Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Change Your Environment, Change Yourself

(Editor’s note: one of the most com­mon ene­mies of get­ting qual­i­ty cog­ni­tive exer­cise is being on The Daily Trading Coach, by Brett Steenbarger“men­tal autopi­lot”. I recent­ly came across an excel­lent new book, titled The Dai­ly Trad­ing Coach: 101 Lessons for Becom­ing Your Own Trad­ing Psy­chol­o­gist, by trad­ing per­for­mance expert Dr. Brett Steen­barg­er, which explic­it­ly calls for address­ing the “men­tal autopi­lot” prob­lem in his Les­son 4. Even for those of us who are not traders, Dr. Steen­barg­er advice pro­vides excel­lent guid­ance for peak cog­ni­tive per­for­mance. Dr. Steen­barg­er gra­cious­ly gave us per­mis­sion to share with you, below, Les­son 4: Change Your Envi­ron­ment, Change Your­self. Enjoy!).

Human beings adapt to their envi­ron­ments. We draw on a range of skills and per­son­al­i­ty traits to fit into var­i­ous set­tings. That is why we can behave one way in a social set­ting and then seem like a total­ly dif­fer­ent human being at work. One of the endur­ing attrac­tions of trav­el is that it takes us out of our native envi­ron­ments and forces us to adapt to new peo­ple, new cul­tures, and new ways. When we make those adap­ta­tions, we dis­cov­er new facets of our­selves. As we’ll see short­ly, dis­crep­an­cy is the moth­er of all change: when we are in the same envi­ron­ments, we tend to draw upon the same, rou­tine modes of thought and behav­ior.

A few months ago I had an attack of acute appen­dici­tis while stay­ing in a LaGuardia air­port hotel await­ing a return flight to Chica­go. When I went to the near­est emer­gency room at Elmhurst Hos­pi­tal out­side Jack­son Heights, Queens, I found that I was seem­ing­ly the only native Eng­lish speak­er in a sea of peo­ple await­ing med­ical care. After some dif­fi­cul­ty attract­ing atten­tion, I was admit­ted to the hos­pi­tal and spent the next sev­er­al days of recu­per­a­tion nav­i­gat­ing my way through patients and staff of every con­ceiv­able nation­al­i­ty. By the end of the expe­ri­ence, I felt at home there. I’ve since stayed at the same air­port hotel and rou­tine­ly make vis­its into the sur­round­ing neighborhoods—areas I would have nev­er in my wildest dreams ven­tured into pre­vi­ous­ly. In adapt­ing to that envi­ron­ment, I dis­cov­ered hid­den strengths. I also over­came more than a few hid­den prej­u­dices and fears.

The great­est ene­my of change is rou­tine. When we lapse into rou­tine and oper­ate on autopi­lot, we are no longer ful­ly and active­ly con­scious of what we’re doing and why. That is why some of the most fer­tile sit­u­a­tions for per­son­al growth—those that occur with­in new environments—are those that force us to exit our rou­tines and active­ly mas­ter unfa­mil­iar chal­lenges.

In famil­iar envi­ron­ments and rou­tines, we oper­ate on autopi­lot. Noth­ing changes.

When you act as your own trad­ing coach, your chal­lenge is to stay ful­ly con­scious, alert to risk and oppor­tu­ni­ty. One of your great­est threats will be the autopi­lot mode in which you act with­out think­ing, with­out full aware­ness of your sit­u­a­tion. If you shift your trad­ing envi­ron­ment, you push your­self to adapt to new sit­u­a­tions: you break rou­tines. If your envi­ron­ment is always the same, you will find your­self grav­i­tat­ing to the same Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Global Consortium for Neurocognitive Fitness Innovation

As men­tioned before, the World Eco­nom­ic Forum asked me to write “an 800 words sum­ma­ry of your most com­pelling action­able idea on the chal­lenges of geron­tol­ogy”, in prepa­ra­tion for the Inau­gur­al Sum­mit of the Glob­al Agen­da that will take place Novem­ber 7 to 9th in Dubai.A good num­ber of Sharp­Brains read­ers and clients offered their insights — and expressed an inter­est in read­ing the draft. So below you have — a pro­pos­al to cre­ate a Glob­al Con­sor­tium for Neu­rocog­ni­tive Fit­ness Inno­va­tion, build­ing on our exist­ing mar­ket research and advi­so­ry ser­vices work. Your thoughts?

