Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


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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