In 2015, Brie Code was working at leading video game company Ubisoft as lead artificial intelligence programmer when she realized that many people she knew – about half, by her estimation – found video games boring. [Read more…] about Trend: Harnessing digital tech to improve mental health and wellness
But can just-breathing really make a difference?
In his new book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, journalist James Nestor argues that modern humans have become pretty bad at this most basic act of living. We breathe through our mouths and into our chests, and we do it way too fast. There’s even a phenomenon called “email apnea,” where multitasking office workers breathe irregularly and shallowly, or even hold their breath, for half a minute or more while glued to their devices.
Besides all the worrisome health problems this may cause—detailed pointedly in Nestor’s book—our ineptitude at breathing may have another big consequence: contributing to our anxiety and other mental health problems. [Read more…] about New book shares science and techniques to breathe better and promote calmness not anxiety
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring 12 fascinating neuroscience findings and open questions–and the beautiful image above.
#1. “With this image I want to illustrate the large advances made in imaging methods over the past century, allowing modern neuroscientists to look at neurons in ways that Cajal could have only dreamed of.” – Silvia Rodriguez-Rozada, Center for Molecular Neurobiology, Hamburg. Award-winning image shows neuroimaging progress in a century
#2. One more reason why lifelong learning matters: Study: High Cognitive Reserve (CR) seen to significantly lower dementia risk even in the presence of high Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) neuropathology
#3. It’s Friday; perfect time to make some fun and healthy weekend plans: How feeling awe in nature can spur mental well-being and personal growth
#4. Not a bad idea either: On cutting “empty brain calories” by reading a book instead of social media
#5. “…humility helps people let go of defensiveness, take in information that challenges their political views, and see the humanity in people on the other side of the political spectrum. Though it’s not always easy to embrace—especially for those who wrongfully equate it with weakness or a lack of conviction—humility may be what we desperately need right now in the United States.” On perception, cognitive bias and cultivating humility ahead of next week’s vote
#6. “When it feels like the world is crashing down around them, giving young people a moment to feel, express, and receive gratitude can help—and that in itself is something to be grateful for.” Study: A combined teaching + app gratitude program helps adolescents address anxiety and improve mental health
#7. To honor ADHD Awareness Month, let’s address this most important question: What should come first to treat ADHD in children, behavior therapy or stimulant medication?
#8. Debate: Can mindfulness and meditation be harmful? Two new studies answer the question in apparently opposite but actually quite complementary ways.
#10. “…new study funded by the National Institutes of Health that aims to recruit 30,000 volunteers to participate in a memory training study that compares multiple approaches to train working memory”: Given cognitive strengths and needs are diverse, what brain training may work best for each person and under which conditions?
#11. “Virtual reality is a promising skills-based behavioral medicine that has been shown to have high patient engagement and satisfaction,” said Beth Darnall, PhD, AppliedVR’s chief science advisor. “However, chronic pain patients to date have had very limited access to it, so we’re excited to continue working with the FDA to develop our platform and get it into the market faster.” The FDA clears AppliedVR headset to help treat fibromyalgia and chronic pain
#12. “Having run a media company in a tough market with a young, millennial workforce, we witnessed first-hand how there was a complete lack of investment in helping this generation with their mental health in a way that they’re used to: a community product that is mobile-first and video-led. We want to make the world a happier place by making working on your mental health as normal as going to the gym.” — Adnan Ebrahim, co-founder and CEO of MindLabs. What will the ‘Peloton for mental health’ look like five years from now? And, who will develop it?
Wishing you a safe and healthy November,
Alvaro Fernandez and the SharpBrains Team
Yes (in perhaps 8% of individuals). Can mindfulness and meditation be harmful? (Science Focus):
Meditation has escaped both the religious cells of monks and nuns and the labs of scientists. An increasing number of people are using meditation apps to deal with mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Although there is no clear estimate of how many people are practising meditation, last year one single app had close to 40 million downloads. [Read more…] about Debate: Can mindfulness and meditation be harmful?
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring 14 research findings, resources and tips for brain health … and starting with this fascinating study:
- Five are “neck up:” Lower education level, Lower cognitive activity, Head trauma, Repeated episodes of depression, High-levels of long-term stress.
- Five are “neck down:” Hypertension in mid-life, Orthostatic hypotension, Diabetes, High BMI, High levels of homocysteine. Systematic review finds ten lifestyle factors that clearly impact the probability of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
#3. “The healthiest people are the ones who grow with age and experience; even in times of trouble like these.” — Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD, President of the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation. On Stress, Yoga Meditation, and The Evolution Revolution
#4. “Acceptance that Alzheimer’s disease is a lifestyle disease, little different from other age-related diseases, that is the sum of a lifetime is the most important breakthrough of the decade.” — George Perry, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Higher body mass index (BMI) linked to lower blood supply to the brain in large neuroimaging study
#5. “Attention is a scarce resource. Think about your attentional focus as the beam of a light. If the light is on an object it cannot be on other objects at the same time with the same intensity … Although we typically have the feeling that multitasking saves us time, it is often not the case.” Simple, quick brain teaser to test the limits of multitasking
#6. If it appears to rotate, RT Fun optical illusion to tease your mind
#7. Every cloud has a silver lining: How and when will the telemedicine surge reach mental healthcare?
#9. “In a time when emotions like stress, anxiety, boredom, and anger are hard to avoid, a new study suggests that a particular meditation practice can help us face them.” Study: Meditation practice, both formal and informal, helps develop equanimity over time
#10. Ever since discovering Barbara Arrowsmith-Young’s life trajectory via Normain Doidge’s fantastic book The Brain That Changes Itself, we have been impressed by her creativity, stamina and courage. Coming soon: Virtual World Tour at the frontier of applied neuroplasticity, education and learning difficulties
#11. “Neural signals will be used to develop algorithms that will help researchers determine the optimal brain state under which individuals can receive information. From there, the team will determine the most effective means of enhancing the subjects’ ability to intake and process information. This could range from non-invasive neuromodulation—or brain stimulation—techniques to the use of augmented reality to alter perceived environmental conditions.” Air Force announces research platform to harness closed-loop neurotechnology and accelerate learning “on the fly”
#12. Good to hear that “ensuring the privacy and security of study participants’ data is a high priority for both UCLA and Apple. UCLA will process and maintain study data in a secure environment … UCLA and Apple will analyze the data only after they are coded and stripped of names and other contact information.” UCLA launches major mental health study collecting & analyzing data from Apple wearables to better understand depression and anxiety
#13. Flexibility is good except when it isn’t: Study finds how scientists can reach different conclusions analyzing the same brain scans
#14. “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one” — Gandhi, as quoted in Seven evidence-based reasons to start meditating yesterday
Wishing you a safe and healthy September,
Alvaro Fernandez on behalf of the SharpBrains Team
We are living through a time of uncertainty, a sky-high pile of question marks. It has become increasingly difficult to make plans because the state of our world today is so volatile due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some people are adapting to their homes becoming their offices indefinitely, or in danger of losing their jobs, while others long to embrace loved ones they are stuck six feet away from. [Read more…] about Study: Meditation practice, both formal and informal, helps develop equanimity over time