Brain-fitness plan can improve memory (Sydney Morning Herald), reports on the recent endorsement of Posit Science’s programs (Posit Science Program Classic, focused on auditory processing training, and Posit Science Cortex™ with InSight™, on visual processing). Quotes: [Read more…] about Posit Science Program Classic and InSight: Alzheimer’s Australia
Posit Science Corporation announced today, at the annual International Long Term Care Insurance Conference,Ã‚Â theÃ‚Â launch of a new programÃ‚Â calledÃ‚Â Ã‚Â InSight™ for visual processing training.
We have not yet had the chance to analyze the program, but several pertinent open questions posed by Alvaro last month to Posit Science representatives (see Posit Science Brain Fitness Program 2.0: Open Questions)Ã‚Â haven’t yet been addressed. Specifically:
Roundup of interesting news in this emerging field:
1) Brain Health Leaders Team Up to Prevent Crashes.
2) Adults Improve Critical Professional and Personal Skills Through New Cognitive Training Program.
3) Nature Neuroscience Podcast and London Taxi Drivers.
4) What Have You Changed Your Mind About, lately?.
5) The 2008 Mind & Life Summer Research Institute starts accepting applications.
6) The Mind & Life Institute has announced the 2007 Francisco J. Varela Research Award Recipients. [Read more…] about Brain Health/ Brain Training News
Given the growing number of articles in the popular press mentioning words such as “neuroplasticity”, “fMRI” and “cognitive reserve”, let’s review some key findings, concepts and terms.
First, a prescient quote by Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852–1934): “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor his own brain”.
Thanks to new neuroimaging techniques, regarded “as important for neuroscience as telescopes were for astronomy, neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists have been finding that the brain has a number of “core capacities” and “mental muscles” that can be exercised through novelty, variety and practice, and that exercising our brain can influence the generation of new neurons and their connections. Brain exercise is being recognized, therefore, as a critical pillar of brain health, together with nutrition, physical exercise and stress management.
Previous beliefs about our brain and how it works have been proven false. Some beliefs that have been debunked include claims that adult brains can not create new neurons (shown to be false by Berkeley scientists Marian Diamond and Mark Rosenzweig, and Salk Institute’s Fred Gage), notions that working memory has a maximum limit of 6 or 7 items (debunked by Karolinska Institute Torkel Klingberg), and assumptions that the brain’s basic processes can not be reorganized by repeated practice (UCSF’s Drs. Paula Tallal and Michael Merzenich). The “mental muscles” we can train include attention, stress and emotional management, memory, visual/ spatial, auditory processes and language, motor coordination and executive functions like planning and problem-solving.
Mental stimulation is important if done in the right supportive and engaging environment. Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky has proven that chronic stress and cortical inhibition, which may be aggravated due to imposed mental stimulation, may prove counterproductive. Having the right motivation is essential.
A surprising and promising area of scientific inquiry is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). An increasing number of neuroscientists (such as University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Richard Davidson) are investigating the ability of trained meditators to develop and sustain attention and visualizations and to work positively with powerful emotional states and stress through the directed mental processes of meditation practices.
And now, some keywords:
Brain Fitness Program: structured set of brain exercises, usually computer-based, designed to train specific brain areas and processes in targeted ways.
Chronic Stress: ongoing, long-term stress, which blocks the formation of new neurons and [Read more…] about Neuroplasticity 101 and Brain Health Glossary
Jeffrey Gonce, a Psychology teacher at Red Land High School (West Shore School District, PA) just asked his students to “complete a project describing a recent brain (or genetic) study that affects behavior.” Â The students could opt to post their articles online, and Jeffrey was kind enough to send us a link to read the results.
We enjoyed the overall level of the essays (you can read them all here), and truly enjoyed reading a beautiful, well-researched and better written essay by Alexandra M, 15. Which, incidentally, quotes from one of our favourite popular science books on the brain, John Ratey’s A User’s Guide to the Brain.
March 2, 2007
It’s Christmas morning, and your brother rushes downstairs to see what “Santa” brought him. The morning goes by in a flurry of colorful wrapping paper and stringy ribbons until all that’s left is a big present in the center of your brother’s lap. The present that “Santa” brought him. As he rips open the paper, “Santa’s” chest swells with pride, he feels good and happy. As the brother runs around screaming about his new remote controlled F‑14 Tomcat, “Santa” laughs and cleans up. But why did he feel that way? [Read more…] about “Tis better to give than receive”: oxytocin and dopamine