Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Take that Nap! It May Boost Your Learning Capacity Among Other Good Things.

Any­one who knows me knows that my favorite pas­time is nap­ping. In Col­lege, I would come back to my dorm room, and like clock­work, would take a nap. My best friend in Eng­land, who got quite a kick out of my pas­sion for nap­ping, once tried to per­suade me to drink a cup of tea after lunch instead of tak­ing my cus­tom­ary nap. I real­ly tried, but I soon gave in to my nap crav­ings. Some­times I feel like I real­ly need to re-charge my brain bat­ter­ies.

Well, now sci­ence is on my side. I just love this new study, which was pre­sent­ed by Matthew Walk­er, assis­tant pro­fes­sor at UC Berke­ley, at the annu­al meet­ing of the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of the Advance­ment of Sci­ence (AAAS) con­fer­ence in San Diego this past Sun­day (Feb. 2010).

Walk­er and his col­leagues Bryce A. Man­der and Sangeetha San­thanam split up a batch of 39 healthy young adults into two groups. One group napped, the oth­er did not.

At noon, both groups took a learn­ing task thought to recruit the hip­pocam­pus. The hip­pocam­pus is a region of the brain known to play an impor­tant role in the for­ma­tion of new mem­o­ries. Over the past few years, var­i­ous researchers have found that fact-based mem­o­ries are tem­porar­i­ly stored in the hip­pocam­pus before oth­er regions of the brain can oper­ate on the con­tent, espe­cial­ly the regions of the brain respon­si­ble for high­er-order rea­son­ing and think­ing.  At this point in the exper­i­ment, both groups showed sim­i­lar lev­els of per­for­mance.

Then, at 2pm, the nap group took a 90-minute nap while the no-nap group stayed awake, pre­sum­ably watch­ing the nap group enjoy­ing their nap. After nap-time both groups then took more learn­ing tests. The nap­pers did bet­ter on the tasks than those who stayed awake, demon­strat­ing their high­er capac­i­ty to learn. Read the rest of this entry »

5 Tips on Lifelong Learning and Neuroplasticity for the Adult Brain

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Learn­ing & the Brain is a con­fer­ence that gets marked on my cal­en­dar annu­al­ly because I always return home hav­ing either been exposed to new infor­ma­tion, or with a new per­spec­tive on an old top­ic. Last month’s con­fer­ence in Cam­bridge, MA, themed Using Emo­tions Research to Enhance Learn­ing & Achieve­ment, was no excep­tion. As with pre­vi­ous con­fer­ences, in addi­tion to the many keynote ses­sions, I focused on the adult learn­ing strand, since so much of my time is spent pro­vid­ing pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment for, and col­lab­o­rat­ing with adults. Here are five con­fer­ence cues as they relate to edu­ca­tion.

1. CHALLENGE YOURSELF WITH NEW LEARNING

Aaron Nel­son stat­ed that our mem­o­ry starts to decline between ages twen­ty-five and thir­ty, or to phrase it a bit more pos­i­tive­ly, Sam Wang says our mem­o­ry peaks around age thir­ty. On the oth­er end of the age spec­trum, accord­ing to Ken Kosik, there is unequiv­o­cal evi­dence that edu­ca­tion pro­tects against Alzheimer’s. Both Nel­son and Kosik men­tioned the the­o­ry of cog­ni­tive reserve, which trans­lates rough­ly to the more we learn, the more con­nec­tions we cre­ate, and there­fore the greater the neu­ronal buffer we have to draw upon as we age.

Elkhonon Gold­berg of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness stat­ed at last April’s con­fer­ence that “as one ages, the domain of the nov­el shrinks, and the domain of what is known grows”. He cau­tioned the audi­ence to beware of being on men­tal autopi­lot. Thus, the goal is not to sim­ply get bet­ter at doing more of the same. The type of learn­ing that makes a dif­fer­ence con­sists specif­i­cal­ly of new, nov­el chal­lenges. The result of such engage­ment is that Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Brain Health Promotion Event and Predictions

Here you have the twice-a-month newslet­ter with our most pop­u­lar blog posts. Please brainremem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, sim­ply by sub­mit­ting your email at the top of this page.

News and Events

Brain Health Pro­mo­tion by the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging: You may be inter­est­ed in the excel­lent agen­da the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging has put togeth­er for health pro­fes­sion­als, from Sep­tem­ber 2–5th in San Fran­cis­co, devot­ing a full day to Brain Health. Alvaro will par­tic­i­pate in 3 of the ses­sions, includ­ing giv­ing a keynote on the Future of Brain Health.

