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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Learning with Video Games: A Revolution in Education and Training?

In recent years, we have witnessed the beginnings of a revolution in education.  Technology has fundamentally altered the way we do many things in daily life, but it is just starting to make headway in changing the way we teach.  Just as television shows like Sesame Street enhanced the passive learning of information for kids by teaching in a fun format, electronic games offer to greatly enhance the way kids and adults are taught by actively engaging them in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr. Art Kramer on Why We Need Walking Book Clubs to Enhance Cognitive Fitness and Brain Health

Art KramerDr. Arthur Kramer is a Professor in the University of Illinois Department of Psychology, the Campus Neuroscience Program, the Beckman Institute, and the Director of the Biomedical Imaging Center at the University of Illinois.

I am honored to interview him today.

Dr. Kramer, thank you for your time. Let’ start by trying to clarify some existing misconceptions and controversies. Based on what we know today, and your recent Nature piece (referenced below), what are the 2-3 key lifestyle habits would you suggest to a person who wants to delay Alzheimer’s symptoms and improve overall brain health?

First, Be Active. Do physical exercise. Aerobic exercise, 30 to 60 minutes per day 3 days per week, has been shown to have an impact in a variety of experiments. And you don’t need to do something strenuous: even walking has shown that effect. There are many open questions in terms of specific types of exercise, duration, magnitude of effect but, as we wrote in our recent Nature Reviews Neuroscience article, there is little doubt that leading a sedentary life is bad for our cognitive health. Cardiovascular exercise seems to have a positive effect.

Second, Maintain Lifelong Intellectual Engagement. There is abundant prospective observational research showing that doing more mentally stimulating activities reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Let me add, given all media hype, that no “brain game” in particular has been shown to have a long-term impact on Alzheimer’s or the maintenance of cognition across extended periods of time. It is too early for that-and consumers should be aware of that fact. It is true that some companies are being more science-based than others but, in my view, the consumer-oriented field is growing faster than the research is.

Ideally, combine both physical and mental stimulation along with social interactions. Why not take a good walk with friends to discuss a book? We lead very busy lives, so the more integrated and interesting activities are, the more likely we will do them.

Read the rest of this entry »

carnival of the capitalists with a brain- September 17, 2007


Welcome to the September 17, 2007 edition of carnival of the capitalists.

First, a puzzle. Why do we have the brains we have? specifically, why do humans have proportionally bigger and better connected frontal lobes (the blue area behind our foreheads) than any other species? The answer: to be able to learn and adapt to changing environments during our lifetime. Neuroscientists say that the frontal lobes are the “CEO of the brain”, and that we need that type of frontal lobes to exercise our so-called “Executive Functions” that enable us to 1) Understand our environments, 2) Set goals and define strategies to accomplish our goals, 3) Execute those strategies well.Frontal Lobes

Now, let’s see how all these carnival contributors are putting their frontal lobes to good use. Given the volume of submissions received, we had to be really selective. Enjoy!


1) Understanding our environment: macroeconomy, real estate slowdown, and lobbying.

James wonders, “Can the Fed begin as it must to cut the target rate and still avoid Tim’s slippery slope? I think so, and here’s how.”

Ian presents a forceful case that No, Greenspan Doesn’t Get To Rehabilitate His Reputation, at Firedoglake. Very timely post, given that Greenspan is releasing his book today. 

“The recent sub-prime mortgage fiasco and its effect on our investments prompted us to reconsider our portfolio’s risk tolerance capability”, says FIRE Finance, outlining these Investment Risks at a Glance. Along similar lines, we can read that “I am not hoping for the market to get worse. I just know it will, because that is the nature of market cycles” at Is The Housing Crisis and Stock Market Decline Bad Enough Yet?, by My Wealth Builder.

If you wonder what may have contributed to the real estate mess growing so big, you may enjoy reading Pork: Wha’ss On The Barbeque In Congress Is Your Future. The Agonist says: “In the United States today, the simplest, easiest and safest way to make money is to Read the rest of this entry »

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