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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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New book explores nine lives impacted by rare brain disorders

Sev­er­al years ago, sci­ence writer Helen Thom­son, con­sul­tant to New Sci­en­tist and con­trib­u­tor to the Wash­ing­ton Post and Nature, decid­ed to trav­el around the world to inter­view peo­ple with “the most extra­or­di­nary brains.” In the process, as described in Unthink­able: An Extra­or­di­nary Jour­ney Through the World’s Strangest Brains (Ecco/Harper Collins 2018), Thomas dis­cov­ered that “by putting their lives side-by-side, I was able to cre­ate a pic­ture of how the brain func­tions in us all. Through their sto­ries, I uncov­ered the mys­te­ri­ous man­ner in which the brain can shape our lives in unexpected—and, some cas­es, bril­liant and alarm­ing ways.” Thom­son wasn’t just learn­ing about the most extra­or­di­nary brains in the world, but in the process was “uncov­er­ing the secrets of my own.” Keep read­ing book review Here, over at the Dana Foun­da­tion.

Epigenetics research opens potential door to prevent neurodevelopmental disorders

Sai Ma, for­mer Vir­ginia Tech bio­med­ical engi­neer­ing Ph.D. stu­dent, and Chang Lu, the Fred W. Bull pro­fes­sor of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing at Vir­ginia Tech. Cred­it: Vir­ginia Tech

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Epi­ge­net­ic Changes Guide Devel­op­ment of Dif­fer­ent Brain Regions (Dana Foun­da­tion):

It’s one of the great­est stand­ing mys­ter­ies in neu­ro­science: Giv­en that each cell in the human body con­tains the same DNA, how, exact­ly, does the brain devel­op into dis­tinct func­tion­al regions, sup­port­ed by dif­fer­ent cell types? And how might that devel­op­men­tal pro­gram go awry, result­ing in neu­rode­vel­op­men­tal dis­or­ders like schiz­o­phre­nia or autism? The answers may be the epigenome Read the rest of this entry »

Study finds clear–yet surprisingly different–benefits in 3 types of meditation-based mental training

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As cit­i­zens of the 21st cen­tu­ry, we face many prob­lems that come with an indus­tri­al­ized and glob­al­ized world. I’m not a lawyer or a politi­cian, but a psy­chol­o­gist and neu­ro­sci­en­tist. So research on how to train help­ful men­tal and social capac­i­ties is my way to con­tribute to a more healthy, com­mu­nal, and coop­er­a­tive civ­i­liza­tion.

For the past five years, that research has tak­en the form of the ReSource Project, one of the longest and most com­pre­hen­sive stud­ies on the effects of med­i­ta­tion-based men­tal train­ing to date. Lots of research treats the con­cept of med­i­ta­tion as a sin­gle prac­tice, when in fact med­i­ta­tion encom­pass­es a diver­si­ty of men­tal prac­tices that train dif­fer­ent skills and dif­fer­ent parts of the brain. Our goal was to study the spe­cif­ic effects of Read the rest of this entry »

New book highlights continued brain development throughout adolescence, even into our 20s

– Dr. Sarah-Jane Blake­more

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Neu­ro­sci­en­tist Probes Myths About the Teenage Brain (Edu­ca­tion Week):

We often think ear­ly child­hood is this dra­mat­ic win­dow of learn­ing and devel­op­ment in the brain, and you’re high­light­ing ado­les­cence as a dif­fer­ent kind of win­dow. Can you talk a lit­tle bit about that?
I was told when I was an under­grad­u­ate that the human brain pret­ty much stopped devel­op­ing after mid-child­hood. From [mag­net­ic res­o­nance imag­ing] of liv­ing brains, we’ve dis­cov­ered that that’s not true at all Read the rest of this entry »

Brain imaging show that patients with Alzheimer’s disease can still remember and enjoy their favorite songs

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Music Acti­vates Regions of the Brain Spared by Alzheimer’s Dis­ease (Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah):

Ever get chills lis­ten­ing to a par­tic­u­lar­ly mov­ing piece of music? You can thank the salience net­work of the brain for that emo­tion­al joint. Sur­pris­ing­ly, this region also remains an island of remem­brance that is spared from the rav­ages of Alzheimer’s dis­ease. Researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah Health are look­ing to this region of the brain to devel­op music-based treat­ments to help alle­vi­ate anx­i­ety in patients with demen­tia. Their research Read the rest of this entry »

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