Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Towards a Healthy Living & Cognitive Health Agenda

Here you have the Novem­ber edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, sim­ply by brain fitness and health newslettersub­mit­ting your email at the top of this page.

Thank you for your inter­est, atten­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tion in our Sharp­Brains com­mu­ni­ty. As always, we appre­ci­ate your com­ments and sug­ges­tions.

Sum­mit of the Glob­al Agen­da

How can we per­suade busi­ness lead­ers, pol­i­cy-mak­ers and researchers of the urgency to devel­op and pro­mote an inte­grat­ed “Healthy Liv­ing” agen­da focused on main­tain­ing life­long phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive health, vs. the usu­al mind­set focused on deal­ing with spe­cif­ic dis­eases and prob­lems once they arise?

In The Future of the Aging Soci­ety: Bur­den or Human Cap­i­tal?, I sum­ma­rize some of the key themes dis­cussed at the World Eco­nom­ic Forum event in Dubai on Novem­ber 7–9th. The world is aging — and in health­i­er ways. But our health­care and retire­ment sys­tems are on track to go bank­rupt — their premis­es are out­dat­ed. The cur­rent dis­ease-based research agen­da com­pounds the prob­lem. Solu­tions? 1) Pro­mote Healthy Lifestyles that help Main­tain Phys­i­cal and Cog­ni­tive Func­tion­al Abil­i­ties, 2) Redesign Envi­ron­ments to Fos­ter Health, Engage­ment and Finan­cial Secu­ri­ty, 3) Devel­op an Inte­grat­ed Healthy Liv­ing & Aging Research Agen­da. Specif­i­cal­ly, we could work with the UN and Glob­al 2000 com­pa­nies to move for­ward a new agen­da.

Plan­et Earth 2.0: A New Oper­at­ing Sys­tem: Imag­ine see­ing a top sheik in Dubai, wrapped in tra­di­tion­al Arab cloth­ing, exclaim “Yes We Can (a la Oba­ma) in front of the 800 glob­al experts, adding that “we build the future with our own hands. Some of the atten­dants of the World Eco­nom­ic Forum’s Sum­mit of the Glob­al Agen­da urged us to “reboot” the sys­tem. More than a “reboot”, we may have to upgrade to a new glob­al “Yes We Can” oper­at­ing sys­tem.

Brain Fit­ness Research

Train­ing Atten­tion and Emo­tion­al Self-Reg­u­la­tion: Dr. Michael Pos­ner, a promi­nent  cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tist and first recip­i­ent of the Dogan Prize, grants us a fas­ci­nat­ing inter­view on what atten­tion, self-reg­u­la­tion, and effort­ful con­trol are, and how to improve them using soft­ware, med­i­ta­tion, and par­ent­ing. In his words, “we have found no ceil­ing for abil­i­ties such as atten­tion, includ­ing among adults. The more train­ing (…) the high­er the results.”

Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and the Brain That Changes Itself: Lau­rie Bar­tels reviews the excel­lent book by Nor­man Doidge, explain­ing that “the neu­ro­science behind Doidge’s book involves neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty, which is the brain’s abil­i­ty to rewire itself. This means that the brain  is our intel­li­gence,  is not some­thing fixed in con­crete but rather a chang­ing, learn­ing enti­ty.”

Can We Pick Your Brain re: Cog­ni­tive Assess­ments?: In our view, a crit­i­cal com­po­nent in the matu­ri­ty of the brain fit­ness mar­ket will be the avail­abil­i­ty of inex­pen­sive, valid and reli­able objec­tive cog­ni­tive assess­ments,  to help mea­sure how our brain func­tions change over time and iden­ti­fy pri­or­i­ties for tar­get­ed improve­ments. Dr. Joshua Stein­er­man asks if you would be up for them?

Use It (Prop­er­ly) or Lose It

Mem­o­ry Prob­lems? Per­haps you are Mul­ti-task­ing: Dr. Bill Klemm tells us that “Mul­ti-task­ing vio­lates every­thing we know about how mem­o­ry works.” He explains that “(mul­ti-task­ing) prob­a­bly does make learn­ing less tedious, but it clear­ly makes learn­ing less effi­cient and less effec­tive.”

Phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise to pre­vent cog­ni­tive decline: The Amer­i­can Med­ical News, a week­ly news­pa­per for physi­cians pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion, just pub­lished an excel­lent arti­cle on the impor­tance of phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise. We are very hap­py to see efforts like these to train physi­cians and health pro­fes­sion­als in gen­er­al,  giv­en that most of them were trained under a very dif­fer­ent under­stand­ing of the brain than the one we have today.

Brain Fit­ness 2: Sight & Sound: PBS recent­ly announced the sec­ond install­ment of their pop­u­lar Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram show, to start air­ing soon.

