I 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 more…] about Raising awareness about the distracted mind (PBS special)
Here you have the March edition of our monthly newsletter covering cognitive health and 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
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!
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
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.
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.
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?)
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 more…] about Distracted in the Workplace? Meet Maggie Jackson’s Book (Part 2 of 2)
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 the 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 more…] about Distracted in the Workplace? Meet Maggie Jackson’s Book
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 most:
(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!
Love, college, career.
A new world of transitions.
Will I survive? Yes.
My release technique,
Forgive, forget, love all,
Meditate on that!
Through the microscope,
slice of brain stains pink and blue,
the wonder of thought.
Justin the genieus
Must spell check the word genius
to post this Haiku