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Why Meditation and Brain Training Go Beyond "Use it or Lose It"
Copyright (c) 2010 SharpBrains You probably have read many times by now that a brain-healthy lifestyle requires a balanced nutrition, stress management, physical exercise and mental stimulation. The question is, what exactly is mental stimulation? and, is all mental stimulation the same? is doing your first crossword puzzle the same as doing crossword puzzle number one million? The answer: it's not all the same. Real mental stimulation or "brain training" is different from "easy", routine,...

The Neuroplasticity Revolution: How To Optimize Your Brain Every Single Day
Copyright (c) 2010 SharpBrains You probably have already read about neuroplasticity - the capacity of my brain and your brain to change, for the better or the worse, based on what we think, feel and do every single day. In this article we will explore the ways you can ensure that change happens for the better. Brain fitness is our brain's ability to readily create additional connections between neurons, and even to promote new neurons in certain parts of the brain, contributing to maintain...

Why We Need Personal Brain Trainers - Dr. Michael Merzenich and Neuroplasticity
Copyright (c) 2009 SharpBrains I recently had the fortune to interview Dr. Michael Merzenich, a leading pioneer in brain plasticity research, in his office at UCSF. You may have learned about his work in one of PBS TV specials, multiple media appearances, or neuroplasticity-related books. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1999 and to the Institute of Medicine this year. AF (Alvaro Fernandez): Dear Michael, thank you very much for your time today. What are, in your mind,...

Top 7 FAQs on Brain Plasticity and Cognitive Fitness for Life
Copyright (c) 2009 SharpBrains What does "brain fitness" mean? and what about "brain plasticity"? These two concepts seem to be everywhere in the media these days, and were nowhere to be seen a few years ago. What do they mean? How can they help me? We just polled over a thousand people about their main questions on neuroplasticity and brain fitness. I have selected and answered the 7 most common ones below. I hope you enjoy the FAQ session. Q: What exactly does neuroplasticity mean, and...

Why is AAA Offering Brain Training to Older Drivers? Hint: To Improve Safety
Why is AAA Offering Brain Training to Older Drivers? Hint: To Improve Safety Copyright (c) 2009 SharpBrains The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety just started recommending a new "brain training" driver safety program called DriveSharp, developed by Posit Science. DriveSharp is a computerized cognitive assessment and training tool based on Karlene Ball's research on older adults' cognitive fitness and driving. Commenting on this news, Peter Kissinger, CEO of the AAA Foundation, recently...

Healthy Aging for the Brain: Understanding the Facts, not the Myths
Copyright (c) 2009 SharpBrains Have you noticed that every week some article seems to say exactly the opposite to what another article said the week before? Do supplements improve memory? Are physical and brain activity important and complementary or is either enough? Which brain training approach, if any, is worth one's time and money? First of all, we need to debunk several popular myths on mental fitness and cognitive health. Once you understand the facts, not the myths, you will be able...

Distracted At Work? Meet Maggie Jackson's Book on Attention and the Workplace
Distracted At Work? Meet Maggie Jackson's Book on Attention and the Workplace Today we discuss some of the brain implications of "always on" workplaces and lifestyles via a fascinating interview with Maggie Jackson, an award-winning author and journalist. Her latest book, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, describes the implications of our busy work and life environments and offers important reflections to help us thrive. Question - New York Times columnist David...

Technology For Brain Health: an Upcoming Revolution in Cognitive Assessments and Training
In April 2008, Baycrest, a leading research institute focused on aging and brain function, received $10-million from the Ontario Government to create a groundbreaking Centre for Brain Fitness. Its stated goal was to "develop and commercialize a range of products designed to improve the brain health of aging Ontarians and others around the world". "Our government is proud to support Baycrest and its invaluable work, which is already leading to the discovery of important new tools and...

Brain Training: It Works (to Improve Mental Skills) and It Doesn't (to reduce Brain Age)
Brain Training: It Works (to Improve Mental Skills) and It Doesn't (to reduce Brain Age) Researchers from the Mayo Clinic and USC Davis have just announced publication of their IMPACT study at the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The press release announces: - "Of the 487 healthy adults over the age of 65 who participated in a randomized controlled trial, half used the Brain Fitness Program for 40 hours over the course of eight weeks. The Brain Fitness Program consists of six...

