Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Fitness Webinar Series

I have been travelling much over the last 2 weeks to speak at a number of conferences and universities. I promised I would be sharing some of the key highlights, but we have decided to do something better to do justice to the richness and complexity of the field we cover. We are going to launch an experiment: a Brain Fitness Webinar Series.

This inaugural Brain Fitness Webinar Series will consist of 3 free live sessions. The series covers the most fundamental advances in cognitive science and their implications for individuals, companies and organizations. And we are honored to have John Medina lead of the sessions!

Each event is independent, in topic and in registration process.

Webinar #1: In “The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market, 2008, I will provideBrain Fitness Market Report an overview of the science, market, and vendor landscape of the emerging brain fitness software market, based on our recent market report on this growing category.
– Target audience: Executives, professionals, investors, reporters and bloggers interested in learning more about the brain fitness market.
– More information: Market Report.
– Date and time: Tuesday May 27th, 2pm EDT/ 11am PDT
Register: Here

Webinar #2: In “Brain Rules for Thinking Smarter, John Medina, developmental Brain Rules-John Medinamolecular biologist and author of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Striving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School will emphasize the importance of physical exercise, stress management and avoiding multitasking altogether.
– Target audience: Anyone who wants to learn more about brain health and performance.
– More information: The Science of Thinking Smarter, by John Medina.
– Date and time: Tuesday June 3rd, 2pm EDT/ 11am PDT
Register: Here

Webinar #3: In “The Science and Practice of Brain Fitness,” I will Brain Fitness 101 eGuideprovide an overview of the Brain 101, latest research findings and implications for how to improve brain health and performance based on my classes and speaking engagements.
– Target audience: Anyone who wants to learn more about brain health and performance
– Date and time: Tuesday June 10th, 2pm EDT/ 11am PDT
Register: Here

I hope you find this series stimulating. Just pick the event that sounds more relevant to your interests!

On The Brain

neuronsVery intense week, and very fun. I will be writing more about this week’s 3 speaking events, but let me say now that our key messages

1) our brains remain flexible during our lifetimes,

2) we can refine our brains with targeted practice,

3) good brain exercise, or “mental cross-training”, requires novelty, variety, and increasing level of challenge (but without creating too much stress),

are being very well accepted from both healthy aging and workplace productivity points of view. We have ONE brain: health and productivity are 2 sides of the same coin.

If you want to make sure we learn more about our brains, you can help fellow blogger Shelley Batts get a college scholarship by voting here. She has a great neuroscience blog, is now finalist in a competition to win a nice scholarship, and needs out help.

Have some more time? You can watch this excellent 90-second video of cognitive neuroscientist Dr Lisa Saksida doing yoga in front of the fire while explaining the nature of Brain and Mind (via MindHacks). Quotes:

“I wish people understood that there is no mind/brain duality. Specifically, I wish people understood that there is no such thing as a purely psychological disorder. Every event in your psychological life, and therefore every psychological change, is reducible in theory to events and changes in your brain. We should therefore not judge people differently, according to whether they are considered to have a ‘psychological’ as opposed to a ‘neurological’ problem.”

“Of course, a lack of mind/brain split does not mean that we should abandon all talk of psychology. Psychology and neuroscience are two ways of studying the same thing, and both are essential for understanding the human condition.”

For more, check the posts in these always great blog carnivals (selected collections of blog posts by a number of bloggers around specific topics)

Tangled Bank (science in general)

Encephalon (neuroscience)

Credit: Photo of Neurons by symphanee via flickr

Brain Fitness @ Education, Training, Health events

Brain Fitness eventsIn what category does Brain Fitness fit? Education, Productivity and Training, Health? Most of the interest so far has come from a Healthy Aging angle, but we are starting to see broader interest, as in the events below. After all, isn’t working on our brains relevant to all those markets?.

2 busy weeks: I am attending/ speaking at a variety of events. I will make sure to blog at least the take-aways from the main events daily, and Caroline will also add her perspective as much as possible.

A) October 3-6th: The Aspen Health Forum at the Aspen Institute

B) October 9th: First session of my class The Science of Brain Health and Brain Fitness at the UC-Berkeley Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI)

C) October 10th: Teaching Brain Fitness in Your Community, workshop at an American Society on Aging (ASA) conference for health professionals

D) October 10th: Science at Work, Interview at the event The Future of Work: Amplified Individuals, Amplified Organizations, organized by the Institute for the Future


A) October 3-6th: The Aspen Health Forum at the Aspen Institute. This promises to be a fascinating event. See below the panels I am attending-I will make sure to write some notes every day to keep you in the discussion.

Wednesday October 3rd:

Great Expectations: American Attitudes toward Personal Responsibility and Medicine

Healthcare Re-Imagined: Learning from Olympic Athletes

Thursday 4th:

The Damaged Brain: The Fight Against Neurodegeneration

The Human Element: A Candid Conversation about Pioneers of Modern Medicine

The Last Frontier: The Mind

Global Scientific Investment

Science Versus the Biological Clock Read the rest of this entry »

Best of the Brain from Scientific American

Best of Brain, Scientific American

The Dana Foundation kindly sent us a copy of the great book Best of the Brain from Scientific American, a collection of 21 superb articles published previously in Scientific American magazine. A very nicely edited and illustrated book, this is a must for anyone who enjoys learning about the brain and speculating about what the future will bring us.

Some essays, like the ones by Eric Kandel (The New Science of Mind), Fred Gage (Brain, Repair Yourself), Carl Zimmer (The Neurobiology of the Self) and that by Steven Hollon, Michael Thase and John Markowitz (Treating Depression: Pills or Talk), are both intellectual feasts and very relevant to brain fitness. And finally starting to percolate into mainstream consciousness.

Let me quote some quotes and reflections as I was reading the book a couple of days ago, in the courtyard of a beautiful French cafe in Berkeley:

1) On Brain Plasticity (the ability of the brain to rewire itself), Fred Gage says: “Within the past 5 years, however, neuroscientists have discovered that the brain does indeed change throughout life-…The new cells and connections that we and others have documented may provide the extra capacity the brain requires for the variety of challenges that individuals face throughout life. Such plasticity offers a possible mechanism through which the brain might be induced to repair itself after injury or disease. It might even open the prospect of enhancing an already healthy brain’s power to think and ability to feel”

2)  and How Experience affects Brain Structure: Under the section title “A Brain Workout”, Fred Gage says “One of the mot striking aspects of neurogenesis (Note: the creation of new neurons) is that experience can regulate the rate of cell division, the survival of newborn neurons and their ability to integrate into the existing neural circuits…The best way to augment brain function might not involve drugs or cell implants but lifestyle changes.”

3) Biology of Mind: Eric Kandel provides a wonderful overview of the most Read the rest of this entry »

What’s on your mind now?

I’d love to know what was going in your mind just a few seconds ago, when you started reading the title of this post. That will help us understand your mindset, priorities, questions, concerns, interests, and keep improving our blog!

Thank you

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