Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Research: Does Nintendo Brain Age work as a brain training game?

A new study tries to, but unfor­tu­nate­ly doesn’t, answer that ques­tion. Study: Brain Train­ing Game Improves Exec­u­tive Func­tions and Pro­cess­ing Speed in the Elder­ly: A Ran­dom­ized Con­trolled Tri­al (PLoS ONE).

Con­clu­sions: Our results showed that play­ing Brain Age for 4 weeks could lead to improve cog­ni­tive func­tions (exec­u­tive func­tions and pro­cess­ing speed) in the elder­ly. This result indi­cat­ed that there is a pos­si­bil­i­ty which the elder­ly could improve exec­u­tive func­tions and pro­cess­ing speed in short term train­ing. The results need repli­ca­tion in large sam­ples. Long-term effects and rel­e­vance for every-day func­tion­ing remain uncer­tain as yet.” Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Live Well to 100 by Using Your Brain

Here you have the Novem­ber edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter cov­er­ing 107px-gray1197thumbnailcog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

Liv­ing Well to 100

100 is the new 65: Why do some peo­ple live, and well, to 100? Researchers are try­ing to find out, reports Meera Lee Sethi at Greater Good Mag­a­zine. They are dis­cov­er­ing that genet­ic fac­tors may account for only 20 to 30 per­cent of a person’s lifes­pan, while envi­ron­men­tal and behav­ioral fac­tors can dic­tate the oth­er 70 to 80 per­cent.

Does cof­fee boost cog­ni­tive func­tions over time? Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon weighs the evi­dence and reports good and bad news. The good news: long-term effects seem more pos­i­tive than neg­a­tive, so cof­fee leads to no clear harm. The bad news: there are no clear ben­e­fi­cial effects on gen­er­al brain func­tions (impli­ca­tion for pro­po­nents of “smart pills”: don’t use cof­fee as the anal­o­gy).

10 Inno­va­tions for the Aging Soci­ety: In the Thanksgiving’s spir­it, we want to thank 10 pio­neers for emerg­ing inno­va­tions that may help mil­lions of peo­ple alive today to keep our brains in top shape per­haps till we are 100 or more. Many of those pio­neers will par­tic­i­pate in the inau­gur­al Sharp­Brains Sum­mit.

In Autopi­lot?

Train your autopilot.…and how to turn it off: Madeleine Van Hecke, Ph.D shares an excerpt from The Brain Advan­tage, in which she encour­ages main­tain­ing men­tal “autopi­lot” when it’s work­ing well, yet shift­ing to more con­scious delib­er­a­tions when need­ed.

Sci­en­tia Pro Pub­li­ca:  A good way to turn off autopi­lot is to enjoy some great sci­ence and nature blog­ging, cour­tesy of Sci­en­tia Pro Pub­li­ca blog car­ni­val. Addi­tion­al­ly, you can enjoy read­ing some of the best neu­ro­science, psy­chol­o­gy and med­ical blog­ging at the first ever com­bined Grand Rounds/ Encephalon edi­tion.

Games for Health

Games for Health Research: The Robert Wood John­son Foun­da­tion announced more than $1.85 mil­lion in grants for research teams to study how dig­i­tal games can improve play­ers health. One of the grantees is UCSF’s Adam Gaz­za­ley (who will be speak­ing at the Sharp­Brains Sum­mit) to devel­op a dri­ving game for cog­ni­tive fit­ness among younger and old­er adults.

Smart indus­try-research col­lab­o­ra­tion: Lumos Labs and researchers Susanne Jaeg­gi and Mar­tin Buschkuehl announce a col­lab­o­ra­tion to make the orig­i­nal Dual N-Back work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing pro­gram avail­able online and use it for ongo­ing research.

News

Mar­i­an C. Dia­mond to open Sharp­Brains Sum­mit: Kick­ing off our Jan­u­ary 2010 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit is Mar­i­an C. Dia­mond, one of the pio­neers of neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty research since the 1960s. She will intro­duce us to the human brain, its anato­my and func­tion, and impli­ca­tions of  neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty for brain health and per­for­mance at any age.

