Early intervention for children with or at high risk for cerebral palsy should begin “as soon as possible” in order to build on “a critical developmental time,” according to results of a systematic review published in JAMA Pediatrics. [Read more…] about Systematic review calls for early targeted interventions to help babies and toddlers with cerebral palsy harness time window with maximum brain plasticity
Like many people over 60, I sometimes lose my keys or forget the names of favorite films. When I do, it makes me wonder: Is this the beginning of cognitive decline? Or, worse, am I fated to follow in the footsteps of my mother, who died of Lewy-body dementia in her 70s?
According to neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical correspondent and author of the new book Keep Sharp: Building a Better Brain at Any Age, the answer is no. Forgetfulness is normal at all ages, and your genes don’t doom you to dementia. What’s important is taking care of your brain in the best way possible, he argues.
“You can affect your brain’s thinking and memory far more than you realize or appreciate, and the vast majority of people haven’t even begun to try,” he writes.
Gupta distills results from hundreds of research studies to help readers understand what’s known (and not known) [Read more…] about New book outlines the five lifestyle pillars to “build a better brain at any age”
Disrupted routines and worries about coronavirus have made it harder for us to sleep this year. For example, reports suggest there was a 15% increase in prescriptions for sleep medication prescriptions at the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S., and a 37% increase in insomnia in China.
Importantly, if you’ve been feeling out of sorts over the past few months, the lack of sleep could be partly to blame. [Read more…] about Tip: To manage stress, sleep better. To sleep better, keep a good routine and manage stress.
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
UCLA on Tuesday said it is launching a three-year study to better understand how factors such as sleep, physical activity, heart rate and daily routines impact symptoms of depression and anxiety.
UCLA is working with Apple to design the study, which will use data collected by the iPhone, Apple Watch and Beddit sleep-tracker … involves 150 participants recruited from among UCLA Health patients. From there, the next phases of the research will expand out to 3,000 participants from both the hospital and the student body. Study participants will download an app onto their iPhones, then receive a Beddit sleep monitor and an Apple Watch, which they can use throughout the study.
Time for a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring this time 14 timely news and resources for mental health and brain health innovation.
First of all, let’s remain safe, healthy, and centered during the current health crisis by following these tips provided by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley:
1. Stay calm and focused
2. Pay attention to those doing the right thing
3. Show gratitude
4. Remember our common bonds
1) “Of course, all of these guidelines don’t supplant the importance of practicing good hygiene. We need to continue to frequently wash our hands and avoid touching our faces, so that we can lessen the chance of infecting ourselves and others. But we also should remember our mental hygiene—staying calm ourselves, being grateful especially to those doing the right thing, and remembering our common humanity. In this way, we can help to make the world safer for all of us.” Four tips to practice good mental hygiene during the coronavirus outbreak
2) “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
–Alexander Graham Bell
Thankfully, neurotech pioneer Tan Le outlines several areas where we can take a practical approach to address changes already underway and lay the groundwork for a more seamless transition to a new era. Fast Forward to 2040: How to prepare for the new era in brain enhancement that will change the way we think, work, and heal
3) Here’s a beautiful way to explore the anatomy of brain regions and brain functions. The Virtual Brain Web Atlas: How the Mind emerges from the Brain
4) “Before students decide to slip in their earbuds, though, they should carefully consider both their musical selection and the nature of the task” … because “We found that (1) music generally impaired complex task performance, (2) complex music facilitated simple task performance, and (3) preference for external stimulation moderated these effects. Therefore, the data suggest that music’s effects on task performance depend on the music, the task, and the performer” Does music facilitate or impair cognitive task performance? It depends…
5) Because learning cannot, must not, ever stop: Meet the Top 50 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize 2020
6) Any plans for the summer? Four ways hiking promotes cognitive and emotional health
7) Harnessing tech to promote social connectedness: Every Wednesday starting today we can join scientist/ entrepreneur Rana el Kaliouby online to discuss her new book! Virtual book tour to explore the frontier of Emotional Intelligence and Technology
8) On-field or off-field, training goes on: Sports teams find creative ways to cross-train the brain off-field
9) “You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Measure” hasn’t yet reached public health … but it will. To screen, or not to screen (for dementia), that is still the question
10) Summarizing a recent study, “children’s sleep should be evaluated as part of an ADHD evaluation as sleep difficulties are more common … addressing sleep issues in children with ADHD is a feasible and relatively low-cost approach that can be a valuable treatment component for many children.” Study: A brief sleep intervention can bring measurable and sustained benefits to children with ADHD
11) Some may and will disagree, but net net this offers a major opportunity to harness smartphone use data for good: Verily and LivaNova accelerate efforts to detect and treat depression
12) Potential big news in the neuromodulation market; coronavirus or not we all have awesome brains and will experience brain/ mental health needs in the future: Medtronic might acquire LivaNova’s neuromodulation business
13) What if “An employer wants to reduce the risk of on-the-job disability, so it screens applicants for neurological markers that they are predisposed to chronic pain and depression…” Let’s anticipate the potential misuse of neurological data to minimize the risks–and maximize the benefits
14) The first brain teaser/ test here is especially relevant these days … Seven fun brain teasers to honor our unique Brains and Minds during Brain Awareness Week 2020
Have a good and healthy Spring,
The SharpBrains Team