Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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June Update: High-Quality Summer Brain Reading

Let’s explore some  high-qual­i­ty new resources, announce­ments and stud­ies in this June edi­tion of the month­ly Sharp­Brains eNewslet­ter. The field is clear­ly on the move!

Por­traits of the Mind: Sev­er­al sharp brains (Rick, Karen, John, thanks!) strong­ly rec­om­mend the recent book  “Por­traits of the Mind: Visu­al­iz­ing the Brain from Antiq­uity to the 21st Cen­tury” (which includes the image on the left) as great read­ing and as a beau­ti­ful cof­fee table book.

Pro­mot­ing Healthy, Mean­ing­ful Aging Through Social Involve­ment: The cur­rent issue of Cere­brum includes the excel­lent in-depth arti­cle on the val­ue of vol­un­teer­ing pro­gram Expe­ri­ence Corps to pro­mote healthy and mean­ing­ful aging through social involve­ment.

Work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing can improve flu­id intel­li­gence: Final­ly, a pow­er­ful voice of com­mon sense. A new sci­en­tif­ic study con­cludes that “cog­ni­tive train­ing can be effec­tive and long-last­ing, but there are lim­it­ing fac­tors that must be con­sid­ered to eval­u­ate the effects of this train­ing, one of which is indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences in train­ing per­for­mance. We pro­pose that future research should not inves­ti­gate whether cog­ni­tive train­ing works, but rather should deter­mine what train­ing reg­i­mens and what train­ing con­di­tions result in the best trans­fer effects, inves­ti­gate the under­ly­ing neur­al and cog­ni­tive mech­a­nisms, and final­ly, inves­ti­gate for whom cog­ni­tive train­ing is most use­ful.”

Lumos Labs rais­es $32.5m: Lumos Labs, the com­pany behind lumosity.com, has just raised the sin­gle largest amount of fund­ing in the space.

Devel­op­ing a Research Agen­da for Seri­ous Games: The recent trade book Com­puter Games and Instruc­tion brings togeth­er the lead­ing edge per­spec­tives of over a dozen sci­en­tists in the area of videogames and learn­ing, includ­ing this very insight­ful analy­sis by Harvard’s Chris Dede.

In the News: Brief arti­cles in the New York Times and a very pow­er­ful analy­sis in The New York Review of Books pro­vide use­ful clues about Brain Cal­is­then­ics, Bilin­gual Brains, and Debunk­ing Myths on Men­tal Ill­ness.

Emerg­ing Mil­i­tary Appli­ca­tions: 2 recent announce­ments show, in a mil­i­tary con­text, inno­v­a­tive ways to enhance brain func­tion­ing and per­for­mance both to help “nor­mal” and “clin­i­cal” (post-TBI) pop­u­la­tions.

We hope you enjoyed this newslet­ter. Please do feel free to share this with friends and col­leagues via Face­book, Twit­ter and LinkedIn, and have a great week­end and month of July!

Serious Games: Developing a Research Agenda for Educational Games and Simulations

(Edi­tor’s Note: the recent trade book Com­put­er Games and Instruc­tion brings togeth­er the lead­ing edge per­spec­tives of over a dozen sci­en­tists in the area of videogames and learn­ing, includ­ing a very insight­ful analy­sis ‑excerpt­ed below- by Har­vard’s Chris Dede. Please pay atten­tion to his thoughts on scal­a­bil­i­ty below, and enjoy!)

The research overview pro­vid­ed by Tobias, Fletch­er, and Dai (this vol­ume) is very help­ful in sum­ma­riz­ing stud­ies to date on var­i­ous dimen­sions of edu­ca­tion­al games and sim­u­la­tions. The next chal­lenge for the field is to move beyond iso­lat­ed research in which each group of inves­ti­ga­tors uses an idio­syn­crat­ic set of def­i­n­i­tions, con­cep­tu­al frame­works, and meth­ods. Instead, to make fur­ther progress, we as schol­ars should adopt com­mon research strate­gies and models—not only to ensure a high­er stan­dard of rig­or, but also to enable stud­ies that com­ple­ment each oth­er in what they explore.   Read the rest of this entry »

Debunking 10 Cognitive Health and Fitness Myths

As part of the research behind the book The Sharp­Brains Guide for Brain Fit­ness we inter­viewed dozens of lead­ing cog­ni­tive health and fit­ness sci­en­tists and experts world­wide to learn about their research and thoughts, and have a num­ber of take-aways to report.

