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Lifelong Learning: Changing My Brain

Hi!Andreas Engvig
This is Andreas, the Nor­we­gian MD/PhD in neu­ro­science can­di­date who worked as an intern at Sharp­Brains a few months ago. Now I’m back in chilly Oslo where I’ve just begun my PhD pro­gram on cog­ni­tive train­ing for patients with mem­o­ry prob­lems.

Today I felt it was time to reflect upon my 3 month stay in San Fran­cis­co ear­li­er this year. It all start­ed when in April when the Nor­we­gian school of entre­pre­neur­ship said: You’ve got a tick­et to San Fran­cis­co, now you got to find the per­fect start-up com­pa­ny to work for.

Being inter­est­ed in brain train­ing, I googled Brain fit­ness San Fran­cis­co and guess what I found? I got in touch with Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, the co-founder of SharpBrains.com and two months lat­er I start­ed work­ing with him and his team.

As a sci­en­tist, being placed in an excit­ing start-up com­pa­ny in a nov­el mar­ket like brain fit­ness was a huge learn­ing expe­ri­ence that gave me hands-on knowl­edge of busi­ness and entre­pre­neur­ial cul­ture. Being a neu­ro­science stu­dent, I know that learn­ing phys­i­cal­ly changes my brain, strength­en­ing it.

Here’s a list of some of the key things I’ve learned:

1) First of all, one of key rules for brain fit­ness is learn­ing. In Sharp­Brains I imme­di­ate­ly got to expe­ri­ence what a great learn­ing cul­ture can be all about  from key insights in entre­pre­neur­ship to how to make cre­ative videos and writ­ing for the web. The urge for con­stant learn­ing is both fun and stim­u­lat­ing  and I appre­ci­ate Alvaro’s sug­ges­tion to write this post.
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Brain Fitness news.

A cou­ple of good recent arti­cles:

(You can join our month­ly newslet­ter by sub­scrib­ing at the top of this page).

Brain Games will give adults all the chal­lenge they can han­dle

Bal­ti­more Sun, MD. Mar 22, 2007.The reporter pro­vides a great sur­vey of prod­ucts. The only parts I find miss­ing are:

1) what spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive skill/s is/are being trained by each prod­uct? if we under­stand that the brain has a vari­ety of struc­tur­al and func­tion­al areas, it becomes evi­dent that dif­fer­ent pro­grams may be train­ing dif­fer­ent “men­tal mus­cles”.

2) How does each pro­gram enable the user mea­sure progress in an objec­tive way? I’d say this is the main dif­fer­ence between “games” and brain fit­ness pro­grams. If you have a wild­ly dif­fer­ent brain age every­time you try…that so-called brain age is not very cred­i­ble.

Does brain exer­cise fight demen­tia?
Min­neapo­lis Star Tri­bune (sub­scrip­tion), MN. Mar 18, 2007.As the arti­cle men­tions, no pro­gram can claim to “pre­vent Alzheimer’s”. And I haven’t seen Posit Sci­ence (or us) claim such a thing, or imply it. But what can be claimed is mean­ing­ful: Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Health and Alzheimer’s disease

Healthy SeniorHere is ques­tion 14 of 25 from Brain Fit­ness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Ques­tions. To down­load the com­plete ver­sion, please click here.

Ques­tion:
Does a brain fit­ness pro­gram pre­vent Alzheimer’s dis­ease and oth­er forms of demen­tia?

Key Points:

  • Stud­ies have shown men­tal­ly active peo­ple have low­er rates and lat­er onset of symp­toms for Alzheimer’s dis­ease and oth­er forms of demen­tia. These dis­eases involve a num­ber of vari­ables like fam­i­ly his­to­ry, phys­i­cal fit­ness, nutri­tion, and brain fit­ness.
  • Peo­ple who remain intel­lec­tu­al­ly active and engage in hob­bies reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s dis­ease by one third.

Answer:
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