Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Why investment in brain research is an intelligent investment

human-brainHealthy Brain: Healthy Europe Con­fer­ence (speech by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion­er for Research, Inno­va­tion and Sci­ence):

…Brain research and inno­va­tion con­tribute to Europe 2020‘s, aims not just by improv­ing qual­i­ty of life and help­ing inte­grate patients back into their social and work­ing lives, but also Read the rest of this entry »

Promoting Mental Agility through Cognitive Control and Mental Representation

The words, The Agile Mind cap­tured my atten­tion imme­di­ate­ly. The title con­veyed ener­gy, inno­va­tion, change, bounc­ing on a tram­po­line in my head. I knew that inves­ti­gat­ing the book would be an adven­ture.

As soon as the book The Agile Mind by Wilma Kout­staal was in my hands, I explored the 24-page index, look­ing for my favorite top­ic, prob­lem-solv­ing think­ing. On page 29 I accessed a brand new take on the intu­itive ver­sus ratio­nal prob­lem solv­ing chal­lenge. A cen­tral aspect of men­tal agili­ty Read the rest of this entry »

MetLife Mature Market Institute: Meaning, Purpose and Cognitive Health for a Lifelong Good Life

Increased longevi­ty has gen­er­at­ed many ques­tions and much inter­est in healthy aging and retire­ment lifestyles over the recent decades. As Amer­i­cans become edu­cat­ed regard­ing lifestyle choic­es that con­tribute to both phys­i­cal and men­tal health, the def­i­n­i­tion of healthy aging has expand­ed to include brain health.

The notion of retire­ment as a time of with­draw­al from soci­ety, to be spent on rest and repose reflect­ed the think­ing of a pre­vi­ous era when peo­ple expect­ed short­er life spans. It is now known that the human brain ben­e­fits from envi­ron­ments rich in nov­el and com­plex stim­uli, and that by active­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing in soci­ety and tak­ing on per­son­al­ly rel­e­vant roles, peo­ple find mean­ing and pur­pose, which gives them a rea­son to get up in the morn­ing and pur­sue new chal­lenges.

This year, the MetLife Mature Mar­ket Insti­tute pub­lished a research study titled Dis­cov­er­ing What Mat­ters: Bal­anc­ing Mon­ey, Med­i­cine and Mean­ing. The study explored how peo­ple rebal­ance their pri­or­i­ties over time and jug­gle var­i­ous com­pet­ing aspects of life includ­ing mon­ey, med­i­cine (a metaphor for health) and mean­ing, in order to live the Good Life.  Hav­ing pur­pose was found to Read the rest of this entry »

The brain virtues of physical exercise

Dr. Adri­an Pre­da, our newest Expert Con­trib­u­tor, writes today the first in a series of thought-pro­vok­ing arti­cles,physical exercise for the brain chal­leng­ing us to think about phys­i­cal exer­cise as the best and most unap­pre­ci­at­ed form of “brain exer­cise”. A superb arti­cle.

And one thing is clear, he points out: “the brain real­ly likes it when it’s asked to be “active”. Pas­sive audi­ences, which are spoon fed infor­ma­tion, score less well when test­ed on reten­tion and under­stand­ing of the pre­sent­ed mate­r­i­al than audi­ences that were kept engaged through the process.”

So, will you write a com­ment below and con­tribute to an engag­ing con­ver­sa­tion? Thoughts? reac­tions? ques­tions?
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Don’t ignore plain old com­mon sense.

Brain Lessons Part 1

– By Adri­an Pre­da, M.D.

Let me start with a list of com­mon bias­es: expen­sive is bet­ter than cheap, free is of dubi­ous val­ue (why would then be free?), rare is like­ly to be valu­able, and while new is bet­ter than old, ancient is always best. Which explains a com­mon sce­nario that is reen­act­ed about twice a week in my office. It starts like this: a patient shows me a fan­cy look­ing bot­tle of the brain sup­ple­ment of the week: ancient roots with obscure names mixed togeth­er in anoth­er nov­el com­bi­na­tion which you can exclu­sive­ly find in that one and only store (rar­i­ty oblige!). And not to for­get: it ain’t cheap either! Of course, there it is, the per­fect the recipe for suc­cess: ancient yet new, rare and expen­sive. It got to be good! But is it, real­ly?

Read the rest of this entry »

Looking inside the Brain: is my Brain Fit?

MRI scanner neuroimaging

Today we have the plea­sure to have Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon, one of our new Expert Con­trib­u­tors, write her first arti­cle here. Enjoy, and please com­ment so we hear your thoughts and engage in a nice con­ver­sa­tion.

(Btw, if you notice some sim­i­lar­i­ty between the col­ors in the fMRI scan below and the look & feel of this site…well, the rea­son is that those orange-grey fMRI col­ors were our inspi­ra­tion! the orange col­or denotes the most brain acti­va­tion).

- Alvaro

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You have prob­a­bly heard about CAT and MRI scans (pro­duced thanks to machines like the one to the top right). So you know that these are tech­niques that doc­tors and sci­en­tists use to look inside the brain.

You have prob­a­bly also heard about brain fit­ness and how impor­tant it is to keep a healthy brain to be pro­tect­ed against age-relat­ed and dis­ease-relat­ed brain dam­ages.

The ques­tion we ask here is the fol­low­ing: Can we use brain scans to eval­u­ate how fit the brain is? Before we try to answer this ques­tion let’s start with the basics and try to under­stand how brain scans work.

Brain imag­ing, also called neu­roimag­ing, allows one to Read the rest of this entry »

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