Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Scientists issue a call to action for TBI patients to benefit from latest neuroscience findings

Brain Trauma

Cred­it: Julie McMa­hon

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Brain-injured patients need ther­a­pies based on cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science (U. Illi­nois press release):

Patients with trau­mat­ic brain injuries are not ben­e­fit­ing from recent advances in cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science research — and they should be, sci­en­tists report in a spe­cial issue of Cur­rent Opin­ion in Behav­ioral Sci­ences. Read the rest of this entry »

New Online Course: How to Be Your Own Brain Fitness Coach in 2012

We are pleased to announce a new online course designed to equip par­tic­i­pants with the under­stand­ing and infor­ma­tion required to apply emerg­ing sci­ence and tools to enhance brain health and func­tion­al­ity across the lifes­pan.

Course descrip­tion: Infor­ma­tion over­load and longer lives expose our brains to more demands than even before. This fast-paced and inter­ac­tive online course will exam­ine the emerg­ing sci­ence of neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and cog­ni­tive reserve and sur­vey lat­est tools and best prac­tices to equip you to become your own ‘brain fit­ness coach’ and address per­sonal and pro­fes­sional pri­or­i­ties. Avail­able online from any­where with an Inter­net con­nec­tion, this course will help you pin­point ways to opti­mize brain health and func­tion­al­ity and delay decline, nav­i­gat­ing the maze of frag­mented research, super­fi­cial media cov­er­age and exag­ger­ated mar­ket­ing claims. The course is based on The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness –recent­ly named a Best Book by AARP– and Sharp­Brains’ new ABBC frame­work (Address Basics, Build Capac­i­ties), and includes week­ly read­ings and activ­i­ties.

Mechan­ics: The course con­sists of four two-hour-long live online ses­sions to be held in March 2012 (detailed syl­labus avail­able), and an online pri­vate forum for Fac­ulty and Par­tic­i­pants to inter­act dur­ing March and April 2012.

Who this is for: This course is for any­one who wants to under­stand how emerg­ing cog­ni­tive and affec­tive neu­ro­science can be applied to enhance brain health and per­for­mance, and who is will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in a fast-paced course that lever­ages e-learn­ing to facil­i­tate a glob­al learn­ing expe­ri­ence.

Note: In order to ensure a valu­able and inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ence, par­tic­i­pa­tion will be lim­ited to the first 200 indi­vid­u­als who reg­is­ter.

Fac­ul­ty:

  • Instruc­tor: Alvaro Fer­nan­dez (Sharp­Brains)
  • Guest Lec­tur­ers: Alvaro Pas­cual-Leone (Har­vard Med­ical School), Robert M. Bilder (UCLA Semel Insti­tute for Neu­ro­science and Human Behav­ior)

To Learn More and Reg­is­ter, please vis­it the course page: How to Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach in 2012.

Neuroscience Boot Camp: For Anybody who Needs to Understand, Predict or Influence Human Behavior

I am writ­ing to share some infor­ma­tion about our third annu­al “Neu­ro­science Boot Camp,” which I think the read­ers of the Sharp­Brains blog will find inter­est­ing.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia announces their 3rd annu­al Neu­ro­science Boot Camp, July 31-August 10, 2011!

Why Neu­ro­science Boot Camp?

Neu­ro­science is increas­ing­ly rel­e­vant to a num­ber of pro­fes­sions and aca­d­e­m­ic dis­ci­plines beyond its tra­di­tion­al med­ical appli­ca­tions. Lawyers, edu­ca­tors, econ­o­mists and busi­ness­peo­ple, Read the rest of this entry »

Take that Nap! It May Boost Your Learning Capacity Among Other Good Things.

Any­one who knows me knows that my favorite pas­time is nap­ping. In Col­lege, I would come back to my dorm room, and like clock­work, would take a nap. My best friend in Eng­land, who got quite a kick out of my pas­sion for nap­ping, once tried to per­suade me to drink a cup of tea after lunch instead of tak­ing my cus­tom­ary nap. I real­ly tried, but I soon gave in to my nap crav­ings. Some­times I feel like I real­ly need to re-charge my brain bat­ter­ies.

Well, now sci­ence is on my side. I just love this new study, which was pre­sent­ed by Matthew Walk­er, assis­tant pro­fes­sor at UC Berke­ley, at the annu­al meet­ing of the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of the Advance­ment of Sci­ence (AAAS) con­fer­ence in San Diego this past Sun­day (Feb. 2010).

Walk­er and his col­leagues Bryce A. Man­der and Sangeetha San­thanam split up a batch of 39 healthy young adults into two groups. One group napped, the oth­er did not.

At noon, both groups took a learn­ing task thought to recruit the hip­pocam­pus. The hip­pocam­pus is a region of the brain known to play an impor­tant role in the for­ma­tion of new mem­o­ries. Over the past few years, var­i­ous researchers have found that fact-based mem­o­ries are tem­porar­i­ly stored in the hip­pocam­pus before oth­er regions of the brain can oper­ate on the con­tent, espe­cial­ly the regions of the brain respon­si­ble for high­er-order rea­son­ing and think­ing.  At this point in the exper­i­ment, both groups showed sim­i­lar lev­els of per­for­mance.

Then, at 2pm, the nap group took a 90-minute nap while the no-nap group stayed awake, pre­sum­ably watch­ing the nap group enjoy­ing their nap. After nap-time both groups then took more learn­ing tests. The nap­pers did bet­ter on the tasks than those who stayed awake, demon­strat­ing their high­er capac­i­ty to learn. Read the rest of this entry »

Boost your Attention with Meditation

Brain train­ing does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean com­put­er­ized games. For instance, medi­a­tion may be a great tool to train your brain.

Dif­fer­ent parts of the brain sup­port dif­fer­ent func­tions. One func­tion, cen­tral to many of our actions, is “atten­tion”. Atten­tion can be defined as the abil­i­ty to sus­tain con­cen­tra­tion on a par­tic­u­lar object, action, or thought.
It can also be defined as the abil­i­ty to man­age com­pet­ing demands in our environment.connections between neu­rons, die. In the brain it is sup­port­ed main­ly by neu­ronal net­works in the pari­etal (yel­low in the fig­ure) and frontal (blue in the fig­ure) lobes.

What can be done to main­tain and boost such a fun­da­men­tal abil­i­ty?

Dr. Andrew New­berg (Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Radi­ol­o­gy and Psy­chi­a­try at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia), here inter­viewed by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez (CEO of Sharp­Brains) sug­gests that med­i­ta­tion may have cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits, espe­cial­ly relat­ed to atten­tion: Read the rest of this entry »

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