Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Lee Woodruff: the Bob Woodruff Foundation, and You, can help Traumatic Brain Injury survivors

You have may have seen a few weeks ago the inter­view between for­mer US pres­i­den­tial con­tender John Edwards and reporter Bob Woodruff. All the result­ing media cov­er­age cen­tered on Edwards’ dec­la­ra­tions. How­ev­er, there is some­thing much more remark­able that sur­faced at that inter­view: Bob Woodruff’s spec­tac­u­lar recov­ery.

This is the same reporter who suf­fered a severe trau­mat­ic brain injury when a road­side In an Instant - Bob and Lee Woodruffbomb det­o­nat­ed next to his vehi­cle in Jan­u­ary 29th 2006 as he was cov­er­ing news devel­op­ments in Iraq.

Today we are for­tu­nate to inter­view Lee Woodruff, Bob’s wife and pil­lar through­out his recov­ery. Lee and Bob co-wrote the fan­tas­tic book In an Instant: A Family’s Jour­ney of Love and Heal­ing.

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez: Lee, many thanks for your time. I was amazed read­ing your book, where you share your jour­ney, and then watch­ing Bob inter­view John Edwards, the best dis­play I can imag­ine of his recov­ery. Can you please sum­ma­rize for us what Bob -and you- went through since Jan­u­ary 2006?

Lee Woodruff: As you know, Bob suf­fered a life-threat­en­ing trau­mat­ic brain injury in Iraq. He was prompt­ly tak­en under mil­i­tary care and under­went a series of surg­eries for head injuries, with a joint Army & Air Force neu­ro­sur­gi­cal team in Iraq, in a US Army Med­ical Com­mand hos­pi­tal in Ger­many, and at Bethes­da Naval Hos­pi­tal, back here in the US.

Dur­ing this time, span­ning around 4 months, he spent 37 days in coma, and his skull had to be sur­gi­cal­ly rebuilt. The cog­ni­tive reha­bil­i­ta­tion process start­ed then, at a med­ical facil­i­ty clos­er home.

Can you please explain what kind of cog­ni­tive rehab Bob has gone though-both in a for­mal way, with a ther­a­pist, and infor­mal­ly, on his own?

The first thing I’d like to say is that rehab is a long process. Doc­tors told me that Bob, despite the sever­i­ty of his injuries, had bet­ter chances to recov­er than oth­er vic­tims, because of the reserve of neu­rons and con­nec­tions he had built thanks to Read the rest of this entry »

Stress Management as Key Factor For Cognitive Fitness, and More News

Brain Health NewsA roundup of sev­er­al excel­lent arti­cles this week:

Keep­ing Your Brain Fit (US News and World Report)

- “In a study of more than 2,800 peo­ple ages 65 or old­er, Har­vard researchers found that those with at least five social ties—church groups, social groups, reg­u­lar vis­its, or phone calls with fam­i­ly and friends—were less like­ly to suf­fer cog­ni­tive decline than those with no social ties.”

- “The work­ing hypoth­e­sis is that it has some­thing to do with stress man­age­ment,” says Mar­i­lyn Albert, a neu­ro­sci­en­tist at Johns Hop­kins and codi­rec­tor of the Alzheimer’s research cen­ter there. In ani­mal stud­ies, a pro­longed ele­va­tion in stress hor­mones dam­ages the hip­pocam­pus. Social engage­ment appears to boost people’s sense of con­trol, which affects their stress lev­el. Cre­ative arts seem to be a high­ly promis­ing way to increase social engage­ment. George Wash­ing­ton University’s Cohen has found that elder­ly peo­ple who joined choirs also stepped up their oth­er activ­i­ties dur­ing a 12-month peri­od, while a non­sing­ing con­trol group dropped out of some activ­i­ties. The singers also report­ed few­er health prob­lems, while the con­trol group report­ed an increase.”

