Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Fitness Program: How to Evaluate and Choose One

The hol­i­days are approach­ing and you can expect many soft­ware and game devel­op­ers to adver­tise their prod­ucts SharpBrains Checklistaggres­sive­ly, try­ing to get you buy their “brain train­ing” prod­ucts for you or as a gift for a loved one.

The good news is that there are more and more tools we can use to keep men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ed and even train and improve spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties (like pro­cess­ing speed, short-term mem­o­ry…). You may be read­ing about Nin­ten­do Brain Age, Posit Sci­ence, Fast For­Word, Mind­Fit, Lumos­i­ty, Hap­py Neu­ron, MyBrain­Train­er, emWave, StressEras­er and more. And, of course, there are also non-tech­nol­o­gy based inter­ven­tions.

The bad news is that it is dif­fi­cult to sep­a­rate mar­ket­ing from sci­en­tif­ic claims, and to under­stand which one, if any, may be a good com­ple­ment to oth­er healthy lifestyle choic­es.

To help you nav­i­gate this process, we are pub­lish­ing the Sharp­Brains Check­list below, based on dozens of inter­views with sci­en­tists, experts and con­sumers:

10 Ques­tions to Choose the Right Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram for You (and a brief expla­na­tion of why each ques­tion is impor­tant)

* 1. Are there sci­en­tists, ide­al­ly neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists, and a sci­en­tif­ic advi­so­ry board Read the rest of this entry »

Brain class at UC-Berkeley Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

If you are based in North Cal­i­for­nia, you may be inter­est­ed in the class­es just announced by the UC Berke­ley Osh­er Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute. “Berke­ley OLLI is an inquir­ing and stim­u­lat­ing com­mu­ni­ty of adults, age 50 and above, explor­ing new areas of knowl­edge and tra­di­tion­al dis­ci­plines, chal­leng­ing and fas­ci­nat­ing sub­jects.” If you are not in the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area, you can check the clos­est Life­long Learn­ing Cen­ter to you in either the Osh­er Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute net­work or the Elder­hos­tel one.

You can see a list­ing of their class­es for the Fall 2007 ses­sion, on a fas­ci­nat­ing vari­ety of top­ics. Keep­ing our edu­ca­tion­al activ­i­ties since 2005 (first deliv­ered in SFSU), I will be teach­ing the fol­low­ing class

The Sci­ence of Brain Health and Brain Fit­ness (more here)

Octo­ber 9–30th, 4 class­es, 6.30–8.30pm

Loca­tion: Uni­ver­si­ty Hall, UC Berke­ley

Descrip­tion: Neu­ro­sci­en­tists have shown how the human brain retains neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty (the abil­i­ty to rewire itself) and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis (cre­ation of new neu­rons) dur­ing its full life­time, lead­ing to a new under­stand­ing of what aging means. In this class, we will review the sci­ence behind some of key con­cepts in this field and explore their impli­ca­tions on our lifestyles: neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, the Cog­ni­tive Reserve the­o­ry for healthy aging, com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams, emo­tion­al self-reg­u­la­tion, and the 4 pil­lars for life­long Brain Health. We have all heard “Use it or lose it”. Lat­est research sug­gests, “Use it and improve it”.

If you are inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about the class­es, you can attend the open House on Tues­day, Sep­tem­ber 18, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon, at the Berke­ley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue, Berke­ley. I can only say that the SFSU class­es were a lot of fun and I am sure the Berke­ley ones will be as com­pelling.

Brain Awareness Week

When is Brain Aware­ness Week?

March 12–18, 2007

What Will Happen

The Brain Aware­ness Week is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn more about how the brain func­tions and how to cul­ti­vate a healthy brain. The Dana Foun­da­tion and mul­ti­ple part­ners, such as Sharp­Brains, will lead out­reach events world­wide.

In the blog of the Dana Foun­da­tion we can read today that “To my knowl­edge, the brain is the only organ in the human body that is cel­e­brat­ed and hon­ored for an entire week. This year, 2,000 orga­ni­za­tions in 69 coun­tries will observe Brain Aware­ness Week with activ­i­ties, exhibits and com­pe­ti­tions, most from March 12 through 18.”

SharpBrains-Related Activities During Brain Awareness Week

Use It or Lose It: what is It?

Who has not heard “Use It or Lose It”. Now, what is “It”? And, is “It” only one thing or a num­ber of inte­grat­ed ele­ments, each of which are heav­i­ly involved in spe­cif­ic “brain exer­cis­es”, and all of which are impor­tant to main­tain Brain Fit­ness.

Let’s review at a glance:

The brain is com­posed of 3 “brains” or main sub-sys­tems, each named after the evo­lu­tion­ary moment in which the sub-sys­tem is believed to have appeared, and after which species we share that struc­ture with.

Theropod A) Neo­cor­tex, or Human Brain, is the most recent area, where we per­form high-lev­el think­ing and com­plex inte­gra­tive tasks. Oth­er mam­mals do have this part too, but in much small­er pro­por­tion of the whole brain vol­ume.
B) Lim­bic Sys­tem, or Mam­malian Brain, crit­i­cal for emo­tions and for mem­o­ry,

C) Cere­bel­lum and Stem, or Rep­til­ian Brain, that reg­u­lates basic vital vari­ables such as breath­ing, heart­beat and motor coor­di­na­tion (Cred­it for pic: Arnold Key­ser­ling and R.C.L.)

Theropod B) Lim­bic sys­tem: emo­tions are gen­er­at­ed here, as well as the appetites and urges that help us sur­vive. For instance, the amyg­dala gets trig­gered to pre­pare us to deal with a threat­en­ing sit­u­a­tion, result­ing in our feel­ing of fear. The hip­pocam­pus is key in the for­ma­tion of mem­o­ry. (Cred­it: Sand­hills Col­lege)
Theropod A) The Neo­cor­tex is com­posed of

-Frontal Lobes: or the CEO of the Mind, for sophis­ti­cat­ed brain func­tions such as plan­ning and con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing.

-Pari­etal: deals with move­ment, the sens­es, and some forms of recog­ni­tion

-Tem­po­ral: audi­to­ry process­es and lan­guage

-Occip­i­tal: visu­al pro­cess­ing cen­ter (cred­it: Mor­phonix)

In action When we exer­cise our brains, we put our Neu­rons in action. “Cells that fire togeth­er wire togeth­er”, mean­ing that synaps­es, or unions between neu­rons, get solid­i­fied the more often the respec­tive neu­rons “talk” to each oth­er. (Cred­it: Peter Fursten­berg)

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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