Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Change Your Environment, Change Yourself

(Editor’s note: one of the most common enemies of getting quality cognitive exercise is being on The Daily Trading Coach, by Brett Steenbarger“mental autopilot”. I recently came across an excellent new book, titled The Daily Trading Coach: 101 Lessons for Becoming Your Own Trading Psychologist, by trading performance expert Dr. Brett Steenbarger, which explicitly calls for addressing the “mental autopilot” problem in his Lesson 4. Even for those of us who are not traders, Dr. Steenbarger advice provides excellent guidance for peak cognitive performance. Dr. Steenbarger graciously gave us permission to share with you, below, Lesson 4: Change Your Environment, Change Yourself. Enjoy!).

Human beings adapt to their environments. We draw on a range of skills and personality traits to fit into various settings. That is why we can behave one way in a social setting and then seem like a totally different human being at work. One of the enduring attractions of travel is that it takes us out of our native environments and forces us to adapt to new people, new cultures, and new ways. When we make those adaptations, we discover new facets of ourselves. As we’ll see shortly, discrepancy is the mother of all change: when we are in the same environments, we tend to draw upon the same, routine modes of thought and behavior.

A few months ago I had an attack of acute appendicitis while staying in a LaGuardia airport hotel awaiting a return flight to Chicago. When I went to the nearest emergency room at Elmhurst Hospital outside Jackson Heights, Queens, I found that I was seemingly the only native English speaker in a sea of people awaiting medical care. After some difficulty attracting attention, I was admitted to the hospital and spent the next several days of recuperation navigating my way through patients and staff of every conceivable nationality. By the end of the experience, I felt at home there. I’ve since stayed at the same airport hotel and routinely make visits into the surrounding neighborhoods—areas I would have never in my wildest dreams ventured into previously. In adapting to that environment, I discovered hidden strengths. I also overcame more than a few hidden prejudices and fears.

The greatest enemy of change is routine. When we lapse into routine and operate on autopilot, we are no longer fully and actively conscious of what we’re doing and why. That is why some of the most fertile situations for personal growth—those that occur within new environments—are those that force us to exit our routines and actively master unfamiliar challenges.

In familiar environments and routines, we operate on autopilot. Nothing changes.

When you act as your own trading coach, your challenge is to stay fully conscious, alert to risk and opportunity. One of your greatest threats will be the autopilot mode in which you act without thinking, without full awareness of your situation. If you shift your trading environment, you push yourself to adapt to new situations: you break routines. If your environment is always the same, you will find yourself gravitating to the same Read the rest of this entry »

Your Trading Brain: Expert or Novice

We had the fortune to interview Dr. Brett Steenbarger on Enhancing Trader Performance and The Psychology of Trading as we launched our Neuroscience Interview Series.

Below, Expert Contributor Dr. Janice Dorn provides an in-depth brain-based discussion of the topic, concluding that “The brain is the most powerful structure in the known universe and the only trading tool that the trader needs to become an expert.”

No matter whether you are a Pro or Amateur Trader…this will certainly exercise your brain! (Dr. Dorn is preparing more articles on trading performance and the brain…so stay tuned).

This is Your Brain On Trading

— By Dr. Janice Dorn

The opening bell sounds, and sixty million traders enter the greatest arena in the world to do battle with each other. They put their money, beliefs and skills on the line as they make decisions to buy and sell. Welcome to the financial markets where billions of dollars are won and lost every day. Volatility compels all to engage their brains in the continuous process of decision making. What separates the winning from losing traders is the way they use their most powerful trading tool—the human brain.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Research Interview Series

We are working on improving several sections of our website, especially our Resources section. It will look much better in a few days. Our first step has been to re-organize our Neuroscience Interview Series, and below you have how it looks today.

During the last 18 months I have had the fortune to interview over 15 cutting-edge neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists on their research and thoughts. Here are some of our favorite quotes (you can read the full interview notes by clicking on the links):

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Software Trends

Some very interesting brain fitness software market news:

1) Scientific Learning To Buy Out Soliloquy

– “Scientific Learning Corp. has announced that it will acquire Soliloquy Learning from JTT Holdings. Both Scientific Learning and Soliloquy provide technology solutions for education. The acquisition will cost SLC about $11 million and is expected to be completed this month.”

– “Scientific Learning is the developer of Fast ForWord, a family of reading intervention tools targeted toward students who are characterized as struggling learners and designed to develop the required “neurocognitive skills” for reading and learning in general. Soliloquy is also a reading intervention developer.”

Comment: this acquisition consolidates Scientific Learning (NSDQ: SCIL) as the leading company in the education segment of the brain fitness market. It will be interesting to track what research gets done on the neural and cognitive effects of Soliloquy, since Scientific Learning’s Fast Forword is backed by extensive literature.

2) Technomedia Partners With SBT to Accelerate Its International Expansion

– “Technomedia, a Canadian provider of talent management and human capital development solutions, announced its partnership with the SBT (Scientific Brain Training) group, a European provider of training and evaluation of cognitive functions.” Read the rest of this entry »

Neuroplasticity = Lifelong Learning

I have just read the best blog post I have read in a loooong while, so let me share it here now. Brett Steenbarger is a Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and a Trading Psychology expert who I had the pleasure to interview a while back. He is a master at trading, learning, teaching and coaching.

And has written this superb post: When Traders Lose Confidence – Part Three: Structuring Your Experience. We talk in this blog a lot about neuroplasticity and cognitive and emotional training, but what Brett outlines is, in summary, a very healthy attitude to life, lifelong brain plasticity, brain health, and success. Not bad!

See below a few of his quotes-but please read the full article here:

  • What we call the “self”–how we experience ourselves–is the result of all that we internalize from people and events.
  • Because we are always having new experiences–and can internalize these–we are always, to some degree, remaking who we are.
  • Every activity we engage in provides us with feedback about ourselves: our abilities, how we’re perceived by others, our character. In selecting what we do, who we do it with, and how we do it, we can structure our experience to create mirrors of success and mastery.
  • Experience is our psychological food; it’s vital that we feed ourselves well. But what does it mean to structure our experience and feed ourselves well psychologically?
  • The reason I’m effective as a psychologist, I believe, is not because I’m all that more educated than others or utilize such better techniques. Rather, I have an uncanny ability to see the best in people; to push aside the problems of the moment and see through to qualities of greatness that are present within most of us, however fleetingly. It’s because I see the best in people that I can be a good mirror–and help others see in themselves what they otherwise cannot appreciate on their own Confidence comes from the right kind of mirroring–and we can choose our mirrors.

Please enjoy When Traders Lose Confidence – Part Three: Structuring Your Experience.

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