Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


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 »

Book Announcement: The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness

Our first book is avail­able in!

Back­ground: In 2005 I read two books by my now co-author, Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg, that changed my career and life. Dr. Gold­berg pre­sent­ed an excit­ing overview of emerg­ing brain research debunk­ing many old myths. Reflect­ing on what I was learn­ing, I thought, “If all this is true, there is a rev­o­lu­tion in the mak­ing that will impact edu­ca­tion, health­care, the way we learn and the way to take care for our brains. Some­one will need to act as a trans­la­tor, ana­lyst and edu­ca­tor, to help indi­vid­u­als and soci­ety at large appre­ci­ate the impli­ca­tions of this research and start using this knowl­edge here and now.”

After sev­er­al meet­ings with Dr. Gold­berg, who kind­ly respond­ed to my ini­tial unso­licit­ed let­ter, we decid­ed to part­ner and cre­ate Sharp­Brains with a mis­sion to “to pro­vide indi­vid­u­als, com­pa­nies and insti­tu­tions with inde­pen­dent, high-qual­i­ty, research-based, infor­ma­tion and guid­ance to nav­i­gate the grow­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness mar­ket.”

Since then, we have launched one of the most pop­u­lar brain web­sites, blogs and newslet­ters, two annu­al mar­ket reports that have become the stan­dard in our field, a life­long learn­ing cur­ricu­lum taught in mul­ti­ple uni­ver­si­ties, and we are now pleased to bring to you our first book. We hope you enjoy it.

Book descrip­tion: While most of us have heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” very few SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness. The Bookunder­stand what “it” means, or how to prop­er­ly “use it” in order to main­tain brain func­tion and fit­ness. The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness is an invalu­able guide that helps read­ers nav­i­gate grow­ing brain research and iden­ti­fy the lifestyle fac­tors and prod­ucts that con­tribute to brain fit­ness. By gath­er­ing insights from eigh­teen of the world’s top sci­en­tists and offer­ing tools and detailed descrip­tions of over twen­ty prod­ucts, this book is an essen­tial guide to the field of brain fit­ness, neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and cog­ni­tive health. An acces­si­ble and thought-pro­vok­ing read, The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness edu­cates life­long learn­ers and pro­fes­sion­als in health­care, edu­ca­tion, busi­ness, etc., on emerg­ing trends and fore­casts of what the future will hold.

Praise for the book

Final­ly, an insight­ful and com­plete overview of the sci­ence, prod­ucts and trends to debunk old myths and help us all main­tain our brains in top shape. A must-read for every­one with a brain – an instant clas­sic.”
Glo­ria Cavanaugh, for­mer Pres­i­dent & CEO of the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging and found­ing Board mem­ber of the Nation­al Alliance for Care­giv­ing

The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness offers a valu­able and stim­u­lat­ing blue­print for any­one who wants to grow old­er sus­tain­ably — that is, with sound mind and good humor. Fer­nan­dez and Gold­berg are the pio­neers we’ve been wait­ing for to help us do exact­ly that. Buy­ing this book is the ulti­mate no-brain­er.”
Joel Makow­er, Exec­u­tive Edi­tor,, and author, Strate­gies for the Green Econ­o­my

A mas­ter­ful guide to the brain train­ing rev­o­lu­tion. Promis­es to stim­u­late a much need­ed con­ver­sa­tion that will nudge soci­ety to build a new brain fit­ness cul­ture on sol­id, research-based, foun­da­tions.”
P. Murali Doraiswamy MD, Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try, Duke Uni­ver­si­ty and Co-author of The Alzheimer’s Action Plan

Our cur­ricu­lum and research cir­cle will begin sum­mer work by read­ing The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, a much-need­ed new resource to help us bet­ter under­stand our brains and minds and how to nour­ish them through life.”
Susan E. Hoff­man, Direc­tor, Osh­er Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute at UC Berke­ley

