Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain Fitness Newsletter: December Edition

Brain exercise, brain exercisesI hope you are hav­ing a joy­ful hol­i­day sea­son, and wish you a Hap­py and Pros­per­ous 2008. The Brain Fit­ness field has made a great deal of progress in 2007, and we are look­ing for­ward the New Year.

Here you are have the Month­ly Digest of our Most Pop­u­lar Blog Posts. You can con­sid­er it your month­ly Brain Fitness/ Exer­cise Newslet­ter.

(Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our blog RSS feed, or to our month­ly newslet­ter at the top of this page if you want to receive this month­ly Digest by email).

Let me first of all intro­duce you to our new “Author Speaks Series”, where we will give lead­ing sci­en­tists and experts a forum to present their new brain-relat­ed books. We are hon­ored to kick­start the series with Lar­ry McCleary, for­mer act­ing Chief of Pedi­atric Neu­ro­surgery at Den­ver Children’s Hos­pi­tal. You can read Here his arti­cle on how to keep a brain-friend­ly lifestyle. This series will com­ple­ment our ongo­ing Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series.

Brain Fit­ness in the News

Brain Fit­ness @ PBS: PBS fea­tured a fan­tas­tic spe­cial pro­gram on neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and brain fit­ness dur­ing the month of Decem­ber. Before you ask: as of today, the DVD of the pro­gram is still not avail­able in PBS online shop. We expect to see it there in 2–3 weeks. We will keep you informed.

The Huff­in­g­ton Post start­ed fea­tur­ing a col­umn writ­ten by me: you may enjoy tak­ing a look at Alvaro Fer­nan­dez — Liv­ing on The Huff­in­g­ton Post.

Jog­ging our Brains for Brain Vital­i­ty, Healthy Aging-and Intel­li­gence!: a roundup of sev­er­al great recent arti­cles on mem­o­ry, aging, IQ and cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties such as self-con­trol.

Health & Well­ness

Brain Train­ing: No Mag­ic Bul­let, Yet Use­ful Tool. Inter­view with Eliz­a­beth Zelin­s­ki: Dr. Zelin­s­ki, lead­ing researcher of the IMPACT study, shares fas­ci­nat­ing insights. For exam­ple: “…cog­ni­tive enhance­ment requires the engage­ment in a vari­ety of activ­i­ties, those activ­i­ties must be nov­el, adap­tive and chal­leng­ing-which is why com­put­er-based pro­grams can be help­ful. But even at a more basic lev­el, what mat­ters is being engaged with life, con­tin­u­al­ly exposed to stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties, always try­ing to get out of our com­fort zones, doing our best at what­ev­er we are doing. A major typ­i­cal mis­con­cep­tion is that there is only one gen­er­al intel­li­gence to care about. In real­i­ty, we have many dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, such as atten­tion, mem­o­ry, lan­guage, rea­son­ing, and more, so it makes sense to have dif­fer­ent pro­grams designed to train and improve each of them.”

How to Eval­u­ate and Choose a Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram: To help you nav­i­gate the grow­ing num­ber of com­put­er-based pro­grams and games, we pub­lished this 10-Ques­tion Check­list, based on dozens of inter­views with sci­en­tists, experts and con­sumers.

Trav­el and Engage­ment as Good Brain Exer­cise: As we’ve seen, nov­el­ty, vari­ety and chal­lenge are the key guide­lines for “brain exer­cise” that help build new neur­al con­nec­tions, force one to be mind­ful and pay atten­tion, improve abil­i­ties such as pat­tern-recog­ni­tion, and gen­er­al­ly con­tribute to life­long brain health. In this post we fea­ture the brain build­ing / mind expand­ing expe­ri­ence of a Sharp­Brains friend work­ing in Namib­ia.

Alzheimer’s Pre­ven­tion and Diag­nos­tic Tests: analy­sis of sev­er­al recent arti­cles on emerg­ing research behind Alzheimer’s diag­nos­tic and pre­ven­tion.

Cor­po­rate Well­ness and Train­ing

Cog­ni­tive Reserve and Intel­lec­tu­al­ly Demand­ing Jobs: a recent study shows how “Intel­lec­tu­al­ly demand­ing work was asso­ci­at­ed with greater ben­e­fit to cog­ni­tive per­for­mance in lat­er life inde­pen­dent of relat­ed fac­tors like edu­ca­tion and intel­li­gence.”

Cog­ni­tive Health and Baby Boomers- 6 Points to Keep in Mind: based upon an excel­lent McK­in­sey report titled Serv­ing Aging Baby Boomers, we dis­cuss a vari­ety a news arti­cles, includ­ing inter­est­ing num­bers, some bad news, and some good news.

Life­long Learn­ing Is Chang­ing My Brain: Andreas, the neu­ro­science PhD stu­dent who spent last sum­mer work­ing with Sharp­Brains, writes some reflec­tions on his expe­ri­ence and on how sci­en­tists and busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als can learn from each oth­er.

