Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Information Overload? Seven Learning and Productivity Tips

We often talk in this blog about how to expand fun­da­men­tal abil­i­ties or cog­ni­tive func­tions, like atten­tion, or mem­o­ry, or emo­tion­al self-reg­u­la­tion. Think of them as mus­cles one can train. Now, it is also impor­tant to think of ways one can use our exist­ing mus­cles more effi­cient­ly.

Let’s talk about how to man­age bet­ter the over­whelm­ing amount of infor­ma­tion avail­able these days.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of new books, ana­lyst reports, sci­en­tif­ic papers pub­lished every year. Mil­lions of web­sites at our googletips. The flow of data, infor­ma­tion and knowl­edge is grow­ing expo­nen­tial­ly, stretch­ing the capac­i­ty of our not-so-evolved brains. We can com­plain all day that we can­not process ALL this flow. Now, let me ask, should we even try?

Prob­a­bly not. Why engage in a los­ing propo­si­tion. Instead, let me offer a few strate­gies that can help man­age this flow of infor­ma­tion bet­ter.

1. Pri­or­i­tize: strate­gic con­sult­ing firms such as McK­in­sey and BCG train their staff in the so-called 80/20 rule: 80% of effects are caused by the top 20% of caus­es. In a com­pa­ny, 80% sales may come from 20% of the accounts. Impli­ca­tion: focus on that top 20%; don’t spend too much time on the 80% that only account for 20%.

2. Lever­age a sci­en­tif­ic mind­set. Sci­en­tists shift through tons of data in effi­cient, goal-ori­ent­ed ways. How do they do it? By first stat­ing a hypoth­e­sis and then look­ing for data. For exam­ple, an untrained per­son could spend weeks “boil­ing the ocean”, try­ing to read as much as pos­si­ble, in a very frag­men­tary way, about how phys­i­cal exer­cise affects our brain. A trained sci­en­tist would first define clear hypothe­ses and pre­lim­i­nary assump­tions, such as “Phys­i­cal exer­cise can enhance the brain’s abil­i­ty to gen­er­ate new neu­rons” or “Those new neu­rons appear in the hip­pocam­pus”, and then look specif­i­cal­ly for data that cor­rob­o­rates or refutes those sen­tences, enabling him or her to refine the hypothe­ses fur­ther, based on accu­mu­lat­ed knowl­edge, in a vir­tu­ous learn­ing cycle.

3. Beat your ene­mies-like exces­sive TV watch­ing. Watch­ing TV five hours a day has an effect on your brain: it trains one’s brain to become a visu­al, usu­al­ly unre­flec­tive, pas­sive recip­i­ent of infor­ma­tion. You may have heard the expres­sion “Cells that fire togeth­er wire togeth­er”. Our brains are com­posed of bil­lions of neu­rons, each of which can have thou­sand of con­nec­tions to oth­er neu­rons. Any thing we do in life is going to acti­vate a spe­cif­ic net­works of neu­rons. Visu­al­ize a mil­lion neu­rons fir­ing at the same time when you watch a TV pro­gram. Now, the more TV you watch, the more those neu­rons will fire togeth­er, and there­fore the more they will wire togeth­er (mean­ing that the con­nec­tions between them become, phys­i­cal­ly, stronger), which then cre­ates auto­mat­ic-like reac­tions. A heavy TV-watch­er is mak­ing him­self or her­self more pas­sive, unre­flec­tive, per­son. Exact­ly the oppo­site of what one needs to apply the oth­er tips described here. Con­tin­ue Read­ing

On The Brain

neuronsVery intense week, and very fun. I will be writ­ing more about this week’s 3 speak­ing events, but let me say now that our key mes­sages

1) our brains remain flex­i­ble dur­ing our life­times,

2) we can refine our brains with tar­get­ed prac­tice,

3) good brain exer­cise, or “men­tal cross-training”, requires nov­el­ty, vari­ety, and increas­ing lev­el of chal­lenge (but with­out cre­at­ing too much stress),

are being very well accept­ed from both healthy aging and work­place pro­duc­tiv­i­ty points of view. We have ONE brain: health and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty are 2 sides of the same coin.

