Archive for Neurons

A Better Brain: Does Exercise Help Your Mental Power?

A Better Brain: Does Exercise Help Your Mental Power?
NBC5.com, IL 
“CHICAGO — There’s a class at Naperville Central High School where exercise for the body is helping students like Rhandyl Dozier, Eric Hurle and Caley …”

More on Is physical fitness important to your brain fitness?

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We have moved

Hello dear readers: after a transition period, we have definitively moved to http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog

we-moved.jpg

Please visit us there if you want to keep reading our (close to) daily articles. Please update your feed, and any technorati/ stumbleupon/ del.ic.ious account you may have pointing at this old address. Our new location:
http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog

We won’t be posting more articles here.

We’ll see you there!
-Caroline & Alvaro

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Is physical fitness important to your brain fitness?

Here is question 18 of 25 from Brain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Questions.Trail Runner

Question:
Is physical fitness important to your brain fitness?

Key Points:

  • Exercise improves learning through increased blood supply and growth hormones.
  • Exercise is an anti-depressant by reducing stress and promoting neurogenesis.
  • Exercise protects the brain from damage and disease, as well as speeding the recovery.
  • Exercise benefits you the most when you start young.

Answer:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Brain Training and SharpBrains in the news

Several recent stories on brain training and SharpBrains:

1) New brain games may improve mind fitness by Kevin Kosterman (U of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Advance-Titan)

“Anytime we learn, we are training, changing, our brain,” Fernandez said. “The three key core elements for effective brain exercise are novelty, variety and constant challenge, similar to increasing the level in machines we find in gyms.”

2) “Training the Brain as possible as Training the Body”, جريدة النهار by Hanadi El Diri (Annahar, one of the most prestigious papers in the Middle East. The text is in Arabic.)

3) “Train your brain” by Mark Muckenfuss (The Press-Enterprise in Riverside and San Bernardino)

“We cannot promise to people you will only keep getting better until you are 200 years old. But I think people still underestimate how flexible the brain really is.”

The SmartBrains [sic] program combines mental exercises with a stress reduction program. Too much stress, says Fernandez, has been shown to be damaging not only to performance, but to the brain itself.
With all of the available programs for stimulating the brain, he says, it is important to shop carefully. A critical element, he says, is how clients or participants are evaluated.

“Make sure they have a credible assessment that helps you find your strengths and weaknesses and that they have programs that address (those areas),” he says. “Assessments that give you 50 (as an age-equivalent grade) and a week later you’re 32, that’s not a valuable assessment.”

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Enhancing Cognition and Emotions for Learning – Learning & The Brain Conference

Alvaro and I had the good fortune to attend a great conference last week called Learning & The Brain: Enhancing Cognition and Emotions for Learning. It was a wonderful mix of neuroscientists and educators talking with and listening to each other. Some topics were meant to be applied today, but many were food for thought – insight on where science and education are headed and how they influence each other.

Using dramatic new imaging techniques, such as fMRIs, PET, and SPECT, neuroscientists are gaining valuable information about learning. This pioneering knowledge is leading not only to new pedagogies, but also to new medications, brain enhancement technologies, and therapies…. The Conference creates an interdisciplinary forum — a meeting place for neuroscientists, educators, psychologists, clinicians, and parents — to examine these new research findings with respect to their applicability in the classroom and clinical practice.

Take-aways

  • Humans are a mixture of cognition and emotion, and both elements are essential to function and learn properly
  • Educators and public policy makers need to learn more about the brain, how it grows, and how to cultivate it
  • Students of all ages need to be both challenged and nurtured in order to succeed
  • People learn differently – try to teach and learn through as many different modalities as possible (engage language, motor skills, artistic creation, social interaction, sensory input, etc.)
  • While short-term stress can heighten your cognitive abilities, long term stress kills you — you need to find balance and release
  • Test anxiety and subsequent poor test results can be improved with behavioral training with feedback based on heart rate variability
  • Dr. Robert Sapolsky is a very very enlightening and fun speaker
  • Allow time for rest and consolidation of learned material
  • Emotional memories are easier to remember
  • Conferences like these perform a real service in fostering dialogues between scientists and educators

The sessions were broken into several subtopics:

ENHANCING THE BRAIN, COGNITION & EDUCATION
Topics included: neuroethics, school readiness, “back to basics” versus “discovery learning”, functional neuroimaging, the Six Developmental Pathways of physical, cognitive, language, social, ethical, and psychological skills

Speakers included: Michael S. Gazzaniga, Ph.D., Kurt W. Fischer, Ph.D., John D.E. Gabrieli, Ph.D., Linda Darling-Hammond, Ed.D., Daniel L. Schwartz, Ph.D., Jeb Schenck, Ph.D., Ross A. Thompson, Ph.D., Fay E. Brown, Ph.D., and Mariale M. Hardiman, Ed.D.

