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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Social Connections for Cognitive Fitness

We human beings are social ani­mals. It seems intu­itive (even for intro­verts!) that social con­tact has ben­e­fits. Obvi­ous­ly we need oth­er peo­ple to ful­fill basic needs such mak­ing sure that our genes out­live. Maybe less obvi­ous­ly we seem to need oth­er peo­ple to main­tain pic_pascalepost.jpgade­quate lev­els of men­tal well being and moti­va­tion.

Even less obvi­ous­ly, social con­tact may help us improve our brain func­tions…

Men­tal fit­ness seems to depend on a large part on being con­nect­ed with oth­er peo­ple. For instance peo­ple with low social sup­port seem to be more prone to men­tal ill­ness (McGuire & Raleigh, 1986). In 2007, Glad­stone and col­leagues stud­ied 218 patients with major depres­sion and found out that low social sup­port, espe­cial­ly com­ing from the fam­i­ly, was asso­ci­at­ed with chron­ic depres­sion.

Mere­ly imag­in­ing lone­li­ness can neg­a­tive­ly affect our behav­ior…

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Best of the Brain from Scientific American

Best of Brain, Scientific American

The Dana Foun­da­tion kind­ly sent us a copy of the great book Best of the Brain from Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can, a col­lec­tion of 21 superb arti­cles pub­lished pre­vi­ous­ly in Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can mag­a­zine. A very nice­ly edit­ed and illus­trat­ed book, this is a must for any­one who enjoys learn­ing about the brain and spec­u­lat­ing about what the future will bring us.

Some essays, like the ones by Eric Kan­del (The New Sci­ence of Mind), Fred Gage (Brain, Repair Your­self), Carl Zim­mer (The Neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy of the Self) and that by Steven Hol­lon, Michael Thase and John Markowitz (Treat­ing Depres­sion: Pills or Talk), are both intel­lec­tu­al feasts and very rel­e­vant to brain fit­ness. And final­ly start­ing to per­co­late into main­stream con­scious­ness.

Let me quote some quotes and reflec­tions as I was read­ing the book a cou­ple of days ago, in the court­yard of a beau­ti­ful French cafe in Berke­ley:

1) On Brain Plas­tic­i­ty (the abil­i­ty of the brain to rewire itself), Fred Gage says: “With­in the past 5 years, how­ev­er, neu­ro­sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered that the brain does indeed change through­out life-…The new cells and con­nec­tions that we and oth­ers have doc­u­ment­ed may pro­vide the extra capac­i­ty the brain requires for the vari­ety of chal­lenges that indi­vid­u­als face through­out life. Such plas­tic­i­ty offers a pos­si­ble mech­a­nism through which the brain might be induced to repair itself after injury or dis­ease. It might even open the prospect of enhanc­ing an already healthy brain’s pow­er to think and abil­i­ty to feel”

2)  and How Expe­ri­ence affects Brain Struc­ture: Under the sec­tion title “A Brain Work­out”, Fred Gage says “One of the mot strik­ing aspects of neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis (Note: the cre­ation of new neu­rons) is that expe­ri­ence can reg­u­late the rate of cell divi­sion, the sur­vival of new­born neu­rons and their abil­i­ty to inte­grate into the exist­ing neur­al circuits…The best way to aug­ment brain func­tion might not involve drugs or cell implants but lifestyle changes.”

3) Biol­o­gy of Mind: Eric Kan­del pro­vides a won­der­ful overview of the most Read the rest of this entry »

Medicine, Neuroscience, Psychology, Education, Videogames, and much more…

Well, today we have an excep­tion­al col­lec­tion of blog car­ni­vals to men­tion. Please only start brows­ing if you do have some time to spare…otherwise you will end up spend­ing more time read­ing the arti­cles than you real­ly can afford to 🙂

First, some superb edi­tions of:

Grand Rounds (Med­i­cine). An amaz­ing col­lec­tion of med­i­cine-relat­ed arti­cles, with fun guid­ance. You can also check the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of this car­ni­val, great­ly pre­sent­ed, that we had for­got­ten to men­tion (no brain is per­fect, if you mind to ask!). 

Encephalon (neu­ro­science and psy­chol­o­gy)

Edu­ca­tion Wonks (edu­ca­tion, per­haps?)

Tan­gled Bank (gen­er­al sci­ence)

A new edi­tion of Brain Fit­ness (we launched this car­ni­val in Jan­u­ary and Talia host­ed this edi­tion; let us know if you want to host future ones).

And posts on a vari­ety of top­ics:

Brain Blog­ging,   Video Game Blog­gers,   Nurs­ing,   Eco­nom­ics and Social Pol­i­cy,   Entre­pre­neurs,   Fam­i­ly Life,   Teacher In Ser­vice,   Online Edu­ca­tion,   Per­son­al Devel­op­ment,   Online Uni­ver­si­ty,   ADD Blog,   Total Mind and Body Fit­ness,   Arse­nal Of Goals & Plans,   Doing it Dif­fer­ent­ly,   Obser­va­tions on Life,   Brain Code,   Edu­ca­tion and School Issues,   Depres­sion and Men­tal health,   Spe­cial Needs,   Per­son­al Growth.

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