In their paper published in Frontiers of Physics, Franco Vazza (astrophysicist at the University of Bologna) and Alberto Feletti (neurosurgeon at the University of Verona) investigated the similarities between two of the most challenging and complex systems in nature: the cosmic network of galaxies and the network of neuronal cells in the human brain. [Read more…] about Understanding Brain Health via Cosmological Health, and vice versa
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring fascinating neuroscience findings and tips, combined with fun brain teasers.
#1. To celebrate this quite-challenging Thanksgiving, here are five fun brain teasers that readers have enjoyed the most this year so far. It is always good to learn more about (and appreciate) that most precious resource we all (yes, all) have up there! Five fun brain teasers to thank evolution for our human brains and minds
#2. Want more? Ready, Set, Go! A few brain teasers to flex those cognitive muscles
#3. “[Breathing techniques] are allowing you to consciously take control of your breathing so you can take control of your nervous system so you can take control of your anxiety” — James Nestor, author of Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. New book shares science and techniques to breathe better and promote calmness not anxiety
#4. Voice does matter…especially in areas of potential disagreement. To call, or to text, that is the (mental well-being) question
#5. Fascinating research + innovation event brought by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) and multiple partners. Save the Date: Promoting Brain Health for Life, December 15–16th, online.
#6. “This isn’t a battle between AI and doctors, it’s about how to optimize doctors’ ability to deliver better care” — P. Murali Doraiswamy, director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Program at Duke University. Next: Analyzing typing speed, speech and sleep patterns to identify cognitive decline, dementia, Parkinson’s, and more
#7. Google’s X team shares 3 valuable lessons learned from their ambitious and (for the time being) unsuccessful moonshot: Alphabet’s X shares Amber EEG system to expand the quest for mental health biomarkers
#8. “An exercise prescription is an important treatment option and a great adjunct to medications. The key is prescribing physical activity in a way that the patient will comply and remain engaged with.” Debate: How should doctors prescribe exercise to ensure compliance and engagement?
#9. As the study authors note, “The expansion of women into the labor force in the mid-20th century may have provided a new avenue of cognitive reserve for women via enhanced social stimulation and cognitive engagement.” Study: Work in adulthood seen to significantly delay memory decline after age 60, supporting the Cognitive Reserve theory
#10. “Throughout many subreddits, we found significant increases in the use of tokens related to isolation (eg, “lonely,” “can’t see anyone,” “quarantine”), economic stress (eg, “rent,” “debt,” “pay the bills”), and home (“fridge,” “pet,” “lease”), and a decrease in the lexicon related to motion (eg, “walk,” “visit,” “travel”).” Hopefully the promising vaccine news helps turn the tide; until then we need to promote mental health & resilience hard. Using Reddit as a population-level “mental health tracker” during the COVID pandemic
#11. “BCI devices can be non-invasive devices that users wear, or they can be invasive devices, which are surgically implanted,” says Veljko Dubljevi … “The invasive devices are more efficient, since they can read signals directly from the brain. However, they also raise more ethical concerns. For example, invasive BCI technologies carry more associated risks such as surgery, infection, and glial scarring — and invasive BCI devices would be more difficult to replace as technology improves.” Studies identify key ethical concerns raised by invasive and non-invasive neurotechnologies
#12. “(the app) uses the Watch’s sensors to track the heart rate and movement of users as they sleep. After establishing a baseline profile for the patient within one or two nights’ sleep, the machine learning algorithm spots heart rate or movement abnormalities presumably caused by a nightmare. The application then vibrates the smartwatch just enough to interrupt the wearer’s dreaming, but not enough to wake them up or disrupt their circadian sleep cycle.” FDA grants clearance for NightWare app designed to reduce PTSD-related nightmares
Wishing you a safe and healthy December,
Alvaro Fernandez and the SharpBrains Team
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring 12 fascinating neuroscience findings and open questions–and the beautiful image above.
#1. “With this image I want to illustrate the large advances made in imaging methods over the past century, allowing modern neuroscientists to look at neurons in ways that Cajal could have only dreamed of.” – Silvia Rodriguez-Rozada, Center for Molecular Neurobiology, Hamburg. Award-winning image shows neuroimaging progress in a century
#2. One more reason why lifelong learning matters: Study: High Cognitive Reserve (CR) seen to significantly lower dementia risk even in the presence of high Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) neuropathology
#3. It’s Friday; perfect time to make some fun and healthy weekend plans: How feeling awe in nature can spur mental well-being and personal growth
#4. Not a bad idea either: On cutting “empty brain calories” by reading a book instead of social media
#5. “…humility helps people let go of defensiveness, take in information that challenges their political views, and see the humanity in people on the other side of the political spectrum. Though it’s not always easy to embrace—especially for those who wrongfully equate it with weakness or a lack of conviction—humility may be what we desperately need right now in the United States.” On perception, cognitive bias and cultivating humility ahead of next week’s vote
#6. “When it feels like the world is crashing down around them, giving young people a moment to feel, express, and receive gratitude can help—and that in itself is something to be grateful for.” Study: A combined teaching + app gratitude program helps adolescents address anxiety and improve mental health
#7. To honor ADHD Awareness Month, let’s address this most important question: What should come first to treat ADHD in children, behavior therapy or stimulant medication?
#8. Debate: Can mindfulness and meditation be harmful? Two new studies answer the question in apparently opposite but actually quite complementary ways.
#10. “…new study funded by the National Institutes of Health that aims to recruit 30,000 volunteers to participate in a memory training study that compares multiple approaches to train working memory”: Given cognitive strengths and needs are diverse, what brain training may work best for each person and under which conditions?
#11. “Virtual reality is a promising skills-based behavioral medicine that has been shown to have high patient engagement and satisfaction,” said Beth Darnall, PhD, AppliedVR’s chief science advisor. “However, chronic pain patients to date have had very limited access to it, so we’re excited to continue working with the FDA to develop our platform and get it into the market faster.” The FDA clears AppliedVR headset to help treat fibromyalgia and chronic pain
#12. “Having run a media company in a tough market with a young, millennial workforce, we witnessed first-hand how there was a complete lack of investment in helping this generation with their mental health in a way that they’re used to: a community product that is mobile-first and video-led. We want to make the world a happier place by making working on your mental health as normal as going to the gym.” — Adnan Ebrahim, co-founder and CEO of MindLabs. What will the ‘Peloton for mental health’ look like five years from now? And, who will develop it?
Wishing you a safe and healthy November,
Alvaro Fernandez and the SharpBrains Team
About the Image:
“With this image I want to illustrate the large advances made in imaging methods over the past century, allowing modern neuroscientists to look at neurons in ways that Cajal could have only dreamed of. The composition was created by mirroring an image of two pyramidal cells of a mouse hippocampus. [Read more…] about Evolution of Cajal’s drawings: Award-winning image shows neuroimaging progress in a century
Elon Musk’s Neuralink is neuroscience theater (MIT Technology Review):
Rock-climb without fear. Play a symphony in your head. See radar with superhuman vision. Discover the nature of consciousness. Cure blindness, paralysis, deafness, and mental illness. Those are just a few of the applications that Elon Musk and employees at his four-year-old neuroscience company Neuralink believe electronic brain-computer interfaces will one day bring about. [Read more…] about Neuralink: Thumbs up or down so far?
Kernel has raised $53 million to accelerate development of a new generation of brain tech, helping companies leverage insights from the latest advances in neuroscience.