Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain Fitness Conversations in November: Live Q&A with Book Authors

AARP recent­ly released a list of Top 5 Best Books for Brain Fit­ness. SharpBrains.com is hon­ored to have pub­lished one of those Top 5 books and to present this Live Q&A Series for you to ask ques­tions to the authors of 3 of those best books on brain fit­ness. Par­tic­i­pants will sub­mit writ­ten ques­tions, mod­er­a­tors will select the most impor­tant and rel­e­vant ques­tions, and book authors will write their answers for every­one to read.

  • Novem­ber 1st, 2011, 2–3pm ET: Dr. Gary Small, author of The Mem­o­ry Bible
  • Novem­ber 15th, 2011, 2–3pm ET: Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, co-author of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness
  • Novem­ber 22nd, 2011, 2–3pm ET: Dr. Paul Nuss­baum, author of Save Your Brain
  • (in Span­ish) Novem­ber 29th, 2011, 2–3pm ET: Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, co-autor de The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness Read the rest of this entry »

Improving Driving Skills and Brain Functioning- Interview with ACTIVE’s Jerri Edwards

Jerri Edwards- Active trialToday we are for­tu­nate to inter­view Dr. Jer­ri Edwards, an Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor at Uni­ver­si­ty of South Flori­da’s School of Aging Stud­ies and Co-Inves­ti­ga­tor of the influ­en­cial ACTIVE study. Dr. Edwards was trained by Dr. Kar­lene K. Ball, and her research is aimed toward dis­cov­er­ing how cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties can be main­tained and even enhanced with advanc­ing age.

Main focus of research

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez: Please explain to our read­ers your main research areas

Jer­ri Edwards: I am par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in how cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions may help old­er adults to avoid or at least delay func­tion­al dif­fi­cul­ties and there­by main­tain their inde­pen­dence longer. Much of my work has focused on the func­tion­al abil­i­ty of dri­ving includ­ing assess­ing dri­ving fit­ness among old­er adults and reme­di­a­tion of cog­ni­tive decline that results in dri­ving dif­fi­cul­ties.

Some research ques­tions that inter­est me include, how can we main­tain health­i­er lives longer? How can train­ing improve cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, both to improve those abil­i­ties and also to slow-down, or delay, cog­ni­tive decline? The spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty that I have stud­ied the most is pro­cess­ing speed, which is one of the cog­ni­tive skills that decline ear­ly on as we age.

ACTIVE results

Can you explain what cog­ni­tive pro­cess­ing speed is, and why it is rel­e­vant to our dai­ly lives?

Pro­cess­ing speed is men­tal quick­ness. Just like a com­put­er with a 486 proces­sor can do a lot of the same things as a com­put­er with a Pen­tium 4 proces­sor, but it takes much longer, our minds tend to slow down with age as com­pared to when we were younger. We can do the same tasks, but it takes more time. Quick speed of pro­cess­ing is impor­tant for Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Teaser for the Frontal Lobes: Tipping the Scales

Here is a new brain teas­er from puz­zle mas­ter Wes Car­roll.

Tip­ping the Scales

free brain teasers for frontal lobes

Ques­tion:
The top two scales are in per­fect bal­ance. How many dia­monds will be need­ed to bal­ance the bot­tom set?

This puz­zle works your exec­u­tive func­tions in your frontal lobes by using your pat­tern recog­ni­tion, hypoth­e­sis test­ing, and log­ic.
ANSWER:

Four dia­monds

SOLUTION:

First add up the num­ber of clubs in the first two scales (5). Then count how many clubs are in the bot­tom scale (5). The do the same with the spades, which gets you 5 and 5. There are 4 dia­monds in the top two bal­anced scales. There­fore, it must take 4 dia­monds to bal­ance the third scale since all the oth­er mea­sure­ments are the same.

 

More brain teas­er games:

Math Brain Teaser: Concentric Shapes or The Unkindest Cut of All, Part 2 of 2

If you missed Part 1, also writ­ten by puz­zle mas­ter Wes Car­roll, you can start there and then come back here to Part 2.

Con­cen­tric Shapes:
The Unkind­est Cut of All, Part 2 of 2

Dif­fi­cul­ty: HARDER
Type: MATH (Spa­tial)
Vitruvian Man

Ques­tion:
Imag­ine a square with­in a cir­cle with­in a square. The cir­cle just grazes each square at exact­ly four points. Find the ratio of the area of the larg­er square to the small­er.

In this puz­zle you are work­ing out many of the same skills as in Part I: spa­tial visu­al­iza­tion (occip­i­tal lobes), mem­o­ry (tem­po­ral lobes), log­ic (frontal lobes), plan­ning (frontal lobes), and hypoth­e­sis gen­er­a­tion (frontal lobes).

Solu­tion:
Two to one.

Expla­na­tion:
Draw the small­er square’s diag­o­nal to see that the the small­er square’s diag­o­nal is the diam­e­ter of the cir­cle. Divide the larg­er square into two equal rec­tan­gu­lar halves to see that the larg­er square’s side is also the diam­e­ter of the cir­cle. This means that the small­er square’s diag­o­nal equals the larg­er square’s side. (Or, if you pre­fer, sim­ply rotate the inner square by 45 degrees.) As we’ve seen in the ear­li­er puz­zle “The Unkind­est Cut Of All,” the area of the small­er square is half that of the larg­er, mak­ing the ratio two to one.

 

More brain teas­er games:

Math Brain Teaser: The Unkindest Cut of All, Part 1 of 2

In hon­or of Math­e­mat­ics Aware­ness Month, here is anoth­er math­e­mat­i­cal brain ben­der from puz­zle mas­ter Wes Car­roll.

The Unkind­est Cut of All, Part 1 of 2

Dif­fi­cul­ty: HARD
Type: MATH (Spa­tial)
Square

Ques­tion:
The area of a square is equal to the square of the length of one side. So, for exam­ple, a square with side length 3 has area (32), or 9. What is the area of a square whose diag­o­nal is length 5?

In this puz­zle you are work­ing out your spa­tial visu­al­iza­tion (occip­i­tal lobes), mem­o­ry (tem­po­ral lobes), and hypoth­e­sis gen­er­a­tion (frontal lobes).

Solu­tion:
12.5

Expla­na­tion:
I am espe­cial­ly fond of these two ways to solve this prob­lem:

1. Draw the right tri­an­gle whose hypotenuse is the square’s diag­o­nal, and whose two legs are two sides of the square. Then use the Pythagore­an The­o­rem (a^2 + b^2 = c^2) to solve for the length of each side. Since two sides are equal, we get (a^2 + a^2 = c^2), or (2(a^2) = c^2) ). Since c is 5, 2(a^2) = 25, mak­ing a^2 equal to 25/2, or 12.5. Since the area of the square is a^2, we’re done: it’s 12.5.

2. Tilt the square 45 degrees and draw a square around it such the the cor­ners of the orig­i­nal square just touch the mid­dles of the sides of the new, larg­er square. The new square has sides each 5 units long (the diag­o­nal of the small­er square), and it there­fore has area 25. How­ev­er, a clos­er inspec­tion reveals that the area of the larg­er square must be exact­ly twice that of the small­er. There­fore the small­er square has area 25/2, or 12.5.

You can now go on to Con­cen­tric Shapes: The Unkind­est Cut of All, Part 2 of 2

 

More brain teas­er games:

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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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