If you want to make sure we learn more about our brains, you can help fel­low blog­ger Shel­ley Batts get a col­lege schol­ar­ship by voting here. She has a great neu­ro­science blog, is now final­ist in a com­pe­ti­tion to win a nice schol­ar­ship, and needs out help.

Have some more time? You can watch this excellent 90-sec­ond video of cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tist Dr Lisa Sak­si­da doing yoga in front of the fire while explain­ing the nature of Brain and Mind (via Mind­Hacks). Quotes:

I wish peo­ple under­stood that there is no mind/brain dual­i­ty. Specif­i­cal­ly, I wish peo­ple under­stood that there is no such thing as a pure­ly psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­der. Every event in your psy­cho­log­i­cal life, and there­fore every psy­cho­log­i­cal change, is reducible in the­o­ry to events and changes in your brain. We should there­fore not judge peo­ple dif­fer­ent­ly, accord­ing to whether they are con­sid­ered to have a ‘psy­cho­log­i­cal’ as opposed to a ‘neu­ro­log­i­cal’ prob­lem.”

Of course, a lack of mind/brain split does not mean that we should aban­don all talk of psy­chol­o­gy. Psy­chol­o­gy and neu­ro­science are two ways of study­ing the same thing, and both are essen­tial for under­stand­ing the human con­di­tion.”

For more, check the posts in these always great blog car­ni­vals (select­ed col­lec­tions of blog posts by a num­ber of blog­gers around spe­cif­ic top­ics)

Tan­gled Bank (sci­ence in gen­er­al)

Encephalon (neu­ro­science)

Cred­it: Pho­to of Neu­rons by sym­pha­nee via flickr

Brain Exercise and Fitness: September Monthly Digest

Crossword PuzzleFol­low­ing our July and August edi­tions, here you have our Month­ly Digest of the Most Pop­u­lar Blog Posts. Today, Octo­ber 2nd, we will list the most pop­u­lar Sep­tem­ber posts. You can con­sid­er it your month­ly Brain Exer­cise Mag­a­zine.

(Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our RSS feed, check our Top­ics sec­tion, and sub­scribe to our month­ly newslet­ter at the top of this page).

Mar­ket News

Edu­ca­tion, Train­ing, Health events: some events I will blog about/ speak at over the next 2-weeks.

Brain Fit­ness and SharpBrains.com in the Press: includ­ing a great Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle.

Brains Way Smarter Than Ours (and yours, prob­a­bly): roundup of rel­e­vant news, includ­ing some Awards.

News you can use

10 (Sur­pris­ing) Mem­o­ry Improve­ment Tips: on the rela­tion­ship between stress and mem­o­ry.

Judith Beck: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Per­son: a cog­ni­tive ther­a­py pio­neer tells us about the lat­est appli­ca­tion of brain train­ing: diets.

Brain Well­ness: Train Your Brain to Be Hap­pi­er: our essay to par­tic­i­pate in LifeTwo’s Hap­pi­ness week.

Research

11 Neu­ro­sci­en­tists Debunk a Com­mon Myth about Brain Train­ing: sum­ma­ry of our 11 orig­i­nal inter­views with lead­ing neu­ro­sci­en­tists and cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gists.

Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty 101 and Brain Health Glos­sary: no one is born know­ing it all…check this sum­ma­ry of con­cepts and key­words that can help nav­i­gate through the brain fit­ness field.

Work­ing Mem­o­ry: an image that says much: bad and good news.

Best of the Brain from Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can: review of this great book.

An online appli­ca­tion sys­tem is now open for the AAAS Sci­ence & Tech­nol­o­gy Pol­i­cy Fel­low­ships.