MetaCar­ni­val #1: a con­ver­sa­tion across the blo­gos­phere: We often insist on “Nov­el­ty, Vari­ety and Chal­lenge” as key ingre­di­ents for good “brain exer­cise”. There are many ways to mix those ingre­di­ents — you may enjoy this one, the first inter­dis­ci­pli­nary gath­er­ing of blogs and blog car­ni­vals cov­er­ing health, sci­ence, anthro­pol­o­gy, gen­er­al advice and more.

Brain Teasers

Top 15 Brain Teasers and Games for Men­tal Exer­cise: Over the last 2 years we have pub­lished close to 100 puz­zles, teasers, rid­dles, and every kind of men­tal exer­cise (with­out count­ing our in-depth inter­views with top neu­ro­sci­en­tists). Which ones have proven most stim­u­lat­ing for you. Let us know. Here is a selec­tion of our Top 15 teasers.

Final Details

That’s all for now. Next month, we will be offer­ing anoth­er great selec­tion of arti­cles: Dr. Andrew New­berg will dis­cuss the brain val­ue of med­i­ta­tion,  Dr. David Rabin­er will review a recent study on how neu­ro­feed­back may assist in the diag­nos­tic of atten­tion deficits, and much more.

Please share this newslet­ter with your friends and col­leagues if you haven’t done so already.

Have a Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing!

Brain Fitness 2: Sight & Sound, at PBS

PBS recent­ly announced the sec­ond install­ment of their pop­u­lar Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram show, and released this trail­er via YouTube:

Watch: Brain Fit­ness 2: Sight & Sound (2:30)

Descrip­tion: Join host Peter Coy­ote in “Brain Fit­ness 2: Sight & Sound,” the fol­low-up to “The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram,” as he explores the brain’s abil­i­ty to change and grow, even as we age, help­ing us main­tain and improve our vision and hear­ing.

Brain Fit­ness 2: Sight & Sound” is a spe­cial in-depth look at the advances in neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and how it relates to healthy aging, with a par­tic­u­lar focus on mak­ing the most of infor­ma­tion fil­tered through our eyes and ears. Check your local list­ings to catch it, begin­ning in Decem­ber 2008. Your brain will thank you. Help PBS con­tin­ue to offer all Amer­i­cans; from every walk of life; the oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore new ideas and new worlds through tele­vi­sion and online con­tent. To donate, please vis­it http://www.pbs.org/support

Sched­ule: You can check the sched­ule for the pro­gram by city Here.

And Here you have some infor­ma­tion on the first show Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Blogs and Michael Merzenich

Two quick notes:

- Encephalon #56 edi­tion: the lat­est edi­tion of this neu­ro­science and psy­chol­o­gy blog car­ni­val is ready for your read­ing plea­sure.
- Michael Merzenich Elect­ed to Insti­tute of Med­i­cine: Con­grat­u­la­tions! “The Insti­tute of Medicine’s total active mem­ber­ship is now 1,576 and the num­ber of for­eign asso­ciates is 89. With anoth­er 71 mem­bers hold­ing emer­i­tus sta­tus, IOM’s total mem­ber­ship is now 1,736. Estab­lished in 1970 by the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences, the Insti­tute of Med­i­cine is a nation­al resource for inde­pen­dent, sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly informed analy­sis and rec­om­men­da­tions on issues relat­ed to human health. With their elec­tion, mem­bers make a com­mit­ment to devote a sig­nif­i­cant amount of vol­un­teer time as mem­bers of IOM study com­mit­tees.”
You may have seen him talk­ing about neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty in the PBS spe­cial titled Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram.

Update: The Future of Brain Assessments

Here you are have the twice-a-month newslet­ter with our most pop­u­lar blog posts. Please brainremem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, sim­ply by sub­mit­ting your email at the top of this page.

News and Analy­sis

Com­put­er­ized Cog­ni­tive Assess­ments: oppor­tu­ni­ties and con­cerns: health com­pa­nies and the mil­i­tary are start­ing to use new tools to assess brain func­tions in con­texts that nei­ther neu­roimag­ing nor tra­di­tion­al neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal test­ing can reach. This is a crit­i­cal piece of the brain fit­ness puz­zle that is worth keep­ing track of, full of oppor­tu­ni­ties, but also pri­va­cy con­cerns.

Cog­ni­tive Health News Roundup: recent news cov­er­ing stud­ies on men­tal train­ing and DNA, on nutri­tion and the brain, and more. Read the rest of this entry »

PBS: Secret Life of the Brain and Neuroplasticity

Thanks to our 3‑month-old daugh­ter, my wife and I have been learn­ing much about baby brains. Most­ly learn­ing on the job, as you can imag­ine.

We just watched a very nice PBS series titled Secret Life of the Brain that cov­ers brain devel­op­ment across the lifes­pan: babies, kids, teenagers, adults, seniors. A bit dat­ed (2002) but excel­lent watch­ing even today.

Read the rest of this entry »

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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