Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: Mind. Learn. Eat. Shape. Play

You may find that too much media cov­er­age on how to take good care of our brains is con­fus­ing, if not poten­tial­ly mis­lead­ing. In The True Sto­ry — is men­tal exer­cise good, bad, or irrel­e­vantDr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon dis­sects for you a recent large study which was large­ly report­ed as bad news when in fact it brings good news (no mir­a­cles, but good news).  We hope you enjoy her insight­ful analy­sis — and all the excel­lent arti­cles that fol­low in the Sep­tem­ber edi­tion of our month­ly eNewslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can use the box in the right col­umn to sub­scribe and receive this newslet­ter via email.

Do you Mind

Dear sapi­ens sapi­ens, do you mind: Dr. Joshua Stein­er­man encour­ages you to ask your­self the tough ques­tions: Do you mind your brain? Do you know your nog­gin’? Can you claim cere­bral own­er­ship or is your men­tal a rental? Plus, why we need a new lex­i­con for pos­i­tive cog­ni­tion inter­ven­tions.

Time for a Cog­ni­tive Reserve Day: with 36 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide with demen­tia today and relat­ed care costs around 1 per­cent of the world’s gross domes­tic prod­uct (GDP), and grow­ing fast, may it be time to com­ple­ment World Alzheimer’s Day with Word Cog­ni­tive Reserve’s Day?

Food for Thought

Debunk­ing learn­ing styles: a recent arti­cle in The New York Times debunks many old myths about learn­ing and learn­ing styles, sum­ma­riz­ing emerg­ing cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science find­ings.

Sci­ence for the Peo­ple: quick now — think of a ques­tion, any ques­tion, that comes to mind. Chances are some one in the excel­lent ros­ter of 28 sci­ence blog­gers who took part in Sharp­Brains’ edi­tion of Sci­en­tia Pro Pub­li­ca blog car­ni­val answered it.

Food for Thought — II

West­ern’ Style Diet Increas­es Risk of ADHD: Dr. David Rabin­er reports how, on the one hand, a recent large study track­ing 1172 Aus­tralian ado­les­cents and their par­ents found that dietary fac­tors can play an impor­tant role in the devel­op­ment of atten­tion deficits, at least for some chil­dren.

A Con­trolled Tri­al of Herbal Treat­ment for ADHD: on the oth­er hand, Dr. Rabin­er adds, a recent ran­dom­ized-con­trolled tri­al sup­ports the idea that appro­pri­ately pre­pared and tar­get­ed herbal com­pounds have the poten­tial to be ther­a­peu­tic and reduce atten­tion deficit symp­toms.

Shap­ing the Future

Q&A about the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion: we have received many good ques­tions about the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil … here you are our answers.

Meet the Experts: since 2006 we have inter­viewed dozens of experts on the future of cog­ni­tive enhance­ment and men­tal health, build­ing up the foun­da­tion for the type of inno­va­tion the Sharp­Brains Coun­cil wants to fos­ter. Here you can find what 26 lead­ing-edge sci­en­tists and experts believe and why.

Get­ting ther­a­py through your iPhone: The Dai­ly Beast (a great new media out­let) just pub­lished this excel­lent arti­cle on an emerg­ing “small rev­o­lu­tion” in men­tal health care.

Brain Teas­er

Brain Teas­er: are you ready to test your men­tal rota­tion skills?

Please feel free to share this month­ly eNewslet­ter to friends and col­leagues. Have a great month of Octo­ber!

A Controlled Trial of Herbal Treatment for ADHD

Many par­ents, health care pro­fes­sion­als, and edu­ca­tors agree that there is a press­ing need to devel­op effec­tive treat­ments for ADHD to com­ple­ment or sub­sti­tute for tra­di­tion­al med­ica­tion and behav­ior ther­a­py approach­es. This is because such treat­ments do not work for every­one, impor­tant dif­fi­cul­ties often remain even when these treat­ments are effec­tive, and evi­dence for the long-term ben­e­fits of these treat­ments remains less com­pelling than one would like. In addi­tion, in the case of med­ica­tion treat­ment, some indi­vid­u­als expe­ri­ence intol­er­a­ble side effects and many have con­cerns about tak­ing ADHD med­ica­tion for an extend­ed peri­od.

One alter­na­tive approach to treat­ing ADHD has relied on the use of Com­pound Herbal Prepa­ra­tions (CHP) derived from tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese med­i­cine. Prac­ti­tion­ers of this approach believe that such prepa­ra­tions have impor­tant cog­ni­tive enhanc­ing prop­er­ties because they sup­ply essen­tial nutri­ents, fat­ty acids, phos­pho­lipids, amino acids, B vit­a­mins, min­er­als, and oth­er micronu­tri­ents that are impor­tant for opti­mal brain growth and devel­op­ment. As a treat­ment for ADHD, the idea is that many indi­vid­u­als with ADHD have defi­cien­cies in essen­tial nutri­ents that com­pro­mise healthy brain devel­op­ment and result in ADHD symp­toms. Pro­vid­ing these nutri­ents via an appro­pri­ate­ly pre­pared herbal com­pound thus has the poten­tial to be ther­a­peu­tic and reduce these symp­toms.

This idea was test­ed recent­ly in a ran­dom­ized-con­trolled tri­al of a spe­cif­ic CHP for chil­dren with ADHD [Katz, Kol-Degani, & Kav-Vena­ki (2010). A com­pound herbal prepa­ra­tion (CHP) in the treat­ment of ADHD: A ran­dom­ized con­trolled tri­al. Jour­nal of Atten­tion Dis­or­ders. Pub­lished online on March 12, 2010.] Par­tic­i­pants were 120 6–12 year-old chil­dren new­ly diag­nosed with ADHD based on a com­pre­hen­sive diag­nos­tic eval­u­a­tion. These chil­dren were all eval­u­at­ed at the She­ba Med­ical Cen­ter, one of the largest uni­ver­si­ty-affil­i­at­ed ter­tiary care cen­ters in Israel.

(Editor´s note: Dr. David Rabin­er, author of this arti­cle, pre­vi­ous­ly reviewed a 2005 meta-analy­sis whose find­ings need to be kept in mind to con­tex­tu­al­ize this new study. In the arti­cle Dietary Inter­ven­tion for ADHD: A Meta-Analy­sis, Dr. Rabin­er con­clud­ed that “Results from this meta-analy­sis pro­vide strong evi­dence that the behav­ior of chil­dren with ADHD can be made worse by dietary fac­tors, and that elim­i­nat­ing AFCs from their diets will, on aver­age, result in behav­ioral improve­ments. This result is con­sis­tent with with accu­mu­lat­ing evi­dence that neu­robe­hav­ioral tox­i­c­i­ty may result from a wide vari­ety of dis­trib­uted chem­i­cals.”)

Chil­dren were ran­dom­ly assigned to receive either the CHP (n=80) or a place­bo (n=40) that was spe­cial­ly pre­pared to Read the rest of this entry »

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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