Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Study finds clear–yet surprisingly different–benefits in 3 types of meditation-based mental training

___

As cit­i­zens of the 21st cen­tu­ry, we face many prob­lems that come with an indus­tri­al­ized and glob­al­ized world. I’m not a lawyer or a politi­cian, but a psy­chol­o­gist and neu­ro­sci­en­tist. So research on how to train help­ful men­tal and social capac­i­ties is my way to con­tribute to a more healthy, com­mu­nal, and coop­er­a­tive civ­i­liza­tion.

For the past five years, that research has tak­en the form of the ReSource Project, one of the longest and most com­pre­hen­sive stud­ies on the effects of med­i­ta­tion-based men­tal train­ing to date. Lots of research treats the con­cept of med­i­ta­tion as a sin­gle prac­tice, when in fact med­i­ta­tion encom­pass­es a diver­si­ty of men­tal prac­tices that train dif­fer­ent skills and dif­fer­ent parts of the brain. Our goal was to study the spe­cif­ic effects of Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Quotes on Lifelong Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis (and a Call to eBook Readers)

You may have  noticed that Amazon.com is shar­ing aggre­gat­ed data on how ebook read­ers inter­act with the books they are read­ing. For exam­ple, the “Pop­u­lar High­lights” sec­tion (towards the bot­tom of our Kin­dle book page) ranks the Top 10 sen­tences that Kin­dle read­ers have high­light­ed and shared while read­ing The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice and Prod­uct Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp (April 2009; 182 pages; ranked #1 in Kin­dle Store’s Pre­ven­tive Med­i­cine sec­tion).

This infor­ma­tion is invalu­able to authors and pub­lish­ers — as you can imag­ine, we’ll make sure to not only main­tain but to elab­o­rate on these top­ics as we pre­pare future edi­tions of the book.

So, what are so far the Top Ten Quotes on Life­long Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and Neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Health Research offered by the Alliance for Aging Research

We just noticed that the Alliance for Aging Research offers an excel­lent list of ref­er­ences on Brain Health Research, orga­nized in these 10 sec­tions below. Enjoy!

#1 Nour­ish Your Nog­gin: Eat a Brain Healthy Diet Read the rest of this entry »

Changing our Minds…by Reading Fiction

(Editor’s Note: we are pleased to bring you this arti­cle thanks to our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greater Good Mag­a­zine.)

Chang­ing our Minds

By imag­in­ing many pos­si­ble worlds, argues nov­el­ist and psy­chol­o­gist Kei­th Oat­ley, fic­tion helps us under­stand our­selves and oth­ers.

-By Kei­th Oat­ley

For more than two thou­sand years peo­ple have insist­ed that read­ing fic­tion is good for bookyou. Aris­to­tle claimed that poetry—he meant the epics of Homer and the tragedies of Aeschy­lus, Sopho­cles, and Euripi­des, which we would now call fiction—is a more seri­ous busi­ness than his­to­ry. His­to­ry, he argued, tells us only what has hap­pened, where­as fic­tion tells us what can hap­pen, which can stretch our moral imag­i­na­tions and give us insights into our­selves and oth­er peo­ple. This is a strong argu­ment for schools to con­tin­ue to focus on the lit­er­ary arts, not just his­to­ry, sci­ence, and social stud­ies.

But is the idea of fic­tion being good for you mere­ly wish­ful think­ing? The mem­bers of a small research group in Toronto—Maja Dji­kic, Ray­mond Mar, and I—have been work­ing on the prob­lem. We have turned the idea into ques­tions. In what ways might read­ing fic­tion be good for you? If it is good for you, why would this be? And what is the psy­cho­log­i­cal func­tion of art gen­er­al­ly?

Through a series of stud­ies, we have dis­cov­ered that fic­tion at its best isn’t just enjoy­able. It mea­sur­ably enhances our abil­i­ties to empathize with oth­er peo­ple and con­nect with some­thing larg­er than our­selves.

Pos­si­ble selves, pos­si­ble worlds

Peo­ple often think that a fic­tion is some­thing untrue, but this is wrong. The word derives from the Latin fin­gere, to make. As some­thing made, fic­tion is dif­fer­ent from some­thing dis­cov­ered, as in physics, or from some­thing that hap­pened, as in the news. But this does not mean it is false. Fic­tion is about pos­si­ble selves in pos­si­ble worlds.

In terms of 21st-cen­tu­ry psy­chol­o­gy, we might best see fic­tion as a kind of sim­u­la­tion: one that runs not on com­put­ers, but on minds. Such men­tal sim­u­la­tion unfolds on two lev­els.

The first lev­el involves sim­u­lat­ing the minds of oth­er peo­ple: imag­in­ing what they are think­ing and feel­ing, which devel­op­men­tal psy­chol­o­gists call “the­o­ry of mind.” The the­o­ry-of-mind sim­u­la­tion is like a watch, which is a small mod­el that sim­u­lates Read the rest of this entry »

About SharpBrains

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.

Follow us and Engage via…

twitter_logo_header
RSS Feed

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.