All of us research­ing healthy brain func­tion owe Sharp­Brains a debt of grat­i­tude for pro­mot­ing a sci­ence-based approach to brain health edu­ca­tion and offer­ing an unbi­ased view of the land­scape. Now, with The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg serve up plen­ti­ful food for thought to sat­is­fy the grow­ing num­ber of adults who are hun­gry for a healthy mind.”
Joshua R. Stein­er­man, M.D., Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Neu­rol­o­gy and Direc­tor of the Neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive Dis­ease Clin­i­cal Tri­als Pro­gram at Albert Ein­stein Col­lege of Med­i­cine, Mon­te­fiore Med­ical Cen­ter

I am a neu­ro­sur­geon and have a great inter­est in the rapid­ly advanc­ing field of neu­ro­science, espe­cial­ly the areas of neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis and neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty. New devel­op­ments hap­pen so fast that it is dif­fi­cult to keep up. This book by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Elkhonon Gold­berg offers a spec­tac­u­lar intro­duc­tion to the field, valu­able both to the pub­lic at large and health­care pro­fes­sion­als.”
Guy Otis Daniel­son III, MD, Pres­i­dent of the Neu­ro­Care Net­work Tyler, Texas

Final­ly, a book that makes sense out of the con­fus­ing brain fit­ness move­ment! I believe brain fit­ness could very well be the next big thing. Baby boomers like me are get­ting old­er and we want to stay men­tal­ly sharp, main­tain if not strength­en our cog­ni­tive skills, and above all avoid men­tal decline and Alzheimer’s dis­ease. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there’s been many con­flict­ing claims and con­fus­ing prod­ucts that has made it dif­fi­cult for me and thou­sands of oth­ers peo­ple to decide just what we should do. Sharp­Brains’ guide is an hon­est, clear­ly writ­ten exam­i­na­tion of brain fit­ness con­cepts, the under­ly­ing sci­ence, and the best prod­ucts and ser­vices out there. It’s a first-class, pio­neer­ing resource that sum­ma­rizes all I need to know about how to stay sharp for many more years.”
David Bun­nell, founder of PC, PC World, Mac­world and BioWorld

Con­tin­ue read­ing about (and order!) The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp

Maintain Your Brain and Stay Sharp: An Upcoming Guide and Resource

You may be read­ing all about brain fit­ness and brain train­ing. It seems every week brings a new bar­rage of arti­cles and stud­ies which often con­tra­dict what you read the month before: Does Gingko Bilo­ba help delay Alzheimer’s Dis­ease? Can phys­i­cal exer­cise help you stay sharp as you age? Which com­put­er-based “brain fit­ness pro­grams”, if any, are worth your mon­ey?

All this cov­er­age reflects very excit­ing sci­en­tif­ic find­ings but also pos­es a key dilem­ma: How to become an informed life­long learn­er and con­sumer when there are few and con­tra­dic­to­ry author­i­ta­tive guide­lines?

The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (to be pub­lished in May 2009; $24.95) aims to fill that void. This guide is the result of over a year of exten­sive research includ­ing more than a hun­dred inter­views with sci­en­tists, pro­fes­sion­als and con­sumers, and a deep lit­er­a­ture review. Below you have some of the main find­ings from our effort. The guide not only cov­ers these aspects in more depth and offers prac­ti­cal guid­ance, but also includes 18 inter­views with promi­nent sci­en­tists to help you under­stand the research bet­ter.

Can we intro­duce you to your Brain?

The Guide will start at the obvi­ous start­ing point: The Human Brain. In order to make informed deci­sions about brain health, one needs to first under­stand the basic orga­ni­za­tion of the human brain and how it tends to change as we get old­er.

* The brain is com­posed of a num­ber of regions serv­ing dis­tinct func­tions. For­get IQ: our life and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty depend on a vari­ety of brain func­tions, not just one.

* There is noth­ing inher­ent­ly fixed in the tra­jec­to­ry of how brain func­tions evolve as we age. Your lifestyle, actions, and even thoughts, do mat­ter.

The 4 Pil­lars of Brain Main­te­nance

Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty is the life­long capac­i­ty of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to the stim­u­la­tion of learn­ing and expe­ri­ence. The lat­est sci­en­tif­ic research shows that spe­cif­ic lifestyles and actions can, no mat­ter our age, improve the health and lev­el of func­tion­ing of our brains.

What fac­tors seem to have the most influ­ence? Read the rest of this entry »

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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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