The Sharp­Brains Guide’s reviews and inter­views: a col­lec­tion of links to inter­views and reviews of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness.

Net­work for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion (mem­bers-only): Dis­cus­sion on the future of com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive behav­ioral ther­a­py; Unit­ed BioSource acquires Cog­ni­tive Drug Research; inno­v­a­tive part­ner­ship between Nav­i­gen­ics and Posit Sci­ence; new research on brain impact of Tetris; how a drop in visu­al skills may pre­cede Alzheimer’s Dis­ease;  excel­lent report by the Nation­al Acad­e­mies for the US Army avail­able for free now.

Brain Teas­er

Who will you believe, me or your own eyes? dis­cov­er the 3 Win­ners of the 2009 Best Visu­al Illu­sion of the Year Con­test. Neu­ro­sci­en­tists Susana Mar­tinez-Conde and Stephen Mack­nik, who help orga­nize the con­test, will give a fun demo on Mag­ic and the Brain at Sharp­Brains Sum­mit, to dis­cuss the lim­its of human per­cep­tion and cog­ni­tion.

Enjoy the final month of 2009!

Brain Games and Training for Baby Boomers: News Round-Up

Round-up of recent news with a vari­ety of angles, from the effects of Brain Health Newsgam­ing to cog­ni­tive train­ing for dri­ving skills and brain fit­ness class­es.

Seniors use brain train­ing soft­ware to sharp­en their minds (Dal­las Morn­ing News)

- “All­state Insur­ance has invit­ed some pol­i­cy­hold­ers and oth­er old­er dri­vers to try InSight so researchers can eval­u­ate whether the soft­ware reduces acci­dents.”

- “Depend­ing on the results, the auto insur­er says it may expand the pilot project and offer pre­mi­um dis­counts to dri­vers who take the brain train­ing.”

- “Today, only one in sev­en licensed dri­vers is 65 or old­er. But by 2030, when the last of the boomers turn 65, the pro­por­tion will be one in four. ”

Brain games (Palo Alto Week­ly)

- “There is research that jus­ti­fies the belief that games can aid the brain’s health, accord­ing to Dr. Wal­ter Bortz II, a Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine asso­ciate pro­fes­sor and expert on longevi­ty and robust aging. Stud­ies show that stim­u­lat­ing the brain by learn­ing new tasks increas­es blood fac­tors in the brain that act like steroids, mak­ing it pos­si­ble for the brain to grow even in old age

- “Called “brain plas­tic­i­ty,” such growth is the foun­da­tion of brain-fit­ness soft­ware research.”

Brain Fit­ness Class­es Keep Seniors Men­tal­ly And Social­ly Active (Wash­ing­ton Post)

- “More options for exer­cis­ing the brain are on the way. Last year, the Ontario gov­ern­ment pledged about $8 mil­lion to devel­op a brain fit­ness cen­ter in Toron­to. In San Fran­cis­co, Jan Zivic, a for­mer exec­u­tive search con­sul­tant, opened a cen­ter, vibrant­Brains, that offers mem­o­ry improve­ment class­es and work­shops. Zivic was inspired by help she got from brain fit­ness games she played after being injured in an auto­mo­bile acci­dent.”

The 15 Clear­est Ben­e­fits of Gam­ing (Edge Mag­a­zine)

-“But Fer­nan­dez warns that the gamer gen­er­a­tion isn’t auto­mat­i­cal­ly guar­an­teed to have bet­ter cog­ni­tive health than their grand­par­ents. Cog­ni­tive fit­ness (hav­ing the men­tal abil­i­ties required to thrive in cog­ni­tive­ly more com­plex envi­ron­ments) seems to depend on four major pil­lars: nutri­tion, phys­i­cal exer­cise, stress man­age­ment and men­tal exer­cise. All these fac­tors have phys­i­cal effects on our brains (for exam­ple, phys­i­cal exer­cise con­tributes to the cre­ation of new neu­rons, while stress and anx­i­ety pre­vents and/or reduces the cre­ation of new neu­rons). The bad news is that we have grow­ing obe­si­ty rates and anx­i­ety among young peo­ple. So, games are great for men­tal exer­cise, but we shouldn’t for­get the oth­er ingre­di­ents for cog­ni­tive fit­ness.

