With COVID-19 vaccines working and restrictions lifting across the country, it’s finally time for those now vaccinated who’ve been hunkered down at home to ditch the sweatpants and reemerge from their Netflix caves. But your brain may not be so eager to dive back into your former social life. [Read more…] about The neuroscience behind why our brains will need time to adjust to ‘un-social distancing’
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring ten timely resources and research findings for lifelong brain and mental fitness.
#1. Let’s start with a fascinating story and study 🙂
Study with 330 centenarians finds that cognitive decline is not inevitable … (Henne Holstege, PhD, assistant professor at Amsterdam University Medical Center) said her interest in researching aging and cognitive health was inspired by the “fascinating” story of Hendrikje van Andel Schipper, who died at age 115 in 2005 “completely cognitively healthy.”
#2. Neuroscientist Lisa Genova, author of the beautiful novel Still Alice, releases non-fiction book on Memory: “It is sobering to realize that three out of four prisoners who are later exonerated through DNA evidence were initially convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony. “You can be 100 percent confident in your vivid memory,” Genova writes, “and still be 100 percent wrong” … Genova assures her readers that only two per cent of Alzheimer’s cases are of the strictly inherited, early-onset kind. For most of us, our chances of developing the disease are highly amenable to interventions…”
#3. Timely tips for the weekend: Shape your environment, shape your mind
- Surround yourself with nature
- Create opportunities for awe
- Clear the clutter
#4. “For a mission to succeed, high mental and cognitive function would be absolutely critical; astronauts would be called on to perform demanding tasks in a demanding environment. Losing 20 IQ points halfway to Mars is not an option … Stress—an emotional or mental state resulting from tense or overwhelming circumstances—and the body’s response to it, which involves multiple systems, from metabolism to muscles to memory—may be the chief challenge that astronauts face.” Next in NASA’s path to Mars: Overcoming astronauts’ cognitive and mental health challenges
#5. Study: Depression affects visual perception … making it more accurate (based on a cool optical illusion)
#6. It’s good to have more tools in the neuro toolkit…assuming we use them wisely: Emerging applications of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS): e‑sports skills training, cognitive enhancement in older adults
#8. Mental Health in the Digital Age: From digital therapeutics to personalized mental health solutions: Pear Therapeutics expands platform via partnerships with Empatica, etectRx, KeyWise, and Winterlight
#9. The award was won last year by Indian village teacher Ranjitsinh Disale; who will be next? Final day to nominate teachers for the $1M Global Teacher Prize 2021
#10. And last, but certainly not least, let’s welcome Mental Health Month (May) by appreciating our beautiful brains
Wishing you a mentally healthy and cognitively stimulating month of May,
The SharpBrains Team
Brain supplements that claim to boost cognitive function are increasingly popular, growing from a $4 billion industry of about 4,000 unique products to a $40 billion industry with as many as 80,000 different products on the market. [Read more…] about Study: Over-the-counter “brain enhancement” supplements in the US found both to a) contain multiple unapproved drugs and b) lack some ingredients listed on the label
Super-Agers Show Resistance to Tau and Amyloid Accumulation, Maintain High Cognitive Function (Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging press release):
Super-agers, or individuals whose cognitive skills are above the norm even at an advanced age, have been found to have increased resistance to tau and amyloid proteins, according to research presented at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) 2020 Annual Meeting. An analysis of positron emission tomography (PET) scans has shown that compared to normal-agers and those with mild cognitive impairment, super-agers have a lower burden of tau and amyloid pathology associated with neurodegeneration, which probably allows them to maintain their cognitive performance. An image showing the comparison of tau and amyloid distribution patterns in these different cognitive aging trajectories has been selected as SNMMI’s 2020 Image of the Year. [Read more…] about Brain scans show lower accumulation of tau and amyloid pathology among cognitive “super-agers”
Decades from now when our augmented brains have enhanced our cognitive function and transformed nearly every aspect of our lives, many of us will look back and wonder why we didn’t do more to prepare for these inevitable changes. Government leaders may grapple with the runaway effects of AI and brain enhancement on geopolitics. Companies that fail to incorporate neurotechnologies and BCI into their operational flow could lose significant market share and be forced to scramble in an attempt to regain a foothold in an industry they once dominated.
Workers who don’t heed the warnings to re-skill or upskill may find themselves out of a job as entire industries disappear. Graduating college students may discover their field of study is no longer relevant in the business world, leaving them unprepared for the changing job market. Tech innovators could be caught up in fierce competition to snap up employees from a very limited talent pool, driving up the cost of innovation and hampering its development. And everyday citizens may be wrestling with the unexpected consequences of unintentionally giving away the rights to their neural data.
Rest assured, it doesn’t have to be this way. [Read more…] about Fast Forward to 2040: How to prepare for the new era in brain enhancement that will change the way we think, work, and heal
“Playing cards and board games like chess, bingo and Scrabble might be the mental workout you need to keep your wits as you age, Scottish researchers suggest.
People in their 70s who regularly play board games score higher on tests of memory and thinking skills than those who don’t. And 70-somethings who step up their game-playing are more likely to maintain thinking skills as they age [Read more…] about Study: For better memory and thinking skills at age 70 (and beyond), play cards and board games from age 11