Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Top Ten Brain Teasers and Games for Kids and Adults alike

Over the last Hourglass four years we have post­ed over 100 puz­zles, teasers, rid­dles, illu­sions, and every form of men­tal exer­cise that both chal­lenges and enlight­ens our minds.

Below you have a selec­tion of the ten most pop­u­lar ones among Sharp­Brains read­ers. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Mind. Learn. Eat. Shape. Play

You may find that too much media cov­er­age on how to take good care of our brains is con­fus­ing, if not poten­tial­ly mis­lead­ing. In The True Sto­ry — is men­tal exer­cise good, bad, or irrel­e­vantDr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon dis­sects for you a recent large study which was large­ly report­ed as bad news when in fact it brings good news (no mir­a­cles, but good news).  We hope you enjoy her insight­ful analy­sis — and all the excel­lent arti­cles that fol­low in the Sep­tem­ber edi­tion of our month­ly eNewslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can use the box in the right col­umn to sub­scribe and receive this newslet­ter via email.

Do you Mind

Dear sapi­ens sapi­ens, do you mind: Dr. Joshua Stein­er­man encour­ages you to ask your­self the tough ques­tions: Do you mind your brain? Do you know your nog­gin’? Can you claim cere­bral own­er­ship or is your men­tal a rental? Plus, why we need a new lex­i­con for pos­i­tive cog­ni­tion inter­ven­tions.

Time for a Cog­ni­tive Reserve Day: with 36 mil­lion peo­ple world­wide with demen­tia today and relat­ed care costs around 1 per­cent of the world’s gross domes­tic prod­uct (GDP), and grow­ing fast, may it be time to com­ple­ment World Alzheimer’s Day with Word Cog­ni­tive Reserve’s Day?

Food for Thought

Debunk­ing learn­ing styles: a recent arti­cle in The New York Times debunks many old myths about learn­ing and learn­ing styles, sum­ma­riz­ing emerg­ing cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science find­ings.

Sci­ence for the Peo­ple: quick now — think of a ques­tion, any ques­tion, that comes to mind. Chances are some one in the excel­lent ros­ter of 28 sci­ence blog­gers who took part in Sharp­Brains’ edi­tion of Sci­en­tia Pro Pub­li­ca blog car­ni­val answered it.

Food for Thought — II

West­ern’ Style Diet Increas­es Risk of ADHD: Dr. David Rabin­er reports how, on the one hand, a recent large study track­ing 1172 Aus­tralian ado­les­cents and their par­ents found that dietary fac­tors can play an impor­tant role in the devel­op­ment of atten­tion deficits, at least for some chil­dren.

A Con­trolled Tri­al of Herbal Treat­ment for ADHD: on the oth­er hand, Dr. Rabin­er adds, a recent ran­dom­ized-con­trolled tri­al sup­ports the idea that appro­pri­ately pre­pared and tar­get­ed herbal com­pounds have the poten­tial to be ther­a­peu­tic and reduce atten­tion deficit symp­toms.

Shap­ing the Future

Q&A about the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion: we have received many good ques­tions about the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil … here you are our answers.

Meet the Experts: since 2006 we have inter­viewed dozens of experts on the future of cog­ni­tive enhance­ment and men­tal health, build­ing up the foun­da­tion for the type of inno­va­tion the Sharp­Brains Coun­cil wants to fos­ter. Here you can find what 26 lead­ing-edge sci­en­tists and experts believe and why.

Get­ting ther­a­py through your iPhone: The Dai­ly Beast (a great new media out­let) just pub­lished this excel­lent arti­cle on an emerg­ing “small rev­o­lu­tion” in men­tal health care.

Brain Teas­er

Brain Teas­er: are you ready to test your men­tal rota­tion skills?

Please feel free to share this month­ly eNewslet­ter to friends and col­leagues. Have a great month of Octo­ber!

Brain Teaser: Test your mental rotation skills

Are you famil­iar with men­tal rota­tion? It refers to mov­ing things around in your head. It is one of the numer­ous visu­ospa­tial skills that we all have.

Let’s take an exam­ple. Can you pic­ture in your head an arrow point­ing to the right? Now, turn this arrow so it points to the left. Done? You have just per­formed a men­tal rota­tion. Although it is rare to con­scious­ly imag­ine objects mov­ing, peo­ple auto­mat­i­cal­ly use this abil­ity when they read maps, use tools, play chess, arrange fur­ni­ture, dri­ve in traf­fic, etc.

