Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Exercise your brain at these events

Here are the dates and loca­tions of some upcom­ing events where I will be pre­sent­ing. Please intro­duce your­self if you are attend­ing!

» Sep­tem­ber 4–5th, San Fran­cis­co, CA: sev­er­al Brain Health Pro­mo­tion ses­sions, at the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging con­fer­ence.

» Octo­ber 9th, Van­cou­ver, Cana­da: Exer­cis­ing Our Brains 101 and Nav­i­gat­ing The Brain Fit­ness Maze, at the British Colum­bia Seniors Liv­ing Asso­ci­a­tion annu­al con­fer­ence.

» Octo­ber 11th, San Jose, CA: The Sci­ence and Prac­tice of Brain Fit­ness, at San Jose State University’s Osh­er Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute. (Infor­ma­tion here).

» Octo­ber 23rd, Pocatel­lo, Ida­ho: Cog­ni­tive and Emo­tion­al Train­ing for Healthy Aging, at the Ida­ho Con­fer­ence on Health Care. (Infor­ma­tion here).

» Novem­ber 1st, Berke­ley, CA: The Sci­ence and Prac­tice of Brain Fit­ness, at UC-Berkeley’s Osh­er Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute. (Infor­ma­tion here).

» Novem­ber 7–9th, Dubai: Glob­al Agen­da Coun­cils Inau­gur­al Sum­mit in Dubai, orga­nized by the World Eco­nom­ic Forum. (Infor­ma­tion here).

» Novem­ber 17th, New York City: The Emerg­ing Brain Fit­ness Field: Research and Impli­ca­tions, at New York Pub­lic Library.

» Decem­ber 5th, San Anto­nio, Texas: The Emerg­ing Brain Fit­ness Field: Overview of Research and Tools, at the Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil on Active Aging con­fer­ence. (Infor­ma­tion here).

As always, I will share the main take-aways via this blog. I hope to meet some of you down the road!

Cognitive Fitness @ UC-Berkeley Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Quick post for my UC-Berke­ley OLLI stu­dents: here are the links I promised.

- Col­lec­tion of 50 Brain Teasers.

- Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series includ­ing in-depth notes of inter­views with lead­ing sci­en­tists and prac­ti­tion­ers.

- Build Your Cog­ni­tive Reserve-Yaakov Stern: which talks about the Cog­ni­tive Reserve and Alzheimer’s symp­toms, and includes a great clip on the famous “nun study”.

- Arti­cles and Papers: a col­lec­tion of good read­ing mate­ri­als.

- Books: the selec­tion of books we dis­cussed.

- YouTube Chan­nel: some clips you will enjoy to refresh your class mem­o­ries.

Enjoy!

 

Brain Wellness: Train Your Brain to Be Happier

I am delight­ed to par­tic­i­pate in LifeTwo’s “How to be Hap­pi­er” week with this post. Hap­pi­ness is still large­ly unchar­tered ter­ri­to­ry for neu­ro­science. It sounds like a hid­den, elu­sive El Dora­do. How­ev­er, once one fol­lows pos­i­tive psy­chol­o­gy research and Harvard’s Dr. Ben-Shahar’s advice, “The ques­tion should not be whether you are hap­py but what you can do to become hap­pi­er”, the hap­pi­ness quest starts to become more tan­gi­ble and work­able accord­ing to lat­est neu­ro­science research.

We are now going to explore the four key con­cepts of Dr. Ben-Shahar’s state­ment — 1) “you”, 2) “can”, 3) “do”, and 4) “hap­pi­er” — from a neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal per­spec­tive.

1) Who is “you”? Accord­ing to lat­est sci­en­tif­ic under­stand­ing, what we expe­ri­ence as “mind”, our Frontal Lobesaware­ness, emerges from the phys­i­cal brain. So, if we want to refine our minds, we bet­ter start by under­stand­ing and train­ing our brains. A very impor­tant real­i­ty to appre­ci­ate: each brain is unique, since it reflects our unique life­time expe­ri­ences. Sci­en­tists have already shown how even adult brains retain a sig­nif­i­cant abil­i­ty to con­tin­u­al­ly gen­er­ate new neu­rons and lit­er­al­ly rewire them­selves. So, each of us is unique, with our own aspi­ra­tions, emo­tion­al pref­er­ences, capac­i­ties, and each of us in con­tin­u­al­ly in flux. A pow­er­ful con­cept to remind our­selves: “you” can become hap­pi­er means that “you” are the only per­son who can take action and eval­u­ate what works for “you”. And “you” means the mind that emerges from your own, very per­son­al, unique, and con­stant­ly evolv­ing, brain. Which only “you” can train.