What Santiago Ramon y Cajal can we clear­ly say today that we could­n’t have said only 10 years ago? That what neu­ro­science pio­neer San­ti­a­go Ramon y Cajal claimed in the XX cen­tu­ry, “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculp­tor his own brain”, may well become real­i­ty in the XXI.

And trans­form Edu­ca­tion, Health, Train­ing, and Gam­ing in the process, since Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Teaser: Test your mental rotation skills

Are you famil­iar with men­tal rota­tion? It refers to mov­ing things around in your head. It is one of the numer­ous visu­ospa­tial skills that we all have.

Let’s take an exam­ple. Can you pic­ture in your head an arrow point­ing to the right? Now, turn this arrow so it points to the left. Done? You have just per­formed a men­tal rota­tion. Although it is rare to con­scious­ly imag­ine objects mov­ing, peo­ple auto­mat­i­cal­ly use this abil­ity when they read maps, use tools, play chess, arrange fur­ni­ture, dri­ve in traf­fic, etc.

Men­tal rota­tion relies most­ly on the pari­etal areas of your brain (yel­low sec­tion in the brain image above).

Here is a brain exer­cise to stim­u­late your men­tal rota­tion skills.

  • The top shape is your mod­el.
  • Among the 3 shapes below the mod­el, only one match­es the mod­el. To fig­ure out which one does you will prob­a­bly have to move the shapes around in your head.
  • Move the shapes from left to right or right to left but DO NOT FLIP them around.

First set

Sec­ond set

Third Set

To see the cor­rect answers click here: Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Innovation to Upgrade Brain Care

Here you have the July107px-gray1197thumbnail edi­tion of our month­ly eNewslet ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this free Brain Fit­ness eNewslet­ter by email, using the box in the right col­umn.

Tech­nol­o­gy to upgrade brain care: In this exten­sive inter­view, Dr. John Docher­ty helps con­nect the dots on why new frame­works and tools are a must to put recent brain research to good use. A must read for all pro­fes­sion­als in the field.

Research

Find­ings from NIH Expert Pan­el: The Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging asked Alvaro Fer­nan­dez to com­ment on the find­ings from a major cog­ni­tive health research review by the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health. Lifestyle still mat­ters, and pro­tec­tive fac­tors against cog­ni­tive decline are led by cog­ni­tive train­ing, phys­i­cal activ­i­ty and cog­ni­tive engage­ment.

Sci­en­tif­ic cri­tique of BBC brain train­ing exper­i­ment: Dr. Eliz­a­beth Zelin­s­ki shares her con­cerns about the April 2010 BBC study, which includ­ed sub­stan­tial and unex­plained dropout rates, and ques­tion­able out­come mea­sure­ment and inter­pre­ta­tion.

The val­ue of being bilin­gual and build­ing a Cog­ni­tive Reserve to pre­serve learn­ing and mem­o­ry even in the face of brain dam­age are explored in recent stud­ies.

San Fran­cis­co Bay Area study seeks par­tic­i­pants: The Gaz­za­ley Lab at UCSF is look­ing for par­tic­i­pants aged 20–59 to explore the impact of dis­trac­tion and mul­ti­task­ing on per­for­mance across the lifes­pan.


Inno­va­tion

What impressed Inno­va­tion Awards Judg­ing Pan­el: Get some insight into what most impressed the Judg­ing Pan­el about each Win­ner and Final­ist of the 2010 Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion Awards.

New — Sharp­Brains’ 2010 Mar­ket Report:  Sharp­Brains’ flag­ship, 207-page, third annu­al mar­ket report finds con­tin­ued growth for dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to assess, enhance and treat cog­ni­tion.

To man­age brain fit­ness through life, we need to put puz­zle pieces togeth­er: inno­v­a­tive tools to help us bet­ter mon­i­tor our cog­ni­tive health and take informed action are bad­ly needed.…and already emerg­ing.

The inter­net will fry your brain. Sure: In his lat­est book, Nicholas Carr does a great job high­light­ing the impli­ca­tions of life­long neuro­plasticity, but picks the wrong ene­my.

Seri­ous Games”:  Can video games inspire peo­ple to per­form acts of altru­ism? Kyle Smith reports.

Teasers

Yahoo Opti­cal Illu­sions and teasers: Yahoo! has cre­at­ed an expand­ed sec­tion of illu­sions and teasers, and we were glad to con­tribute to it. Enjoy…and have a great sum­mer!

About SharpBrains

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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