Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

On “ethical placebos,” Medicine, and Mind/ Body interactions: A book review

Cure_bookWhen I was 10 years old, I hat­ed doing the dish­es. In an attempt to talk my par­ents out of mak­ing me do this hat­ed chore, I pre­tend­ed to be ill by hang­ing my head, sigh­ing, snif­fling, and walk­ing lethar­gi­cal­ly to my bed­room, all to no avail—I still had to do those dish­es.

But, the next day, I woke up with the flu —a 104-degree fever and stom­ach pains to match. Boy, were my par­ents sur­prised! And, so was I. But, how many of us have had sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences, where our minds seemed to some­how impact our bod­ies in weird, unex­plain­able ways? How many of us have made doc­tors’ appoint­ments only to watch our fevers drop or held our chil­dren close and stopped their cough­ing fits? Clear­ly, some­thing is going on, isn’t it? Read the rest of this entry »

Fitter bodies = fitter brains. True at all ages?

The results of recent­ly pub­lished stud­ies sug­gest that fit­ter chil­dren also have fit­ter brains. It looks like exer­cis­ing your body pro­motes brain health. Is this true at all ages? How does it work? How much exer­cise should we do?

Phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and brain health in chil­dren

An emerg­ing lit­er­a­ture sug­gests that phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and high lev­els of aer­o­bic fit­ness dur­ing child­hood  may enhance cog­ni­tion. In the 2 most recent stud­ies by Kramer and col­leagues (2010), the cog­ni­tive per­for­mance and the brains of high­er-fit and low­er-fit 9- and 10-year-old chil­dren were exam­ined.

In one study, fit­ter chil­dren did bet­ter than less fit chil­dren in a task requir­ing to ignore irrel­e­vant infor­ma­tion and attend to rel­e­vant cues. Fit­ter chil­dren also had larg­er basal gan­glia (more specif­i­cal­ly dor­sal stria­tum) than less fit chil­dren. The basal gan­glia play a key role in cog­ni­tive con­trol (e.g. prepar­ing, ini­ti­at­ing, inhibit­ing, switch­ing respons­es).

In anoth­er study, fit­ter chil­dren did bet­ter than less fit chil­dren in a task requir­ing to mem­o­rize infor­ma­tion. Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Know Thyself, Know How Your Brain Works

What is work­ing mem­o­ry, and why it mat­ters? Can we mul­ti-task as good as we seem to assume? What should we all know about how our brains work, and why?

We hope you enjoy this August eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing six dis­tin­guished con­trib­u­tors who answer those ques­tions, and more. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this free Brain Fit­ness eNewslet­ter by email, using the box in the right col­umn.

Know Thy­self

Why work­ing mem­o­ry mat­ters in the knowl­edge age: As Dr. Tra­cy Alloway points out, one way to visu­al­ize work­ing mem­o­ry is as the brain’s “Post-it Notes” — we make men­tal scrib­bles of bits of infor­ma­tion we need to remem­ber and work with. With­out enough work­ing mem­o­ry we can­not func­tion as a soci­ety or as indi­vid­u­als. Learn more by par­tic­i­pat­ing in this study launched by Dr. Alloway’s team in con­junc­tion with the British Sci­ence Fes­ti­val.

What should every­one learn about the brain?: Dr. Jo Ellen Rose­man and Mary Kop­pel from the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Sci­ence (AAAS) dis­cuss recent rec­om­men­da­tions on what all stu­dents should know. Not just the basics of brain struc­ture and func­tion, but also a good under­stand­ing of men­tal health—such as the mind/body rela­tion­ship, fac­tors that shape behav­ior, ways of cop­ing with men­tal dis­tress, and the diag­no­sis and treat­ment of men­tal dis­or­ders.

News

Pool­ing data to accel­er­ate Alzheimer’s research: A good arti­cle in the New York Times presents the rea­sons behind grow­ing research of how to detect Alzheimer’s Dis­ease. A pilot study shows how com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive train­ing may help reduce falls among elder­ly. Amazon.com rec­om­mends The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness in a thought-pro­vok­ing mix.

Beyond News

Need­ed: fund­ing for inno­v­a­tive research on slow­ing cog­ni­tive decline via cog­ni­tive train­ing: Sharp­Brains read­er and UK researcher Nick Almond shares a note debunk­ing the so-called BBC brain train­ing exper­i­ment  and out­lin­ing the type of research he and col­leagues at Leeds Uni­ver­si­ty deem nec­es­sary.

Long-term effects of neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD: Dr. David Rabin­er reviews the 6-month fol­low-up of a sci­en­tif­ic study on whether neu­ro­feed­back can help kids with atten­tion deficits, find­ing that ben­e­fits indeed remained 6 months after treat­ment had end­ed. Giv­en, how­ev­er, that only around 50% of chil­dren showed ben­e­fits, it is impor­tant to regard this tool as part of a mul­ti­modal treat­ment pro­gram.

Brain Teas­er

Test your atten­tion­al focus and mul­ti-task­ing: How often do you read a doc­u­ment while talk­ing on the phone with a client? Or think about your prob­lems at work while help­ing your child with his home­work? Human atten­tion is lim­it­ed, and we need to man­age it well, as shown in this teas­er pre­pared by Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon.

Have a great Sep­tem­ber. And, should you hap­pen to be in Barcelona, Spain, on Sep­tem­ber 14th, make sure to attend Alvaro Fer­nan­dez talk there titled “How and Why Dig­i­tal Tech­nol­o­gy Will Trans­form Edu­ca­tion, Train­ing and Brain Health”.

Is physical fitness important to your brain fitness?

Here is ques­tion 18 of 25 from Brain Fit­ness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Ques­tions.Trail Runner

Ques­tion:
Is phys­i­cal fit­ness impor­tant to your brain fit­ness?

Key Points:

  • Exer­cise improves learn­ing through increased blood sup­ply and growth hor­mones.
  • Exer­cise is an anti-depres­sant by reduc­ing stress and pro­mot­ing neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis.
  • Exer­cise pro­tects the brain from dam­age and dis­ease, as well as speed­ing the recov­ery.
  • Exer­cise ben­e­fits you the most when you start young.

Answer:
Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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.

Follow us and Engage via…

twitter_logo_header
RSS Feed

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.