Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Trust, but verify: How big data can augment brain health clinical research

LumosityBrainGames Can the secrets to human cog­ni­tion be found in Lumosity’s brain-train­ing games? (Wash­ing­ton Post):

Google was a pio­neer in the field of big data and sci­ence a few years ago when it began to pub­lish flu trends based on what peo­ple were search­ing for online. Some of its researchers are now work­ing on a way to pin­point adverse events with med­ica­tions based on search data…Much of the ini­tial work with Lumosity’s data aims to Read the rest of this entry »

Think Fresh: When Is a Hammer Not a Hammer?

Though the human brain is the most inno­v­a­tive instru­ment on earth, we remain a con­ser­v­a­tive species. Most of us relapse to old ways of think­ing even when we think we are doing some­thing new. Our brain’s “sim­i­lar equals iden­ti­cal” mech­a­nism, which comes from expe­ri­ence, is both a good and bad adap­ta­tion. Rely­ing on expe­ri­ence, which is how we make sense of the world, how we learn, how we build civ­i­liza­tion, is suf­fi­cient for most worka­day mat­ters. Read the rest of this entry »

Memory, Cognitive Abilities and Executive Functions

Thinking menA mis­con­cep­tion we encounter often is that “mem­o­ry” is the only, or most impor­tant, “thing” that our brains do. And the only one we need to care for.

We have a vari­ety of cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, from atten­tion to pro­cess­ing speed to prob­lem-solv­ing to emo­tion­al self-reg­u­la­tion to, yes, mem­o­ry. (And more). Even mem­o­ry is not one whole thing, but has dif­fer­ent types and process­es: work­ing mem­o­ry vs. long-term, audi­to­ry vs. visu­al, events vs. facts vs. skills.

I say this in the con­text of this arti­cle and video you may already have seen, where a young chimp dis­plays amaz­ing visu­al work­ing mem­o­ry capa­bil­i­ty, beat­ing humans.

- Read insight­ful blog post here. Quote

This study shows that chimps can mem­o­rize at a glance the numer­als pre­sent­ed Read the rest of this entry »

Is Intelligence Innate and Fixed?

iq test, intelligenceGiv­en the recent James Wat­son “race and IQ” con­tro­ver­sy, I took on to read Stephan Jay Gould’s clas­sic book The Mis­mea­sure of Man, in which he debunks IQ (and the under­ly­ing “g”) as mea­sure of defined, innate, “intel­li­gence”. Fas­ci­nat­ing read­ing overall, very tech­ni­cal in some areas.

The key take-away? In the last chap­ter, A Pos­i­tive Con­clu­sion, he writes that

- “Flex­i­bil­i­ty is the hall­mark of human evolution…In oth­er mam­mals, explo­ration, play and flex­i­bil­i­ty of behav­ior are qual­i­ties of juve­niles, only rarely of adults. We retain not only the anatom­i­cal stamp stamp of child­hood, but its men­tal flex­i­bil­i­ty as well…Humans are learn­ing ani­mals”

He then relates this sto­ry from T.H. White’s nov­el The Once and Future King

- God, he recounts, cre­at­ed all ani­mals as embryos and called each before his throne, offer­ing them what­ev­er addi­tions to their anato­my they desired. All opt­ed for spe­cial­ized adult fea­tures-the lion for claws and sharp teeth, the deer for antlers and hoofs. The human embryo stepped forth last and said: Please God, I think that you made me in the shape which I now have for rea­sons best known to Your­selves and that it would be rude to change. If I am to have my choice, I will stay as I am. I will not alter any of the parts which you gave me…I will stay a defence­less embryo all my life, doing my best to make myself a few fee­ble imple­ments out of the wood, iron, and the oth­er mate­ri­als which You have seen fit to put before me..” “Well done”, exclaimed the Cre­ator in delight­ed tone. “Here all you embryos, come here with Read the rest of this entry »

I have to exercise my brain, too

I was exposed to a fun brain exer­cise on Mon­day: attend my first-ever live TV pro­gram, be ready for 3 very pre­cise questions…and then be asked oth­ers.

The anchors were fun. It was fas­ci­nat­ing to observe, behind the scenes, the mak­ing of a news pro­gram: con­stant last-minute appar­ent chaos, the lawyer in the “ask the lawyer” seg­ment nowhere to be found…but every­one seem to had a fun time. And good men­tal stim­u­la­tion-as long as they man­age stress well.

Here you have the 3-minute clip from the local CBS’ Good Day Sacra­men­to pro­gram, with a brief Q&A and a cou­ple of brain teasers (Count the Fs and Stroop Test).

The 3 ques­tions I was expect­ing were:

- What is Brain Aware­ness Week? see Dana’s and part­ners’ out­reach events world­wide.

- What is Sharp­Brains? see Our Vision for Brain and Mind Fit­ness.

- What is the involve­ment of Sharp­Brains dur­ing Brain Aware­ness Week? check Brain Aware­ness Week.

Next time I will give more clear direc­tions and maybe improve my Eng­lish a bit too if I can…

If you want more teasers, here you have Top 10 Brain Teasers.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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