Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Cogmed, emWave, brainHQ, Lumosity and “I have seen the results I wanted”

Ques­tion by Veron­i­ca Yin:
Cogmed has the high­est sur­vey results for “I have seen the results I want­ed.” I had nev­er heard of it before. emWave comes a close sec­ond, and I had­n’t heard of it either. And then brain­HQ and Lumos­i­ty are well ahead of gen­er­al brain games. What do you rec­om­mend for a busy mom and lawyer in my 50s? And for my teenage kids? Read the rest of this entry »

Deborah Rozman: The brain is not only about cognition

deborah rozman

Deb­o­rah Roz­man

What excites you the most about your job?
As the CEO of Heart­Math, I love our mis­sion of expand­ing con­scious­ness and our dai­ly work to help peo­ple build resilience and emo­tion­al coher­ence.

Please tell us about your inter­est in applied brain sci­ence. What areas are you most inter­est­ed in? What moti­vat­ed you to pur­sue work in your field?
I am par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in how to improve peo­ple’s lives via the neu­ro­science of stress and emo­tions. Read the rest of this entry »

Lie to Me, Paul Ekman and Biofeedback

You may have watched the new series Lie To Me, with Tim Roth, based on the work of Paul Ekman.

The sec­ond episode, which you can watch for free via Here, is pret­ty inter­est­ing, but the best part hap­pens in the begin­ning, so you only need to watch a few min­utes to learn why what are called “lie detec­tors” are noth­ing but biofeed­back sys­tems that mea­sure phys­i­o­log­i­cal anx­i­ety.

Biofeed­back can be a very effec­tive train­ing tool for emo­tion­al self-reg­u­la­tion and stress man­age­ment, pre­cise­ly because it enables a faster feed­back-based learn­ing loop. Indeed, we are see­ing a grow­ing num­ber of appli­ca­tions in the mar­ket, with names such as EmWave, StressEras­er, RES­PeR­ATE, Jour­ney to the Wild Divine, and oth­ers.

Sim­ply, don’t believe the tech­nol­o­gy is an effec­tive lie detec­tor.

Car­o­line and I wrote an arti­cle on Paul Ekman’s work a cou­ple of years ago — let me repub­lish it now, giv­en his work has made it all the way to main­stream TV!

braintop Paul Ekman has con­duct­ed exten­sive research on iden­ti­fy­ing emo­tions through facial expres­sions. As part of that research, and as part of the pow­er of dis­ci­pline and train­ing, he learned how to con­scious­ly manip­u­late 42 facial mus­cles, includ­ing many that in most of us are beyond our con­trol, and even aware­ness.

In the 60s and 70s when Ekman began look­ing into the uni­ver­sal­i­ty of facial expres­sions, all the major con­tem­po­rary social sci­en­tists, like Mar­garet Mead, believed that expres­sions were cul­tur­al­ly learned, not innate. He trav­eled all over the world with pic­tures of peo­ple mak­ing dis­tinct facial expres­sions and found peo­ple in cul­tures every­where, from mod­ern to stone age, agreed on the emo­tion behind the expres­sion. He then turned to Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Program: How to Evaluate and Choose One

The hol­i­days are approach­ing and you can expect many soft­ware and game devel­op­ers to adver­tise their prod­ucts SharpBrains Checklistaggres­sive­ly, try­ing to get you buy their “brain train­ing” prod­ucts for you or as a gift for a loved one.

The good news is that there are more and more tools we can use to keep men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ed and even train and improve spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties (like pro­cess­ing speed, short-term mem­o­ry…). You may be read­ing about Nin­ten­do Brain Age, Posit Sci­ence, Fast For­Word, Mind­Fit, Lumos­i­ty, Hap­py Neu­ron, MyBrain­Train­er, emWave, StressEras­er and more. And, of course, there are also non-tech­nol­o­gy based inter­ven­tions.

The bad news is that it is dif­fi­cult to sep­a­rate mar­ket­ing from sci­en­tif­ic claims, and to under­stand which one, if any, may be a good com­ple­ment to oth­er healthy lifestyle choic­es.

To help you nav­i­gate this process, we are pub­lish­ing the Sharp­Brains Check­list below, based on dozens of inter­views with sci­en­tists, experts and con­sumers:

10 Ques­tions to Choose the Right Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram for You (and a brief expla­na­tion of why each ques­tion is impor­tant)

* 1. Are there sci­en­tists, ide­al­ly neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists, and a sci­en­tif­ic advi­so­ry board Read the rest of this entry »

Emwave and Emotional self-regulation

Performance FreezeFramer Alvaro

In the post Trad­er Peak Per­for­mance and biofeed­back pro­grams we showed the Heart Rate Vari­abil­i­ty pat­terns cor­re­lat­ed with lev­els of a) anx­i­ety or b) Peak Per­for­mance, “The Zone”. Biofeed­back sup­ports our emo­tion­al self-reg­u­la­tion: we can visu­al­ly track what is going on inside us and train our­selves to man­age our emo­tion­al state. On the left you have an exam­ple of my own per­for­mance dur­ing a 5‑minute exper­i­ment 4 months ago. At the top, you see my name; at the bot­tom, the dura­tion of the ses­sion. Right axis, for top half, is Heart Rate. (This is only the half left of the screen in the pro­gram-the right half would give you more infor­ma­tion.) I have high­light­ed sev­er­al phas­es:

A: you can see long waves fol­low­ing a smooth rhythm-that is the phys­i­o­log­i­cal “The Zone”, where I can per­form at max­i­mum lev­el. I was using breath­ing and visu­al­iza­tion tech­niques that are some­times called “The Men­tal Game” in ath­let­ics and sports.

B: I stressed myself. How? well, maybe think­ing of a pre­vi­ous boss, or some bad moment in my life. You see that the “waves” dis­ap­pear, and nar­row errat­ic pat­terns appear instead.

C: I quick­ly go back into “The Zone”, 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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