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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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On the perceived memory, cognitive benefits of playing casual video games

Bejeweled BlitzPsy­chol­o­gists Find the Per­ceived Ben­e­fits of Casu­al Video Games Among Adults (press release):

New research from psy­chol­o­gists at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mass­a­chu­setts Amherst finds that while a major­i­ty of adults cite the abil­i­ty to com­pete with friends as their pri­ma­ry rea­son for play­ing online casu­al video games, they report dif­fer­ing per­ceived ben­e­fits from play­ing Read the rest of this entry »

Test your Reaction Time

Reac­tion time is the time it takes to react to some­thing. It can be con­sid­ered as an index of your speed of pro­cess­ing: It shows how fast you can exe­cute the men­tal oper­a­tions need­ed by the task at hand.

Reac­tion Time is a basic mea­sure used in many psy­chol­o­gy stud­ies. Par­tic­i­pant are most often asked to push a but­ton when done with the task, which can be as var­ied as detect­ing an object, mem­o­riz­ing a word, or iden­ti­fy­ing an emo­tion. As brain pro­cess­ing is quite fast, reac­tion times are usu­al­ly mea­sured in mil­lisec­onds (a thou­sandth (1/1000) of a sec­ond).

What is your aver­age Reac­tion Time? Ready to try? Click here to start. Fun twist: Try before and after your Christ­mas din­ner!

Mer­ry Christ­mas from the Sharp­Brains Team

Physical and mental exercise to prevent cognitive decline

We offered some Brain Fit­ness Pre­dic­tions in our Mar­ket Report , includ­ing…

7. Doc­tors and phar­ma­cists will help patients nav­i­gate through the over­whelm­ing range of avail­able prod­ucts and inter­pret the results of cog­ni­tive assess­ments. This will require sig­nif­i­cant pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment efforts, giv­en that most doc­tors today were trained under a very dif­fer­ent under­stand­ing of the brain than the one we have today.”

The Amer­i­can Med­ical News, a week­ly news­pa­per for physi­cians pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion, just pub­lished an excel­lent arti­cle along those lines:

Steps to a nim­ble mind: Phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise help keep the brain fit
— Neu­ro­science is uncov­er­ing tech­niques to pre­vent cog­ni­tive decline.

A few quotes:

- It’s an exam­ple that high­lights a wave of new think­ing about the impor­tance of brain fit­ness.

- Until recent­ly, con­ven­tion­al wis­dom held that our brains were intractable, hard-wired com­put­ers. What we were born with was all we got. Age wore down mem­o­ry and the abil­i­ty to under­stand, and few inter­ven­tions could reverse this process. But increas­ing­ly, evi­dence sug­gests that phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise can alter spe­cif­ic brain regions, mak­ing rad­i­cal improve­ments in cog­ni­tive func­tion.

- With near­ly 72 mil­lion Amer­i­cans turn­ing 65 over the next two decades, physi­cians need the tools to han­dle grow­ing patient con­cerns about how to best main­tain brain health. Armed with this new brand of sci­ence, front­line physi­cians will be bet­ter equipped to address the needs of aging baby boomers, already in the throes of the brain fit­ness rev­o­lu­tion.

- “Encour­age them to exer­cise the brain in nov­el and com­plex ways,” he says.

Full arti­cle: here

One of the physi­cians quot­ed in the arti­cle is Gary J. Kennedy, MD, Direc­tor of the Divi­sion of Geri­atric Psy­chi­a­try at Mon­te­fiore Med­ical Cen­ter in NYC and a pro­fes­sor in the Dept. of Psy­chi­a­try and Behav­ioral Sci­ences at Albert Ein­stein Col­lege of Med­i­cine.

To put the AMA arti­cle in bet­ter per­spec­tive for Sharp­Brains read­ers, we asked Dr. Kennedy a few fol­low-up ques­tions. Below you have his ques­tions.

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez (AF): Can you sum­ma­rize how cog­ni­tive func­tions tend to evolve as we age?

Gary Kennedy (GK): As we age cog­ni­tive func­tions that rely on Read the rest of this entry »

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