Archive for Aging

In honor of Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, let’s discuss 10 Key Facts To Harness Brain Plasticity And Prolong Brain Health

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, so let me share 10 Key Facts to harness brain plasticity & prolong brain health that come from the hundreds of scientific and medical studies we analyzed to prepare the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Improve Brain Health and Performance at Any Age:

  • 1. Genes do not determine the fate of our brains (not even the infamous APOE4). Thanks to lifelong neuroplasticity, our lifestyles are as important as our genes-if not even more important- in determining how our brains grow and our minds evolve.
  • 2. There is more than one “It” in “Use It or Lose It” — our performance depends on a variety of brain functions and cognitive skills, not just one (be it “attention” or “memory” or any other).
  • 3. Physical exercise and increased fitness promote brain functioning through a variety of mechanisms, such as increased brain volume, blood supply and growth hormone levels. In particular, cardiovascular exercise seems to bring the greatest brain benefits.
  • 4. Mental stimulation strengthens the connections between neurons (synapses), improving neuron survival and cognitive functioning and building your cognitive reserve–which helps your brain better cope with normal aging and Alzheimer’s pathology in the long-term.
  • 5. The only leisure activity that has been associated with reduced cognitive function is watching television. What could explain that? Well, routine, passive activities do not challenge the brain. Keeping up the challenge requires going to the next level of difficulty, trying something new, generating new thoughts and strategies and lessons learned.
  • 6. The Mediterranean Diet, supplemented with olive oil and nuts, is associated with decreased risk of cognitive decline.
  • 7. Moderate doses of caffeine increase alertness but there is no clear sustained lifetime health benefit (or harm).
  • 8. Taking “brain supplements”  does not seem to boost cognitive function or reduce risks of cognitive decline or dementia, unless directed to address an identified deficiency.
  • 9. Chronic stress reduces and can even inhibit neurogenesis. Memory and general mental flexibility are impaired by chronic stress…so it’s good to see the growing evidence that meditation and biofeedback can successfully teach users to self-regulate physiological stress.
  • 10. No size fits all…so, to improve and prolong brain function, it’s critical to understand and address individual needs and starting point.

What counts in terms of neuroplasticity and brain health is not reading this article–or any other–but practicing healthy behaviors every day. Please revisit the fact above that really grabbed your attention–ideally one that you may have overlooked and therefore may bring most “bang for the buck” now–and make a decision to try something new this summer.

To learn more:

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Top 10 SharpBrains Resources in 2015 to Navigate the Brain Health Revolution

These are the 10 most popular SharpBrains resources in 2015, spanning a wide range of brain, health & neurotechnology topics and available in multiple platforms:

1. Best prac­tices to assess and enhance brain func­tion via mobile devices and wearables (Slidedeck)

2. Brain Health in the Per­va­sive Neu­rotech­nol­ogy Era (Slidedeck)

3. SharpBrains @ New York Public Library: Practical Advice to Keep Your Brain Sharp (YouTube video)

4. Why We Need to Retool “Use It Or Lose It”: Healthy Brain Aging (ICAA article)

5. Under what con­di­tions does brain train­ing work? (Slidedeck)

6. Pervasive Neurotechnology: A Groundbreaking Analysis of 10,000+ Patent Filings Transforming Medicine, Health, Entertainment and Business (Infographic)

7. Review of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness (Scientific American blog) — The book is now available in English, Spanish, Japanese and Polish!

8. How Does a Child’s Brain Learn? (Slidedeck)

9. Solving the Brain Fitness Puzzle Is the Key to Self-Empowered Aging (Generations article)

10. 25 Key References to Navigate the Brain Health and Neurotechnology Revolution ( SharpBrains article)

We hope you enjoy them, and share your favorites with other sharp friends and colleagues! To stay on top of new articles and resources, you can follow us via FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and our eNewsletter.

And, if you are looking for some additional cognitive stimulation, check out these great brain teasers, games and illusions, for adults of any age!

Warm regards,

The SharpBrains Team

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MIT study: Maturity brings richer memories

MIT study: Maturity brings richer memories
MIT News, MA -MIT neuroscientists exploring how memory formation differs between children and adults have found that although the two groups have much in common,…”

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Alzheimer’s is 21st-century crisis

Alzheimer’s is 21st-century crisis
Agoura Hills Acorn, CA 

“The best proven prevention strategies are physical activity, mental activity, social activity and good cardiovascular health. The defense mechanism of …”

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Cognitive Fitness

Learn more about the Cognitive Fitness and Health Roadmap by the CDC and Alzheimer’s Association.

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Specific Statin Significantly Reduces Alzheimer’s And Parkinson’s

Specific Statin Significantly Reduces Alzheimer’s And Parkinson’s

Science Daily — “Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that the statin, simvastatin, reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s…”

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Videogames for brain health?

Can you beef up your brain with video games?
MSNBC -Jul 20, 2007
“In 2005, Nintendo struck gaming gold when it created “Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day” for the handheld Nintendo DS game machine. …”

See more at Nintendo BrainAge, Happy Neuron, Lumosity, MyBrainTrainer…

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