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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Sandra Chapman: Using innovative thinking, and brain training, we can rewire the brain at every level

Sandra Bond Chapman

San­dra Bond Chap­man, PhD

What is your cur­rent job title and orga­ni­za­tion, and what excites you the most about work­ing there? 
As the founder and chief direc­tor at the Cen­ter for Brain­Health at UT-Dal­las, what gets me excit­ed every day is being on the fore­front of defin­ing and encour­ag­ing cog­ni­tive brain health fit­ness for peo­ple of all ages. We are iden­ti­fy­ing mea­sures of brain health and what it takes to achieve it for healthy brains, injured brains and dis­eased brains. It is just as impor­tant to care for your brain when it is healthy as when it is dis­eased or injured. Read the rest of this entry »

The Ten Habits of a Sharp Brain

As our final arti­cle for 2011, let us repur­pose one of Sharp­Brains’ most pop­u­lar blog posts since 2006. It may give you a few point­ers to sharp­en those New Years Res­o­lu­tions. Let’s sum­ma­rize some lifestyle guide­lines we can all fol­low to enhance and main­tain a sharp brain through life...

  1. Learn what is the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic under­stand­ing will serve you well to appre­ci­ate your brain’s beau­ty as a liv­ing and con­stant­ly-devel­op­ing dense for­est with bil­lions of neu­rons and synaps­es.
  2. Take care of your nutri­tion. Did you know that the brain only weighs 2% of body mass but con­sumes over 20% of the oxy­gen and nutri­ents we intake? As a gen­er­al rule, you don’t need expen­sive ultra-sophis­ti­cat­ed nutri­tion­al sup­ple­ments, just make sure you don’t stuff your­self with the “bad stuff”.
  3. Remem­ber that the brain is part of the body. Things that exer­cise your body can also help sharp­en your brain: phys­i­cal exer­cise enhances neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis.
  4. Prac­tice pos­i­tive, future-ori­ent­ed thoughts until they become your default mind­set and you Read the rest of this entry »

AARP’s Best Brain Fitness Books

We are hon­ored to announce that AARP has includ­ed our very own book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (182 pages; $14.95) in its new List of Best Books on Brain Fit­ness, which will be unveiled dur­ing AARP’s upcom­ing Life@50 Nation­al Event. We hope this list will help many more indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions learn about our resource: giv­en that 80% of respon­dents to a recent AARP sur­vey select­ed “Stay­ing Men­tal­ly Sharp” as their top pri­or­i­ty, we cer­tain­ly know there is a sig­nif­i­cant need for qual­i­ty infor­ma­tion!

AARP’s Best Books Guide


Brain Fitness


The Dana Guide to Brain Health, by Floyd E. Bloom, M. Flint Beal, and David J. Kupfer (Dana Press, 2006).

The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp, by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Elkhonon Gold­berg. (Sharp­Brains Inc., 2009).

Save Your Brain: The 5 Things You Must Do To Keep Your Mind Young and Sharp
, by Paul Nuss­baum. (McGraw-Hill, 2010).

The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Sur­pris­ing Tal­ents of the Mid­dle-Aged Mind, by Bar­bara Strauch (Viking, 2010).

The Mem­o­ry Bible: An Inno­v­a­tive Strat­e­gy for Keep­ing Your Brain Young
, by Gary Small (Hype­r­i­on, 2003).

___________

Also Rec­om­mend­ed:

The Mature Mind: The Pos­i­tive Pow­er of the Aging Brain, by Gene Cohen (Basic Books, 2006).

The Brain That Changes Itself, by Nor­man Doidge (Pen­guin, 2007).

Spark: The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary New Sci­ence of Exer­cise and the Brain, by John Ratey and Eric Hager­man (Lit­tle, Brown and Co., 2008).

Think Smart: A Neuroscientist’s Pre­scrip­tion for Improv­ing Your Brain’s Per­for­mance, by Richard Restak (River­head, 2010).

