Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Raising awareness about the distracted mind (PBS special)

DistractedMindI feel it is crit­i­cal that sci­en­tists make an effort to trans­late their research dis­cov­er­ies into a for­mat that is under­stand­able and mean­ing­ful to the gen­er­al pub­lic. They should also, at least on occa­sion, step beyond detailed descrip­tions of lab­o­ra­to­ry results and spec­u­late on how their find­ings inform the big­ger pic­ture and impact people’s lives. This has nev­er been more impor­tant than it is it right now, in this time of dra­mat­i­cal­ly reduced sci­ence fund­ing. In the PBS-spon­sored spe­cial, The Dis­tract­ed Mind, I try to accom­plish this by inte­grat­ing mate­r­i­al from dozens of Read the rest of this entry »

Brain News: Lifelong Learning for Cognitive Health

Here you have the March edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health Brain Fitnessand brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, using the box at the top of this page. I know I am biased — but do believe this Newslet­ter issue might well be our best so far. I hope you find the time to enjoy it!

Bird’s Eye View

Top Arti­cles and Resources in March: High­lights — a) great arti­cles in Sci­Am Mind and the Wall Street Jour­nal, b) new resources (book and free DVD) by the Dana Foun­da­tion, c) research stud­ies on how our cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties tend to evolve as we age, the impact of phys­i­cal exer­cise on the brain, the lack of long-term effec­tive­ness of ADHD drugs, and how work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing may ben­e­fit math per­for­mance.

Brain Fit­ness Sur­vey: Over 2,000 thought­ful respons­es to our Jan­u­ary sur­vey (Thank You!) rein­force the need for pub­lic aware­ness ini­tia­tives and qual­i­ty infor­ma­tion to help eval­u­ate and nav­i­gate lifestyle and prod­uct claims, as well as the need for more research, an expand­ed health­care cul­ture, as more. Giv­en this con­text, we are pub­lish­ing The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness in May 2009, a book with 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, in addi­tion to our annu­al mar­ket report for pro­fes­sion­als and exec­u­tives (to be pub­lished in April). If you have ideas to help us pro­mote the book, please reply to this email and let us know!

Life­long Learn­ing

Elder­hostel’s Mar­ty Knowl­ton dies at 88: He helped launch Elder­hos­tel, rein­vent­ed “aging”, “retire­ment” and “learn­ing”, and con­tributed to the brain fit­ness of mil­lions of indi­vid­u­als as a result.

MetLife Mature Mar­ket Insti­tute Report: Geron­tol­o­gist Fay Radding presents the find­ings of a recent MetLife report, con­clud­ing that “As indi­vid­u­als age, mean­ing­ful inter­ac­tions and pur­pose­ful activ­i­ty become even more val­ued and cru­cial to cog­ni­tive health- and cog­ni­tive health itself becomes more of a pri­or­i­ty.”

Change Your Envi­ron­ment, Change Your­self: Dr. Brett Steen­barg­er explains in his recent book that, “The great­est ene­my of change is rou­tine. When we lapse into rou­tine and oper­ate on autopi­lot, we are no longer ful­ly and active­ly con­scious of what we’re doing and why. That is why some of the most fer­tile sit­u­a­tions for per­son­al growth those that occur with­in new envi­ron­ments are those that force us to exit our rou­tines and active­ly mas­ter unfa­mil­iar chal­lenges.”

Food for Thought

Michael Merzenich: Brain Plas­tic­i­ty offers Hope for Every­one: Dr. Gin­ger Camp­bell recent­ly inter­viewed Dr. Michael Merzenich. Pod­cast Quote: “What­ev­er you strug­gle with in a sense as it stems from your neu­rol­o­gy, the inher­ent plas­tic­i­ty of the brain gives you a basis for improve­ment. This is a way under­uti­lized and under-appre­ci­at­ed resource that well all have.”