Can Google Kill Neu­rons and Rewire Your Whole Brain?: The Atlantic Month­ly pub­lished an arti­cle titled Is Google Mak­ing Us Stu­pid, which basi­cal­ly blamed Google for lit­er­al­ly rewiring our brains into more stu­pid brains (not being able to pay atten­tion, read deep books…). We are not very impressed by the super­fi­cial treat­ment giv­en to this very impor­tant top­ic.

Mobile Brain Train­ing, Sci­en­tif­ic Learn­ing, and More News: Overview of cog­ni­tive health and fit­ness news, includ­ing recent research on how phys­i­cal exer­cise can help diag­nosed Alzheimer’s patients, the new Mac ver­sion of Posit Science’s audi­to­ry pro­cess­ing train­ing pro­gram, and more.

Mar­ket Analy­sis

Top 10 Brain Health Pre­dic­tions: In an emerg­ing mar­ket, like brain health and train­ing, it is dif­fi­cult to make pre­cise pro­jec­tions. Here we point out a num­ber of trends that exec­u­tives, con­sumers, pub­lic pol­i­cy mak­ers, and the media should watch close­ly in the com­ing years. Your feed­back is very wel­come…we will give a com­pli­men­ta­ry copy of our mar­ket report to the per­son who pro­vides the most insight­ful addi­tion­al pre­dic­tion by August 10th.

Cog­ni­tive Health Pio­neers: Thank You! The qual­i­ty and vari­ety of our client list brings up the cross-sec­tor demand for qual­i­ty infor­ma­tion in the emerg­ing brain fitness/ cog­ni­tive health cat­e­go­ry. And it helps us pri­or­i­tize efforts and cov­er­age of mar­ket and research news and trends.

Research Analy­sis

Encephalon blog car­ni­val: Brain & Mind Research: We host­ed Encephalon´s 50th edi­tion, where you will find a selec­tion of superb blog posts on all things Brain and Mind. Exam­ples? you may enjoy Face­book Ate My Psy­chi­a­trist or per­haps the Com­pul­sive Col­lect­ing of Toy Bul­lets and Tele­vi­sions.

Atten­tion Deficits At Work: Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon pro­vides an in-depth overview of a recent study by Ron de Graaf and col­leagues, in which they found that an aver­age of 3.5% of work­ers (in ten coun­tries) meet the cri­te­ria for adult ADHD, In the US, the per­cent­age increased to 4.5%. This has clear effects on pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.

Edu­ca­tion and Learn­ing

Learn­ing & the Brain: Resources for Edu­ca­tors: Edu­ca­tor Lau­rie Bar­tels reviews her favorite brain resources for teach­ing and learn­ing: books, con­fer­ences, and web­sites.

Brain Teasers

Top 25 Brain and Mind Haikus. Yours?: Read­ers have con­tributed a good num­ber of haikus on brain-relat­ed top­ics. You can fol­low the link to check out our Favorite 7, and many oth­er fun ones…which ones do you like the most?

Learning & the Brain: Resources for Educators

As promised in my pre­vi­ous post (10 Brain Train­ing Tips To Teach and Learn), here are some of the resources that inform my under­stand­ing of the brain: books, con­fer­ences, and web­sites.

BOOKS

There are a mul­ti­tude of books about the brain. For edu­ca­tors, the best of these are books that demys­ti­fy the lan­guage of neu­ro­science while pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion applic­a­ble to the teaching/learning process.

Among the more pro­lif­ic or well-known authors of this type include Jeb Schenck, Robert Syl­west­er, Bar­bara Givens, Robert Marzano, Mar­ilee Sprenger, and Eric Jensen.

I have found books Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Brain Fitness Seminars

Here you are have the bi-month­ly update with our 10 most Pop­u­lar blog posts. (Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our RSS feed, or to our newslet­ter, at the top of this page, if you want to receive this digest by email).Crossword Puzzles Brain fitness

We hope you have some time to share with us today. Just came back from a superb event on Brain Health Across the Lifespan…and many stim­u­lat­ing things are hap­pen­ing in the world of brain fit­ness.

News and Events

Exer­cise your brain in the Cog­ni­tive Age: The New York Times pub­lished two thought-pro­vok­ing arti­cles on brain and cog­ni­tive fit­ness, one of them fea­tur­ing Sharp­Brains.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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