Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Marian Diamond on the brain

Quotes from a great arti­cle, Pro­fes­sor, 81, proves brain stays young:

- In 1960, Dia­mond became the first female fac­ul­ty mem­ber in Cal’s sci­ence depart­ment, achiev­ing full pro­fes­sor­ship in 1974. She still teach­es anato­my with her 81st birth­day two weeks away.

- Dia­mond, a pro­fes­sor of anato­my at UC Berke­ley, deter­mined that the brain can stay young through stim­u­la­tion, which can be achieved through her five-point plan: diet, exer­cise, chal­lenge, new­ness and ten­der lov­ing care.

- Using her plan, how is she chal­lenged?

- “Every stu­dent who sits in that chair,” she said, point­ing across the desk in her fifth-floor office in the Life Sci­ences Build­ing on cam­pus. “They come in here ask­ing ques­tions, and you bet­ter have the answers.”

- What new­ness, then, is in her life?

- “I have grand­chil­dren,” she said. “What could be bet­ter, decid­ing new things for them, to stim­u­late their brains.”

- She has four chil­dren, four grand­chil­dren and a hus­band, Arnold Schei­del, who teach­es anato­my at UCLA. They see each oth­er on school week­ends,

- Dia­mond feels her own brain grow­ing.

Keep read­ing here.

Relat­ed resources

A pre­vi­ous post list­ing a num­ber of her essays: Mar­i­an Dia­mond and the Brain Rev­o­lu­tion

Her great book Mag­ic Trees of the Mind: How to Nur­ture Your Child’s Intel­li­gence, Cre­ativ­i­ty, and Healthy Emo­tions from Birth Through Ado­les­cence, by Berkeley’s Mar­i­an Dia­mond and Janet L. Hop­son.

Student Achievement Gap, Stress, and Self-Regulation

Jon­ah Lehrer dis­sects and builds on a New York Times arti­cle on the edu­ca­tion Achieve­ment gap. Quotes from Jonah’s post:

  • most of the research sug­gests that the “achieve­ment gap” has real neu­ro­log­i­cal roots, which are caused by dis­tinct home envi­ron­ments: Hart and Ris­ley showed that lan­guage expo­sure in ear­ly child­hood cor­re­lat­ed strong­ly with I.Q. and aca­d­e­m­ic suc­cess lat­er on in a child’s life.”
  • This is real­ly impor­tant research, but I can’t help but think that part of the equa­tion is miss­ing. While Paul Tough, author of the Times arti­cle, focus­es on gaps in envi­ron­men­tal enrich­ment — poor kids are exposed to few­er words, have less stim­u­lat­ing con­ver­sa­tions, etc. — he ignores what might be an even more potent vari­able: stress.”
  • Gould’s work implies that the symp­toms of pover­ty are not sim­ply states of mind; they actu­al­ly warp the mind. Because neu­rons are designed to reflect their cir­cum­stances, not to rise above them, the monot­o­nous stress of liv­ing in a slum lit­er­al­ly lim­its the brain.”

Dave writes How to edu­cate those who seem une­d­u­ca­ble, build­ing on Jonah’s post and link­ing to “research by Angela Duck­worth and Mar­tin Selig­man show­ing that self-dis­ci­pline is more impor­tant than high IQ in stu­dent achieve­ment.”

I agree that the impor­tance of stress man­age­ment and self-dis­ci­pline (or emo­tion­al self-reg­u­la­tion) are often over­looked, which is pre­cise­ly why we are focus­ing there. You can read a Tech­nol­o­gy & Learn­ing mag­a­zine arti­cle on Biofeed­back for Emo­tion­al Man­age­ment and Peak Per­for­mance, and a post on Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science and Edu­ca­tion Today, where we men­tioned:

(new pro­grams help address) Anx­i­ety and stress: not only test anx­i­ety, but over­all high-lev­els of anx­i­ety that inhib­it learn­ing and high­er-order think­ing: a pro­gram already used in many schools, and with promis­ing research results, is the Insti­tute of HeartMath’s Freeze-Framer. Read How stress and anx­i­ety may affect Learn­ing Readi­ness, and Why chron­ic stress is some­thing to avoid.

Good night,


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