On one of our “walk and talks” around the lush trails of Rock Creek Park in DC surrounded by bikers, runners, cars and the occasional deer, Wendy and Lisa talked about aging. Wendy’s mother, who had her children in her early 20s, was still joining the family’s grueling summer hikes with her children and nine grandchildren well into her 60s. Wendy mused about how much older she would be when their kids could have their own kids. It dawned on her that her health was not just a here and now issue, but an investment in that future. We agreed to help each other cultivate the habits and make time to build strength as well as reserves, both physical and mental, for the long-term. Their goal: to enjoy being active in their 40s and 50s while also laying the groundwork to continue being active into their 60s, 70s, and beyond. [Read more…] about New book provides practical guidance for women (and men) to rebalance our lifestyles and build Cognitive Reserve
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring important brain & mental health news plus a few fun brain teasers to test your reasoning skills and more…
“Technology can not only help us grow out of unhealthy habits, it is also possible to expand human mental capacities … although it will be necessary to analyze “the how and when” of these uses: they must be ethically sound and ensure that results are beneficial to society.” — our very own Álvaro Fernández, hoping you all agree 🙂
If you prefer to read the article in Spanish: Cómo hacer de la tecnología un aliado en el cuidado de la salud mental
“As with any tool, behavior, activity, or technology, smart phones have the potential to be either a useful and highly constructive asset or a destructive and harmful diversion from life … What is the impact on brain development during the first 25 years of life when a significant part of each day is spent looking into a smart phone and the resulting cognitive and emotional experiences?”
“Certain types of dementia, particularly vascular dementia, are caused when there is less blood flow reaching the brain. This can damage our brain cells. Recent studies have also shown that the parts of our brain that process sounds (our auditory system) have many blood vessels and are vulnerable to damage … Another area of research is looking at whether hearing loss indirectly affects dementia risk by making it harder for people to stay connected. Social isolation is another known risk factor for dementia.”
“The findings of this randomized clinical trial suggest that CCBT with a modest amount of clinician support has potential for wider-spread implementation as an effective, acceptable, and efficient treatment for depression in primary care.”
“It is time that EEGs for the brain become as accessible as EKGs for the heart to patients throughout the country. For too long essential neurological services have been inaccessible to large parts of our population” — Dr. Chaudery, Principal at Genoa Ventures (co-lead investor)
“The combination of SST and a pharmaceutical regimen has been proven in studies to reduce the recurrence of mental disorders, the companies said. Their first jointly developed program will be directed toward schizophrenia patients, and they’re predicting that the immersive nature of Jolly Good’s VR will make the SST therapy more engaging and effective than standard methods.”
“Most people have all heard of the fight-or-flight system—that’s the stress system, it makes your heart rate go up and you can run away really fast. Well, people don’t realize that through evolution in parallel with the fight-or-flight system evolved an equal and opposite part of our nervous system that’s nicknamed the “rest-and-digest” part of the nervous system, or parasympathetic nervous system. It’s basically the de-stressing part of our nervous system. That is what we need to activate to bring ourselves back to equilibrium when we’re in a stressful state.”
Finally, as promised, a few fun brain teasers to test your reasoning skills–and more. Enjoy!
#11. Did you notice the jump? Good reasoning and problem-solving often requires proper attention to detail…
Wishing you and yours a healthy and safe March,
The SharpBrains Team
Neuroplasticity and Smart Phones (Psychiatric Times):
In medical school, I was taught that the brain is hardwired at birth. During the past 30 years, neuroscience has definitively shown that this is not the case at all. As our understanding of brain development advanced, it became clear that, during the first 3 years of life, neurons in the brain prolifically form synaptic connections to be prepared for many diverse functional tasks, most of which it will never encounter. From aged 3 years onward, the circuits frequently used strengthen their connections while those serving no function are pruned away. Hence the common phrase, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” [Read more…] about On neuroplasticity, young brains, and smartphones
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring eight timely scientific and industry news plus a few fun teasers to appreciate our unique human brains.
“None of us thinks that our beliefs and attitudes are incorrect; if we did, we obviously wouldn’t hold those beliefs and attitudes. Yet, despite our sense that we are usually correct, we must accept that our views may sometimes turn out to be wrong. This kind of humility isn’t simply virtuous—the research suggests that it results in better decisions, relationships, and outcomes. So, the next time you feel certain about something, you might stop and ask yourself: Could I be wrong?”
#3. Should older politicians, and other leaders, undergo cognitive testing? The debate continues … here are some good comments from the online debate we had last summer:
- PRO: “Definitely. We routinely screen applicants for a wide range of jobs. Apply for the police, you will be tested. Join the military, you will be evaluated. Should we not know if a candidate for the highest position in the country has a serious emotional, intellectual or psychological impairment?”
- CON: “I disagree because these tests are very bad at predicting how good someone would be in leading a country. It doesn’t require the ability to store a lot of information in your working memory. Being a good leader requires only one essential thing: having the right priorities.”
- IT DEPENDS: “Who makes the test? What cognitive metrics do we use? The biases in that design could lead to significant unexpected or even intentionally skewed results.”
