Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring fascinating neuroscience findings and tips, combined with fun brain teasers.
#1. To celebrate this quite-challenging Thanksgiving, here are five fun brain teasers that readers have enjoyed the most this year so far. It is always good to learn more about (and appreciate) that most precious resource we all (yes, all) have up there! Five fun brain teasers to thank evolution for our human brains and minds
#2. Want more? Ready, Set, Go! A few brain teasers to flex those cognitive muscles
#3. “[Breathing techniques] are allowing you to consciously take control of your breathing so you can take control of your nervous system so you can take control of your anxiety” — James Nestor, author of Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. New book shares science and techniques to breathe better and promote calmness not anxiety
#4. Voice does matter…especially in areas of potential disagreement. To call, or to text, that is the (mental well-being) question
#5. Fascinating research + innovation event brought by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) and multiple partners. Save the Date: Promoting Brain Health for Life, December 15–16th, online.
#6. “This isn’t a battle between AI and doctors, it’s about how to optimize doctors’ ability to deliver better care” — P. Murali Doraiswamy, director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Program at Duke University. Next: Analyzing typing speed, speech and sleep patterns to identify cognitive decline, dementia, Parkinson’s, and more
#7. Google’s X team shares 3 valuable lessons learned from their ambitious and (for the time being) unsuccessful moonshot: Alphabet’s X shares Amber EEG system to expand the quest for mental health biomarkers
#8. “An exercise prescription is an important treatment option and a great adjunct to medications. The key is prescribing physical activity in a way that the patient will comply and remain engaged with.” Debate: How should doctors prescribe exercise to ensure compliance and engagement?
#9. As the study authors note, “The expansion of women into the labor force in the mid-20th century may have provided a new avenue of cognitive reserve for women via enhanced social stimulation and cognitive engagement.” Study: Work in adulthood seen to significantly delay memory decline after age 60, supporting the Cognitive Reserve theory
#10. “Throughout many subreddits, we found significant increases in the use of tokens related to isolation (eg, “lonely,” “can’t see anyone,” “quarantine”), economic stress (eg, “rent,” “debt,” “pay the bills”), and home (“fridge,” “pet,” “lease”), and a decrease in the lexicon related to motion (eg, “walk,” “visit,” “travel”).” Hopefully the promising vaccine news helps turn the tide; until then we need to promote mental health & resilience hard. Using Reddit as a population-level “mental health tracker” during the COVID pandemic
#11. “BCI devices can be non-invasive devices that users wear, or they can be invasive devices, which are surgically implanted,” says Veljko Dubljevi … “The invasive devices are more efficient, since they can read signals directly from the brain. However, they also raise more ethical concerns. For example, invasive BCI technologies carry more associated risks such as surgery, infection, and glial scarring — and invasive BCI devices would be more difficult to replace as technology improves.” Studies identify key ethical concerns raised by invasive and non-invasive neurotechnologies
#12. “(the app) uses the Watch’s sensors to track the heart rate and movement of users as they sleep. After establishing a baseline profile for the patient within one or two nights’ sleep, the machine learning algorithm spots heart rate or movement abnormalities presumably caused by a nightmare. The application then vibrates the smartwatch just enough to interrupt the wearer’s dreaming, but not enough to wake them up or disrupt their circadian sleep cycle.” FDA grants clearance for NightWare app designed to reduce PTSD-related nightmares
Wishing you a safe and healthy December,
Alvaro Fernandez and the SharpBrains Team