—–

The Con­text

Grow­ing Demands on Our Brains: Pic­ture 6.7 bil­lion Prim­i­tive Brains inhab­it­ing a Knowl­edge Soci­ety where life­long learn­ing and mas­ter­ing con­stant change in com­plex envi­ron­ments are crit­i­cal for pro­duc­tive work, health and per­son­al ful­fill­ment.

Wel­come to Plan­et Earth, 2008.

Fur­ther stretched by increased longevi­ty: Now pic­ture close to 1 bil­lion of those brains over the age of 60 – and please remem­ber that, less than 100 years ago, life expectan­cy was between 30 to 40 years. The rapid­ly evolv­ing Knowl­edge Soci­ety is plac­ing new and enor­mous demands on our “prim­i­tive” human brains. And the longer our lifes­pans, the more obvi­ous the “cog­ni­tive gap”. Hence, from a health point of view, the grow­ing Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Newsletter: Premium Research Sponsors

Here you have the twice-a-month newslet­ter with our most pop­u­lar blog posts. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, sim­ply by brain fitness and health newslettersub­mit­ting your email at the top of this page.

Have you ever won­dered how we can main­tain Sharp­Brains’ web­site, blog and newslet­ter with­out sell­ing any prod­ucts and with only lim­it­ed adver­tis­ing? The answer is, we offer mar­ket research to orga­ni­za­tions such as health­care providers, research cen­ters, tech­nol­o­gy devel­op­ers, ven­ture cap­i­tal firms, con­sult­ing and train­ing com­pa­nies, and more.

Our new Pre­mi­um Research Spon­sors pro­gram will allow pio­neer­ing orga­ni­za­tions to col­lab­o­rate with us to shape the future of the brain fit­ness and cog­ni­tive health field, by spon­sor­ing and access­ing the most up-to-date infor­ma­tion on the sci­ence and best prac­tices to assess and improve cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing across the lifes­pan. You can learn more about the Pre­mi­um Research Spon­sors pro­gram Here.

Mar­ket News

All­state: Can we Improve Dri­ver Safe­ty using Com­put­er­ized Cog­ni­tive Train­ing?: Insur­ance com­pa­ny All­state and brain fit­ness soft­ware devel­op­er Posit Sci­ence just announced a very intel­li­gent ini­tia­tive, and Tom War­den, Assis­tant Vice Pres­i­dent and Leader of Allstate’s Research and Plan­ning Cen­ter, explains to us why cog­ni­tive train­ing may be the new safe­ty fea­ture fol­low­ing seat belts and airbags.

The Cog­ni­tive Health and Fit­ness Mar­ket On The Move: As you have prob­a­bly seen, the Cog­ni­tive Health and Brain Fit­ness field is rapid­ly evolv­ing. Here we high­light some of the main devel­op­ments affect­ing the field over the last 6-months: pub­lic pol­i­cy ini­tia­tives in Cana­da and the US, the grow­ing role of com­put­er­ized assess­ments, sev­er­al ven­ture cap­i­tal rounds, major ini­tia­tives by insur­ance com­pa­nies, and sig­nif­i­cant research find­ings.

The Big Pic­ture

Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry of the Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket: Let’s step back and ask our­selves, “Why is the field evolv­ing in such a fast way? What is hope, what is hype, what is real­i­ty?” A spate of recent glob­al news cov­er­age on brain fit­ness and brain train­ing reflects a grow­ing inter­est in nat­ur­al, non drug-based inter­ven­tions to keep our brains sharp as we age. This inter­est is very time­ly, giv­en an aging pop­u­la­tion, the increased preva­lence of Alzheimer’s rates, and soar­ing health care costs in the US that place more empha­sis than ever on pre­ven­tion and lifestyle changes. This arti­cle sum­ma­rizes the main mar­ket dynam­ics, open ques­tions, and top trends to watch for.