- “Fer­nan­dez mus­es, Indeed fun can be seen as a goal in itself . The prob­lem is that we con­fuse gam­ing as a vehi­cle with gam­ing as con­tent. Gam­ing as vehi­cle is arguably great it allows for inter­ac­tiv­i­ty, engage­ment. Gam­ing as con­tent, well, it depends. It is not the same to play a bloody shoot­er game as it is to Tetris or Rise of Nations, so the field should do a bet­ter job at explain­ing to main­stream soci­ety the diver­si­ty of games and dis­pel some myths.

More Brain Fit­ness and Cog­ni­tive Health News

Top 30 Brain Health and Fitness Articles of 2008

Here brain teasers job interview you have Sharp­Brains’ 30 most pop­u­lar arti­cles, ranked by the num­ber of peo­ple who have read each arti­cle in 2008.

Please note that, since the first arti­cle already includes most of our most pop­u­lar brain teasers, we have exclud­ed teasers from the rest of the rank­ing. (If those 50 are not enough for you, you can also try these brain teasers).

Blog Chan­nel
Arti­cle
1. Top 50 Brain Teasers and Games to Test your Brain
It is always good to stim­u­late our minds and to learn a bit about how our brains work. Here you have a selec­tion of the 50 Brain Teasers that peo­ple have enjoyed the most.
2. The Ten Habits of High­ly Effec­tive Brains
Let’s review some good lifestyle options we can fol­low to main­tain, and improve, our vibrant brains. My favorite: don’t out­source your brain (even to us).
3. Why do You Turn Down the Radio When You’re Lost?
You’re dri­ving through sub­ur­bia one evening look­ing for the street where you’re sup­posed to have din­ner at a friend’s new house. You slow down to a crawl, turn down the radio, stop talk­ing, and stare at every sign. Why is that? Nei­ther the radio nor talk­ing affects your vision. Or do they?
4. Brain Plas­tic­i­ty: How learn­ing changes your brain
You may have heard that the brain is plas­tic. As you know the brain is not made of plas­tic! Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty or brain plas­tic­i­ty refers to the brain’s abil­i­ty to CHANGE through­out life.
5. Top 10 Brain Train­ing Future Trends
In an emerg­ing mar­ket like brain fit­ness train­ing, it is dif­fi­cult to make pre­cise pro­jec­tions. But, we can observe a num­ber of trends that exec­u­tives, con­sumers, pub­lic pol­i­cy mak­ers, and the media should watch close­ly in the com­ing years, as brain fit­ness and train­ing becomes main­stream, new tools appear, and an ecosys­tem grows around it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Newsletter: End-March Edition

(Please remem­ber you can sub­scribe, at the top of this page, to receive this com­pli­men­ta­ry bi-month­ly newslet­ter by email). 

We are proud to announce that we now belong to the exclu­sive Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can Part­ner Net­work. Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can Mind spoke high­ly of our web­site last year, so it was only nat­ur­al (but made us very pleased) that we were invit­ed to join their new blog­ger network. We remain an inde­pen­dent company, so there will be few obvi­ous changes — main­ly some more links between their web­site and ours and new ban­ner ads admin­is­tered by Sci­en­tif­ic American’s great team. 

News

Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Report: Reviews:  our just released Mar­ket Report is earn­ing a grow­ing num­ber of acco­lades as a must-read pub­li­ca­tion for exec­u­tives and investors inter­est­ed in emerg­ing brain health trends and opportunities.  

Brain Rules- sci­ence and prac­tice: mol­e­c­u­lar biol­o­gist John Med­i­na releas­es a new book to make brain sci­ence acces­si­ble and rel­e­vant to all, and writes a fun arti­cle chal­leng­ing the very exis­tance of class­rooms and cubi­cles. Read the rest of this entry »

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