Brain Teasers

Trav­el­er IQ Game: Check out this stim­u­lat­ing online game…

Events

Learn­ing & The Brain Con­fer­ence, Feb­ru­ary 5–7 2008, San Fran­cis­co: Sign up now for this great con­fer­ence for edu­ca­tors who want to learn about the lat­est brain research find­ings and impli­ca­tions. I will be speak­ing at the con­fer­ence giv­ing an overview of inno­v­a­tive cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams. The orga­niz­ers are offer­ing a Spe­cial Dis­count for Sharp­Brains read­ers until Jan­u­ary 25th 2008, so click here if inter­est­ed.

If we don’t talk beforehand…Happy New Year!

———————

You can also enjoy our pre­vi­ous edi­tions of our Brain Fit­ness Newslet­ter:

- Novem­ber Edi­tion

- Octo­ber Edi­tion

- Sep­tem­ber Edi­tion

- August Edi­tion

- July Edi­tion

Health, Medicine, Neuroscience, Psychology and HR blogs

A quick note to announce that these blog car­ni­vals (col­lec­tions of select­ed blog posts on spe­cif­ic top­ics) are avail­able:

- Grand Rounds: spec­tac­u­lar edi­tion of the best health and med­i­cine blog car­ni­val, pre­sent­ed in 100% haiku form!

- Encephalon: neu­ro­science and psy­chol­o­gy top­ics

- Human Resources: good roundup of posts for HR pro­fes­sion­als

- Update 1: The Edu­ca­tion one just appeared. Great for teach­ers and school staff

- Update 2: Tan­gled Bank is online too, with great sci­ence-relat­ed posts

Also, you can check my new arti­cle at the Huff­in­g­ton Post on 10 Habits of High­ly Effec­tive Brains.

Blogging at the Huffington Post

Great news: I have been invit­ed to be one of the blog­gers at that fun news and blog­ging exper­i­ment called The Huff­in­g­ton Post. I appre­ci­ate very much the oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage a broad­er com­mu­ni­ty around the lat­est research on brain fit­ness and the brain fit­ness mar­ket, and around how to “exer­cise our brains” for hap­pi­ness, health, life­long learning and peak per­for­mance.

You can take a look at the first post: How “Say­ing Thanks” Will Make You Hap­pi­er.

SharpBrains.com/blog will keep being our main blog. Thank you for all your sup­port!

Best practice for top trading performance: biofeedback (EmWave personal stress reliever)

Brett N. Steen­barg­er , Ph.D. Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try and Behav­ioral Sci­ences at SUNY Upstate Med­ical Uni­ver­si­ty, active trad­er for over 30 years, for­mer Direc­tor of Trad­er Devel­op­ment for Kingstree Trad­ing, LLC, author of The Psy­chol­o­gy of Trad­ing and the new Enhanc­ing Trad­er Per­for­mance, and of the blog Trader­Feed: Exploit­ing the edge from his­tor­i­cal mar­ket pat­terns, is writ­ing a great col­lec­tion of best prac­tices for traders (many of which are very rel­e­vant for all high-pres­sure occu­pa­tions).

He wrote a great arti­cle a few weeks ago on the val­ue of biofeed­back in achiev­ing self con­trol, and now deep­ens the dis­cus­sion with this best prac­tice for traders.

Both arti­cles are a fun read-here go some quotes from the most recent one

  • This best prac­tice describes biofeed­back as a tool for per­for­mance enhance­ment among traders. It empha­sizes that the role of biofeed­back is to keep us in touch with our (implic­it) knowl­edge, not to elim­i­nate emo­tion from the deci­sion-mak­ing process.”
  • we want to con­trol the lev­el of cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal arousal so that we retain access to exper­tise that is already present. Biofeed­back is a pow­er­ful tool for achiev­ing such cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal con­trol.”
  • Through struc­tured prac­tice, peo­ple can learn to sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly improve their abil­i­ty to enter and remain in states of calm focus. Such abil­i­ty is impor­tant to trad­ing (and many oth­er per­for­mance activ­i­ties), not because it elim­i­nates emo­tion, but because it pre­serves our access to the somat­ic mark­ers that rep­re­sent our mar­ket feel. The heart rate vari­abil­i­ty feed­back is par­tic­u­lar­ly user friend­ly, because it is com­put­er based and can track progress both in prac­tice ses­sions and in real time per­for­mance.”
  • Using the Freeze-Framer pro­gram, audi­ble sig­nals tell the user when he or she is expe­ri­enc­ing high, medi­um, or low “coher­ence”, which is a mea­sure of emo­tion­al reg­u­la­tion. On-screen games require the user to keep a float­ing bal­loon in the air, for instance, based upon sus­tained medi­um and high read­ings. I recent­ly had an inter­est­ing expe­ri­ence dur­ing one feed­back ses­sion: I sus­tained a high lev­el of the bal­loon, but then clicked a wrong but­ton on the screen and erased my data acci­den­tal­ly! After that frus­tra­tion, it was *much* hard­er for me to keep the bal­loon in the air. It was a nice illus­tra­tion of the impact of frus­tra­tion even sev­er­al min­utes after an event.”

You can learn more about this best prac­tice for Traders and oth­er high-pres­sure occu­pa­tions where learn­ing how to iden­ti­fy and man­age our emo­tions and lev­els of stress is crit­i­cal for per­for­mance.

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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