Com­piled by:
Office of Aca­d­e­m­ic Affairs, AARP

The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Brains — Time for Brain Fitness Resolutions?

Giv­en many of us are start­ing to pre­pare New Year Res­o­lu­tions, let’s revis­it one of Sharp­Brains’ most pop­u­lar-ever arti­cles that can help us all refine our Brain Fit­ness Res­o­lu­tions

The Ten Habits of High­ly Effec­tive Brains

  1. Learn what is the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic under­stand­ing will serve you well to appre­ci­ate your brain’s beau­ty as a liv­ing and con­stant­ly-devel­op­ing dense for­est with bil­lions of neu­rons and synaps­es.
  2. Take care of your nutri­tion. Did you know that Read the rest of this entry »

Will the Apple Tablet Support or Hinder Users Cognitive Fitness?

Rumor has it that Apple is going to announce a tablet com­put­er, which may well become a rev­o­lu­tion­ary new way for users to read and expe­ri­ence all kinds of edu­ca­tion­al con­tent.

Will it sup­port or hin­der our Cog­ni­tive  Fit­ness?

In this arti­cle, I describe the cri­te­riachecklist that a tablet com­put­er and its tech­no­log­i­cal ecosys­tem must meet in order for the solu­tion to make users more knowl­edge­able and smarter. To achieve these lofty goals, the tablet must be much more than an read­er. The offer­ing must be an inte­grat­ed learn­ing envi­ron­ment with which users trans­form the infor­ma­tion that they read, hear and view on the tablet into their own knowl­edge.

The key con­sid­er­a­tion in design­ing such a sys­tem is that pro­duc­tive read­ing is active read­ing. In oth­er words, learn­ing involves a lot of think­ing, writ­ing, draw­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing. Learn­ing involves antic­i­pat­ing what the author will say, set­ting learn­ing objec­tives, detect­ing knowl­edge gaps, writ­ing com­ments on the doc­u­ment, draw­ing dia­grams.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, today’s com­put­ers do not make this an easy task. Most browsers, for exam­ple, do not inher­ent­ly allow you to anno­tate text (e.g., to make a note of what is impor­tant or you don’t under­stand). Anno­tat­ing requires an add-on, and the anno­ta­tions are usu­al­ly just text or high­lights that are trapped in soft­ware; they can­not be linked to oth­er doc­u­ments, email or dia­grams.

In order to be a suc­cess­ful learn­ing envi­ron­ment, the Apple tablet must match the incum­bent (paper) and also address the cri­te­ria list­ed below.

Beat The Incum­bent Com­peti­tor — Paper

First, Apple must take into account the major strengths of a tablet’s main com­peti­tor: paper. Despite its many draw­backs com­pared to com­put­ers, paper cur­rent­ly has many advan­tages. Spencer (2006), for exam­ple, has found that her dis­tance edu­ca­tion stu­dents find paper to be more depend­able, flex­i­ble, and ergonom­ic. Spencer’s stu­dents pre­ferred to print com­plex arti­cles than to read them online.

Paper has a pre­dictable struc­ture and lay­out. It is easy to use and it has a def­i­nite start and end point. Most read­ers can very rapid­ly access any page of a book, use the table of con­tents, index to quick­ly nav­i­gate. Read­ers don’t have to wait for a page to load, they can turn it. Also, paper is less busy and less dis­tract­ing: it does not beep while you are con­cen­trat­ing.

More­over, users can write on their own paper to their heart’s con­tent.

These fea­tures present chal­lenges to read­ing and learn­ing tech­nol­o­gy.

Check­list for a Tablet Com­put­er to Make us Smarter

In this sec­tion I focus on some of the fea­tures that can make a tablet a use­ful learn­ing envi­ron­ment. This goes beyond hard­ware, and deals with cog­ni­tive soft­ware and ser­vices. 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 and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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