Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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10 Brain Tips To Teach and Learn — Ideas for New Year Resolutions

My inter­est in the brain stems from want­i­ng to bet­ter under­stand both how to make school more palat­able for stu­dents, and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment more mean­ing­ful for fac­ul­ty. To that end, I began my Neu­rons Fir­ing blog in April, 2007, have been doing a lot of read­ing, and been attend­ing work­shops and con­fer­ences, includ­ing Learn­ing & the Brain.

If you agree that our brains are designed for learn­ing, then as edu­ca­tors it is incum­bent upon us to be look­ing for ways to max­i­mize the learn­ing process for each of our stu­dents, as well as for our­selves. Some of what fol­lows is sim­ply com­mon sense, but I’ve learned that all of it has a sci­en­tif­ic basis in our brains. Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Scientists Identify Links between Arts, Learning

Arts edu­ca­tion influ­ences learn­ing and oth­er areas of cog­ni­tion and may deserve a more promi­nent place in schools, accord­ing to a wave of recent neu­ro­science research.One recent study found that chil­dren who receive music instruc­tion for just 15 months show strength­ened con­nec­tions in musi­cal­ly rel­e­vant brain areas and per­form bet­ter on asso­ci­at­ed tasks, com­pared with stu­dents who do not learn an instru­ment.

A sep­a­rate study found that chil­dren who receive train­ing to improve their focus and atten­tion per­form bet­ter not only on atten­tion tasks but also on intel­li­gence tests. Some researchers sug­gest that arts train­ing might sim­i­lar­ly affect a wide range of cog­ni­tive domains. Edu­ca­tors and neu­ro­sci­en­tists gath­ered recent­ly in Bal­ti­more and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., to dis­cuss the increas­ing­ly detailed pic­ture of how arts edu­ca­tion changes the brain, and how to trans­late that research to edu­ca­tion pol­i­cy and the class­room. Many par­tic­i­pants referred to the results of Dana Foun­da­tion-fund­ed research by cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tists from sev­en lead­ing uni­ver­si­ties over three years, released in 2008.

Art must do some­thing to the mind and brain. What is that? How would we be able to detect that? asked Bar­ry Gor­don, a behav­ioral neu­rol­o­gist and cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tist at Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty, who spoke May 8 dur­ing the “Learn­ing and the Brain” con­fer­ence in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. “Art, I sub­mit to you with­out absolute proof, can improve the pow­er of our minds. How­ev­er, this improve­ment is hard to detect.”

Study links music, brain changes

Among the sci­en­tists try­ing to detect such improve­ment, Ellen Win­ner, a pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­o­gy at Boston Col­lege, and Got­tfried Schlaug, a pro­fes­sor of neu­rol­o­gy at Beth Israel Dea­coness Med­ical Cen­ter and Har­vard Med­ical School, pre­sent­ed research at the “Learn­ing, Arts, and the Brain sum­mit May 6 in Bal­ti­more. Their work mea­sured, for the first time, changes to the brain as a result of music train­ing.

For four years, Win­ner and Schlaug fol­lowed chil­dren ages 9 to 11, some of whom Read the rest of this entry »

10 Brain Tips To Teach and Learn

My nat­ur­al rhythms are in cycle with the school cal­en­dar. Jan­u­ary 1st takes a back seat to my new year, which gets ush­ered in with the month of Sep­tem­ber when there is crisp­ness in the air that grad­u­al­ly shakes off the slow­er, more relaxed pace of summer.Conveniently, my career in teach­ing mesh­es with my nat­ur­al cycli­cal year. And as this year draws to a close, I am re-ener­gized by the pace of sum­mer, know­ing that any­thing may pop in to my mind as I engage in activ­i­ties not direct­ly relat­ed to school. But before that hap­pens, I’d like to reflect on this past year, in par­tic­u­lar as it was my first year of blog­ging about the brain.

My inter­est in the brain stems from want­i­ng to bet­ter under­stand both how to make school more palat­able for stu­dents, and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment more mean­ing­ful for fac­ul­ty. To that end, I began my Neu­rons Fir­ing blog in April, 2007, have been doing a lot of read­ing, and been attend­ing work­shops and con­fer­ences, includ­ing Learn­ing & the Brain.

If you agree that our brains are designed for learn­ing, then Read the rest of this entry »

Upcoming Brain Health and Fitness Events

I will be speak­ing at the these upcom­ing con­fer­ences: if you are attend­ing, please let me know!

» Boston, April 28th, 2008: Pan­el on Lat­est Brain Research Trends, at the Learn­ing and the Brain Con­fer­ence.

» Boston, April 29th, 2008: New Devel­op­ments in Cog­ni­tive Retrain­ing Tech­nol­o­gy, at the Inno­va­tion Insti­tute.

» Bal­ti­more, May 9th, 2008:  The State of the Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket, at the Games for Health Sum­mit.

» San Fran­cis­co, May 15th, 2008: Cog­ni­tive and Emo­tion­al Train­ing (Brain Fit­ness) for Healthy Aging, at the Insti­tute on Aging’s sem­i­nar on Brain Health Accross the Lifespan.  

» San Jose, June 9th, 2008: Brain Fit­ness Trends and Assist­ed Liv­ing Com­mu­ni­ties, at the Cal­i­for­nia Assist­ed Liv­ing Asso­ci­a­tion Spring Con­fer­ence.

Feed Your Brain with Fun Neuroscience

Thinking menTo all new read­ers-Wel­come!. The Digg Tsuna­mi has brought over 40,000 vis­i­tors so far…and it con­tin­ues. We need to thank Andrey for his excel­lent tech­ni­cal work in help­ing us ride such a beau­ti­ful wave.

Let me give you an overview of what you can find in our blog, bridg­ing neu­ro­science research and brain health/ “brain exer­cise” prac­tice. First, here you have a few of my favorite quotes from the 10 inter­views we have done with neu­ro­science and psy­chol­o­gy experts in cog­ni­tive and emo­tion­al train­ing in our Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series. You can read the in-depth inter­view notes for each if you want to stim­u­late those neu­rons…

  • Learn­ing is phys­i­cal. Learn­ing means the mod­i­fi­ca­tion, growth, and prun­ing of our neu­rons, con­nec­tions called synaps­es and neu­ronal net­works, through experience…we are cul­ti­vat­ing our own neu­ronal net­works.- Dr. James Zull, Pro­fes­sor of Biol­o­gy and Bio­chem­istry at Case West­ern Uni­ver­si­ty: Read Inter­view Notes
  • Exer­cis­ing our brains sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly ways is as impor­tant as exer­cis­ing our bod­ies. In my expe­ri­ence, “Use it or lose it should real­ly be “Use it and get more of it.- Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg, neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist, clin­i­cal pro­fes­sor of neu­rol­o­gy at New York Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine, and dis­ci­ple of the great neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist Alexan­der Luria: Read Inter­view Notes
  • Indi­vid­u­als who lead men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ing lives, through edu­ca­tion, occu­pa­tion and leisure activ­i­ties, have reduced risk of devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s symp­toms. Stud­ies sug­gest that they have 35–40% less risk of man­i­fest­ing the dis­ease - Dr. Yaakov Stern, Divi­sion Leader of the Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science Divi­sion of the Sergievsky Cen­ter at the Col­lege of Physi­cians and Sur­geons of Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, New York: Read Inter­view Notes

Vitruvian ManWhat research has shown is that 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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