Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain Fitness/ Training Newsletter: January Edition

Brain exercise, brain exercisesAs we have been doing for the last 6 months, here you are have the Month­ly Digest of our Most Pop­u­lar Blog Posts. You can con­sid­er it your month­ly Brain Fitness/ Train­ing Newslet­ter.

(Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our blog RSS feed, or to our month­ly newslet­ter at the top of this page if you want to receive this Month­ly Digest by email).

Let me first intro­duce our new ros­ter of Expert Con­trib­u­tors, high­light­ing first an arti­cle by Duke Uni­ver­si­ty’s Dr. David Rabin­er, a lead­ing author­i­ty on atten­tion deficits and author of the Atten­tion Research Update newslet­ter, on the “promis­ing, yet unproven” val­ue of neu­ro­feed­back for atten­tion deficits: How Strong is the Research Sup­port for Neu­ro­feed­back.

Two oth­er great arti­cles by our Expert Con­trib­u­tors this month:

Look­ing inside the Brain: cog­ni­tive sci­en­tist Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon intro­duces us to the world of neu­roimag­ing and build­ing men­tal reserves.

Med­i­ta­tion in Schools: thanks to our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greater Good Mag­a­zine, we offer an excel­lent arti­cle on the emerg­ing trend of schools using med­i­ta­tion to help stu­dents man­age anx­i­ety and stress.

The fol­low­ing Expert Con­trib­u­tors will be fea­tured in Feb­ru­ary, so make sure to vis­it our blog often:

- Wes Car­roll, Puz­zle Mas­ter for Ask a Sci­en­tist lec­ture series.

- Simon Evans, PhD., and Paul Burghardt, PhD., from Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan’s Depart­ment of Psy­chi­a­try and the Mol­e­c­u­lar and Behav­ioral Neu­ro­science Insti­tute.

- Gre­go­ry Kel­lett, mas­ters in Cog­ni­tive Neurology/Research Psy­chol­o­gy from SFSU and researcher at UCSF.

- Joanne Jacobs, edu­ca­tion expert and blog­ger, will par­tic­i­pate in the “Sharp­Brains Author Speaks Series” to present her most recent book.

- Eric Jensen, well-known resource on brain research infor­ma­tion with impli­ca­tions for K12 edu­ca­tion.

- Tom O’Brien, Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus in Math­e­mat­ics edu­ca­tion and author of prize-win­ning games.

- Adri­an Pre­da, M.D., Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try and Human Behav­ior at the UC Irvine School of Med­i­cine.

- Joshua Stein­er­man, M.D., Post­doc­tor­al Clin­i­cal Fel­low in the Depart­ment of Neu­rol­o­gy at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Med­ical Cen­ter.

Brain Fit­ness and Sharp­Brains in the News

Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Trends (Jan­u­ary 3rd): Sci­en­tif­ic Learn­ing Corp. (cog­ni­tive train­ing for chil­dren with dislex­ia and read­ing dif­fi­cul­ties) acquires Solil­o­quy Learn­ing, and Paris-based Sci­en­tif­ic Brain Train­ing acquires Tech­no­me­dia, a Cana­di­an provider of cor­po­rate train­ing.

More News on the Field (Jan­u­ary 14th): Posit Sci­ence (audi­to­ry pro­cess­ing train­ing) acquires Visu­al Aware­ness, Inc (visu­al pro­cess­ing train­ing for dri­ving skills, used in ACTIVE tri­als). Cogmed announces work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing for adults. Nature Neu­ro­science brings great resources on the clas­sic Lon­don Taxi Dri­vers study. The 2008 Mind & Life Sum­mer Research Insti­tute starts accept­ing appli­ca­tions by researchers inter­est­ed in study­ing the effects of med­i­ta­tion on the brain.

