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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Study: Parents’ educational and income levels (not breastfeeding per se) account for the brain development gains in breastfed children


Study shows no long-term cog­ni­tive ben­e­fit to breast­feed­ing (CNN):

While the med­ical ben­e­fits of breast­feed­ing for help­ing new­borns fight infec­tions and help­ing pre-term infants get stronger are fair­ly well estab­lished, the long-term impact is much less so…a new study pub­lished in the jour­nal Pedi­atrics finds that breast­feed­ing has lit­tle impact on long-term cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment and behav­ior. Read the rest of this entry »

Discouraging new findings about pediatric care for children with ADHD: Often, best-practice guidelines are not followed

Most chil­dren with ADHD receive their care from com­mu­ni­ty-based pedi­a­tri­cians. Giv­en the large num­ber of school-age chil­dren who require eval­u­a­tion and treat­ment ser­vices for ADHD, and the adverse impact that poor qual­i­ty care can have on chil­dren’s devel­op­ment, it is impor­tant for chil­dren to rou­tine­ly receive care in the com­mu­ni­ty that is con­sis­tent with best-prac­tice guide­lines. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Michael Posner on Developing Brain Networks and Self-Control

Dr. Pos­ner will pro­vide an update on lat­est research and appli­ca­tions to devel­op brain net­works and self-con­trol, at the upcom­ing 2012 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit (June 7–14th, 2012).

Michael Pos­ner is Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus at the Uni­ver­sity of Ore­gon and Adjunct Pro­fes­sor at the Weill Med­ical Col­lege in New York (Sack­ler Insti­tute). He is cur­rently engaged in a project with Mary K. Roth­bart to under­stand the devel­op­ment Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Music Training Can Enhance Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function

Very inter­est­ing new study pub­lished in Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence: Short-Term Music Train­ing Enhances Ver­bal Intel­li­gence and Exec­u­tive Func­tion.

Abstract: Researchers have designed train­ing meth­ods that can be used to improve men­tal health and to test the effi­ca­cy of edu­ca­tion pro­grams. How­ev­er, few stud­ies have demon­strat­ed broad trans­fer from such train­ing to per­for­mance on untrained cog­ni­tive activ­i­ties. Here we report the effects of two inter­ac­tive com­put­er­ized train­ing pro­grams devel­oped for preschool chil­dren: one for music and one for visu­al art. After only 20 days of train­ing, Read the rest of this entry »

10% Students may have working memory problems: Why does it matter?

Work­ing mem­o­ry is our abil­i­ty to store and manip­u­late infor­ma­tion for a brief time. It is typ­i­cal­ly mea­sured by dual-tasks, where the indi­vid­ual has to remem­ber an item while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly pro­cess­ing a some­times unre­lat­ed piece of infor­ma­tion. A wide­ly used work­ing mem­o­ry task is the read­ing span task where the indi­vid­ual reads a sen­tence, ver­i­fies it, and then recalls the final word. Indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences in work­ing mem­o­ry per­for­mance are close­ly relat­ed to a range of aca­d­e­m­ic skills such as read­ing, spelling, com­pre­hen­sion, and math­e­mat­ics. Cru­cial­ly, there is emerg­ing research that work­ing mem­o­ry pre­dicts learn­ing out­comes inde­pen­dent­ly of IQ. One expla­na­tion for the impor­tance of work­ing mem­o­ry in aca­d­e­m­ic attain­ment is that because it appears to be rel­a­tive­ly unaf­fect­ed by envi­ron­men­tal influ­ences, such as parental edu­ca­tion­al lev­el and finan­cial back­ground, it mea­sures a student’s capac­i­ty to acquire knowl­edge rather than what they have already learned.

How­ev­er lit­tle is known about the con­se­quences of low work­ing mem­o­ry capac­i­ty per se, inde­pen­dent of oth­er asso­ci­at­ed learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. In par­tic­u­lar, it is not known either what pro­por­tion of stu­dents with low work­ing mem­o­ry capac­i­ties has sig­nif­i­cant learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties or what their behav­ioral char­ac­ter­is­tics are. The aim of a recent study pub­lished in Child Devel­op­ment (ref­er­ence below) was to pro­vide the first sys­tem­at­ic large-scale exam­i­na­tion of the cog­ni­tive and behav­ioral char­ac­ter­is­tics of school-aged stu­dents who have been iden­ti­fied sole­ly on the basis of very low work­ing mem­o­ry scores.

In screen­ing of over 3000 school-aged stu­dents in main­stream schools, 1 in 10 was iden­ti­fied as hav­ing work­ing mem­o­ry dif­fi­cul­ties. There were sev­er­al key find­ings regard­ing their cog­ni­tive skills. The first is that the major­i­ty of them per­formed below age-expect­ed lev­els in read­ing and math­e­mat­ics. This sug­gests that 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,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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