Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Maintain Your Brain and Stay Sharp: An Upcoming Guide and Resource

You may be read­ing all about brain fit­ness and brain train­ing. It seems every week brings a new bar­rage of arti­cles and stud­ies which often con­tra­dict what you read the month before: Does Gingko Bilo­ba help delay Alzheimer’s Dis­ease? Can phys­i­cal exer­cise help you stay sharp as you age? Which com­put­er-based “brain fit­ness pro­grams”, if any, are worth your mon­ey?

All this cov­er­age reflects very excit­ing sci­en­tif­ic find­ings but also pos­es a key dilem­ma: How to become an informed life­long learn­er and con­sumer when there are few and con­tra­dic­to­ry author­i­ta­tive guide­lines?

The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (to be pub­lished in May 2009; $24.95) aims to fill that void. This guide is the result of over a year of exten­sive research includ­ing more than a hun­dred inter­views with sci­en­tists, pro­fes­sion­als and con­sumers, and a deep lit­er­a­ture review. Below you have some of the main find­ings from our effort. The guide not only cov­ers these aspects in more depth and offers prac­ti­cal guid­ance, but also includes 18 inter­views with promi­nent sci­en­tists to help you under­stand the research bet­ter.

Can we intro­duce you to your Brain?

The Guide will start at the obvi­ous start­ing point: The Human Brain. In order to make informed deci­sions about brain health, one needs to first under­stand the basic orga­ni­za­tion of the human brain and how it tends to change as we get old­er.

* The brain is com­posed of a num­ber of regions serv­ing dis­tinct func­tions. For­get IQ: our life and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty depend on a vari­ety of brain func­tions, not just one.

* There is noth­ing inher­ent­ly fixed in the tra­jec­to­ry of how brain func­tions evolve as we age. Your lifestyle, actions, and even thoughts, do mat­ter.

The 4 Pil­lars of Brain Main­te­nance

Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty is the life­long capac­i­ty of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to the stim­u­la­tion of learn­ing and expe­ri­ence. The lat­est sci­en­tif­ic research shows that spe­cif­ic lifestyles and actions can, no mat­ter our age, improve the health and lev­el of func­tion­ing of our brains.

What fac­tors seem to have the most influ­ence? Read the rest of this entry »

Can Google Kill Neurons and Rewire Your Whole Brain?

A few col­leagues and I just had an inter­est­ing exchange on the recent arti­cle at The Atlantic, Is Google Mak­ing Us Stu­pid?, which basi­cal­ly blamed Google for lit­er­al­ly rewiring our brains into more stu­pid brains (not being able to pay atten­tion, read deep books…) based on a num­ber of per­son­al anec­dotes and a lit­tle research. Is Google Making Us Stupid

My 2 cents: this is a com­plex top­ic and we’d first need to clar­i­fy the ques­tion, before look­ing for answers to sup­port or refute it. I found the Atlantic arti­cle super­fi­cial for a mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion, with its title and main premise mak­ing lit­tle sense: Google can not makes us stu­pid, in the same way that guns don’t make us vio­lent or pens don’t make us good writ­ers.

The author of the arti­cle com­plains about hav­ing less of a num­ber of cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties than he once had. Now, what is the case to make Google the main sus­pect?
Before we judge some­thing as “good” or “bad” or “stu­pid” we need to estab­lish: Read the rest of this entry »

Peace Among Primates (Part 3)

A few days ago we pub­lished the first and sec­ond install­ments of this Peace Among Pri­mates series, by neu­ro­sci­en­tist Robert Sapol­sky. Today we pub­lish the third and final one.

Peace Among Pri­mates (Part 3)

Any­one who says peace is not part of human nature knows too lit­tle about pri­mates, includ­ing our­selves.

–By Robert M. Sapol­sky

Nat­ur­al born killers?

Read the rest of this entry »

Bi-Weekly Update: Preventing Memory Loss and Public Policy

Here you are have the bi-month­ly Digest of our most Pop­u­lar blog posts. (Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our blog RSS feed, or to our newslet­ter at the top of this page if you want to receive this digest by email).Crossword Puzzles Brain fitness

Brain Fit­ness News and Events

Upcom­ing Events: I will be speak­ing at five Health, Edu­ca­tion and Gam­ing events over the next cou­ple of months to intro­duce find­ings from our recent mar­ket report. Please intro­duce your­self if you attend any of these events.

Pre­vent­ing Mem­o­ry Loss-Spe­cial Issue: Con­gres­sion­al Quar­ter­ly Researcher, one of the main pub­li­ca­tions on Capi­tol Hill, pub­lished an impres­sive 24-page spe­cial issue titled Pre­vent­ing Mem­o­ry Loss. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed if you want to be on top of the lat­est research trends and their pol­i­cy impli­ca­tions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Peace Among Primates (Part 2)

(Editor’s Note: A few days ago we pub­lished the first install­ment of this Peace Among Pri­mates series, by neu­ro­sci­en­tist Robert Sapol­sky. Today we pub­lish the sec­ond install­ment. Next Sat­ur­day, April 19th, you can come back and read the third and final part in the series.)

Peace Among Pri­mates (Part 2)

Any­one who says peace is not part of human nature knows too lit­tle about pri­mates, includ­ing our­selves.

–By Robert M. Sapol­sky

Left behind

In the ear­ly 1980s, “For­est Troop,” a group of savan­na baboons I had been studying—virtually liv­ing with—for years, was going about its busi­ness in a nation­al park in Kenya when a neigh­bor­ing baboon group had a stroke of luck: Read the rest of this entry »

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About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm and think tank tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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