A Better Brain: Does Exercise Help Your Mental Power?
“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 …”
Archive for Neurons
A Better Brain: Does Exercise Help Your Mental Power?
Here is question 18 of 25 from Brain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Questions.
Is physical fitness important to your brain fitness?
- 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.
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.”
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.”
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.
- 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
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
- Stanford University School of Education
- Harvard Graduate School of Education, Mind, Brain & Education Program
- Yale School of Medicine, Comer School Development Program, Child Study Center
- University of California, Santa Barbara, Neuroscience Research Institute
- The Dana Foundation, Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives
- Boston University School of Education
- Public Information Resources, Inc. (PIRI)
- National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)
- Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg on Brain Fitness Programs and Cognitive Training
- An ape can do this. Can we not? An Interview with Dr. James Zull
- Lifelong learning, literally: neuroplasticity for students, boomers, seniors…
- Cognitive Neuroscience and Education Today
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.
Here is question 16 of 25 from Brain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Questions.
Are yoga and meditation good for my brain?
- 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.
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.
Read the rest of this entry »
In honor of the Week of Science presented at Just Science from Monday, February 5, through Sunday, February 11, we will be writing about “just science” this week. We thought we would take this time to discuss more deeply some of the key scientific publications in brain fitness.
Today, we will highlight the key points in an excellent review of cognitive reserve: Scarmeas, Nikolaos and Stern, Yaakov. Cognitive reserve and lifestyle. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology. 2003;25:625-33.
What is Cognitive Reserve?
The concept of a cognitive reserve has been around since 1998 when a post mortem analysis of 137 people with Alzheimer’s Disease showed that the patients exhibited fewer clinical symptoms than their actual pathology suggested. (Katzman et al. 1988) They also showed higher brain weights and greater number of neurons when compared to age-matched controls. The investigators hypothesized that the patients had a larger “reserve” of neurons and abilities that offset the losses caused by Alzheimer’s. Since then the concept of cognitive reserve has been defined as the ability of an individual to tolerate progressive brain pathology without demonstrating clinical cognitive symptoms.
See our second press release below, and visit our Press Room for the great press we are starting to get.
SharpBrains introduces First Online Brain Fitness Center
– Unique, Full-Service, Science-Based Fitness Center Ushers in the Next Workout Revolution: Mental Exercise –
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Thirty years after the emergence of the exercise boom, the fitness revolution has finally gone to people’s heads: SharpBrains.com has launched the first online brain fitness center. Complete with a variety of science-based mental exercise equipment, personal brain trainers, and nearly 200 articles, interactive blog postings and interviews with industry experts, SharpBrains is spearheading the evolution of the fitness industry to include a sound mind as well as a healthy body.
The new mental exercise movement is founded on using structured, computer-based brain fitness routines tailored to each member’s specific needs and level of ability. Just as crunches and kick-boxing tone abs and increase cardio strength, programs offered at the brain fitness center target and help train essential core mental muscles to improve memory, concentration, stress management, and decision-making skills. Mental exercise has also been shown to help delay the onset of age-related decline and even dementias such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
“People are realizing that cross-training their brains in addition to their bodies is essential to over-all health,” said Keep Reading