Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Great review of The SharpBrains Guide at Scientific American’s Beautiful Minds

beautiful-mindsReview of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can’s Beau­ti­ful Minds blog):

In the high­ly sal­able field of “brain fit­ness,” there is an awful lot of hype. How can con­sumers pos­si­bly sort the sci­ence from the pseu­do-sci­ence? Thank­ful­ly, there are resources such as The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness…this guide helps the every­day read­er come to a basic under­stand­ing of brain func­tion­ing and the lifestyle changes that mat­ter the most for keep­ing the brain in tip top shape…There are so many gems in this book, but I thought I’d high­light ten that par­tic­u­lar­ly caught my atten­tion:” Keep read­ing book review by Scott Bar­ry Kauf­man

Take that Nap! It May Boost Your Learning Capacity Among Other Good Things.

Any­one who knows me knows that my favorite pas­time is nap­ping. In Col­lege, I would come back to my dorm room, and like clock­work, would take a nap. My best friend in Eng­land, who got quite a kick out of my pas­sion for nap­ping, once tried to per­suade me to drink a cup of tea after lunch instead of tak­ing my cus­tom­ary nap. I real­ly tried, but I soon gave in to my nap crav­ings. Some­times I feel like I real­ly need to re-charge my brain bat­ter­ies.

Well, now sci­ence is on my side. I just love this new study, which was pre­sent­ed by Matthew Walk­er, assis­tant pro­fes­sor at UC Berke­ley, at the annu­al meet­ing of the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of the Advance­ment of Sci­ence (AAAS) con­fer­ence in San Diego this past Sun­day (Feb. 2010).

Walk­er and his col­leagues Bryce A. Man­der and Sangeetha San­thanam split up a batch of 39 healthy young adults into two groups. One group napped, the oth­er did not.

At noon, both groups took a learn­ing task thought to recruit the hip­pocam­pus. The hip­pocam­pus is a region of the brain known to play an impor­tant role in the for­ma­tion of new mem­o­ries. Over the past few years, var­i­ous researchers have found that fact-based mem­o­ries are tem­porar­i­ly stored in the hip­pocam­pus before oth­er regions of the brain can oper­ate on the con­tent, espe­cial­ly the regions of the brain respon­si­ble for high­er-order rea­son­ing and think­ing.  At this point in the exper­i­ment, both groups showed sim­i­lar lev­els of per­for­mance.

Then, at 2pm, the nap group took a 90-minute nap while the no-nap group stayed awake, pre­sum­ably watch­ing the nap group enjoy­ing their nap. After nap-time both groups then took more learn­ing tests. The nap­pers did bet­ter on the tasks than those who stayed awake, demon­strat­ing their high­er capac­i­ty to learn. Read the rest of this entry »

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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