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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Memory Problems? Perhaps you are Multi-tasking

Today’s kids are into mul­ti-task­ing. This is the gen­er­a­tion hooked on iPods, IM’ing, video games — not to men­tion TV! Many peo­ple in my gen­er­a­tion think it is won­der­ful that kids can do all these things simul­ta­ne­ous­ly and are impressed with their com­pe­tence.

Well, as a teacher of such kids when they reach col­lege, I am not impressed. Col­lege stu­dents these days have short atten­tion spans and have trou­ble con­cen­trat­ing. They got this way in sec­ondary school. I see this in the mid­dle-school out­reach pro­gram I help run. At this age kids are real­ly wrapped up in mul­ti-task­ing at the expense of focus.

Accord­ing to a Kaiser Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion study last year, school kids in all grades beyond the sec­ond grade com­mit­ted, on aver­age, more than six hours per day to TV or videos, music, video games, and com­put­ers. Almost one-third report­ed that “most of the time” they did their home­work while chat­ting on the phone, surf­ing the Web, send­ing instant mes­sages, watch­ing TV, or lis­ten­ing to music.

Kids think that this enter­tain­ment while study­ing helps their learn­ing. It prob­a­bly does make learn­ing less tedious, but it clear­ly makes learn­ing less effi­cient and less effec­tive. Mul­ti-task­ing vio­lates every­thing we know about how mem­o­ry works. Now we have objec­tive sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence that Read the rest of this entry »

Encephalon #50 Edition: Brain & Mind Research

Wel­come to Encephalon 50th edi­tion, where you will find anoth­er superb col­lec­tion of blog posts on all things Brain and Mind.Encephalon brain and mind blog carnival

Enjoy these con­tri­bu­tions:

Sci­ence & Tech­nol­o­gy

Mind Hacks reports that Face­book ate my psy­chi­a­trist. We can learn about the ben­e­fits of social net­work­ing sites like Face­book, bring­ing great per­spec­tive to recent and mis­guid­ed media spec­u­la­tion (fuelled by a recent talk at the Roy­al Col­lege of Psy­chi­a­trists). Vaugh­an, will you please report on the ben­e­fits of par­tic­i­pat­ing (and, bet­ter, host­ing) Encephalon?.

Dun­geons And Drag­ons — Or Mazes And Mon­sters?: Pod­Black Cat offers a thought-pro­vok­ing review of the ther­a­py (includ­ing self-ther­a­py) appli­ca­tions of role-play­ing games such as the clas­sic Dun­geons And Drag­ons and the more recent mas­sive­ly mul­ti­play­er online games.

Cog­ni­tive Dai­ly cov­ers anoth­er type of game. Read the rest of this entry »

Improve Memory with Sleep, Practice, and Testing

There are whole mar­kets (think cross­words, herbal sup­ple­ments, drugs, brain fit­ness soft­ware) aimed at help­ing us improve our mem­o­ry.

Now, what is “mem­o­ry”? how does the process of mem­o­ry sleep and memorywork?

Dr. Bill Klemm, Pro­fes­sor of Neu­ro­science at Texas A&M Uni­ver­si­ty, explains a very impor­tant con­cept below.

- Alvaro

——-

Get­ting from Here to There:
Mak­ing Mem­o­ry Con­sol­i­da­tion Work

By Bill Klemm,  Ph. D.

Until con­sol­i­da­tion has occurred, a short-term mem­o­ry is very vul­ner­a­ble, as all of us have expe­ri­enced from look­ing up a phone num­ber only to have some dis­trac­tion cause us to lose the num­ber before we can get it dialed.

What is “con­sol­i­da­tion”?

Brain researchers use the term “con­sol­i­da­tion” for the process where­by short-term mem­o­ry gets made more per­ma­nent.

Here, I would like to dis­cuss some aspects of con­sol­i­da­tion that many peo­ple may not know about: why sleep is so impor­tant, why mem­o­ry must be prac­ticed, and how test­ing pro­motes con­sol­i­da­tion. Read the rest of this entry »

A Brain Fitness Vacation

San PedroA year ago we wrote a Glos­sary where we defined Brain Fit­ness as “the gen­er­al state of good, sharp, brain and mind, espe­cial­ly as the result of men­tal and phys­i­cal exer­cise and prop­er nutri­tion” and a Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram as a “struc­tured set of brain exer­cis­es, usu­al­ly com­put­er-based, designed to train spe­cif­ic brain areas and func­tions in tar­get­ed ways, and mea­sured by brain fit­ness assess­ments.”

Now, thanks to this recent arti­cle Alvaro and Lisa’s Brain Vaca­tion, we can add Brain Fit­ness Vaca­tion: “A brain fit­ness vaca­tion is like a reg­u­lar vaca­tion, only you attend events, do exer­cis­es, and arrange for expe­ri­ences that address the aspects of good brain health: phys­i­cal exer­cise, men­tal exer­cise, good nutri­tion, and stress man­age­ment.”

Dave Bun­nell, the founder and edi­tor of new mag­a­zine ELDR (and pre­vi­ous­ly edi­tor of PC World, PC Mag­a­zine, Upside, and many oth­er mag­a­zines) met Dr. Gold­berg and myself after our speech in SFSU last May. When he showed an inter­est in writ­ing a sto­ry, and I men­tioned half-jok­ing­ly that it would have to wait a few weeks since my wife and I were about to take a much need­ed “brain fit­ness vaca­tion”, he said, well, maybe that’s the sto­ry!.

You can read the full arti­cle here. For the ben­e­fit of the atten­dants to my lec­tures this week, who may be look­ing for some addi­tion­al brain exer­cis­es, here go some quotes:

  • Guessti­ma­tion. Lisa asks Alvaro a ques­tion, “How many trees are there in San Fran­cis­co?” To come up with an answer, Alvaro first tries to guess how many trees, on aver­age, there are in a city block. He then cal­cu­lates approx­i­mate­ly how many blocks there are in a square mile, fol­lowed by how many square miles there are in San Fran­cis­co, and so on.
  • Num­ber Series. Alvaro says, “Two, three,” and Lisa replies, “four, six.” Alvaro then says, “Six, nine,” and Lisa replies, “Eight, twelve.” He says,“Ten, fif­teen,” and the sequence goes on as long and as fast as you can keep doing it.
  • Haiku. Dur­ing the entire vaca­tion, Alvaro and Lisa com­posed haiku for each oth­er every morn­ing. The rule was they couldn’t write them down. They had to cre­ate them in their heads and remem­ber them.
  • Sen­so­ry train­ing. Lisa puts a piece of choco­late into Alvaro’s mouth while his eyes are closed. He lets it melt com­plete­ly with­out chew­ing and with­out open­ing his eyes. Next, he puts a grape in Lisa’s mouth.
  • Visu­al­iza­tions. Alvaro and Lisa sit qui­et­ly for about 15 min­utes, breathe deeply using their diaphragms, and visu­al­ize spe­cial moments from their past, such as the most beau­ti­ful view they’ve ever seen, or a lov­ing per­son­al moment.

Enjoy

Pic cred­it: San Pedro de Alcan­tara, Spain (Wikipedia)

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