
#6. On the dangers of “productizing” lifestyle guidelines that help build brain reserve and delay cognitive problems; Buyer beware: The story of a pricey and “credentialled” program to end Alzheimer’s Disease
#7. Now, given that “In a new McKinsey report, 62% of employees consider mental health issues a top challenge,” it is good to see growing resources and approaches aimed at addressing the challenge: Calm raises $75 million, expands into corporate mental health and wellness
#8. And, step by step, digital therapeutics are going mainstream: Click Therapeutics raises $30 million in debt to advance commercialization of smoking cessation app Clickotine
#9. Never two without three: Pear Therapeutics raises $80M; finds cost savings of $2,150 per patient with opioid use disorder
#10. Finally, we asked our team and trusted advisors to compile a list of ideas to stay sane and healthy in the months ahead, prioritizing habits shown to promote brain health, resilience and positive neuroplasticity: Enjoy these 3 New Year Resolutions and 36 Ideas for a Happier & Healthier 2021
Wishing you a safe, healthy and happy New Year
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring 14 research findings, resources and tips for brain health … and starting with this fascinating study:
- Five are “neck up:” Lower education level, Lower cognitive activity, Head trauma, Repeated episodes of depression, High-levels of long-term stress.
- Five are “neck down:” Hypertension in mid-life, Orthostatic hypotension, Diabetes, High BMI, High levels of homocysteine. Systematic review finds ten lifestyle factors that clearly impact the probability of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
#3. “The healthiest people are the ones who grow with age and experience; even in times of trouble like these.” — Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD, President of the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation. On Stress, Yoga Meditation, and The Evolution Revolution
#4. “Acceptance that Alzheimer’s disease is a lifestyle disease, little different from other age-related diseases, that is the sum of a lifetime is the most important breakthrough of the decade.” — George Perry, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Higher body mass index (BMI) linked to lower blood supply to the brain in large neuroimaging study
#5. “Attention is a scarce resource. Think about your attentional focus as the beam of a light. If the light is on an object it cannot be on other objects at the same time with the same intensity … Although we typically have the feeling that multitasking saves us time, it is often not the case.” Simple, quick brain teaser to test the limits of multitasking
#6. If it appears to rotate, RT Fun optical illusion to tease your mind
#7. Every cloud has a silver lining: How and when will the telemedicine surge reach mental healthcare?
#9. “In a time when emotions like stress, anxiety, boredom, and anger are hard to avoid, a new study suggests that a particular meditation practice can help us face them.” Study: Meditation practice, both formal and informal, helps develop equanimity over time
#10. Ever since discovering Barbara Arrowsmith-Young’s life trajectory via Normain Doidge’s fantastic book The Brain That Changes Itself, we have been impressed by her creativity, stamina and courage. Coming soon: Virtual World Tour at the frontier of applied neuroplasticity, education and learning difficulties
#11. “Neural signals will be used to develop algorithms that will help researchers determine the optimal brain state under which individuals can receive information. From there, the team will determine the most effective means of enhancing the subjects’ ability to intake and process information. This could range from non-invasive neuromodulation—or brain stimulation—techniques to the use of augmented reality to alter perceived environmental conditions.” Air Force announces research platform to harness closed-loop neurotechnology and accelerate learning “on the fly”
#12. Good to hear that “ensuring the privacy and security of study participants’ data is a high priority for both UCLA and Apple. UCLA will process and maintain study data in a secure environment … UCLA and Apple will analyze the data only after they are coded and stripped of names and other contact information.” UCLA launches major mental health study collecting & analyzing data from Apple wearables to better understand depression and anxiety
#13. Flexibility is good except when it isn’t: Study finds how scientists can reach different conclusions analyzing the same brain scans
#14. “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one” — Gandhi, as quoted in Seven evidence-based reasons to start meditating yesterday
Wishing you a safe and healthy September,
Alvaro Fernandez on behalf of the SharpBrains Team
Body weight has surprising, alarming impact on brain function (Science Daily):
As a person’s weight goes up, all regions of the brain go down in activity and blood flow, according to a new brain imaging study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease … scientists analyzed over 35,000 functional neuroimaging scans using single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) from more than 17,000 individuals to measure blood flow and brain activity. [Read more…] about Higher body mass index (BMI) linked to lower blood supply to the brain in large neuroimaging study
Yes, starting today is OK too.
I started meditating soon after 9/11. I was living in Manhattan, an already chaotic place, at an extremely chaotic time. I realized I had no control over my external environment. But the one place I did have a say over was my mind, through meditation. When I started meditating, I did not realize it would also make me healthier, happier, and more resilient.
Having witnessed the benefits, I devoted my PhD research at Stanford to studying the impact of meditation. I saw people from diverse backgrounds from college students to combat veterans benefit. In the last 10 years, hundreds of studies have been released.
Here are seven evidence-based reasons you might want to get on the bandwagon as soon as you can: [Read more…] about Seven evidence-based reasons to start meditating yesterday