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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: How Stress and Emotions Impact Brain Performance

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Time for the Octo­ber edi­tion of the month­ly Sharp­Brains eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing this time sev­er­al arti­cles on the impact of stress, emo­tions, and self-reg­u­la­tion, on our brain’s struc­ture and per­for­mance.

We are pleased to bring to Sharp­Brains read­ers a new 6-part series on the Neu­ro­bi­ol­ogy of Stress, based on a recent book by Sharp­Brains con­trib­u­tor Dr. Jerome Schultz. The first two parts are already avail­able: Part 1 — The Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress and Part 2 — Gray Mat­ters.

Brain Study Links Emo­tion­al Self-Reg­u­la­tion and Math Per­for­mance: A new study strong­ly sug­gests the need to “help stu­dents reap­praise the sit­u­a­tion and con­trol emo­tions before they even get into a task”. While the study focused on math anx­i­ety and per­for­mance, the impli­ca­tions are rel­e­vant out­side the class­room too.

Reminder: Brain Fit­ness Q&A Ses­sions in Novem­ber: As we announced a few weeks ago, we are hon­ored to present an upcom­ing Brain Fit­ness Q&A Series. The first ses­sion, fea­tur­ing Dr. Gary Small, will take place Novem­ber 1st, 2011, 2–3pm US Eeast­ern Time. Please mark your cal­en­dar and join us at sharpbrains.com then! (no need to do any­thing pri­or to the ses­sion).

Music Train­ing Can Enhance Ver­bal Intel­li­gence and Exec­u­tive Func­tion: Very inter­est­ing new study pub­lished in Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence on the val­ue of music train­ing (vs. sim­ply lis­ten­ing to music).

Gam­ing and Neu­ro­science: Oppor­tu­ni­ties and Chal­lenges: A sum­ma­ry of impres­sions by researcher  Aki Niko­laidis based on his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the recent con­fer­ence Enter­tain­ment Soft­ware and Cog­ni­tive Neu­rother­a­peu­tics Con­fer­ence (ESCoNS) at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia San Fran­cisco.

Fam­i­lies’ Per­spec­tives on ADHD and its Treat­ment: Dr. David Rabin­er presents new data on fam­i­lies’ expe­ri­ence with ADHD and its treat­ment.

Brain Games and Opti­cal Illu­sions @ Nation­al Geo­graph­ic: Sev­eral Sharp­Brains friends rec­om­mend this recent 3-part Nation­al Geo­graphic TV mini-series.

Math Brain Teas­er for Kids and Adults: Archimedes Grave: A fun puz­zle to exer­cise our brains a bit, sub­mit­ted by new con­trib­u­tor Maria Lan­do. Enjoy!

Study: Music Training Can Enhance Verbal Intelligence and Executive Function

Very inter­est­ing new study pub­lished in Psy­cho­log­i­cal Sci­ence: Short-Term Music Train­ing Enhances Ver­bal Intel­li­gence and Exec­u­tive Func­tion.

Abstract: Researchers have designed train­ing meth­ods that can be used to improve men­tal health and to test the effi­ca­cy of edu­ca­tion pro­grams. How­ev­er, few stud­ies have demon­strat­ed broad trans­fer from such train­ing to per­for­mance on untrained cog­ni­tive activ­i­ties. Here we report the effects of two inter­ac­tive com­put­er­ized train­ing pro­grams devel­oped for preschool chil­dren: one for music and one for visu­al art. After only 20 days of train­ing, Read the rest of this entry »

Playing Music as a Protection Against Dementia

In a recent post we saw that music may help peo­ple with demen­tia learn new facts. This arti­cle explores anoth­er rela­tion­ship between music and demen­tia: play­ing a musi­cal instru­ment, even as an ama­teur, may pro­tect the brain lat­er on against demen­tia-relat­ed dam­ages.

Researchers had 70 peo­ple ages 60 to 83 per­form a vari­ety of tests to mea­sure visu­ospa­tial mem­o­ry, abil­i­ty to name objects, the brain’s abil­i­ty to adapt to new infor­ma­tion […] those who had engaged in musi­cal activ­i­ty for 10 years or longer scored sub­stan­tial­ly bet­ter than those with no musi­cal activ­i­ty in their past.

the longer peo­ple play instru­ments, the more ben­e­fits they may derive.

All were ama­teurs who had start­ed play­ing when they were 10 years old. Read the rest of this entry »

Music: Another Pillar of Brain Fitness?

Musi­cians’ brains are often used as mod­els of neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty. Indeed, numer­ous stud­ies to date have shown that musi­cal train­ing can change the brain. Musi­cians have larg­er brain vol­ume in areas that are impor­tant for play­ing an instru­ment: motor, audi­to­ry and visuo-spa­tial regions.

A recent Nature Review Neu­ro­science arti­cle shows that music train­ing can ben­e­fit the brain beyond music. Specif­i­cal­ly, musi­cians may have an advan­tage for pro­cess­ing speech in chal­leng­ing lis­ten­ing envi­ron­ments com­pared with non-musi­cians Read the rest of this entry »

Do we need more music education?

We recent­ly pub­lished an arti­cle exam­in­ing the “Mozart effect” and the con­clu­sions were that there is very lit­tle evi­dence that lis­ten­ing to music does boost men­tal func­tions. How­ev­er learn­ing to play an instru­ment does seem to do the trick.

In this recent Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can arti­cle, the edi­tors point out that: Read the rest of this entry »

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