Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Book discount to honor Mental Health Awareness Month

BrainFitnessTrajectoryMay is Men­tal Health Aware­ness Month, and we would like to con­tribute to world­wide edu­ca­tion­al efforts.

SharpBrainsGuide_3DWe are offer­ing the Kin­dle edi­tion of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness at an 80% dis­count, from today until May 31st. If you still don’t have your copy, or know of some­one else who would enjoy the book, please take a minute or two to learn more…

Wish­ing life­long Brain and Men­tal Health to every­one,

The Sharp­Brains Team Read the rest of this entry »

Learning & Brain Conference in Boston

The next Learn­ing & the Brain con­fer­ence edi­tion is April 26–29, 2008, in Cam­bridge, MA. We rec­om­mend it high­ly for edu­ca­tors inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about lat­est brain research find­ings and impli­ca­tions for teach­ing. See Detailed pro­gram.

Descrip­tion: Cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science has dis­cov­ered that the brain is not ‘hard­wired’ from birth, but holds a remark­able life­long pow­er to change—a phe­nom­e­non called ‘plas­tic­i­ty.’ Pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive envi­ron­ments, exer­cise, nur­tu­rance, learn­ing, and oth­er expe­ri­ences con­tin­ue to change the brain through­out life.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning & The Brain Conference: discount for SharpBrains readers

San Francisco Golden Gate BridgeCon­text: Last Feb­ru­ary we had the chance to attend a great con­fer­ence on how brain research is influ­enc­ing edu­ca­tion. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed. Car­o­line wrote our impres­sions, sum­ma­rized as “It was a fas­ci­nat­ing mix of neu­ro­sci­en­tists and edu­ca­tors talk­ing with and lis­ten­ing to each oth­er. Some top­ics were meant to be applied today, but many were food for thought — insight on where sci­ence and edu­ca­tion are head­ed and how they influ­ence each oth­er”. See some of our take-aways below.

Announce­ment: the 2008 edi­tion of this con­fer­ence, titled Using Brain Research to Enhance Learn­ing, Atten­tion & Mem­o­ry For Edu­ca­tors, Par­ents and Clin­i­cians, will take place in San Fran­cis­co, on Feb­ru­ary 7–9th, 2008. The orga­niz­ers have kind­ly invit­ed me to deliv­er a lec­ture on Inter­ven­tions to Sharp­en Minds, as part of the Brain Plas­tic­i­ty & Atten­tion track. I will pro­vide an overview of the sci­ence behind com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive train­ing inter­ven­tions and dis­cuss a num­ber of research-based pro­grams that are being used today. Let me know if you are plan­ning to attend!

Reg­is­tra­tion fees: the gen­er­al reg­is­tra­tion fees are $495 per per­son, if you reg­is­ter before Jan­u­ary 25th, 2008.

Spe­cial Dis­count for Sharp­Brains read­ers: you can reg­is­ter for $450 before that date,  mak­ing sure to write
SharpBrains1 in the com­ments sec­tion of How did you hear about the con­fer­ence? in this Reg­is­tra­tion Page.

To learn more about the con­fer­ence: Read the rest of this entry »

Build Your Cognitive Reserve: An Interview with Dr. Yaakov Stern

Yaakov SternDr. Yaakov Stern is the Divi­sion Leader of the Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science Divi­sion of the Sergievsky Cen­ter, and Pro­fes­sor of Clin­i­cal Neu­ropsy­chol­o­gy, at the Col­lege of Physi­cians and Sur­geons of Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, New York. Alvaro Fer­nan­dez inter­views him here as part of our research for The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness book.

Dr. Stern is one of the lead­ing pro­po­nents of the Cog­ni­tive reserve the­o­ry, which aims to explain why some indi­vid­u­als with full Alzheimer’s pathol­o­gy (accu­mu­la­tion of plaques and tan­gles in their brains) can keep nor­mal lives until they die, while oth­ers -with the same amount of plaques and tan­gles- dis­play the severe symp­toms we asso­ciate with Alzheimer’s Dis­ease. He has pub­lished dozens of peer-reviewed sci­en­tif­ic papers on the sub­ject.