What a year for Click and for digital therapeutics!
The road to heaven is paved with good decisions…
“The word psychedelic means ‘mind-manifesting,’ but what has been missing is useful ‘mind-imaging’—the ability to dynamically trace the neural correlates of human conscious experience. Conventional neuroimaging just isn’t dynamic enough to study the psychedelic experience in the brain as it happens. This study of ketamine’s psychedelic effects while wearing headgear equipped with sensors to record brain activity could open up new frontiers of understanding” — Dr. Alex Belser, Cybin’s Chief Clinical Officer
“analyzing EEGs is labor intensive and interpretation of these tests can vary from one clinician to another..…Beacon Biosignals has assembled what it claims is one of the world’s largest clinical EEG databases. By applying its proprietary machine-learning algorithms to the database, the company says it has identified neurobiomarkers—biological indicators that are associated with certain groups of patients, drug activity, and therapeutic efficacy.”
Not good, yet completely predictable, and let’s remember this is for a “treatment” costing as much as $100,000/ year with exactly ZERO proven clinical benefit: “…The researchers found 425 cases in the combined aducanumab group experienced ARIA (41.3%), and ARIA-edema was identified in 362 patients or 35.2%. Of them, 94 (26%) had symptoms, such as headache, confusion, dizziness and nausea. They found ARIA-microhemorrhage and ARIA-superficial siderosis in 197 patients (19.1%) and 151 patients (14.7%), respectively.”
Q: What does, “you must come and visit us sometime!” actually mean?
Wishing you and yours a Happy & Healthy Hanukkah, December and Christmas,
The SharpBrains Team
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring this time eight scientific reports and industry resources plus a few fun brain teasers.
“Girls who spent less than an hour on screens and boys who spent less than 90 minutes on screens were not negatively impacted by it. But at higher amounts of screen time, their life satisfaction dropped significantly—they were less happy with their lives, and it got worse the more time they spent … (the) study also found that teens who got more regular exercise had greater life satisfaction and fewer physical complaints for both genders. Not only that, the effects were largely unrelated to how much time a teen spent on screens, so that if teens exercised more, it could potentially undo the damage to their well-being that went along with even six or eight hours of screen time.”
‘Obesity and depression are both major global health challenges, and our study provides the most robust evidence to date that higher BMI causes depression,’ said lead author Jess O’Loughlin. ‘Understanding whether physical or social factors are responsible for this relationship can help inform effective strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing.’
Let’s hope! — “I think Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) will continue to be adapted for more problems, diagnoses, and conditions. We will train many kinds of caregivers, teachers, front-line workers, police, and even politicians.”
“We discovered that the most predictive model – representing the most common mode of city navigation – was not the quickest path, but instead one that tried to minimize the angle between the direction a person is moving and the line from the person to their destination … Evolution is a story of trade-offs, not optimizations, and the cognitive load of calculating a perfect path rather than relying on the simpler pointing method might not be worth a few saved minutes. After all, early humans had to preserve brain power for dodging stampeding elephants, just like people today might need to focus on avoiding aggressive SUVs.”
“Designed with the help of Dutch academic Isabela Granic … the game is centred around an avatar who stays in bed for the day and aims to relax players by using soothing music, muted colours and self-care practices. Think meditative tasks such as word games and guided breathing exercises. There’s no way to win, compete or binge – in fact, it deliberately starts to feel boring after a few minutes of play, which disincentivizes mindless scrolling. #SelfCare was an instant hit, garnering half a million downloads in its first six weeks without any advertising…”
“What made this proof-of-principle trial successful was the discovery of a neural biomarker – a specific pattern of brain activity that indicates the onset of symptoms – and the team’s ability to customize a new DBS device to respond only when it recognizes that pattern. The device then stimulates a different area of the brain circuit, creating on-demand, immediate therapy that is unique to both the patient’s brain and the neural circuit causing her illness.”
“After initially indicating that Aduhelm could be prescribed to anyone with dementia, the Food and Drug Administration now specifies that the prescription drug be given to individuals with mild cognitive impairment or early-stage Alzheimer’s, the groups in which the medication was studied.
Yet this narrower recommendation raises questions. What does a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment mean? Is Aduhelm appropriate for all people with mild cognitive impairment, or only some? And who should decide which patients qualify for treatment: dementia specialists or primary care physicians?”
“With data breaches on the rise, the FTC is looking to make health apps more accountable for telling patients when their data has been exposed.”
Wishing you and yours a sweet Halloween and a healthy month of November,
The SharpBrains Team
A large-scale study from the University of Exeter has found ‘robust evidence’ that being overweight hikes up your risk of developing depression – but as fresh evidence confirms, logging your morning miles is one of the most effective ways to fight back. Exercise jolts your brain into action, and not just because of the endorphin high … ‘Obesity and depression are both major global health challenges, and our study provides the most robust evidence to date that higher BMI causes depression,’ said lead author Jess O’Loughlin. ‘Understanding whether physical or social factors are responsible for this relationship can help inform effective strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing.’ [Read more…] about Studies find growing evidence linking weight, physical activity, neuroplasticity and depression