Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Mental rotation exercise to challenge your brain’s parietal lobe over the holidays

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Men­tal rota­tion refers to mov­ing things around in your mind. It is one of the main visu­ospa­tial skills we all have…in dif­fer­ent degrees, yes.

Here’s an exam­ple. Please pic­ture in your mind an arrow point­ing to the right. Now, turn this arrow so it points to the left. Done? You have just per­formed a men­tal rota­tion. Read the rest of this entry »

Update: New brain science leads to new tools and to new thinking

We often view mem­o­ry, think­ing, emo­tions, as com­plete­ly sep­a­rate enti­ties, but they tru­ly are part of the same process. So, if we want to improve brain health, we need to pay atten­tion to the “weak link” in that process. In today’s soci­ety, man­ag­ing stress and neg­a­tive emo­tions is often that weak link, as we dis­cuss dur­ing Octo­ber Q&A ses­sion with par­tic­i­pants in Sharp­Brains’ new e-course. Time now for Sharp­Brains’ Octo­ber 2012 eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing new sci­ence, new resources and new think­ing.

New sci­ence:

New tools:

New think­ing:

That’s it for now. Have a Hap­py Hal­loween!

Pic cour­tesy of Big­Stock­Pho­to

Beta amyloid build-up in the brain may increase risk of cognitive impairment more than having “Alzheimer’s gene”

Plaque Build-Up in Your Brain May Be More Harm­ful Than Hav­ing Alzheimer’s Gene (Sci­ence Dai­ly):

A new study shows that hav­ing a high amount of beta amy­loid or “plaques” in the brain asso­ci­at­ed with Alzheimer’s dis­ease may cause steep­er mem­o­ry decline in men­tal­ly healthy old­er peo­ple than does hav­ing the APOE ?4 allele, also asso­ci­at­ed with the dis­ease. “Our results show that plaques may be a more impor­tant fac­tor in deter­min­ing which peo­ple are Read the rest of this entry »

Update: The Future of Preventive Brain Medicine

Time for Sharp­Brains’ Jan­u­ary 2012 eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing in this occa­sion mul­ti­ple thought-pro­vok­ing per­spec­tives on how emerg­ing neu­ro­science can and should make us rethink pre­vail­ing prac­tices in edu­ca­tion, healthy aging and pre­ven­tive med­i­cine.

 

Fea­tured Per­spec­tives:

New Research: 

Resources:

 

Final­ly, you may want to read our answers to the many excel­lent ques­tions we received about the upcom­ing Online Course: How to Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach in 2012. 80 indi­vid­u­als have reg­is­tered so far, rep­re­sent­ing a fas­ci­nat­ing diver­sity of back­grounds: health and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als, edu­ca­tors, busi­ness exec­u­tives, traders, con­sul­tants, coach­es, soft­ware engi­neers, ther­a­pists,  and more. Please remem­ber that ear­ly-bird rates end on Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 31st!

Have a great month of Feb­ru­ary.

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 »

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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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