The con­cept of a Cog­ni­tive Reserve has been around since 1989, when a post mortem analy­sis of 137 peo­ple with Alzheimer’s Dis­ease showed that some patients exhib­it­ed few­er clin­i­cal symp­toms than their actu­al pathol­o­gy sug­gest­ed. These patients also showed high­er brain weights and greater num­ber of neu­rons when com­pared to age-matched con­trols. The inves­ti­ga­tors hypoth­e­sized that the patients had a larg­er “reserve” of neu­rons and abil­i­ties that enable them to off­set the loss­es caused by Alzheimer’s. Since then, the con­cept of Cog­ni­tive Reserve has been defined as the abil­i­ty of an indi­vid­ual to tol­er­ate pro­gres­sive brain pathol­o­gy with­out demon­strat­ing clin­i­cal cog­ni­tive symp­toms. (You can check at the end of this inter­view a great clip on this).

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Key take-aways

- Life­time expe­ri­ences, like edu­ca­tion, engag­ing occu­pa­tion, and leisure activ­i­ties, have been shown to have a major influ­ence on how we age, specif­i­cal­ly on whether we will devel­op Alzheimer’s symp­toms or not.

- This is so because stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties, ide­al­ly com­bin­ing phys­i­cal exer­cise, learn­ing and social inter­ac­tion, help us build a Cog­ni­tive Reserve to pro­tect us.

- The ear­li­er we start build­ing our Reserve, the bet­ter; but it is nev­er too late to start. And, the more activ­i­ties, the bet­ter: the effect is cumu­la­tive.

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The Cog­ni­tive Reserve

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez (AF): Dear Dr. Stern, it is a plea­sure to have you here. Let me first ask you this: the impli­ca­tions of your research are pret­ty broad, pre­sent­ing major impli­ca­tions across sec­tors and age groups. What has been the most unex­pect­ed reac­tion so far?

YS: well…I was pret­ty sur­prised when Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Health and Fitness Workshops

Today I have an announce­ment to make. You prob­a­bly are seeing all the arti­cles about Brain Fit­ness in the press and wondering, “What is this all about?”, “Can some­one help me nav­i­gate through all the pro­grams out there?”, “How is Brain Fit­ness rel­e­vant to me in my per­son­al life or at work?”. Well…we are deliv­er­ing a series of work­shops to com­pa­nies and orga­ni­za­tions com­bin­ing mod­ules -includ­ing sci­en­tif­ic overview, the indus­try trends and key play­ers, fun team-build­ing exer­cis­es- that can be tai­lored to each organization’s spe­cif­ic needs. Ses­sions last from 1 to 6 hours, depend­ing on the group’s com­po­si­tion and agen­da and are deliv­ered either in per­son or via web con­fer­ence.

We want to be able to reach more orga­ni­za­tions, so please let us know of any ideas!

Some recent examples

1. Man­ag­ing Stress for Peak Per­for­mance (we men­tioned some notes on an Accen­ture ses­sion)

New and chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions – such as tak­ing on new respon­si­bil­i­ties– can trig­ger reac­tions in our brain and body that lim­it or even block our deci­sion-mak­ing abil­i­ties. These reac­tions may also harm our long-term brain pow­er and health. Although we can­not avoid change and stress­ful sit­u­a­tions, we can learn how to man­age our stress lev­els to ensure peak per­for­mance-even in tough moments. The lat­est neu­ro­science research proves that stress man­age­ment is a train­able “men­tal mus­cle.” This is true for any high pres­sure pro­fes­sion, be it trad­ing, sports, or sim­ply mod­ern life.

2. The Sci­ence of Brain Health and Brain Fit­ness (sim­i­lar to what I will teach at UC Berke­ley OLLI)

Neu­ro­sci­en­tists have shown how the human brain retains neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty (the abil­i­ty to rewire itself) and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis (the cre­ation of new neu­rons) dur­ing its full life­time, lead­ing to a new under­stand­ing of 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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