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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Kids for life? Pros and cons of lifelong neuroplasticity, as seen via our emotional development

– Win­dows of plas­tic­i­ty in brain devel­op­ment. Adapt­ed from Hen­sch T.K. (2005). Crit­i­cal peri­od plas­tic­i­ty in local cor­ti­cal cir­cuits. Nature Reviews Neu­ro­science, 6(11), 877–888

The Brain’s Emo­tion­al Devel­op­ment (Dana Foundation’s Cere­brum):

Humans are like­ly the most emo­tion­al­ly reg­u­lat­ed crea­tures on earth. Com­pared to oth­er ani­mal species, we can mod­u­late and mod­i­fy emo­tion­al reac­tions and expe­ri­ences, even very intense ones, through a large and sophis­ti­cat­ed emo­tion reg­u­la­tion reper­toire that includes skills of dis­trac­tion, reap­praisal, lan­guage, pre­dic­tion, social inter­ac­tion, sup­pres­sion, and more. At times, these skills require effort, and at oth­er times, they seem reflex­ive and auto­mat­ic. Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Both maternal and parental obesity linked to young children’s neurodevelopmental delays

child-development—–

Parental obe­si­ty linked to delays in child devel­op­ment, NIH study sug­gests (NIH press release):

Chil­dren of obese par­ents may be at risk for devel­op­men­tal delays, accord­ing to a study by researchers at the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health. The inves­ti­ga­tors found that chil­dren of obese moth­ers were more like­ly to fail tests of fine motor skill—the abil­i­ty to con­trol move­ment of small mus­cles, such as those in the fin­gers and hands. Chil­dren of obese fathers were more like­ly to fail mea­sures of Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Development in the first 20 years: A Child’s and Teenager’s Brain

(Editor’s Note: What fol­lows is an excerpt from Dr. Robert Sylwester’s new book, A Child’s Brain. The Need for Nur­ture (2010) Cor­win. In this excerpt, Robert Syl­west­er syn­the­sizes the first 20 years of devel­op­ment and shows how it can be viewed as a “rhyth­mic four-six-four-six-year devel­op­men­tal sequence”)

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Chap­ter 4: Devel­op­ment and Growth.

The First 20 years.

To sim­pli­fy a com­plex phe­nom­e­non, we can divide our 20-year devel­op­men­tal tra­jec­to­ry into two peri­ods of approx­i­mate­ly 10 years each. The devel­op­men­tal peri­od from birth to about age 10 focus­es on learn­ing how to be a human being – learn­ing to move, to com­mu­ni­cate, and to mas­ter basic social skills. The devel­op­men­tal peri­od from about 11 to 20 focus­es on learn­ing how to be a pro­duc­tive repro­duc­tive human being – plan­ning for a voca­tion, explor­ing emo­tion­al com­mit­ment and sex­u­al­i­ty, and achiev­ing auton­o­my.

The first four years of each of these two decade-long devel­op­ment peri­ods are char­ac­ter­ized by slow awk­ward begin­nings to a six-year nor­mal move toward con­fi­dence and com­pe­tence. For exam­ple, crawl­ing leads to tod­dling leads to walk­ing leads to run­ning and leap­ing.

We’ve designed our preschool, ele­men­tary school, mid­dles school, high school and ini­tial col­lege sys­tems around this rhyth­mic four-six-four-six-year devel­op­men­tal sequence. We tend to keep small chil­dren at home dur­ing their first four years to allow them to begin their devel­op­ment in a shel­tered fam­i­ly envi­ron­ment with­out state stan­dards and assess­ment pro­grams. They learn basic motor skills, how to talk, and how to get along with their fam­i­lies. In essence, they devel­op a basic under­stand­ing of how their shel­tered world works.

At about five years, we say, in effect, Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Health and Training News

Brain Health NewsSev­er­al recent news (includ­ing video of our recent pan­el dis­cus­sion):

1) Study Finds Improved Cog­ni­tive Health among Old­er Amer­i­cans (Jour­nal of the Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion)

- “Soci­etal invest­ment in build­ing and main­tain­ing cog­ni­tive reserve through for­mal edu­ca­tion in child­hood and con­tin­ued cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion dur­ing work and leisure in adult­hood may help lim­it the bur­den of demen­tia among the grow­ing num­ber of old­er adults world­wide”.

- “Cog­ni­tive impair­ment dropped from 12.2 per­cent in 1993 to 8.7 per­cent in 2002 among peo­ple 70 and older.“ 

Read the rest of this entry »

Yoga and stress management

GABA Receptor
Steven Edwards at Wired Blog writes a post titled Yoga Boosts Brain’s GABA Lev­els, say­ing that “Par­tic­i­pants in the yoga group had a 27% increase in GABA lev­els, while those in the read­ing group remained unchanged. Co-authors Chris Streeter from BUSM and Domenic Ciraulo point­ed out that this research shows a method of treat­ing low GABA states. Fair­ly obvi­ous — yes — but this shows a non­phar­ma­co­log­i­cal method for increas­ing GABA lev­els that peo­ple can act on now, with­out wait­ing for a drug to go through FDA approval.”

Hav­ing attend­ed last week a con­fer­ence where neu­rophar­ma exec­u­tives pre­sent­ed all their future drugs against obe­si­ty, anx­i­ety, depression…I couldn’t agree more. The rates of seri­ous side effects of these drugs are astound­ing, yet as a soci­ety we seem to pre­fer to rely on tak­ing drugs when are sick rather than proac­tive­ly tak­ing charge of our health and lifestyles and do our best (which not always is enough) to pro­tect our fit­ness and well­ness.

The press release Steven talks about: Yoga and Ele­vat­ed Brain GABA Lev­els [PhysOrg]. Quotes: Read the rest of this entry »

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