MOOD, LEARNING & GENDER DIFFERENCES
Topics included: chronic stress, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, sex differences in learning, and creativity

Speakers included: Robert M. Sapolsky, Ph.D., Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., Stephen P. Hinshaw, Ph.D., Bryna Siegel, Ph.D., Kiki D. Chang, M.D., Michael Gurian, M.A., Sam Goldstein, Ph.D., Lawrence H. Diller, M.D., and Terence A. Ketter, M.D.

ENHANCING MEMORY AND EMOTIONS
Topics included: mirror neurons, stress, anxiety, emotions, pharmacologic manipulations of memory, emotional events, sex differences, and “brain-considerate” learning environments, social functioning, decision making, motivation, achievement, positive-emotion refocusing

Speakers included: Kenneth A.Wesson, Ph.D., Kenneth S. Kosik, M.D., Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Larry Cahill, Ph.D., Mary Fowler, M.A., Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, Ed.D., Ed.M., and Robert Sylwester, Ed.D.

NEUROSCIENCE, LANGUAGE & READING
Topics included: reading disorders, dyslexia, assessment, instructional strategies, the achievement gap, and integration of visual, auditory, and language information

Speakers included: Brian A.Wandell, Ph.D., Connie Juel, Ph.D., and Steven G. Feifer, Ed.D., NCSP.

THE ARTS, MUSIC & COGNITION
Topics included: artistic process versus art content, effects of music on cognitive performance, and the generalizability of of artistic abilities to cognitive abilities

Speakers included: James S. Catterall, Ph.D. and Frances H. Rauscher, Ph.D.

Conference Co-Sponsors:

Further Reading

Save the Date! April 28-30, 2007 is the next conference, Learning & The Brain – Molding Minds: How to Shape the Developing Brain for Learning & Achievement, in Cambridge, Mass. We will post more information about this conference shortly.

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Brain Fitness February Newsletter/ Brain Awareness Week

We hope you are enjoying the growing coverage of Brain Fitness as much as we are. Below you have the monthly email update we sent a few days ago.

In this post, we will briefly cover:

I. Press: see what CBS and Time Magazine are talking about. SharpBrains was introduced in the Birmingham News, Chicago Tribune and in a quick note carried by the American Psychological Association news service.

II. Events: we are outreach partners for the Learning & the Brain conference, which will gather neuroscientists and educators, and for the Dana Foundation’s Brain Awareness Week.

III. Program Reviews: The Wall Street Journal reviewed six different programs for brain exercise and aging, and the one we offer is one of the two winners. A college-level counseling center starts offering our stress management one. And we interview a Notre Dame scientist who has conducted a replication study for the working memory training program for kids with ADD/ ADHD.

IV. New Offerings: we have started to offer two information packages that can be very useful for people who want to better understand this field before they commit to any particular program: learn more about our Brain Fitness 101 guide and Exercise Your Brain DVD.

V. Website and Blog Summary: we revamped our home page and have had a very busy month writing many good articles. We also hosted two “Blog Carnivals”- don’t you want to know what that means? Continue Reading

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Are yoga and meditation good for my brain?

Yoga
Here is question 16 of 25 from Brain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Questions.

Question:
Are yoga and meditation good for my brain?

Key Points:

  • Yoga, meditation, and visualization are all excellent ways to learn to manage your stress levels.
  • Reducing stress, and the stress hormones, in your system is critical to your brain and overall fitness.

Answer:
Yes. It’s clear that our society has changed faster than our genes. Instead of being faced with physical, immediately life-threatening crises that demand instant action, these days we deal with events and illnesses that gnaw away at us slowly, without any stress release.
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