Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Trend: More healthcare and research facilities offer multipronged brain fitness programs

BrainFitnessJigsaw_webCan an exercise routine really help keep your mental “muscles” in good shape? (Harvard Health Letter):

“Fear of losing your memory and thinking skills is one of the greatest concerns of getting older. Maybe that’s behind the increasing number of clinics offering brain fitness programs. “Brain training” isn’t a typical exercise program; it incorporates a number of activities and lifestyle changes to help boost brain function. “It makes very good sense to promote cognitive health using a variety of approaches. I embrace it even as we await more data,” says Dr. Kirk Daffner, a neurologist and medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report Improving Memory…Hospitals and research facilities offer brain fitness programs, and so do private practices. “Ideally you want people who have done this for a long time and who offer a multidisciplinary approach, with a neurologist, psychologist, social worker, physical therapist, and dietitian,” says Dr. Pascual-Leone.”

To learn more:

Growing evidence that brain health requires personalized, multi-pronged interventions

physicalex_aging

.

The Right Dose of Exercise for the Aging Brain (New York Times):

“A small amount of exercise may improve our ability to think as we age, but more may not be better, according to a new study of exercise and cognition…

In general, the researchers found, most of the exercisers showed improvement in their thinking skills…but these gains were about the same whether people had exercised for 75 minutes a week or 225 minutes Read the rest of this entry »

Study: To improve memory and thinking skills, try the Mediterranean diet with added olive oil and nuts

Mediterranean-Diet

.

Mediterranean diet may help counteract age-related declines in memory and thinking skills (Harvard Health Blog):

“A new study in this week’s JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that eating a Mediterranean-style diet enhanced with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts is good for your mind as well as your heart. Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Sleeping less than 5 hours, or more than 9, can lead to cognitive decline

Alarm-Clock-next-to-bed-300x214Too little sleep, and too much, affect memory (Harvard Health Blog):

“A group of women taking part in the Nurses’ Health Study were asked about their sleep habits in 1986 and 2000, and were interviewed about memory and thinking skills three times over a later six-year period. Devore and her colleagues observed worse performance on brain testing among Read the rest of this entry »

Arts and Smarts: Test Scores and Cognitive Development

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

At a time when educators are preoccupied with standards, testing, and the bottom line, some researchers suggest the arts can boost students’ test scores; others aren’t convinced. Karin Evans asks, What are the arts good for?


When poet and national endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia gave the 2007 Commencement Address at Stanford University, he used the occasion to deliver an impassioned argument for the value of the arts and arts education.

“Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing the world,” said Gioia. “There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as stories, or songs, or images. Art delights, instructs, consoles. It educates our emotions.”

For years, arts advocates like Gioia have been making similar pleas, stressing the intangible benefits of the arts at a time when many Americans are preoccupied with a market–driven culture of entertainment, and schools are consumed with meeting federal standards. Art brings joy, these advocates say, or it evokes our humanity, or, in the words of my 10–year–old daughter, “It cools kids down after all the other hard stuff they have to think about.”

Bolstering the case for the arts has become increasingly necessary in recent years, as school budget cuts and the move toward standardized testing have profoundly threatened the role of the arts in schools. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2002, the federal government started assessing school districts by their students’ scores on reading and mathematics tests.

As a result, according to a study by the Center on Education Policy, school districts across the United States increased the time they devoted to tested subjects—reading/language arts and math—while cutting spending on non–tested subjects such as the visual arts and music. The more a school fell behind, by NCLB standards, the more time and money was devoted to those tested subjects, with less going to the arts. The National Education Association has reported that the cuts fall hardest on schools with high numbers of minority children.

And the situation is likely to worsen as state budgets get even tighter. Already, in a round of federal education cuts for 2006 and 2007, arts education nationally was slashed by $35 million. In 2008, the New York City Department of Education’s annual study of Read the rest of this entry »

Learn More and Save Your Spot

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

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 and think tank tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

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