Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

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?)

Elderhostel’s Marty Knowlton and Lifelong Learning

A per­son who helped rein­vent “aging”, “retire­ment” and “learn­ing”, con­tribut­ing to the cog­ni­tive health of mil­lions of indi­vid­u­als as a result:

Mar­tin P. ‘Mar­ty’ Knowl­ton dies at 88; co-founder of Elder­hos­tel (Los Ange­les Times)

- “Mar­tin P. “Mar­ty” Knowl­ton, a world trav­el­er who fought ageism by co-found­ing Elder­hos­tel, a pro­gram that pio­neered learn­ing vaca­tions for mature adults, has died. He was 88.”

- “Knowl­ton died Thurs­day of nat­ur­al caus­es at a nurs­ing home in Ven­tu­ra, said David Bian­co, who start­ed Elder­hos­tel with his friend in 1975.”

- “When he was about 50, Knowl­ton became high­ly annoyed by two things: the pre­vail­ing wis­dom that “as you got old­er, your mind auto­mat­i­cal­ly began to fail” and the gov­ern­ment noti­fy­ing him that “old age begins at 55,” he told the Ven­tu­ra Coun­ty Star in 2000.”

The arti­cle: Here

Elder­hos­tel web­site: Here

Travel and Engagement as Good Brain Exercise

University of Namibia

Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty is defined as “the abil­i­ty of the brain to rewire itself through expe­ri­ence”.

We typ­i­cal­ly sum­ma­rize a lot of brain research by encour­ag­ing Sharp­Brains read­ers is to seek for nov­el­ty, vari­ety and chal­lenge, as guide­lines for “brain exer­cise” that will help build new con­nec­tions in the brain, force one to be mind­ful and pay atten­tion, improve abil­i­ties such as pat­tern-recog­ni­tion, and in gen­er­al con­tribute to life­long brain health.

A friend just sent an update on her amaz­ing expe­ri­ence in Namib­ia (the pic on the right shows the entrance to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Namib­ia) that shows how Trav­el and Engage­ment with mean­ing­ful projects can pro­vide superb men­tal stim­u­la­tion, or “brain exer­cise”. This is rel­e­vant at all ages, and we are encour­aged to see orga­ni­za­tions such as Civic Ven­tures and Elder­hos­tel that offer oppor­tu­ni­ties for baby boomers and old­er adults who want to main­tain active minds.

Try pic­tur­ing in your mind, as you read this, all her dif­fer­ent brain areas that are get­ting need­ed stim­u­la­tion through her Namib­ia expe­ri­ence.

UPDATE: my friend just wrote to expand on the “be mind­ful” angle by say­ing that “it def­i­nite­ly requires pur­pose­ful pro­cess­ing of the infor­ma­tion that you are con­sum­ing in order to make it a use­ful brain exer­cise. For exam­ple, I always try to jour­nal or write thought­ful emails about my expe­ri­ence in order to try to best under­stand it.” Great point.

With her per­mis­sion, here you have:

———————————-

Dear Friends,

I am just return­ing from Namib­ia and am buzzing with excite­ment about all of the oppor­tu­ni­ties for us to make an impact there when we return with our stu­dents next Spring.

Namib­ia is very dif­fer­ent than I expect­ed. It was the last coun­try in Africa to gain inde­pen­dence from colo­nial­ism, gain­ing inde­pen­dence just 20 years ago. Thus, it is much more devel­oped than any African coun­try that I have vis­it­ed, with rel­a­tive­ly good infra­struc­ture and no exist­ing debt. That said, the lega­cies of apartheid can still be felt in today’s soci­ety, and the peo­ple are very clear­ly deal­ing con­stant­ly with issues of race and iden­ti­ty. One of the most inter­est­ing expe­ri­ences that I had was attend­ing a “braai” (the Namib­ian ver­sion of a bar­be­cue which basi­cal­ly con­sists of Read the rest of this entry »

Smart Brains, Sharp Brain… new research on maintaining one

There has been a lot of recent buzz about brain fit­ness. A New York Times edi­to­r­i­al print­ed today states:

When test­ed five years lat­er, these par­tic­i­pants [in a cog­ni­tive train­ing study] had less of a decline in the skill they were trained in than did a con­trol group that received no cog­ni­tive train­ing. The pay­off from men­tal exer­cise seemed far greater than we are accus­tomed to get­ting for phys­i­cal exer­cise — as if 10 work­outs at the gym were enough to keep you fit five years lat­er.

and

If fur­ther stud­ies show that men­tal exer­cis­es can improve every­day func­tion­ing, doc­tors may need to pre­scribe such train­ing, senior cen­ters may want to set up “brain gyms,” and aging Amer­i­cans would be wise to do brain-stretch­ing activ­i­ties. For this pur­pose, even the Medicare pre­scrip­tion drug pro­gram, which crit­ics deem too con­fus­ing for many old­er peo­ple to nav­i­gate, could prove an unex­pect­ed bless­ing. Spend 10 hours mas­ter­ing its intri­ca­cies today and you could be a lot sharp­er than your com­pa­tri­ots five years from now.

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.