Ther­a­py vs. Med­ica­tion, Con­flicts of Inter­est, and Intim­i­da­tion: What start­ed as an aca­d­e­m­ic dis­pute regard­ing dis­clo­sure of con­flict of inter­est is now snow­balling. Dr. Jonathan Leo crit­i­cized two impor­tant aspects of a recent a study pub­lished in JAMA that com­pared the effi­ca­cy of ther­a­py vs. med­ica­tion. JAMA edi­tors then tried to intim­i­date Dr. Leo and his uni­ver­si­ty. An inves­ti­ga­tion by the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion is under way.

ETech09 on Life Hack­ing and Brain Train­ing: Here you have the pre­sen­ta­tion Alvaro Fer­nan­dez deliv­ered at O’Reil­ly Emerg­ing Tech­nol­o­gy Con­fer­ence 2009, a gath­er­ing of tech­nol­o­gy pio­neers with a grow­ing inter­est in sci­ence and biol­o­gy top­ics.

Atten­tion!

Dis­tract­ed in the Work­place?: In a very-thought­ful 2‑part inter­view (part 1 here, part 2 here), author Mag­gie Jack­son chal­lenges us to “First, ques­tion the val­ues that ven­er­ate McThink­ing and under­mine atten­tion.”

New Study Sup­ports Neu­ro­feed­back Treat­ment for ADHD: Dr. David Rabin­er reports the promis­ing find­ings from the first well-designed con­trolled tri­al on the effect of neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD.

Twit­ter

Final­ly, I want­ed to let you know that you can fol­low quick Sharp­Brains updates and some of my thoughts via Twit­ter: http://twitter.com/AlvaroF

Have a great Nation­al Car Care Month in April! (now, would­n’t you please pay at least equal atten­tion to Brain Care than to Car Care?)

Distracted in the Workplace? Meet Maggie Jackson’s Book (Part 2 of 2)

Today we con­tin­ue the con­ver­sa­tion with Mag­gie Jack­son, author of Dis­tract­ed: The Ero­sion of Atten­tion and the Com­ing Dark Age.

You can read part 1 here.

Q — In your Har­vard Man­age­ment Update inter­view, you said that “When what we pay atten­tion to is dri­ven by the last email we received, the triv­ial and the cru­cial occu­py the same plane.” As well, it seems to be that a prob­lem is our cul­ture’s over-ide­al­iza­tion of “always on” and “road war­rior” habits, which dis­tract from the impor­tance of exec­u­tive func­tions such as pay­ing atten­tion to one’s envi­ron­ment, set­ting up goals and plans, exe­cut­ing on them, mea­sur­ing results, and inter­nal­iz­ing learn­ing. How can com­pa­nies bet­ter equip their employ­ees for future suc­cess? Can you offer some exam­ples of com­pa­nies who have pos­i­tive cul­tures that encour­age and reward employ­ees ful­ly put their frontal lobes into good use?

A.  As I men­tioned above, we are work­ing and liv­ing in ways that under­mine our abil­i­ty to strate­gize, focus, reflect, inno­vate. Skim­ming, mul­ti­task­ing and speed all have a place in 21st-cen­tu­ry life. But we can’t let go of deep­er skills of focus and think­ing and relat­ing, or we’ll cre­ate a soci­ety of mis­un­der­stand­ing and shal­low think­ing.

To cre­ate work­places that fos­ter strate­gic think­ing, deep social con­nec­tion and inno­va­tion, we need to take three steps:

First, ques­tion the val­ues that ven­er­ate McThink­ing and under­mine atten­tion. Recent­ly, my morn­ing paper car­ried a front-page sto­ry about efforts in an age of impa­tience to cre­ate a quick-boot com­put­er. It’s ridicu­lous to ask peo­ple to wait a cou­ple of min­utes to start up their com­put­er, explained one tech exec­u­tive. The first hand up in the class­room, the hyper busi­ness-man or woman who can’t sit still, much less lis­ten  these are icons of suc­cess in Amer­i­can soci­ety. Still, many of us are begin­ning to ques­tion our ado­ra­tion of instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion and hyper-mobil­i­ty.

