Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Improve Memory with Sleep, Practice, and Testing

There are whole mar­kets (think cross­words, herbal sup­ple­ments, drugs, brain fit­ness soft­ware) aimed at help­ing us improve our mem­o­ry.

Now, what is “mem­o­ry”? how does the process of mem­o­ry sleep and memorywork?

Dr. Bill Klemm, Pro­fes­sor of Neu­ro­science at Texas A&M Uni­ver­si­ty, explains a very impor­tant con­cept below.

- Alvaro

——-

Get­ting from Here to There:
Mak­ing Mem­o­ry Con­sol­i­da­tion Work

By Bill Klemm,  Ph. D.

Until con­sol­i­da­tion has occurred, a short-term mem­o­ry is very vul­ner­a­ble, as all of us have expe­ri­enced from look­ing up a phone num­ber only to have some dis­trac­tion cause us to lose the num­ber before we can get it dialed.

What is “con­sol­i­da­tion”?

Brain researchers use the term “con­sol­i­da­tion” for the process where­by short-term mem­o­ry gets made more per­ma­nent.

Here, I would like to dis­cuss some aspects of con­sol­i­da­tion that many peo­ple may not know about: why sleep is so impor­tant, why mem­o­ry must be prac­ticed, and how test­ing pro­motes con­sol­i­da­tion. Read the rest of this entry »

Brain and Cognition Expert Contributors

As you have prob­a­bly noticed, a grow­ing num­ber of Expert Con­trib­u­tors are writ­ing in our blog, so that we can col­lec­tive­ly dis­cuss the lat­est research and trends on cog­ni­tive and brain health, and the impli­ca­tions of brain research in gen­er­al for our every­day lives. 

If you haven’t done so already, make sure to sub­scribe to our newslet­ter (above) and our RSS feed (on the right).

Below you have the pro­files of some of our Con­trib­u­tors and links to their best arti­cles with us so far. Enjoy!

Read the rest of this entry »

New Neurons: Good News, Bad News

Over the last year we have glad­ly seen an avalanche of news on adult neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis (the cre­ation of new neu­rons in adult brains), fol­low­ing recent research reports. Fur­ther, we have seen how the news that phys­i­cal exer­cise can enhance neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis is becom­ing com­mon knowl­edge among many health sys­tems we work with.

Now, the obvi­ous ques­tion that does­n’t always get asked is, “What good are new neu­rons if they don’t sur­vive?”. And that’s where learn­ing, enrich­ment, men­tal exer­cise, are crit­i­cal.

We are glad to intro­duce a new Expert Con­trib­u­tor, Dr. Bill Klemm, a pro­fes­sor of Neu­ro­science at Texas A&M Uni­ver­si­ty, who sum­ma­rizes much research on how new neu­rons are born-and what they need to live long hap­py lives.

- Alvaro

New Neu­rons: Good News, Bad News

– By Dr. Bill Klemm

In the last few years, researchers have dis­cov­ered that new nerve cells (neu­rons) are born, pre­sum­ably from resid­ual stem cells that exist even in adults. That should be good news for all of us as we get old­er and fear men­tal decline. The bad news is that these new neu­rons die, unless our minds are active enough.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mental Training for Gratitude and Altruism

Bran­don Keim writes a nice post on The Future Sci­ence of Altru­ism at Wired Sci­ence Blog, based on an inter­view with Jor­dan Graf­man, chief of cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science at the Nation­al Insti­tute of Neu­ro­log­i­cal Dis­or­ders and Stroke.

Bran­don pro­vides good con­text say­ing that “Sci­en­tists, said Graf­man, are under­stand­ing how our brains are shaped by cul­ture and envi­ron­ment, and a mech­a­nism of these changes may involve fluc­tu­a­tion in our genes them­selves, which we’re only begin­ning to under­stand”. (more on this in our post Richard Dawkins and Alfred Nobel: beyond nature and nur­ture).

And gives us some very nice quotes from Dr. Graf­man, includ­ing

  • One of the ways we dif­fer­en­ti­ate our­selves from oth­er species is that we have a sense of future. We don’t have to have imme­di­ate grat­i­fi­ca­tion.… But how far can we go into the future? How much of our brain is aimed at doing that? […]”
  • Oth­er great apes have a frontal lobe, fair­ly well devel­oped, but not near­ly as well devel­oped as our own. If you believe in Dar­win and evo­lu­tion, you argue that the area grew, and the neur­al archi­tec­ture had to change in some way to accom­mo­date the abil­i­ties asso­ci­at­ed with that behav­ior. There’s no doubt that did­n’t occur overnight; prob­a­bly a slow change, and it was one of the last areas of the brain to devel­op as well. It’s very recent evo­lu­tion­ary devel­op­ment that humans took full advan­tage of. What in the future? What in the brains can change?”
  • The issue becomes — do we teach this? Train peo­ple to do this? Chil­dren tend to be self­ish, and have to be taught to share.”

The UC Berke­ley mag­a­zine Greater Good tries to answer that ques­tion with a series of arti­cles on Grat­i­tude. I espe­cial­ly enjoyed A Les­son in Thanks, described as Read the rest of this entry »

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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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