Men­tal rota­tion relies most­ly on the pari­etal areas of your brain (yel­low sec­tion in the brain image above).

Here is a brain exer­cise to stim­u­late your men­tal rota­tion skills.

  • The top shape is your mod­el.
  • Among the 3 shapes below the mod­el, only one match­es the mod­el. To fig­ure out which one does you will prob­a­bly have to move the shapes around in your head.
  • Move the shapes from left to right or right to left but DO NOT FLIP them around.

First set

Sec­ond set

Third Set

To see the cor­rect answers click here: Read the rest of this entry »

Are videogames good for YOU? Depends on who YOU are

Two recent sci­en­tif­ic stud­ies pub­lished by Dr. Arthur Kramer and col­leagues present Rise of Nations Arthur Kramerfas­ci­nat­ing results. The two stud­ies are:

1) Basak C, et al “Can train­ing in a real-time strat­e­gy video game atten­u­ate cog­ni­tive decline in old­er adults?” Psy­chol Aging 2008; DOI: 10.1037/a0013494.

2) Boot, W. R., Kramer, A. F., Simons, D. J., Fabi­ani, M. & Grat­ton, G. (2008) The effects of video game play­ing on atten­tion, mem­o­ry, and exec­u­tive con­trol. Acta Psy­cho­log­i­ca, 129, 387–398.

Let’s first review the first study, a sig­nif­i­cant exper­i­ment in that it showed wide cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits in adults over 60 years old who played a strat­e­gy videogame (Rise of Nations) for 23 hours.

Play­ing com­put­er games improves brain pow­er of old­er adults, claim sci­en­tists (Tele­graph)

- The team at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois recruit­ed 40 adults over 60 years old, half of whom were asked to play a com­put­er game called Rise of Nations, a role-play­ing game in which you have to build your own empire.

- Game play­ers have to build cities, feed and employ their peo­ple, main­tain an ade­quate mil­i­tary and expand their ter­ri­to­ry.

- Both groups were assessed before, dur­ing and after the video game train­ing on a vari­ety of tests.

- As a group, the “gamers” became sig­nif­i­cant­ly bet­ter and faster at Read the rest of this entry »

Games for Brain Health — Novelty, Variety and Challenge

Land­mark study just pub­lished: Basak C, et al “Can train­ing in a real-time strat­e­gy video game atten­u­ate cog­ni­tive decline in old­er adults?” Psy­chol Aging 2008; DOI: 10.1037/a0013494.

Play­ing com­put­er games improves brain pow­er of old­er adults, claim sci­en­tists (Tele­graph)

- The team at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois recruit­ed 40 adults over 60 years old, half of whom were asked to play a com­put­er game called Rise of Nations, a role-play­ing game in which you have to build your own empire.

- Game play­ers have to build cities, feed and employ their peo­ple, main­tain an ade­quate mil­i­tary and expand their ter­ri­to­ry.

- Both groups were assessed before, dur­ing and after the video game train­ing on a vari­ety of tests.

- As a group, the “gamers” became sig­nif­i­cant­ly bet­ter – and faster – at switch­ing between tasks as com­pared to the com­par­i­son group. Their work­ing mem­o­ry, as reflect­ed in the tests, was also sig­nif­i­cant­ly improved and their rea­son­ing abil­i­ty was enhanced.

- (Pro­fes­sor Art Kramer, an author of the study pub­lished in the jour­nal Psy­chol­o­gy & Aging) “This is one mode in which old­er peo­ple can stay men­tal­ly fit, cog­ni­tive­ly fit. I’m not sug­gest­ing, how­ev­er, that it’s the only thing they should do.”

Pro­fes­sor Kramer and I dis­cussed this study last June dur­ing our con­ver­sa­tion on Why We Need Walk­ing Book Clubs:

Ques­tion (me): Tell us more about your work with cog­ni­tive train­ing for old­er adults.

Answer (Prof Kramer): We have now a study in press where we eval­u­ate the effect of a com­mer­cial­ly avail­able strat­e­gy videogame on old­er adults’ cog­ni­tion.

Let me first give some con­text. It seems clear that, as we age, our Read the rest of this entry »

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