Sec­ond, we need to set the stage for focus indi­vid­u­al­ly and col­lec­tive­ly by rewrit­ing our cli­mate of dis­trac­tion and inat­ten­tion. To help, some com­pa­nies and busi­ness lead­ers are exper­i­ment­ing with white space the cre­ation of phys­i­cal spaces or times on the cal­en­dar for unin­ter­rupt­ed, unwired think­ing and Read the rest of this entry »

Distracted in the Workplace? Meet Maggie Jackson’s Book

Today we’ll dis­cuss some of the cog­ni­tive impli­ca­tions of “always on” work­places and lifestyles via a fas­ci­nat­ing inter­view with Mag­gie Jack­son, an award-win­ning author and jour­nal­ist. Her lat­est book, Dis­tract­ed: The Ero­sion of Atten­tion and the Com­ing Dark Age, describes Distracted by Maggie Jacksonthe impli­ca­tions of our busy work and life envi­ron­ments and offers impor­tant reflec­tions to help us thrive in them.

This is a 2‑part inter­view con­duct­ed via e‑mail: we will pub­lish the con­tin­u­a­tion on Thurs­day March 12th.

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez: New York Times colum­nist David Brooks said last year that we live in a Cog­ni­tive Age, and encour­aged read­ers to be aware of this change and try and adapt to the new real­i­ty. Can you explain the cog­ni­tive demands of today’s work­places that weren’t there 30–40 years ago?

Mag­gie Jack­son: Our work­places have changed enor­mous­ly in recent decades, and it’s easy to point to the Black­ber­ry or the lap­top as the sources of our cul­ture of speed and over­load and dis­trac­tion. But it’s impor­tant to note first that our 24/7, frag­ment­ed work cul­ture has deep­er roots. With the first high-tech inven­tions, such as the cin­e­ma, phono­graph, tele­graph, rail, and car, came rad­i­cal changes in human expe­ri­ence of time and space. Dis­tance was shat­tered  long before email and red-eye flights. Tele­graph oper­a­tors  not online daters  expe­ri­enced the first vir­tu­al love affairs, as evi­denced by the 1890s nov­el Wired Love. Now, we wres­tle with the effects of changes seed­ed long ago.

Today, the cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal demands on work­ers are steep. Con­sid­er 24/7 liv­ing. At great cost to our health, we oper­ate in a sleep­less, hur­ried world, ignor­ing cues of sun and sea­son, the Indus­tri­al Age inven­tions of the week­end and vaca­tion, and the rhythms of biol­o­gy. We try to break the fet­ters of time and live like per­pet­u­al motion machines. That’s one rea­son why we feel over­loaded and stressed con­di­tions that are cor­ro­sive to prob­lem-solv­ing and clear think­ing.

At the same time, our tech­nolo­gies allow us access to mil­lions of infor­ma­tion bites pro­duc­ing an abun­dance of data that is both won­drous and dan­ger­ous. Unless we have the will, dis­ci­pline and frame­works for turn­ing this infor­ma­tion into wis­dom, we remain stuck on the sur­face of Read the rest of this entry »

Brainy Haikus for brain training

Thank you to every­one who has writ­ten so many fun haikus over the sum­mer (fol­low­ing the post Top 25 Brain and Mind Haikus. Yours?). These are the 10 I have enjoyed the haikus brainmost:

(Also, Can you write a haiku describ­ing any­thing cross­ing your mind now? Remem­ber the sim­ple rules: write 3 lines, which don’t need to rhyme, con­tain­ing 5,7, and 5 syl­la­bles. You can leave your haiku as a com­ment below for extra points…)

—–
Top 10 Brainy Haikus — enjoy!

- Amit:

Love, col­lege, career.
A new world of tran­si­tions.
Will I sur­vive? Yes.

- Kathy:

My release tech­nique,
For­give, for­get, love all,
Med­i­tate on that!

- Alan:

Through the micro­scope,
slice of brain stains pink and blue,
the won­der of thought.

- Justin:

Justin the genieus
Must spell check the word genius
to post this Haiku

- Tim: Read the rest of this entry »

About SharpBrains

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.

Search in our archives

Follow us and Engage via…

twitter_logo_header
RSS Feed

Watch All Recordings Now (40+ Speakers, 12+ Hours)

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.