Nour­ish­ing Our Brains and Minds

Teach­ing is the Art of Chang­ing the Brain: Lau­rie Bar­tels promis­es, “I have read a num­ber of books that trans­late cur­rent brain research into prac­tice while pro­vid­ing prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions for teach­ers to imple­ment. This is the first book I have read that pro­vides a bio­log­i­cal, and clear­ly ratio­nal, overview of learn­ing and the brain.” Go and enjoy her review of a very inter­est­ing book by James Zull, Direc­tor Emer­i­tus of the Uni­ver­si­ty Cen­ter for Inno­va­tion in Teach­ing and Edu­ca­tion at Case West­ern Reserve.

Phi­los­o­phy as the Miss­ing Link in School Cur­ric­u­la: Kim­ber­ly Wick­ham answers pro­vides some good answers to the ques­tion, “Why would any­one want to teach phi­los­o­phy to pre-ado­les­cent chil­dren? that will engage your crit­i­cal think­ing skills.

A User’s Guide to Life­long Brain Health: Drs Simon Evans and Paul Burghardt hope (as we do) that the emerg­ing empha­sis on cog­ni­tive exer­cise and fit­ness helps com­ple­ment -not sub­sti­tute- oth­er lifestyle fac­tors impor­tant for the “phys­i­cal health of the brain and all the sys­tems it com­mu­ni­cates with”. Think: nutri­tion, exer­cise, sleep.

Exer­cis­ing Our Brains

Excel­lent Read­er Com­ments: Our last newslet­ter gen­er­at­ed a round of excel­lent  com­ments by read­ers on cog­ni­tive train­ing, Posit Sci­ence and Alzheimer’s Aus­tralia, geron­tol­ogy and the brain, and the val­ue of videogames. Come enjoy this col­lec­tive wis­dom and par­tic­i­pate as you wish.

Brainy Haikus:
riv­er with haikus
flow­ing in since the sum­mer
keep­ing  us afloat

The Chal­lenges of Geron­tol­ogy?: The World Eco­nom­ic Forum has asked me, as one of the 16 mem­bers of the Glob­al Agen­da Coun­cil on the Chal­lenges of Geron­tol­ogy, for “an 800 word sum­ma­ry of your most com­pelling action­able idea on the chal­lenges of geron­tol­ogy.” Feel free to help me out by offer­ing your own action­able ideas, either relat­ed to the dis­ci­pline of geron­tol­ogy itself or on ways to best engage the grow­ing num­ber of brains over the age of 60 in our plan­et.

Enjoy!

Resources for Brain Health Across the Lifespan

As promised in my pre­vi­ous post on Neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis and Brain Plas­tic­i­ty in Adult Brains, I will now list some inter­views, video, arti­cles, and books that go hand-in-hand with these brain booksfas­ci­nat­ing top­ics we are dis­cussing. Please com­ment below if you have favorite addi­tion­al resources!

NEUROGENESIS

MIT news – Picow­er researcher finds neu­ron growth in adult brain

Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science brain brief – Adult Neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis

BRAIN PLASTICITY

Neu­ro­science for Kids – Brain Plas­tic­i­ty: What Is It?

Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science brain brief – Brain Plas­tic­i­ty, Lan­guage Pro­cess­ing and Read­ing

Brain Sci­ence Pod­cast – Gin­ger Camp­bell inter­view with Nor­man Doidge, MD, Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Plasticity: How learning changes your brain

You may have heard that the brain is plas­tic.

As you well know. the brain is not made of plastic…Neuroplasticity, or brain plas­tic­i­ty, refers to the brain’s abil­i­ty to CHANGE through­out life.

The human brain has the amaz­ing abil­i­ty to reor­ga­nize itself by form­ing new con­nec­tions between brain cells (neu­rons).

In addi­tion to genet­ic fac­tors, the envi­ron­ment in which a per­son lives, as well as the actions of each per­son, play a sig­nif­i­cant role in plas­tic­i­ty.

Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty occurs in the brain…

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 and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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