The Top 10 Brain Health Books of 2008: Ready for some Mental Exercise?
? Here you have The 10 Most Popular Brain Fitness & Cognitive Health Books of 2008, based on book purchases by SharpBrains' readers during 2008. We hope you find them as stimulating as we did! 1. Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (Pear Press, March 2008) - Dr. John Medina, Director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University, writes an engaging and comprehensive introduction to the many daily implications of...

The Power of Meditation for Brain Health: Interview with Dr. Andrew Newberg
I recently had the fortune to interview Dr. Andrew Newberg, one of the leading researchers focused on meditation and the brain. Dr. Newberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology and Psychiatry and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He has researched the brain impact of meditation, prayer, and how brain function is associated with mystical and religious experiences. Quuestion (Q): Dr. Newberg, thank you for...

Exercise Body and Brain to Maintain Lifelong Cognitive Health
The American Medical News, a weekly newspaper for physicians published by the American Medical Association, just published an excellent article on the importance of Exercise - Physical and Mental: A few quotes from the article titled "Steps to a nimble mind: Physical and mental exercise help keep the brain fit": "Until recently, conventional wisdom held that our brains were intractable, hard-wired computers. What we were born with was all we got. Age wore down memory and the ability to...

Earth 2.0: Yes We Can Launch a New And Improved Global Agenda
Imagine seeing a top sheik from Dubai, wrapped in traditional Arab clothing, exclaim "Yes We Can" in front of the 800 experts gathered during the Summit of the Global Agenda that just took place in Dubai on November 7-9th, co-organized by the World Economic Forum and the Government of Dubai. This same sheik added that "we build the future with our own hands". As previously announced, the "Global Agenda Councils will challenge prevailing assumptions, monitor trends, map interrelationships and...

We Need a Global Consortium for Brain Fitness and Training Innovation
The World Economic Forum asked me to write "an 800 words summary of your most compelling actionable idea on the challenges of aging and gerontology", in preparation for the Inaugural Summit of the Global Agenda taking place November 7 to 9th in Dubai. Here you have my proposal to create a Global Consortium for Brain Fitness and Training Innovation and help ensure that "No Brain is Left Behind": I. The Context - Growing Demands on Our Brains: Picture 6.7 billion Primitive Brains inhabiting a...

Can Games, Meditation and Parenting Help Improve Attention?
? I am honored to interview today Michael I. Posner, a prominent scientist in the field of cognitive neuroscience. He is currently an emeritus professor of neuroscience at the University of Oregon (Department of Psychology, Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences). In August 2008, the International Union of Psychological Science made him the first recipient of the Dogan Prize "in recognition of a contribution that represents a major advance in psychology by a scholar or team of scholars of...

Healthy Aging for Brain and Body: Answers to your Main Questions
Given the growing and often contradictory media coverage regarding aging and Alzheimer's Disease topics, you probably have a good number of questions you would like to see answered on Healthy Aging for Brain and Body. Let's address some of them in a lively Question & Answer format. * Question: What is aging? - Answer: Wikipedia says that "Ageing or aging (American English) is the accumulation of changes in an organism or object over time. Ageing in humans refers to a multidimensional...

Top 7 Brainteasers and Puzzles for Job Interviews and Brain Challenge
A recent CNN article explains well why a growing number of companies use brainteasers and logic puzzles of a type called "guesstimations" during job interviews: - "Seemingly random questions like these have become commonplace in Silicon Valley and other tech outposts, where companies aren't as interested in the correct answer to a tough question as they are in how a prospective employee might try to solve it. Since businesses today have to be able to react quickly to shifting market dynamics,...

ABC Reporter Bob Woodruff's Incredible Recovery From Traumatic Brain Injury
You have may have seen a few weeks ago the interview between former US presidential contender John Edwards and reporter Bob Woodruff. All the resulting media coverage centered on Edwards' declarations. However, there is something much more remarkable that surfaced at that interview: Bob Woodruff's spectacular recovery. This is the same reporter who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury when a roadside In an Instant - Bob and Lee Woodruffbomb detonated next to his vehicle in January 29th...

Is the Future of Cognitive Therapy Similar to Training One's Abdominal Muscles?
? The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article yesterday, titled To Be Young and Anxiety-Free, focused on the value of cognitive behavioral therapy to help children with high levels of anxiety learn how too cope better and prevent the snowball scenario, when that anxiety grows and spirals out of control resulting in depression and similar - "...new research showing that treating kids for anxiety when they are young may help prevent the development of more serious mental illnesses,...

