Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain Training and SharpBrains in the news

Sev­er­al recent sto­ries on brain train­ing and Sharp­Brains:

1) New brain games may improve mind fit­ness by Kevin Koster­man (U of Wis­con­sin Oshkosh’s Advance-Titan)

Any­time we learn, we are train­ing, chang­ing, our brain,” Fer­nan­dez said. “The three key core ele­ments for effec­tive brain exer­cise are nov­el­ty, vari­ety and con­stant chal­lenge, sim­i­lar to increas­ing the lev­el in machines we find in gyms.”

2) “Train­ing the Brain as pos­si­ble as Train­ing the Body”, جريدة النهار by Hana­di El Diri (Anna­har, one of the most pres­ti­gious papers in the Mid­dle East. The text is in Ara­bic.)

3) “Train your brain” by Mark Muck­en­fuss (The Press-Enter­prise in River­side and San Bernardi­no)

We can­not promise to peo­ple you will only keep get­ting bet­ter until you are 200 years old. But I think peo­ple still under­es­ti­mate how flex­i­ble the brain real­ly is.”

The Smart­Brains [sic] pro­gram com­bines men­tal exer­cis­es with a stress reduc­tion pro­gram. Too much stress, says Fer­nan­dez, has been shown to be dam­ag­ing not only to per­for­mance, but to the brain itself.
With all of the avail­able pro­grams for stim­u­lat­ing the brain, he says, it is impor­tant to shop care­ful­ly. A crit­i­cal ele­ment, he says, is how clients or par­tic­i­pants are eval­u­at­ed.

Make sure they have a cred­i­ble assess­ment that helps you find your strengths and weak­ness­es and that they have pro­grams that address (those areas),” he says. “Assess­ments that give you 50 (as an age-equiv­a­lent grade) and a week lat­er you’re 32, that’s not a valu­able assess­ment.”

Brain Fitness Blog Carnival #2

Wel­come to the Feb­ru­ary 19, 2007 edi­tion of brain fit­ness.

Today we want to high­light an excel­lent Inter­view with Aaron Beck on the His­to­ry of Cog­ni­tive Ther­a­py sub­mit­ted by the Beck Insti­tute. Dr. Beck was 83 when he gave this inter­view. To the ques­tion “Do you have a view about age­ing?”, he responds “I can only speak for myself. I know that prac­ti­cal­ly all my col­leagues from med­ical school days who are still around have retired. That is not some­thing that I think about. It is no more on my hori­zon now than it was when we first met a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry ago. I keep look­ing ahead.” He also says “I have always liked to uni­fy dif­fer­ent fields. Giv­en my back­ground in neu­rol­o­gy I do not see a con­flict between neu­rol­o­gy and psy­chol­o­gy. But if you look at the train­ing of con­tem­po­rary psy­chi­a­trists, for exam­ple, the two domains are total­ly dis­tinct. If psy­chi­a­try is to sur­vive as a dis­ci­pline, a merg­ing of the con­cepts of neu­rol­o­gy and psy­chol­o­gy will need to occur.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Upside of Aging-WSJ

Sharon Beg­ley writes anoth­er great arti­cle on The Upside of Aging — WSJ.com (sub­scrip­tion required)

  • The aging brain is sub­ject to a drea­ry litany of changes. It shrinks, Swiss cheese-like holes grow, con­nec­tions between neu­rons become spars­er, blood flow and oxy­gen sup­ply fall. That leads to trou­ble with short-term mem­o­ry and rapid­ly switch­ing atten­tion, among oth­er prob­lems. And that’s in a healthy brain.”
  • But it’s not all doom and gloom. An emerg­ing body of research shows that a sur­pris­ing array of men­tal func­tions hold up well into old age, while oth­ers actu­al­ly get bet­ter. Vocab­u­lary improves, as do oth­er ver­bal abil­i­ties such as facil­i­ty with syn­onyms and antonyms. Old­er brains are packed with more so-called …”

We dis­cussed some of these effects with Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg, who wrote his great book The Wis­dom Para­dox pre­cise­ly on this point, at The Exec­u­tive Brain and How our Minds Can Grow Stronger.

In our “Exer­cis­ing Our Brains” Class­es, we typ­i­cal­ly explain how some areas typ­i­cal­ly improve as we age, such as self-reg­u­la­tion, emo­tion­al func­tion­ing and Wis­dom (which means mov­ing from Prob­lem solv­ing to Pat­tern recog­ni­tion), where­as other typ­i­cal­ly decline: effort­ful prob­lem-solv­ing for nov­el sit­u­a­tions, pro­cess­ing speed, mem­o­ry, atten­tion and men­tal imagery. 

But the key mes­sage is that our actions influ­ence the rate of improve­ment and/ or decline. Our aware­ness that “it’s not all doom and gloom” and that there’s much we can do is important. You may want to learn more with our Exer­cise Your Brain DVD.

You can also learn more on the Suc­cess­ful Aging of the Healthy Brain: a beau­ti­ful essay by Mar­i­an Dia­mond on how to keep our brains and minds active and fit through­out our lives.

 

Brain Health Newsletter, February Edition, and Brain Awareness Week

We hope you are enjoy­ing the grow­ing cov­er­age of Brain Fit­ness as much as we are. Below you have the Brain Fit­ness Newslet­ter we sent a few days ago-you can sub­scribe to this month­ly email update in the box on the right hand side.

In this post, we will briefly cov­er:

I. Press: see what CBS and Time Mag­a­zine are talk­ing about. Sharp­Brains was intro­duced in the Birm­ing­ham News, Chica­go Tri­bune and in a quick note car­ried by the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion news ser­vice.

II. Events: we are out­reach part­ners for the Learn­ing & the Brain con­fer­ence, which will gath­er neu­ro­sci­en­tists and edu­ca­tors, and for the Dana Foundation’s Brain Aware­ness Week.

III. Pro­gram Reviews: The Wall Street Jour­nal reviewed six dif­fer­ent pro­grams for brain exer­cise and aging, and the one we offer is one of the two win­ners. A col­lege-lev­el coun­sel­ing cen­ter starts offer­ing our stress man­age­ment one. And we inter­view a Notre Dame sci­en­tist who has con­duct­ed a repli­ca­tion study for the work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing pro­gram for kids with ADD/ ADHD.

IV. New Offer­ings: we have start­ed to offer two infor­ma­tion pack­ages that can be very use­ful for peo­ple who want to bet­ter under­stand this field before they com­mit to any par­tic­u­lar pro­gram: learn more about our Brain Fit­ness 101 guide and Exer­cise Your Brain DVD.

V. Web­site and Blog Sum­ma­ry: we revamped our home page and have had a very busy month writ­ing many good arti­cles. We also host­ed two “Blog Car­ni­vals”- don’t you want to know what that means?
Read the rest of this entry »

Are yoga and meditation good for my brain?

Yoga
Here is ques­tion 16 of 25 from Brain Fit­ness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Ques­tions.

Ques­tion:
Are yoga and med­i­ta­tion good for my brain?

Key Points:

  • Yoga, med­i­ta­tion, and visu­al­iza­tion are all excel­lent ways to learn to man­age your stress lev­els.
  • Reduc­ing stress, and the stress hor­mones, in your sys­tem is crit­i­cal to your brain and over­all fit­ness.

Answer:
Yes. It’s clear that our soci­ety has changed faster than our genes. Instead of being faced with phys­i­cal, imme­di­ate­ly life-threat­en­ing crises that demand instant action, these days we deal with events and ill­ness­es that gnaw away at us slow­ly, with­out any stress release.
Read the rest of this entry »

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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