Sharp­Brains Fea­tured in Newsweek & Fox Busi­ness Net­work (Jan­u­ary 19th): sev­er­al great arti­cles on the emerg­ing brain fitness/ train­ing field. New Sci­en­tist (sub­scrip­tion-only) pro­vides a broad pic­ture of the research. Newsweek kind­ly invites read­ers to “check out SharpBrains.com, which pro­motes sci­ence-based cog­ni­tive train­ing”. Fox Busi­ness Net­work includes our mar­ket esti­mates of $225 mil­lion for the whole brain fit­ness soft­ware field in 2007 in the US. The New York Times has a great arti­cle on the val­ue of music train­ing.

Is Your Brain Ready To Drink Cheap Wine?: Prof. Baba Shiv, one of our advi­sors, pub­lished a fas­ci­nat­ing paper on the pow­er of our beliefs to influ­ence brain acti­va­tion, and on how mar­ket­ing can influ­ence those beliefs.

Sharp­en Your Brain to Improve Per­for­mance, Low­er Stress (sub­scrip­tion required): Nicholas Genes from Med­scape inter­views me on the back­ground behind cog­ni­tive fit­ness and SharpBrains.com.

Health and Well­ness

It is Not Only Cars That Deserve Good Main­te­nance: If we can all agree on the impor­tance of main­tain­ing our cars that get us around town, what about main­tain­ing our brains sit­ting behind the wheel?.

Grand Rounds: Brief­ing the Next US Pres­i­dent on 40 Health Issues: we host­ed an open let­ter to the “Next US Pres­i­dent”, gath­er­ing the ques­tions and impres­sions of 40 health and med­ical blog­gers. We will do the same on Edu­ca­tion issues on Feb­ru­ary 20th-see below.

Cog­ni­tive Train­ing Clin­i­cal Tri­al: Seek­ing Old­er Adults:  Neu­ro­sci­en­tists at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Med­ical Cen­ter asked for help in recruit­ing vol­un­teers for an excit­ing clin­i­cal tri­al. If you are based in New York City, and between the ages of 60 and 75, please con­sid­er join­ing this study.

10 Brain Fit­ness New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions: prob­a­bly a bit late…but con­tains poten­tial New Years Res­o­lu­tions with the three prin­ci­ples of brain fit­ness in mind — nov­el­ty, vari­ety and chal­lenge.

Edu­ca­tion

Inter­view with Robert Syl­west­er on The Ado­les­cent Brain: Dr. Robert Syl­west­er is an edu­ca­tor of edu­ca­tors, hav­ing received mul­ti­ple awards dur­ing his long career as a mas­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tor of the impli­ca­tions of brain sci­ence research for edu­ca­tion and learn­ing. Enjoy this inter­view.

Don’t Out­source Your Brain: nei­ther to oth­er peo­ple… nor to your GPS sys­tem. Fun­ny, true sto­ry.

Feb­ru­ary 20th Blog Car­ni­val of edu­ca­tion: we will host this edi­tion and present it as an open let­ter to the “Next US Pres­i­dent”, gath­er­ing the ques­tions and impres­sions of a num­ber of edu­ca­tion blog­gers.

Resources

20 Brain Plas­tic­i­ty Books: we just changed a few things in our site, includ­ing prepar­ing a more sol­id Resources sec­tion. Please take a look at the nav­i­ga­tion bar at the top, includ­ing an expand­ed Books page.

PBS Brain Fit­ness DVD: the PBS shop is already sell­ing DVDs of its great Decem­ber spe­cial on Brain Fit­ness and Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty.

Brain Teasers

Mon­keys and Brain Games: did you read about the recent exper­i­ment where young chimps dis­played amaz­ing visu­al work­ing mem­o­ry capa­bil­i­ty, beat­ing humans? you can release your com­pet­i­tive juices here.

Brain Exer­cis­es for the Week­end: Har­ri­et Vines, Ph.D., an expe­ri­enced author and retired col­lege pro­fes­sor, sends us a few fun brain exer­cis­es to train our atten­tion and work­ing mem­o­ry.