Can Meditation Help to Read Hidden Emotional Messages in other People's Faces?
? I recently attended a great workshop at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. The class was called "Reading Emotional Messages" and taught by Paul Ekman, Ph.D, a well-know scientist who regularly trains lawyers and police officials in his techniques. Concealed emotions, microexpressions, are the fleeting expressions that people make when they are consciously or unconsciously trying to hide their true emotional response. In conscious microexpressions they may be trying to...

Obesity Crisis or Cognitive Crisis? How to Get Weight Under Control
Obesity Crisis or Cognitive Crisis? How to Get Weight Under Control In early August, a scientific study published in the British Medical Journal added a novel perspective on how to think of, and consequently address, the so-called obesity epidemic that many developed countries, including the US, are experiencing. The media reported on the study main findings: - "The study was based on tests of about 11,000 people in Britain who were tested for hand control, co-ordination and clumsiness...

Combine Physical and Mental Exercise for Brain Health: Interview with Dr. Kramer
Dr. Arthur Kramer is a Professor in the University of Illinois Department of Psychology, the Campus Neuroscience Program, the Beckman Institute, and the Director of the Biomedical Imaging Center at the University of Illinois. I am honored to interview him today about recent brain research findings focused on how to maintain a healthy, strong brain. Alvaro Fernandez (AF): Dr. Kramer, thank you for your time. Let's start by trying to clarify some existing misconceptions and controversies....

Top 10 Brain Training Future Trends: New Mind/Body Focus, Brain Trainers, and More
In an emerging, dynamic, high growth market, like brain training, it is difficult to make precise projections. But, we can observe a number of trends that executives, consumers, public policy makers, and the media should watch closely in the coming years, as brain fitness and training becomes mainstream, new brain trainers appear, and an ecosystem grows around it. 1. We predict an increased emphasis on brain maintenance in locations ranging from retirement communities to gyms. As a...

Ready to Measure Your Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health?
? You know your weight. And your physical fitness. And a variety of health-related metrics. What about your brain fitness? In years to come, we can expect a growing number of assessments to help each of us address that precise question, using tools that today are only available to researchers and clinicians, raising both opportunities and concerns. Two recent announcements bring out important events in that direction: 1) Last week, OptumHealth announced an exclusive 3-year agreement...

Why Smart Brains Make Stupid Decisions On Money, Work and Health
It happens. Often. Why? We just secured an interview with Ori Brafman, co-author of Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior (Doubleday Business, 2008), to discuss our Dark Side (well, he calls if "different hidden forces" and "psychological undercurrents"). While reading some reviews about his book, I particularly enjoyed finding, after the usual impressive long collection of endorsements, this "disclaimer": *DISCLAIMER: If you decide to buy this book because of these...

Brain Improvement and Cognitive Fitness: Fact or Fiction?
? You may already have a Nintendo Brain Age game, or at least have heard of it. You may also have read recently that start-up Lumos Labs raised $3m to develop "brain training games". From the press release: - "Lumos Labs is at the center of a booming interest in cognitive exercise and the emerging science about the remarkable plasticity of the brain," said Amish Jani of Pequot Ventures. This and other developments (such as the success of Nintendo Brain Age, and the PBS special devoted to...

Study: Meditation Can Help Adults and Children with ADHD
Travel back, in your mind's eye, to a time when you felt a healthy exhaustion after hiking, biking, playing sports.., and let you re-live that moment as vividly as you can. Then, remember, re-experience, a loving exchange that really touched you. Pause. See your partner. See the moment. Smell it. Hear what happened around you. Next, visualize the most caring gesture you have ever received, as full of details as possible. Who gave you that gift of caring. How you felt. Now, travel to the...

Top Ten Cognitive Health Events in 2007: Brain Fitness Program Explained, and More.
By now, you surely are aware that our brains retain the ability to generate neurons and change over our lifetimes, breaking the scientific paradigm prevalent during the 20th century. And you have read about the growing number of brain games and brain fitness programs offered. Now, you may wonder, why is all this happenning now? To understand that, let's review 10 important events that took place in 2007, a seminal year for the field. 1.In January, many mainstream media publications, such as...

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