Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: Let’s move, slow down, innovate, think and play

You have heard that phys­i­cal exer­cise is good for the brain. How much exer­cise are we talk­ing about? Can the ben­e­fits be seen both for chil­dren and adults? In Fit­ter bod­ies = fit­ter brains. True at all ages? Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon answers these ques­tions for you, based on lat­est sci­en­tif­ic stud­ies.

We need fun ways to get out the couch more and exer­cise both phys­i­cal­ly and cog­ni­tive­ly. What about set­ting up com­mu­ni­ty-based adult play­grounds, such as this one in Bei­jing?

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New Brain Health Series

Peo­ple of all ages read SharpBrains.com and this month­ly update, so we are prepar­ing a series of arti­cles on Brain Health across the Lifes­pan. The series will include 4 parts:

  • The Child Brain, pub­lished in Novem­ber 2010
  • The Ado­les­cent Brain, in Decem­ber 2010
  • The Adult Brain, in Jan­u­ary 2011
  • The Aging Brain, in Feb­ru­ary 2011
  • Each part will include sur­pris­ing facts on how the brain works, debunk com­mons myths about cog­ni­tion and brain health, and link to resources such as books and doc­u­men­taries. If you want to read these arti­cles as we pub­lish them via SharpBrains.com, you can fol­low us in Face­book and Twit­ter. Tell your friends and col­leagues about the series!

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    Let’s Move

    Walk­ing increas­es Brain Vol­ume: A recent neu­ro-imag­ing study shows that walk­ing reg­u­larly can increase brain vol­ume and reduce the risks of devel­op­ing cog­ni­tive impair­ment.

    Move to anoth­er Coun­try, to anoth­er Occu­pa­tion: A cou­ple recent stud­ies rein­force the Cog­ni­tive Reserve frame­work that sug­gests we can pro­tect our brains by speak­ing more than one lan­guage and by not retir­ing ear­ly.

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    Let’s Slow Down

    Take that Nap — It May Boost Your Learn­ing Capac­i­ty: Scott Bar­ry Kauf­man tells us why sleep is good for the brain. It turns out that sleep is tied to a bet­ter immune sys­tem, meta­bolic con­trol, mem­ory, learn­ing, cre­ativ­i­ty and emo­tional func­tion­ing.

    Boost your Atten­tion with Med­i­ta­tion: Anoth­er way to slow down is to med­i­tate. Through sum­maries of stud­ies and an inter­view with Dr. New­berg, we dis­cuss how med­i­ta­tion can improve your con­cen­tra­tion skills.

    Train your Brain to Focus on Pos­i­tive Expe­ri­ences: In this arti­cle by the Greater Good Mag­a­zine, Rick Han­son explains the “neg­a­tiv­i­ty bias” of the brain and what steps we can take to rewire our brains for last­ing hap­pi­ness.

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    Let’s Innovate

    If much health care is actu­al­ly evi­dence-free, what type of evi­dence and tools do we need to make real-world progress?: build­ing on a recent OpEd by Peter Orszag, Alvaro Fer­nan­dez asks us to assess the val­ue and lim­i­ta­tions of inno­v­a­tive brain health tools based on how they seem to per­form com­pared to exist­ing alter­na­tives- not com­pared to Pla­ton­ic research ideals. This basic con­cept serves as the foun­da­tion of the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion.

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    Let’s Think

    Cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion helps Alzheimer’s patients: Anoth­er sci­en­tif­ic review shows that pro­grams focus­ing on glob­al cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease by 5 years. The authors con­clude that efforts to devel­op and imple­ment cog­ni­tive-based inter­ven­tion for the treat­ment of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease must be pur­sued.

    The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head: In his new book, Dr. Gary Small describes how the onset of brain health prob­lems may resem­ble a brain fog, mak­ing the role of the physi­cian and the care­giv­er par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant.

    Have you read The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg?: if so, please take 5 min­utes to answer this brief sur­vey. Your feed­back will ensure that future edi­tions are even more rel­e­vant and valu­able. If you haven’t read it yet, you can learn more and order here.

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    Let’s Play: Top 10 Illusions

    Are you ready to expe­ri­ence our selec­tion of Visu­al Illu­sions? See if you can trust your brain…enjoy these Top 10 Visu­al Illu­sions..

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    From Distress to De-Stress: helping anxious, worried kids (Part 2 of 2)

    Last week, in this article’s first part, we dis­cussed the impor­tance of actu­al­ly teach­ing chil­dren how to get them­selves into a phys­i­cal state of being relaxed, explored sev­er­al sug­ges­tions I hope you found use­ful.

    Let’s con­tin­ue.

    Teach­ers can help stu­dent over­come stress by teach­ing them to iden­ti­fy the imped­i­ments they might encounter in doing a cer­tain task.

    The teacher can ask:

    What’s going to get in the way of you doing this work?
    He or she may have to jump-start the stu­dents think­ing by sug­gest­ing such things as:
    — com­pet­ing events (fam­i­ly activ­i­ties, friends call, IM-ing, new video game, etc.)
    — lack of ade­quate place to study
    — inad­e­quate pri­or prepa­ra­tion or skills
    — a neg­a­tive atti­tude (this is not nec­es­sary, I can’t do math, I’ll nev­er need to know this, etc).
    — health fac­tors (I’m sick; I’m tired)

    Con­verse­ly, teach­ers have to teach stu­dents to iden­ti­fy the enhancers; What’s going to make it more like­ly that you will do this, and do this well?
    (exam­ples)
    — I have con­fi­dence in my abil­i­ty
    — I feel com­pe­tent in this skill
    — I am com­mit­ted to learn­ing this because: I have the nec­es­sary resources to com­plete this task, such as mate­ri­als, sources of infor­ma­tion, peo­ple sup­ports; par­ents, tutor, oth­er kids

    Teach­ers can turn dis­tress into de-stress by using the Lan­guage of Suc­cess

    The key is to de-empha­size PRAISE and empha­size SELF-APPRAISAL.

    Teach­ers can encour­age self-eval­u­a­tion by Read the rest of this entry »

    From Distress to De-Stress: helping anxious, worried kids (Part 1 of 2)

    Teach­ing kids how to relax.

    Con­sid­er this vignette:

    -Rox­anne: (agi­tat­ed and loud­ly) I can’t stand this freakin book!

    -Teacher: Rox­anne, you need to take it easy. Just calm down! Try to relax.You need to fin­ish your read­ing.

    -Rox­anne: (to her­self) Right easy for you to say, teacher. But very hard for me to do. What do you mean calm down? I feel like my head is going to explode.

    -Teacher: (see­ing no response) Well if you can’t set­tle down, maybe a trip to the office will help you!

    Some kids are so agi­tat­ed that even if they know how to relax, they can’t. If you think about it, calm­ing down when you’re upset is the hard­est time to do it! Oth­er kids can’t calm down or relax because they don’t know what that feels like. Teach­ers, occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pists, phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion teach­ers and par­ents need to actu­al­ly teach chil­dren (of all ages) how to get them­selves into a phys­i­cal state of being relaxed. This doesn’t hap­pen auto­mat­i­cal­ly. If it did, there wouldn’t be so many adult yoga class­es!

    Set­ting the men­tal and emo­tion­al stage for suc­cess.

    Teach­ers who want to reduce stress and increase learn­ing know that get­ting kids into a pos­i­tive mind­set will do both. They say Read the rest of this entry »

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