Students and educators have started a new school year in the midst of a pandemic, an economic crisis, a reckoning with racial injustice, and a divisive political climate. Everyone’s mental health is at risk, and schools are searching for ways to support young people’s well-being in addition to their academic learning. [Read more…] about Study: A combined teaching + app gratitude program helps adolescents address anxiety and improve mental health
Four tips to practice good mental hygiene during the coronavirus outbreak
Just a few days ago my son’s college, the University of Washington, announced it would be cancelling all in-person classes and finals to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. One confirmed on-campus case prompted the university’s response.
Though the university will incur high costs—they have to deep-clean the whole campus, for example—I, for one, am truly grateful for their swift action and putting students first. It’s one of the many ways that I feel cared for in the midst of this crisis, and one of many caring acts that I expect to see in the weeks ahead.
Why expect more cooperation and compassion in the face of an epidemic? [Read more…] about Four tips to practice good mental hygiene during the coronavirus outbreak
Four guidelines for smart use of smartphones
These days, you can’t go anywhere without hearing about how technology is ruining everything, including our happiness. There is some truth to this, but it’s not the whole story.
Technology can be bad for us—for example, when social media gives us FOMO (fear of missing out) or traps us in filter bubbles that prevent us from seeing multiple points of view on important issues. As a society, we are increasingly concerned that technologies like smartphones and social media result in more social comparison, bullying, and loneliness—all stumbling blocks to happiness. Technology seems to be bad for our happiness when it interferes with the mental, social, emotional, and behavioral processes that contribute to well-being.
But we often fail to realize (and discuss) the ways that technology can also support happiness and well-being—for example [Read more…] about Four guidelines for smart use of smartphones
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 more…] about Study shows how practicing gratitude can help train your brain and improve mental health over time
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.
||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.
||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.
|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
You 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 more…] about 10 Brain Fitness New Year’s Resolutions