Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain teasers and games: ready for a mental workout?

You may have already seen that our Teasers sec­tion con­tains not only our selec­tion of Top 50 Brain Teasers and Games, but also a reg­u­lar­ly updat­ed page with lat­est Games for the Brain.

Below you have the brain games and teasers we have added in 2008 so far. Ready? brain teasers job interview
— Octo­ber 2008: Top Brainy Haikus. Yours?.

- Sep­tem­ber 2008: What is going on with these pic­tures?.

- Sep­tem­ber 2008: 7 Brain­teasers for Job Inter­views.

- August 2008: Can you use men­tal self rota­tion to read a map?.

- August 2008: Spot the Dif­fer­ences! how many are there?.

- July 2008 Read the rest of this entry »

Can you use mental self rotation to read a map?

What is men­tal self rota­tion? It is the abil­i­ty to imag­ine your­self in dif­fer­ent loca­tions in space and imag­ine your body mov­ing in space. This is an abil­i­ty that is used in dif­fer­ent every­day activ­i­ties such as nav­i­gat­ing in an envi­ron­ment or read­ing a map.

  • Abil­i­ty involved: ego­cen­tric spa­tial trans­for­ma­tions (yes, that is the sci­en­tif­ic expres­sion) or men­tal self rota­tion.
  • Brain areas involved: most­ly pari­etal lobes.

Let’s take an exam­ple. Imag­ine that you plan to go to a new Wal­greens loca­tion. You won­der whether going North on Big Bend Avenue you would have to make a right or a left turn onto Forsyth Blvd to get to Wal­greens. You then look at the map that your spouse has laid out on the table. It turns out that the map is upside down so your per­spec­tive is not aligned with the one shown on the map (see Fig­ure 1 just below, Box A). How do you get the answer to your ques­tion? Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Teaser: Boost your visuospatial skills

Boost your visu­ospa­tial skills and learn about your brain
– By Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon

Visu­ospa­tial skills are used every­day in many ways, rang­ing from going from one room to anoth­er in your house to solv­ing a jig­saw puz­zle and nav­i­gat­ing in a new city. Temporal lobe Frontal Lobe

One spe­cif­ic visu­ospa­tial skill has to do with mov­ing spa­tial infor­ma­tion around in your head. It is called men­tal rota­tion.

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

The new Mental Game: sport psychology, coaches, get ready!

One of the many Sharp Brains around, who is up to date of every­thing relat­ed to brain health and fit­ness (yes, Jeanne, that’s you! thanks for being such a great bureau chief!) has sent us a very inter­est­ing press note on how brain fit­ness and train­ing can be applied in the sports per­for­mance world. I haven’t been able to track down the research behind the spe­cif­ic pro­grams men­tioned in the arti­cle, but the the­o­ret­i­cal ratio­nale makes sense based on sim­i­lar pro­grams we are famil­iar with: you can see below a sum­ma­ry of our inter­view with Prof. Daniel Gopher, sci­en­tif­ic mind behind com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive sim­u­la­tions for mil­i­tary pilots and for bas­ket­ball play­ers.

The note Sports Vision Train­ing Takes Ath­letes to New Fron­tiers explains how

  • Spe­cial­ty sports vision facil­i­ties are help­ing ath­letes train skills that many believed were “untrain­able”; skills like antic­i­pa­tion, field vision, tim­ing, sport intel­li­gence, game tem­po, reac­tion speed, focus and con­cen­tra­tion.”
  • What has every­one all worked up is the knowl­edge that they can actu­al­ly train ath­let­ic skills that many believed were “untrain­able.” We’re talk­ing about intan­gi­bles like antic­i­pa­tion, field vision, tim­ing, sport intel­li­gence, game tem­po, reac­tion speed, focus and con­cen­tra­tion. “One of the worst mis­takes an ath­lete can make is to believe that you’re either born with or with­out these kinds of skills, and that they’re con­se­quent­ly not train­able, says Bri­an Stam­mer, edi­tor of SportsVi­sion Mag­a­zine. “If you want to be the best ath­lete you can be, you must do exer­cis­es to con­di­tion and sharp­en your sen­so­ry sys­tem, includ­ing visu­al, audi­to­ry and brain-pro­cess­ing speed.
  • This is the link to the mag­a­zine they men­tion: SportsVi­sion Mag­a­zine

And here is the sum­ma­ry of my (AF) inter­view with Prof. Daniel Gopher (DG) on Cog­ni­tive Sim­u­la­tions and cog­ni­tive train­ing:

  • AF: …Can you sum­ma­rize your research find­ings across all these exam­ples and fields, and how you see the field evolv­ing?
  • DG: In short, I’d sum­ma­rize by say­ing that
  • - Cog­ni­tive per­for­mance can be sub­stan­tial­ly improved with prop­er train­ing. Read the rest of this entry »

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