Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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When early retirement equals mental retirement and memory decline

The New-York Times reports on the study pub­lished a few days ago in the Jour­nal of Eco­nom­ic Per­spec­tives, “Men­tal retire­ment”:

… Data from the Unit­ed States, Eng­land and 11 oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries sug­gest that the ear­li­er peo­ple retire, the more quick­ly their mem­o­ries decline.

… what aspect of work is doing that, Dr. Suz­man said. “Is it the social engage­ment and inter­ac­tion or the cog­ni­tive com­po­nent of work, or is it the aer­o­bic com­po­nent of work?” he asked. “Or is it the absence of what hap­pens when you retire, which could be increased TV watch­ing?”

Com­ments: This new study is anoth­er piece of evi­dence accu­mu­lat­ing with more and more oth­ers sug­gest­ing that a brain healthy life-style requires con­stant cog­ni­tive chal­lenge to help main­tain high-lev­el cog­ni­tive func­tions. Whether it is speak­ing mul­ti­ple lan­guages, phys­i­cal­ly exer­cis­ing or stay­ing men­tal­ly active, our every­day life can pos­i­tive­ly impact our brain health.  Some­thing to keep in mind after retirement…and to even retire the word “retire­ment”!

The results are also intrigu­ing because work­ing com­bines mul­ti­ple aspects of a brain-healthy lifestyle (social engage­ment, men­tal stim­u­la­tion) with aspects not so good for the brain (stress, absence of phys­i­cal exer­cise in some cas­es). How­ev­er, it seems that, over­all, the good aspects of work­ing take over the bad ones as far as mem­o­ry func­tions are con­cerned.

TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), Iraq and neuropsychology

You prob­a­bly have seen the news about Bob Woodruff’s own recov­ery and his arti­cles now to raise aware­ness about the plight of Iraq vet­er­ans.

In the arti­cle “A First­hand Report on the Wounds of War”, we learn how

  • Woodruff, 45, is launch­ing a mul­ti­me­dia cam­paign that includes appear­ances Tues­day with Oprah Win­frey and on “Good Morn­ing Amer­i­ca,” and the release of a book (In an Instant) writ­ten with his wife, Lee, about their ordeal.”
  • Woodruff’s report­ing packs an emo­tion­al punch because he is, quite sim­ply, a man who cheat­ed death. Nev­er before had an anchor for an Amer­i­can broad­cast net­work been injured in war. Woodruff instant­ly became a sym­bol of the dan­gers that jour­nal­ists face in Iraq, and is try­ing to use his high­er pro­file to illu­mi­nate the plight of sol­diers who strug­gle with these injuries far from the spot­light.”

This is not an iso­lat­ed exam­ple but part of a larg­er, and grow­ing, prob­lem. The Dis­cov­er Mag­a­zine arti­cle Read the rest of this entry »

Enhancing Cognition and Emotions for Learning — Learning & The Brain Conference

Alvaro and I had the good for­tune to attend a great con­fer­ence last week called Learn­ing & The Brain: Enhanc­ing Cog­ni­tion and Emo­tions for Learn­ing. It was a fas­ci­nat­ing mix of neu­ro­sci­en­tists and edu­ca­tors talk­ing with and lis­ten­ing to each oth­er. Some top­ics were meant to be applied today, but many were food for thought — insight on where sci­ence and edu­ca­tion are head­ed and how they influ­ence each oth­er.

Using dra­mat­ic new imag­ing tech­niques, such as fMRIs, PET, and SPECT, neu­ro­sci­en­tists are gain­ing valu­able infor­ma­tion about learn­ing. This pio­neer­ing knowl­edge is lead­ing not only to new ped­a­go­gies, but also to new med­ica­tions, brain enhance­ment tech­nolo­gies, and ther­a­pies.… The Con­fer­ence cre­ates an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary forum — a meet­ing place for neu­ro­sci­en­tists, edu­ca­tors, psy­chol­o­gists, clin­i­cians, and par­ents — to exam­ine these new research find­ings with respect to their applic­a­bil­i­ty in the class­room and clin­i­cal prac­tice.

Take-aways

  • Humans are a mix­ture of cog­ni­tion and emo­tion, and both ele­ments are essen­tial to func­tion and learn prop­er­ly
  • Edu­ca­tors and pub­lic pol­i­cy mak­ers need to learn more about the brain, how it grows, and how to cul­ti­vate it
  • Stu­dents of all ages need to be both chal­lenged and nur­tured in order to suc­ceed
  • Peo­ple learn dif­fer­ent­ly — try to teach and learn through as many dif­fer­ent modal­i­ties as pos­si­ble (engage lan­guage, motor skills, artis­tic cre­ation, social inter­ac­tion, sen­so­ry input, etc.)
  • While short-term stress can height­en your cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, long term stress kills you — you need to find bal­ance and release
  • Test anx­i­ety and sub­se­quent poor test results can be improved with behav­ioral train­ing with feed­back based on heart rate vari­abil­i­ty
  • Dr. Robert Sapol­sky is a very very enlight­en­ing and fun speak­er
  • Allow time for rest and con­sol­i­da­tion of learned mate­r­i­al
  • Emo­tion­al mem­o­ries are eas­i­er to remem­ber
  • Con­fer­ences like these per­form a real ser­vice in fos­ter­ing dia­logues between sci­en­tists and edu­ca­tors

Read the rest of this entry »

Sharpen Your Wits With This Special Offer!

We are offer­ing a lim­it­ed-time deal for the rest of Feb­ru­ary 2007.

You will get Brain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 QuestionsBrain Fit­ness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Ques­tions includ­ed for free! (an $11.95 sav­ings!)

Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg and Alvaro Fer­nan­dez answer in plain Eng­lish the most com­mon ques­tions around why and how to exer­cise our brains.

…when you buy any of the fol­low­ing brain exer­cise pro­grams:

Exercise Your Brain: New Brain Research and Implications

Exer­cise Your Brain: New Brain Research and Impli­ca­tions DVD

This one-hour and 20 minute class intro­duces you to the sci­ence of brain fit­ness and includes many engag­ing brain exer­cis­es you can do on your own or in a group set­ting. You will learn about basic neu­roanato­my and phys­i­ol­o­gy, as well as hear about the ground­break­ing pub­li­ca­tions that launched this field. Then, get you will prac­tice how to exer­cise your own brain and flex all your men­tal mus­cles. Per­fect intro­duc­tion to Brain Fit­ness!
Read the rest of this entry »

Is physical fitness important to your brain fitness?

Here is ques­tion 18 of 25 from Brain Fit­ness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Ques­tions.Trail Runner

Ques­tion:
Is phys­i­cal fit­ness impor­tant to your brain fit­ness?

Key Points:

  • Exer­cise improves learn­ing through increased blood sup­ply and growth hor­mones.
  • Exer­cise is an anti-depres­sant by reduc­ing stress and pro­mot­ing neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis.
  • Exer­cise pro­tects the brain from dam­age and dis­ease, as well as speed­ing the recov­ery.
  • Exer­cise ben­e­fits you the most when you start young.

Answer:
Read the rest of this entry »

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