Cor­po­rate Train­ing & Lead­er­ship

Car­ni­val of the cap­i­tal­ists with a brain: we host­ed this busi­ness blog car­ni­val with a brain spice.

Exec­u­tive Func­tions and Google/ Microsoft Brain Teasers: exam­ples of what our exec­u­tive func­tions are.

Soft­ware Prod­uct News

Mind­Fit by Cog­niFit, and Baroness Susan Green­field: a brain fit­ness pro­gram start­ing to get trac­tion in Europe.

Penn Treaty First To Offer Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram: today’s press release on anoth­er brain train­ing soft­ware (Posit Science)‘s deal with an insur­ance provider.

Visu­al­iza­tion Soft­ware of IBM for the Future of Med­i­cine: Inter­view: “It’s like Google Earth for the body”. Hope­ful­ly it will include the brain.

Brain Teasers

Brain Teasers with a Neu­ro­science angle: enjoy.

Sharp­Brains Announce­ments

Ser­vices: we will for­mal­ly announce soon how we “help com­pa­nies, health providers, investors, and pol­i­cy­mak­ers under­stand and prof­it from the emerg­ing brain fit­ness field.” But now you know.

Speak­ing: if your orga­ni­za­tion needs a good speak­er and brain fit­ness expert, please con­tact us.

Final­ly, we are start­ing to look for qual­i­fied guest blog­gers to add their per­spec­tive. If you are inter­est­ed, please con­tact us and let us know about what you would like to write about, and include a brief bio or links to sam­ples. Thank you.

MindFit by CogniFit, and Baroness Susan Greenfield

We are glad to see that Mind­Fit is final­ly mak­ing it into the pop­u­lar press, at least in the UK. The pro­gram is mak­ing big news in the UK (BBC, Times, Dai­ly Telegragh, Guardian…) because Baroness Susan Green­field, direc­tor of the Roy­al Insti­tu­tion and a well-respect­ed neu­ro­sci­en­tist, is endors­ing it. We eval­u­at­ed it last year andTwo In One Task liked what we saw, based on our 10-Ques­tion Check­list. Now, remem­ber that no pro­gram is “best”, but that dif­fer­ent pro­grams can be more appro­pri­ate for spe­cif­ic peo­ple and spe­cif­ic goals, so read the check­list first and take a lot at oth­er pro­grams too if you are in the mar­ket for “brain train­ing”.

Mind­Fit is a soft­ware-based assess­ment and train­ing pro­gram for 14 cog­ni­tive skills impor­tant for healthy aging. We typ­i­cal­ly rec­om­mend it for peo­ple over 50 (up to any age, you sim­ply need to know how to use a com­put­er and a mouse) who want a nov­el and var­ied men­tal work­out.

The pro­gram has Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Exercise & Fitness Articles and Custom Content

Over the months we have received many requests for good arti­cles that could be reused in a vari­ety of places, from a hos­pi­tal newslet­ter to a cor­po­rate well­ness e-newslet­ter and a num­ber of web­sites. We want to reach as many peo­ple as possible, so tomor­row we are launch­ing a free Con­tent “Brain Feed”, and also cus­tom con­tent ser­vices.

In short, we are going to offer a week­ly arti­cle in the new SharpBrains free con­tent feed. This feed is designed to help web­site and newslet­ter pub­lish­ers dis­sem­i­nate good infor­ma­tion on brain exer­cise and fit­ness. 20 arti­cles are avail­able imme­di­ate­ly (check them in our Arti­cles sec­tion), build­ing on the con­tent we have writ­ten in this blog.

And, if an orga­ni­za­tion wants good con­tent on brain health/ training/ fit­ness to dis­trib­ute inter­nal­ly or exter­nal­ly, we can help.

On a relat­ed note, we just joined the Blog­Burst net­work to offer our blog con­tent to a vari­ety of news­pa­pers. Let’s see how these ini­tia­tives work!

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.