Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Study shows how practicing gratitude can help train your brain and improve mental health over time

With the rise of managed health care, which emphasizes cost-efficiency and brevity, mental health professionals have had to confront this burning question: How can they help clients derive the greatest possible benefit from treatment in the shortest amount of time? Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Cognitive Health and Brain Fitness Books

Here you have The 10 Most Popular Brain Fitness & Cognitive Health Books, based on book purchases by SharpBrains’ readers during 2008.


Brain Rules-John Medina
1. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (Pear Press, March 2008)
– Dr. John Medina, Director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University, writes an engaging and comprehensive introduction to the many daily implications of recent brain research. He wrote the article Brain Rules: science and practice for SharpBrains readers.
2. The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person (Oxmoor House, March 2007)
– Dr. Judith Beck, Director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, connects the world of research-based cognitive therapy with a mainstream application: maintaining weight-loss. Interview notes here.
3. The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (Viking, March 2007)
– Dr. Norman Doidge, psychiatrist and author of this New York Times bestseller, brings us “a compelling collection of tales about the amazing abilities of the brain to rewire, readjust and relearn”. Laurie Bartels reviews the book review here.
Spark John Ratey
4. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain(Little, Brown and Company, January 2008)
– Dr. John Ratey, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, summarizes the growing research on the brain benefits of physical exercise. Laurie Bartels puts this research in perspective here.
5. The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning (Stylus Publishing, October 2002)
– Dr. James Zull, Director Emeritus of the University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education at Case Western Reserve University, writes a must-read for educators and lifelong learners. Interview notes here.
6. Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves (Ballantine Books, January 2007)
– Sharon Begley, Newsweek’ excellent science writer, provides an in-depth introduction to the research on neuroplasticity based on a Mind & Life Institute event.
7. Thanks: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Houghton Mifflin, August 2007)
– Prof. Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis and Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology, writes a solid book that combines a research-based synthesis of the topic as well as practical suggestions. Interview notes here.
8. The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind (Oxford University Press, January 2001)
– Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, clinical professor of neurology at New York University School of Medicine, provides a fascinating perspective on the role of the frontal roles and executive functions through the lifespan. Interview notes here.
Brain Trust Program 9. The Brain Trust Program: A Scientifically Based Three-Part Plan to Improve Memory (Perigee Trade, September 2007)
– Dr. Larry McCleary, former acting Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Denver Children’s Hospital, covers many lifestyle recommendations for brain health in this practical book. He wrote the article Brain Evolution and Health for SharpBrains.
10. A User’s Guide to the Brain: Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain (Pantheon, January 2001)
– In this book (previous to Spark), Dr. John Ratey provides a stimulating description of how the brain works. An excellent Brain 101 book to anyone new to the field.

10 Brain Fitness New Year’s Resolutions

Brain Fitness New Year's ResolutionsYou have survived the 2007 shopping and eating season. Congratulations! Now it’s time to shift gears and focus on 2008…whether you write down some New Year resolutions or contemplate some things that you want to let go of from last year and set intentions and goals for this year – as is a friend’s tradition on the winter solstice.

To summarize the key findings of the last 20 years of neuroscience research on how to “exercise our brains”, there are three things that we can strive for: novelty, variety and challenge. If we do these three things, we will build new connections in our brains, be mindful and pay attention to our environment, improve cognitive abilities such as pattern-recognition, and in general contribute to our lifelong brain health.

With these three principles of brain health in mind – novelty, variety and challenge – let me suggest a few potential New Years resolutions, perhaps some unexpected, that will help you make 2008 a year of Brain Fitness: Read the rest of this entry »

Gratitude and Appreciation: from Theory to Practice

Appreciation, GratitudePsychologist Robert Emmons recently told us about the many benefits of practicing gratitude.

– “First, the practice of gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. Second, this is not hard to achieve – a few hours spent writing a gratitude journal over 3 weeks can create an effect that lasts 6 months if not more. Third, that cultivating gratitude brings other health effects, such as longer and better quality sleep time.”

Thanksgiving flew by for me this year without my taking the time to express gratitude to many of the people who have been so generous with their time and advice.

Given that this is a blog, I would like to say Thank You! to the following bloggers Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Newsletter: November Edition

Brain exercise, brain exercisesHere you are have the Monthly Digest of our Most Popular Blog Posts. You can consider it your monthly Brain Exercise Magazine.

(Also, remember that you can subscribe to receive our RSS feed, check our Topics section, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter at the top of this page if you want to receive this Digest by email).

Gratitude is a very important emotion to cultivate, as Professor Robert Emmons tells us in this interview, based on his last book. Please take some time to read it, and to find at least one thing you are thankful for-it will be good for your health.

We are grateful about a very stimulating November:

Brain Fitness Market News

10 Neurotechnology Trends: a leading industry organization released their Top 10 NeuroTrends for 2007, and brain fitness matters appeared in 3 of them.

Thank Boomers for Buffing Up Brain Market: great overview of the market from a technology point of view, quoting our market projections. To clarify the numbers mentioned: we project $225m in the US alone for the brain fitness software market (growing from $70m in 2003), broken-down as follows: $80m for the Consumer segment, $60m in K12 Education, $50m in Clinical applications, and $35m in the Corporate segment. The Consumer segment, with a healthy aging value proposition, is the most recent one but the most rapidly growing.

Exercise On the Brain: a NYT OpEd: a widely read opinion piece in the New York Times, written by 2 neuroscientists, that somehow seems to miss the research behind the value of mental stimulation and cognitive training. Other neuroscience teams and us write letters to the editor that go unpublished. Should you have any contacts with journalists, please ask them to contact us: we are always happy to serve as a resource to the media.

Posit Science @ GSA: well-designed Brain Training Works: a timely heads up on how well-designed computer-based programs can be a great complement to other interventions. We will be interviewing the leading researcher behind that study during the next 2 weeks, so keep tuned!

Brain and Mind News and Articles: a variety of links to good media reports, including a spectacular special on memory in National Geographic.

News You Can Use

Marian Diamond on the brain: leading neuroscientist Marian Diamond, now 81, shares her prescription for lifelong brain health- diet, exercise, challenge, newness and tender loving care.

From Meditation to MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction): a report on the benefits of meditation and how it is becoming more mainstream in medicine.


50 Mind and Brain Games for adults: you may have seen these teasers, but we want to alert you we have opened a new section in the site where you can easily find our growing collection of teasers

Your Haiku, please?: a friendly challenge to your brain.

Education and Lifelong Learning

Carol Dweck on Mindsets, Learning and Intelligence: we found a fascinating interview on the importance on having a growth and learning oriented mindset. Both for kids and adults.

Is Intelligence Innate and Fixed?: some reflections based on biology.

Corporate Training, Wellness and Leadership

Cognitive Fitness and The Future of Work: an excellent concept map on how neuroscience may influence the workplace of the future, drawn in real time as I spoke at an Institute for the Future event.

Emotional Intelligence and Faces: how many universal emotions and facial expressions are there?


Use It or Lose It, and Cells that Fire together Wire together: I spoke at the Italian Consulate in San Francisco, where we explored some of the basic concepts we should all know about how our brains and mind work.

Let me practice the Gratitude concept…Thank You for your attention and participation!

You can also enjoy our previous editions of this monthly digest:





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