Playing chess or other board games slows cognitive decline and improves quality of life in older patients, results of a new systematic review suggest.
… After searching the published literature, Pozzi and his colleagues selected 15 studies for the review. The studies assessed the impact of board games on older individuals at risk of, or with cognitive impairment, or those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at any age. [Read more…] about Study: Playing board games like Chess, Mahjong, Go, helps slow cognitive decline as we age (but with clear differences in neurobiology and improved function)
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains e‑newsletter, featuring this time a range of brain research findings, tools and controversies plus some brain teasers to challenge your (and our) working memory.
“Higher intensity physical activity was associated with greater improvements” and “Effectiveness of physical activity interventions diminished with longer duration interventions.”
The sweet spot was four or five half-hour effortful sessions per week. Are you hitting it?
Not surprising but important findings. Next to research: the type, intensity, and duration that may help the most.
Crucially, “… reading for pleasure in early childhood was linked with better scores on comprehensive cognition assessments and better educational attainment in young adolescence. It was also associated with fewer mental health problems and less time spent on electronic devices … can be beneficial regardless of socioeconomic status. It may also be helpful regardless of the children’s initial intelligence level.” — Long Live Books and Reading (and, yes, Exercise)!
“Early intervention is critical in preventing a patient’s mild to moderate symptoms from worsening” … (but) online therapy may not suit everyone and that it was still up to healthcare professionals to identify “who may and may not benefit”
Still early days, but relevant signal to note and track
Important point: “The potential to collect brain data more directly, with higher resolution, and in greater amounts has heightened worries about mental and brain privacy …(but) We argue that by emphasizing what is distinct about brain privacy issues, rather than what they share with other data privacy concerns, risks weakening broader efforts to enact more robust privacy law and policy.”
“Will Leqembi’s primary benefit — a slight slowing of decline in cognition and functioning — make a significant difference to patients and family members or will it be difficult to discern? … How many older adults in their 70s and 80s will be able and willing to travel to medical centers for infusions twice a month and have regular MRI scans and physician visits to monitor for potential side effects such as brain bleeds or swelling? Even with Medicare coverage, how many people will be able to afford the suite of medical services required?”
“To qualify for Leqembi, patients must undergo a PET scan that looks for amyloid plaques, the protein clumps that clog the brains of many Alzheimer’s patients. About 1 in 5 patients who took Leqembi in the major clinical test of the drug developed brain hemorrhaging or swelling, a risk that requires those taking the drug to undergo frequent medical checkups and brain scans called MRIs … Outstanding doubts about Leqembi and related drugs have given urgency to efforts to monitor patient experiences.”
Say the days of the week in alphabetical order, then backwards. If too hard, try the 5 work days first.
If you speak a language other than English, do the same in said language.
Say the months of the year in alphabetical order. Too easy? Well, try doing so backwards, in reverse alphabetical order. (You will probably need some pen and paper for this one.)
Find the sum of your date of birth, mm/dd/yyyy. For a tougher brain teaser, do the same with your best friend’s date of birth (without looking it up…)
Look around you and, within a minute, find three green things that may fit in your pockets, and three red objects that are clearly too big to fit.
Early childhood is a critical period for brain development, which is important for boosting cognition and mental wellbeing. Good brain health at this age is directly linked to better mental heath, cognition and educational attainment in adolescence and adulthood. It can also provide resilience in times of stress.
But, sadly, brain development can be hampered by poverty. Studies have shown that early childhood poverty is a risk factor for lower educational attainment. It is also associated with differences in brain structure, poorer cognition, behavioural problems and mental health symptoms. [Read more…] about Reading for pleasure during childhood may lead to higher brain/ cognitive development and mental well-being during adolescence
We invite you to celebrate Brain Awareness Week (March 13–19th, 2023) by learning more about that key yet often-overlooked organ and by putting it to good use via some fun brain teasers and illusions 🙂
- Can you connect these pairs of words?
- Try these quick teasers to challenge your working memory
- Three classic optical illusions, explained
- Test your cognitive skills with these proverbs
- Math teaser: Will you finish your thesis on time?
- What do you see? And, can you unsee it?
- Study examines common cognitive biases such as this one and ways to mitigate them
About Brain Awareness Week:
Every March, Brain Awareness Week (BAW) unites the efforts of partner organizations worldwide in a celebration of the brain for people of all ages. Activities are limited only by the organizers’ imaginations and include open days at neuroscience labs; exhibitions about the brain; lectures on brain-related topics; social media campaigns; displays at libraries and community centers; classroom workshops; and more. This year BAW takes place March 13–19th, 2023.
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring timely brain & innovation news and a few fun teasers to test your working memory.
“Teasing out exactly how muscle helps the brain remains a challenge. There are plenty of indirect links … But Dr. Chevalier’s results suggest there may be more direct mechanisms too. One possibility is the role of myokines, a set of hormone-like molecules produced by muscle cells that can travel to the brain and influence mood, learning and other cognitive functions. Greater muscle mass may also help keep blood glucose levels in check, protecting the brain from damage.”
“More than half of the app ratings showed disagreement between participants and professionals … Participants particularly valued certain aspects of mental health apps, which appear to be overlooked by professional reviewers. These included functions such as the ability to track and measure mental health and providing general mental health education. The cost of apps was among the most important factors for participants.”
“… individual characteristics influenced the outcome of combined cognitive training and tDCS regimens, with the intervention selectively benefiting old-old adults with lower working memory capacity. Future work should consider developing individualized treatments by considering individual differences in cognitive profiles.”
“I fundamentally believe in the power of mindfulness and meditation tools, but they can’t serve all mental health needs. And particularly when someone’s in a state of acute anxiety, acute depression, they need access to professional, human services…We are building out what I often call the middle piece, the bridge that exists between the self-serve content in the Headspace app and the text-based coaching, teletherapy and telepsychiatry of the Ginger service.”
“The implication here is that you should let your gratitude out when you feel it … That’s not to say that you should go around and make up gratitude expressions for no reason. But, when you genuinely feel gratitude, you should express it.” — Christopher Oveis, Director of the Empathy & Emotion Lab at UCSD
“My vision for DANA has always been that every time you go to the doctor, in addition to taking your height, weight, blood pressure, and temperature, they will take your DANA brain vital. When measuring your brain health becomes second nature—as common as checking your blood pressure—it will empower everyone, no matter their age, to spot changes sooner and take action.” — Cori Lathan, CEO of AnthroTronix, in her great new book.
Timely and important work to be done by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
#8. Last but not least, let us share a few quick brain teasers to exercise your working memory … enjoy!
Wishing you and yours a healthy and warm month of November
Giving memory a lift: Can games and brain stimulation do it? (MedicalNewsToday):
A person’s working memory may decline with age or if they have dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or have had a stroke. When this occurs, the loss can affect their day-to-day quality of life, turning even simple tasks into often-demoralizing challenges. [Read more…] about Combined tDCS neurostimulation and cognitive training found to improve working memory among older adults–especially those with lower starting capacity