2) Why the use of “can”? Well, this reminds me a great quote by Span­ish neu­ro­sci­en­tist San­ti­a­go Ramon y Cajal, who said that “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculp­tor of his own brain”. Each of us has immense poten­tial. How­ev­er, in the same way that Michaelangelo’s David didn’t spon­ta­neous­ly appear out-of-the-blue one day, becom­ing hap­pi­er requires atten­tion, inten­tion, and actu­al prac­tice.

Atten­tion: Every sec­ond, you choose what to pay atten­tion to. You can focus on the neg­a­tive and there­by train your brain to focus on the neg­a­tive. You can Read the rest of this entry »

carnival of the capitalists with a brain- September 17, 2007

                

Wel­come to the Sep­tem­ber 17, 2007 edi­tion of car­ni­val of the cap­i­tal­ists.

First, a puzzle. Why do we have the brains we have? specif­i­cal­ly, why do humans have pro­por­tion­al­ly big­ger and bet­ter con­nect­ed frontal lobes (the blue area behind our foreheads) than any oth­er species? The answer: to be able to learn and adapt to chang­ing envi­ron­ments dur­ing our life­time. Neu­ro­sci­en­tists say that the frontal lobes are the “CEO of the brain”, and that we need that type of frontal lobes to exer­cise our so-called “Exec­u­tive Func­tions” that enable us to 1) Under­stand our envi­ron­ments, 2) Set goals and define strate­gies to accom­plish our goals, 3) Exe­cute those strate­gies well.Frontal Lobes

Now, let’s see how all these car­ni­val con­trib­u­tors are putting their frontal lobes to good use. Giv­en the vol­ume of sub­mis­sions received, we had to be real­ly selec­tive. Enjoy!

 

1) Under­stand­ing our envi­ron­ment: macro­econ­o­my, real estate slow­down, and lob­by­ing.

James won­ders, “Can the Fed begin as it must to cut the tar­get rate and still avoid Tim’s slip­pery slope? I think so, and here’s how.”

Ian presents a force­ful case that No, Greenspan Doesn’t Get To Reha­bil­i­tate His Rep­u­ta­tion, at Fire­doglake. Very time­ly post, giv­en that Greenspan is releas­ing his book today. 

The recent sub-prime mort­gage fias­co and its effect on our invest­ments prompt­ed us to recon­sid­er our portfolio’s risk tol­er­ance capa­bil­i­ty”, says FIRE Finance, out­lin­ing these Invest­ment Risks at a Glance. Along sim­i­lar lines, we can read that “I am not hop­ing for the mar­ket to get worse. I just know it will, because that is the nature of mar­ket cycles” at Is The Hous­ing Cri­sis and Stock Mar­ket Decline Bad Enough Yet?, by My Wealth Builder.

If you won­der what may have con­tributed to the real estate mess grow­ing so big, you may enjoy read­ing Pork: Wha’ss On The Bar­beque In Con­gress Is Your Future. The Ago­nist says: “In the Unit­ed States today, the sim­plest, eas­i­est and safest way to make mon­ey is to Read the rest of this entry »

Executive Functions and Google/ Microsoft Brain Teasers

Inter­est­ing arti­cle: Want a job at Google? Try these brain­teasers first (CNN)

Quote: “Seem­ing­ly ran­dom ques­tions like these have become com­mon­place in Sil­i­con Val­ley and oth­er tech out­posts, where com­pa­nies aren’t as inter­est­ed in the cor­rect answer to a tough ques­tion as they are in how a prospec­tive employ­ee might try to solve it. Since busi­ness­es today have to be able to react quick­ly to shift­ing mar­ket dynam­ics, they want more than engi­neers with high IQs and good col­lege tran­scripts. They want peo­ple who can think on their feet.”

Com­ment: What are those com­pa­nies (Google, Microsoft, Ama­zon) after? Employ­ees with good Exec­u­tive Func­tions. You can try some of the fun teasers in the arti­cle:

1) How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?

  • About 500,000, assum­ing the bus is 50 balls high, 50 balls wide, and 200 balls long

2) You’re shrunk and trapped in a blender that will turn on in 60 sec­onds. What do you do?

Some options:

1. Use the mea­sure­ment marks to climb out

2. Try to unscrew the glass

3. Risk rid­ing out the air cur­rent

3) How much should you charge to wash all the win­dows in Seat­tle?

  • Assum­ing 10,000 city blocks, 600 win­dows per block, five min­utes per win­dow, and a rate of $20 per hour, about $10 mil­lion

 

PS: Enjoy these 50 brain teasers to test your cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty. Free, and fun for adults of any age!

 

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