Archive for December, 2006

The Dana Guide to Brain Health book review

Dana Press kindly sent us a couple of books. One of them, The Dana Guide to Brain Health: A Practical Family Reference From Medical Experts, is our topic today.

We are impressed by what Dana is doing to insert neuroscience findings and implications into the public discourse.

No big surprise then, to find out so much quality content inside a 700-page one-of-a-kind “guide”, some of it, incidentally, provided by Dr. Goldberg, our Chief Scientific Advisor.

The guide is really 4 books inside a common binding. Priced at a reasonable level, and with superb in-depth text and images in all relevant areas, the book can be used as a 1) Brain 101 tutorial, 2) brief summary of the basics of Brain Care, 3) description of the stages of brain development, 4) reference guide for around 70 brain-related conditions. In my personal opinion, every neuroscience, medical and psychology student, clinician and researcher should have this book in their hands to keep abreast of many recent developments, and also be exposed to professional development courses based on it. Many families and individuals interested in the brain should consider buying it too.

Given the focus of our blog-brain fitness for healthy individuals-, we particularly enjoyed the sections Read the rest of this entry »

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Seed and ScienceBlogs Receive Awards for Science Journalism

“12.20.06  Seed Media Group today announced that Seed and ScienceBlogs have been recognized for innovation and excellence in science journalism. Seed is the proud recipient of the 2006 UTNE Independent Press Award for Best Science/Technology Coverage. ScienceBlogs ( was awarded Best Science Blog for Pharyngula, and Best Medical/Health Issues Blog for Respectful Insolence with 2006 Weblog Awards.”

Download the full release (.pdf) »

Why are we more than happy to insert this corporate news release? because we are very impressed by the quality and freshness of the content we read in Seed Magazine and enjoy in ScienceBlogs such as Mixing Memory, Cognitive Daily and now even Developing Intelligence.

We still enjoy reading Scientific American Mind and Scientific American, but will follow with attention the Seed Media business + science experiment. Our best wishes for 2007 and beyond.

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Freeze-Framer for Stress Management and Peak Performance: special offer about to expire

Just a quick note, to let you know the holiday offer for Freeze-Framer ($249 instead of $295, and Free shipping inside the USA) is only valid until January 1st.

In short, who may benefit from this program? anyone, no matter the age (after 6-years-old) who wants a more measurable way to manage stress and anxiety and perform at peak levels. Our Head Coach, a clinical psychologist, literally mentioned yesterday that this tool is one of the most useful he has ever seen.

We have seen some specific groups benefit the most, such as students and school staff, traders and golfers: Read the rest of this entry »

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Is brain fitness scientifically proven to improve cognitive skills?

Here is the fourth installment of questions from Brain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Questions. To download the complete version, please click here.

Is brain fitness scientifically proven to improve cognitive skills?

Key Points:

  • Neuropsychology and the understanding of brain mechanisms of cognition took off in 1861 when Pierre-Paul Broca published a paper on brain localization of language.
  • Cognitive training and behavioral therapy has been in use in hospitals and the military for 40 years or more.

Thanks to new neuroimaging techniques, said to be “as important for neuroscience as telescopes were for astronomy,” and other state-of-the-art research methods, neuroscientists are finding that exercising our brain influences the generation of new neurons and their connections.

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Brain Calisthenics and Brain Fitness Center locations

“…across the country, brain health programs are springing up, offering the possibility of a cognitive fountain of youth.”

“From “brain gyms” on the Internet to “brain-healthy” foods and activities at assisted living centers, the programs are aimed at baby boomers anxious about entering their golden years and at their parents trying to stave off memory loss or dementia.”

Keep reading today’s New York Times article As Minds Age, What’s Next? Brain Calisthenics.

The article also refers to Posit Science, HappyNeuron, MyBrainTrainer, and other companies, insurers and residences offering brain fitness programs.

And includes a note of caution: “This is going to be one of the hottest topics in the next five years — it’s going to be huge,” said Nancy Ceridwyn, co-director of special projects for the American Society on Aging. “The challenge we have is it’s going to be a lot like the anti-aging industry: how much science is there behind this?”

You can learn more by checking our longer post yesterday, New Research on How to Maintain a Sharp Brain, where we commented on yesterday’s NYT Editorial, the results from the JAMA study and an IHRSA newsletter to fitness and health clubs that we authored.

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Smart Brains: New Research on How to Maintain a Sharp Brain

There has been a lot of recent buzz about brain fitness. A New York Times editorial printed today states:

When tested five years later, these participants [in a cognitive training study] had less of a decline in the skill they were trained in than did a control group that received no cognitive training. The payoff from mental exercise seemed far greater than we are accustomed to getting for physical exercise — as if 10 workouts at the gym were enough to keep you fit five years later.


If further studies show that mental exercises can improve everyday functioning, doctors may need to prescribe such training, senior centers may want to set up “brain gyms,” and aging Americans would be wise to do brain-stretching activities. For this purpose, even the Medicare prescription drug program, which critics deem too confusing for many older people to navigate, could prove an unexpected blessing. Spend 10 hours mastering its intricacies today and you could be a lot sharper than your compatriots five years from now.

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Happy Holidays from SharpBrains!

We wish you all a very happy, healthy holiday!


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What is Brain Fitness?

Here is the third installment of questions from Brain Fitness 101: Answers to Your Top 25 Questions. To download the complete version, please click here.

What is brain fitness?

Key Points:

  • Brain fitness is the state of having quick, efficient, and flexible cognitive processing.
  • Brain fitness is likely to be a consequence of increased number of neurons, functional connections between neurons, and processing speed.

Brain fitness grew out of the study of neuropsychology and neuroscience, and is the science of maintaining and training cognitive abilities through neuroplasticity and stimulating neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons, neural connections, and brain vascularization. Cognitive abilities like attention, stress and emotional management, memory, visual/spatial processing, auditory processes and language, motor coordination, and executive functions like planning and problem solving diminish over time unless they are used regularly. It is evident in an ability to assimilate information, comprehend relationships, and develop reasonable conclusions and plans.

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The Hermann Grid Visual Illusion

How many colors do you see in this image?

Hermann Grid

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Tis Better to Give Than to Receive

Yeah, Yeah. Yeah. Whatever. Isn’t that just something your mom always told you so that you wouldn’t be upset when your siblings got better gifts than you? Well, lo and behold, maybe Mom was right!

Researchers have found that the mesolimbic pathway is activated by charitable giving. This area is one of the major pathways where you find the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with the brain’s pleasure system. Furthermore, donating also appears to increase the release of oxytocin, a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter and is involved in social bonding and building trust between people.

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