Archive for September, 2010

Update: Know Thyself, Know How Your Brain Works

What is work­ing mem­ory, and why it mat­ters? Can we multi-task as good as we seem to assume? What should we all know about how our brains work, and why?

We hope you enjoy this August eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing six dis­tin­guished con­trib­u­tors who answer those ques­tions, and more. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this free Brain Fit­ness eNewslet­ter by email.

Know Thy­self

Why work­ing mem­ory mat­ters in the knowl­edge age: As Dr. Tracy Alloway points out, one way to visu­al­ize work­ing mem­ory is as the brain’s “Post-it Notes” — we make men­tal scrib­bles of bits of infor­ma­tion we need to remem­ber and work with. With­out enough work­ing mem­ory we can­not func­tion as a soci­ety or as indi­vid­u­als. Learn more by par­tic­i­pat­ing in this study launched by Dr. Alloway’s team in con­junc­tion with the British Sci­ence Festival.

What should every­one learn about the brain?: Dr. Jo Ellen Rose­man and Mary Kop­pel from the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Sci­ence (AAAS) dis­cuss recent rec­om­men­da­tions on what all stu­dents should know. Not just the basics of brain struc­ture and func­tion, but also a good under­stand­ing of men­tal health—such as the mind/body rela­tion­ship, fac­tors that shape behav­ior, ways of cop­ing with men­tal dis­tress, and the diag­no­sis and treat­ment of men­tal disorders.


Pool­ing data to accel­er­ate Alzheimer’s research: A good arti­cle in the New York Times presents the rea­sons behind grow­ing research of how to detect Alzheimer’s Dis­ease. A pilot study shows how com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive train­ing may help reduce falls among elderly. rec­om­mends The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness in a thought-provoking mix.

Beyond News

Needed: fund­ing for inno­v­a­tive research on slow­ing cog­ni­tive decline via cog­ni­tive train­ing: Sharp­Brains reader and UK researcher Nick Almond shares a note debunk­ing the so-called BBC brain train­ing exper­i­ment  and out­lin­ing the type of research he and col­leagues at Leeds Uni­ver­sity deem necessary.

Long-term effects of neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD: Dr. David Rabiner reviews the 6-month follow-up of a sci­en­tific study on whether neu­ro­feed­back can help kids with atten­tion deficits, find­ing that ben­e­fits indeed remained 6 months after treat­ment had ended. Given, how­ever, that only around 50% of chil­dren showed ben­e­fits, it is impor­tant to regard this tool as part of a mul­ti­modal treat­ment program.

Brain Teaser

Test your atten­tional focus and multi-tasking: How often do you read a doc­u­ment while talk­ing on the phone with a client? Or think about your prob­lems at work while help­ing your child with his home­work? Human atten­tion is lim­ited, and we need to man­age it well, as shown in this teaser pre­pared by Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon.

Have a great Sep­tem­ber. And, should you hap­pen to be in Barcelona, Spain, on Sep­tem­ber 14th, make sure to attend Alvaro Fer­nan­dez talk there titled “How and Why Dig­i­tal Tech­nol­ogy Will Trans­form Edu­ca­tion, Train­ing and Brain Health”.

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Beware: “Lifetime Brain Fitness” Expo

Dear readers and colleagues,

You may have received one or several unsolicited email communications from a group called “Lifetime Brain Fitness”, now presumably organizing a “Brain Fitness Expo” in San Francisco. You may have wondered how they got your email address in order to send unsolicited messages. I need to apologize, since I am partially responsible.

Based on feedback from many 2010 SharpBrains Summit participants who wanted to be in touch with other participants, we decided to share the list of participants – including email info. We shared, only with Summit participants (which included one of “Lifetime Brain Fitness” founders), a protected PDF document that could be printed but not copied and displayed this very visible Terms of Use at the top of the document:

“Terms of Use: this List of Participants can be used for one-on-one communications among registered Summit participants. Information may not be reproduced,  duplicated, copied, sold, resold, or otherwise exploited for any commercial purpose. Complaints about inappropriate use will result in exclusion from future Summits.”

Shortly afterwards, the group “Lifetime Brain Fitness” started sending unsolicited emails to that same list of SharpBrains Summit participants (we have documentation to prove it), and we received puzzled messages from a number of you. Further, we have also received complaints from individuals affiliated with SharpBrains that some of their recent magazine material published by “Lifetime Brain Fitness” suspiciously resembles, and without any attribution, our own published materials.

In light of this repeated inappropriate behavior, we have decided not to invite the team behind “Lifetime Brain Fitness” to any future SharpBrains event, and not to collaborate with them in any shape or form. This may be unfortunate, because there’s certainly much work to do, but I believe that, above all, the DNA of an emerging field needs to reflect professionalism and integrity.

If you want to share any views, please feel free to email me. Since our minds are already immersed in preparing the agenda for the 2011 SharpBrains Summit, please feel free to share any suggestions too.

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