Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Musical training as mental exercise for cognitive performance

We often hear (glad­ly!) how teach­ers use our blog arti­cles and brain teasers in their class­es. We also hear how many psy­chol­o­gy and biol­o­gy teach­ers are get­ting their stu­dents excit­ed about brain research, and, to con­tribute to their efforts, we like to rec­og­nize some great ini­tia­tives.

Last year, Jef­frey Gonce, a Psy­chol­o­gy teacher at Red Land High School (West Shore School Dis­trict, PA) asked his stu­dents to “com­plete a project describ­ing a recent brain (or genet­ic) study that affects behav­ior.” The stu­dents could opt to post their arti­cles online, and Jef­frey was kind enough to send us a link to read the results. We enjoyed read­ing them all, and pub­lished in our blog this beau­ti­ful essay, titled “Tis bet­ter to give than receive”, writ­ten by Alexan­dra, which Piano musical training was sub­se­quent­ly includ­ed in a num­ber of neu­ro­science an psy­chol­o­gy blogs.

This year, Jef­frey also sent us his stu­dents’ essays, and we are going to rec­og­nize and pub­lish this great essay by high school stu­dent Megan. Enjoy!

It has long been the source of sci­en­tif­ic debate as to whether music can improve the cog­ni­tive process­es in chil­dren. Referred to by some as “The Mozart Effect,” a strong Read the rest of this entry »

Mild cognitive impairment and Memory Problems: exciting new research

Very quick post: just want to alert you of 2 news pieces on MCI and Alzheimer’s pre­ven­tion-relat­ed research.

Fre­quent Brain Stim­u­la­tion In Old Age Reduces Risk Of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease

  • The study found a cog­ni­tive­ly active per­son in old age was 2.6 times less like­ly to devel­op demen­tia and Alzheimer’s dis­ease than a cog­ni­tive­ly inac­tive per­son in old age. This asso­ci­a­tion remained after con­trol­ling for past cog­ni­tive activ­i­ty, life­time socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus, and cur­rent social and phys­i­cal activ­i­ty.”
  • Wil­son says the study also found fre­quent cog­ni­tive activ­i­ty dur­ing old age, such as vis­it­ing a library or attend­ing a play, was asso­ci­at­ed with reduced risk of mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment, a tran­si­tion­al stage between nor­mal aging and demen­tia, and less rapid decline in cog­ni­tive func­tion.”

Stress Linked to Mem­o­ry Decline

  • If you want your mind to stay healthy into your gold­en years, don’t wor­ry, be hap­py. That could be the mes­sage of new research that shows those prone to wor­ry, anx­i­ety or depres­sion are more like­ly to devel­op mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment (MCI), a con­di­tion often con­sid­ered a pre­cur­sor to the more-debil­i­tat­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease.”
  • MCI is now rec­og­nized as a very ear­ly sign of incip­i­ent Alzheimer’s dis­ease,” said Robert S. Wil­son, lead author of the study and a neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Dis­ease Cen­ter in Chica­go. “We found that among healthy elder­ly peo­ple with­out evi­dence of cog­ni­tive dys­func­tion at the begin­ning of the study, chron­ic dis­tress pre­dict­ed the devel­op­ment of MCI.”
  • This is con­sis­tent with 20 years of lit­er­a­ture on the sub­ject,” added Dr. Sam Gandy, chair­man of the Alzheimer’s Association’s med­ical and sci­en­tif­ic advi­so­ry coun­cil and direc­tor of the Far­ber Insti­tute for Neu­ro­sciences at Thomas Jef­fer­son Uni­ver­si­ty in Philadel­phia.”

What to do? well, you can check out these Easy Steps to Improve Your Brain Health Now. And check this nice arti­cle on New men­tal exer­cis­es, games can keep aging minds fit.

Bill Clinton on health care and wellness

We read a good arti­cle on med­ical salaries recent­ly, and are hap­py to see an increased empha­sis pre­ven­tion and well­ness rather than on sick­ness.

Along these lines, we were for­tu­nate to attend Heal­thetc yes­ter­day, a day-long health event in San Fran­cis­co co-orga­nized by KCBS and CPMC that had Bill Clin­ton as keynote speak­er. You can read an arti­cle on his great inter­ven­tion here.

Some of the speech high­lights:

1) Clinton’s great overview of key data:

  • 16 vs 10–11: % GDP spent on health care in the US vs. oth­er indus­tri­al­ized coun­tries. This per­cent­age dif­fer­ence equals around $800 bil­lion annu­al­ly
  • 84 vs 100: % pop­u­la­tion with some form of health insur­ance in the US vs. oth­er coun­tries
  • 34 and 37: rank­ing of the US sys­tem as mea­sured by health out­comes and life expectan­cy, respec­tive­ly
  • 34 vs 19: % health care costs spent on admin­is­tra­tion in the US vs. oth­er coun­tries

2) He out­lined the 3 main prob­lems with US Health­care as fol­lows-and empathized that any seri­ous, long-term solu­tion needs to Read the rest of this entry »

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