We Nev­er For­get Any­thing (Any­more) (Pre­ven­tion Mag­a­zine)

- “Pro­cess­ing new infor­ma­tion when we’re anx­ious is tough; the stress itself is a dis­trac­tion. Fer­nan­dez taught Lau­rie this relax­ation trick: Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Training: the Art and the emerging Science

Tom alerts us (thanks!) of a fun book review in the New York Times today, by Abi­gail Zuger, titled The Brain: Mal­leable, Capa­ble, Vul­ner­a­ble, on the book The Brain That Changes Itself (Viking, $24.95) by psy­chi­a­trist Nor­man Doidge. Some quotes:

  • In book­stores, the sci­ence aisle gen­er­al­ly lies well away from the self-help sec­tion, with hard real­i­ty on one set of shelves and wish­ful think­ing on the oth­er. But Nor­man Doidge’s fas­ci­nat­ing syn­op­sis of the cur­rent rev­o­lu­tion in neu­ro­science strad­dles this gap: the age-old dis­tinc­tion between the brain and the mind is crum­bling fast as the pow­er of pos­i­tive think­ing final­ly gains sci­en­tif­ic cred­i­bil­i­ty.”
  • So it is for­giv­able that Dr. Doidge, a Cana­di­an psy­chi­a­trist and award-win­ning sci­ence writer, recounts the accom­plish­ments of the “neu­ro­plas­ti­cians,”  as he calls the neu­ro­sci­en­tists involved in these new stud­ies, with breath­less rev­er­ence. Their work is indeed mind-bend­ing, mir­a­cle-mak­ing, real­i­ty-bust­ing stuff, with impli­ca­tions, as Dr. Doidge notes, not only for indi­vid­ual patients with neu­ro­log­ic dis­ease but for all human beings, not to men­tion human cul­ture, human learn­ing and human his­to­ry.”
  • Research into the mal­leabil­i­ty of the nor­mal brain has been no less amaz­ing. Sub­jects who learn to play a sequence of notes on the piano devel­op char­ac­ter­is­tic changes in the brain’s elec­tric activ­i­ty; when oth­er sub­jects sit in front of a piano and just think about play­ing the same notes, the same changes occur. It is the vir­tu­al made real, a sol­id quan­tifi­ca­tion of the pow­er of thought.”
  • The new sci­ence of the brain may still be in its infan­cy, but already, as Dr. Doidge makes quite clear, the sci­en­tif­ic minds are leap­ing ahead.”

Here you have some of our inter­views with a few “sci­en­tif­ic minds” that have, for years, been “leap­ing ahead” beyond “pos­i­tive think­ing” into “pos­i­tive train­ing”:

And a cou­ple of relat­ed blog posts:

Books on neuroplasticity and memory training

Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty: the brain’s abil­i­ty to reor­ga­nize itself by form­ing new con­nec­tions through­out life. (see more con­cepts in our Glos­sary).

We coudn’t be hap­pi­er about the grow­ing num­ber of books pop­u­lar­iz­ing the key lessons about brain train­ing that Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg has been research­ing and writ­ing about for years, and that moti­vat­ed us to embark our­selves in the Sharp­Brains adven­ture.

Dis­cov­er Mag­a­zine presents a great arti­cle, Rewiring the Brain, review­ing two recent books.

  • The sub­ti­tle is “Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty can allow for treat­ment of senil­i­ty, post-trau­mat­ic stress, ­obses­sive-com­pul­sive dis­or­der, and depres­sion and Bud­dhists have been cap­i­tal­iz­ing on it for mil­lenia.” I would add that the strong val­ue of life­long learn­ing present in jesuit and jew­ish tra­di­tions reflects the same wis­dom. Some quotes:
  • Two new books, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (Bal­lan­tine Books, $24.95) by sci­ence jour­nal­ist Sharon Beg­ley and The Brain That Changes Itself (Viking, $24.95) by psy­chi­a­trist Nor­man Doidge, offer mas­ter­ful­ly guid­ed tours through the bur­geon­ing field of neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty research. Each has its own style and empha­sis; both are excel­lent.”
  • Final­ly, both authors con­clude that adult neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty is a vast­ly under­tapped resource, one with which West­ern med­i­cine and psy­chol­o­gy are just now com­ing to grips. An impor­tant emerg­ing research agen­da is to Read the rest of this entry »

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

Follow us and Engage via…

twitter_logo_header
RSS Feed

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.