Events and Speak­ing Engage­ments (more details in our Speak­ing page)

» Feb. 2th: I will lead a Work­shop on Brain Fit­ness: The Sci­ence and Prac­tice, spon­sored by San Jose State Uni­ver­si­ty’s Osh­er Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute.

» Feb. 7th: will speak on “Sharp­en­ing Minds through Com­put­er­ized Cog­ni­tive and Emo­tion­al Train­ing Pro­grams,” at the Learn­ing & The Brain Con­fer­ence.

» Feb. 12th: will speak on The Emerg­ing Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket: Build­ing Bet­ter Brains: spon­sored by The MIT Club of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging, The Busi­ness Forum on Aging and Smart­Sil­vers, we will cov­er how “Sci­en­tif­ic, tech­no­log­i­cal and demo­graph­ic trends have con­verged to cre­ate an excit­ing new mar­ket in brain fit­ness, where soft­ware and online appli­ca­tions can assess and train cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties.”

» March 4th: I will be a pan­elist on how to Use Your Head-The Future of Mind Hacks, at O’Reil­ly Emerg­ing Tech­nol­o­gy Con­fer­ence.

» March 27th, 2008: will present an Overview of Cog­ni­tive Train­ing Research and Pro­grams, at the NCOA/ ASA Aging in Amer­i­ca Con­fer­ence.

David Pescovitz, Research Direc­tor, Insti­tute for the Future, says “Alvaro Fer­nan­dez syn­the­sizes and trans­lates the lat­est neu­ro­science into provoca­tive, com­pelling, and enter­tain­ing sto­ries of men­tal fit­ness and the future of the brain.” Please con­tact us, sim­ply respond­ing to this email, if your orga­ni­za­tion is inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about Brain and Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness and this emerg­ing field.

All feed­back and con­tri­bu­tions are wel­come, too. Please leave your com­ments below.

Jogging our Brains for Brain Vitality, Healthy Aging-and Intelligence!

Stroop Test

Quick: say the col­or in which each word in this graph­ic is dis­played (don’t just read the word!):

Here you have a round-up of some great recent arti­cles on mem­o­ry, aging, and cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties such as self-con­trol:

1) How to Boost Your Willpow­er (New York Times).

- “The video watch­ers were lat­er giv­en a con­cen­tra­tion test in which they were asked to iden­ti­fy the col­or in which words were dis­played. (Note: now you see why we start­ed with that brain exer­cise…) The word  for instance, might appear in blue ink. The video watch­ers who had sti­fled their respons­es did the worst on the test, sug­gest­ing that their self-con­trol had already been deplet­ed by the film chal­lenge.”

- “Final­ly, some research sug­gests that peo­ple strug­gling with self-con­trol should start small. A few stud­ies show that peo­ple who were instruct­ed for two weeks to make small changes like improv­ing their pos­ture or brush­ing their teeth with their oppo­site hand improved their scores on lab­o­ra­to­ry tests of self-con­trol. The data aren’t con­clu­sive, but they do sug­gest that the quest for self-improve­ment should start small. A vow to stop swear­ing, to make the bed every day or to give up just one food may be a way to strength­en your self-con­trol, giv­ing you more willpow­er reserves for big­ger chal­lenges lat­er.”

Com­ment: learn­ing, build­ing abil­i­ties, are process­es that require prac­tice and grow­ing lev­els of dif­fi­cul­ty. Like train­ing our mus­cles in the gym. So the advice to start small and pro­gres­sive­ly do more makes sense. Many times the ene­my of learn­ing is the stress and anx­i­ety we pro­voke by try­ing to do too many things at the same time…

2) Jog­ging Your Mem­o­ry (Newsweek) Thanks Chris for alert­ing us!

- “No one should expect mir­a­cles soon, if at all. But the deep­er sci­en­tists peer into the work­ings of mem­o­ry, the bet­ter they under­stand Read the rest of this entry »

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

About SharpBrains

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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