Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


AARP: A majority of Americans believe dietary supplements improve brain health, despite the lack of evidence


New Report Dis­cour­ages Adults From Using Brain Health Sup­ple­ments (Pre­ven­tion):

This morn­ing, the Glob­al Coun­sel on Brain Health released a report con­clud­ing that dietary sup­ple­ments do not improve brain health or pre­vent cog­ni­tive decline, demen­tia, or Alzheimer’s dis­ease. The report, released by the AARP, flat­ly rec­om­mends that most con­sumers do not take sup­ple­ments for this pur­pose. Read the rest of this entry »

Vitamin D and Cognitive Decline: What’s the Relationship?

The role of vit­a­min D in the brain appeared evi­dent in the 1980s when researchers found key pro­teins in the brain involved in vit­a­min D metab­o­lism. A lot of clin­i­cal evi­dence has accu­mu­lat­ed since then sug­gest­ing that low vit­a­min D lev­els may poten­tial­ly result in cog­ni­tive decline. Nonethe­less the results are mixed and not all pre­vi­ous stud­ies have show that low lev­els of vit­a­min D are indeed asso­ci­at­ed with cog­ni­tive decline or demen­tia.

A 2010 study eval­u­at­ed this ques­tion for the first time by fol­low­ing the same indi­vid­u­als over the years, instead of com­par­ing peo­ple with nor­mal lev­els and peo­ple with low-lev­els of vit­a­min D. This study fol­lowed 858 adults 65 years and old­er over 6‑years. Results showed an increased risk of cog­ni­tive decline in patients with vit­a­min D defi­cien­cy. Read the rest of this entry »

Update: New Research, Resources, and Teasers for All

Every­one these days is talk­ing about edu­ca­tion and test­ing reform, but why is rel­e­vant brain research often ignored? Which organ if not the brain does the learn­ing and teach­ing part? Renowned edu­ca­tor and brain expert Dr. Robert Syl­west­er shares his rec­om­mend­ed Top Brain Books for Edu­ca­tors and Learn­ers to help inform the con­ver­sa­tion. A must read!

Save the Date: the 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit, the sec­ond edi­tion of our annu­al indus­try and research con­fer­ence, will take place vir­tu­al­ly from March 28th to March 31st 2010. Details will fol­low soon.

With­out fur­ther ado…please enjoy the Novem­ber edi­tion of our month­ly eNewslet­ter:

Research Bites

Foot­ball and brain dam­age: In high-con­tact sports such as foot­ball, even hits not lead­ing to con­cus­sions can affect the brain.

How to take omega‑3: Eat­ing fish (source of omega‑3) reduces risks of demen­tia but DHA sup­ple­ments have no effect on Alzheimer’s symp­toms.

Vit­a­mins against Alzheimer’s? A good review shows that Vit­a­min B has unclear effects on mem­o­ry and cog­ni­tive decline.

Brain train­ing helps old­er dri­vers: tar­get­ed cog­ni­tive train­ing can help reduce old­er dri­vers’ car crash­es. Dr. Mich­e­lon explains why and how.

Resources and Tips

Top 10 Q&A about Child’s Brain Devel­op­ment: In the 1st part of our series, The Brain across the Lifes­pan, we answer 10 ques­tions to help you under­stand the devel­op­ing brain.

Our Brain on Music: Scott Kauf­man shows that there is lit­tle evi­dence that lis­ten­ing to Mozart’s music boosts brain func­tions. Music can have an effect, but we need to do more than lis­ten.

Work­ing Mem­o­ry: What is work­ing mem­ory? Why do we care? How can we best enhance it? Dr. Mich­e­lon answers these ques­tions through con­crete exam­ples and a Q&A.


Rethink­ing Alzheimer’s Pre­ven­tion and Treat­ment: In this excerpt from their recent book “The Alzheimer’s Solu­tion” Ken Kosik and Lin­da Clegg pro­pose a new mod­el for brain care: The “cog­ni­tive shop”.

Did You See the Goril­la? Daniel Simons, co-author of  “The Invis­i­ble Goril­la”, inter­viewed by David DiS­al­vo, tells us about the myth of mul­ti-task­ing.

Cog­ni­tive Devel­op­ment in the first 20 years: In this excerpt from his lat­est book “A Child’s Brain”, Dr. Syl­west­er syn­the­sizes the first 20 years of devel­op­ment.

Council Insights

How will we assess, enhance and repair cog­ni­tion across the lifes­pan?: Learn about a brain health rev­o­lu­tion in the mak­ing and how we can shape it, straight from the new Sharp­Brains Coun­cil for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion.

Brain Teasers

Brain Games for each Cog­ni­tive Abil­i­ty: To under­stand why we need to go beyond cross­word puz­zles, stim­u­late your whole brain with this selec­tion of brain teasers and games.

Have a great Decem­ber, and please don’t for­get to engage via Face­book and Twit­ter!

Vitamin B against Alzheimer’s? Too early to tell.

An inter­est­ing and very well-doc­u­ment­ed arti­cle in the Los Ange­les Times reviews stud­ies look­ing at Vit­a­min B and its role in improv­ing mem­o­ry.

The vit­a­mins — includ­ing folic acid and vit­a­mins B6 and B12 — are often tout­ed as a way to improve mem­o­ry and stave off cog­ni­tive decline. The claims are based on the find­ing that lev­els of the vit­a­min are low in peo­ple with var­i­ous forms of cog­ni­tive impair­ment Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Health: Physical or Mental Exercise?

Our fel­low blog­ger Jere­my over at Psy­Blog has writ­ten a thought­ful post com­par­ing the val­ue of a num­ber of cog­ni­tive enhanc­ing tools. His over­all ver­dict?

The evi­dence for exer­cise boost­ing cog­ni­tive func­tion is head-and-shoul­ders above that for brain train­ing, drugs, nutri­tion­al sup­ple­ments and med­i­ta­tion. Sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly, on the cur­rent evi­dence, exer­cise is the best way to enhance your cog­ni­tive func­tion. And as for its side-effects: yes there is the chance of an injury but exer­cise can also reduce weight, low­er the chance of demen­tia, improve mood and lead to a longer life-span. Damn those side-effects!”

Arti­cle: Which Cog­ni­tive Enhancers Real­ly Work: Brain Train­ing, Drugs, Vit­a­mins, Med­i­ta­tion or Exer­cise?

Jere­my, I start­ed writ­ing this as a com­ment to your post in your blog, but then it got too long. Let me write my reac­tion to your post here.

While I appre­ci­ate your analy­sis and share most of your points, I think the “rank­ing” effort (this type of inter­ven­tion is bet­ter than that one) is ulti­mate­ly mis­lead­ing.  It is Rubik's Cube brain exercisebased on a faulty search for a gen­er­al solution/ mag­ic pill for every­one and every­thing.

If only things were so sim­ple. Per­haps one day there will be research to sup­port that view, but cer­tain­ly not today. A num­ber of inter­ven­tions have shown their val­ue. In dif­fer­ent pop­u­la­tions, and con­texts. For “exer­cise is the best way to enhance your cog­ni­tive func­tion” to be true, one needs to have a pret­ty spe­cif­ic under­stand­ing of “best”, “your” and “cog­ni­tive func­tion”.

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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