Archive for Glossary

All about Brain Fitness


  • We have just launched a new website section titled Hot Topics for you to be informed on latest Brain Fitness developments. Topics include Memory, Brain Fitness, Brain Teasers, Mental Exercise, Stress Management, Physical Exercise, Nutrition, News, Products, Events, Students, Science, Resources, and more.

Some good posts:

Nintendo BrainAge, Lumosity, Happy Neuron, MyBrainTrainer…

Posit Science, Nintendo Brain Training, Dakim…WebMD on Brain Fitness.

We hope to hear from you!

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We have moved

Hello dear readers: after a transition period, we have definitively moved to


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:

We won’t be posting more articles here.

We’ll see you there!
-Caroline & Alvaro

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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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CBS News/TIME Series on Brain Neuroplasticity and Memory Exercises

CBS News-TIME User's Guide to the Brain
CBS News and TIME magazine are teaming up for a five-part series on the “The Complicated, Mesmerizing World of the Brain“. The first report by CBS Evening News contributor Dr. Sanjay Gupta focused on neuroplasticity – “the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by creating new brain cells through mental and physical exercises.”

Dr. Gupta interviewed Arthur Kramer, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois who studied the effects of exercise, diet, and social and mental stimulation on older adults. According to Kramer, the break through anti-aging treatment is exercise.

We found in our study that walking will increase the volume of the brain, increase the efficiency of the brain and increase improvements in the number of cognitive functions such as memory and attention.

Kramer and McAuley’s research showed that aerobic exercise led to increased brain volume in the prefrontal and temporal cortices – areas that show considerable age-related deterioration.

To go beyond physical exercise and look at mental exercise, Dr. Gupta also interviewed Michael Merzenich, Ph.D. of UCSF and Posit Science. Merzenich said, “The brain is actually revising itself. It is actually plastically changing itself as you develop new skills and abilities, as you learn new things.” Merzenich has been studying neuroplasticity and how the brain changes with experience since the 1980s.

To Catch the Series, Here’s the Schedule:

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2007 New Year Resolution: Carnival of Brain Fitness

Happy 2007 to everyone!

We have just formulated our New Year Resolution: make 2007 the year when Brain Fitness became a mainstream concept.

How do we start? well, let’s announce the launch of the Carnival of Brain Fitness (a Blog Carnival is basically the vehicle that blogs use to share posts around specific topics).

Goal: to facilitate a dialogue about this emerging field across multiple perspectives, from scientists and health professionals, to education and training ones, to basically everyone who has conducted an experiment on his on her brain and mind, and has news to report.

Context: The scientific foundations lie in neurogenesis, neuroplasticity, cognitive training and stress management. Medical and health applications range from stroke and TBI rehabilitation to ADD/ADHD and early Alzheimer’s to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and cognitive therapy. Educational and training applications go from helping kids improve reading abilities to helping manage stress and anxiety – including work with the “mental game” in sports and high-demand activities pr professions. Each of us may also have experiences to report, where we saw first hand, no matter our age, our innate ability to refine and transform ourselves (and our brains).

Mechanics: If you’d like to contribute,

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What are cognitive abilities?

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

Question: What are cognitive abilities?

Key Points:

  • Cognitive abilities are mental skills necessary for a successful life.
  • Cognitive abilities, like any muscle, if not used regularly, decrease over time. If exercised properly, they can increase over time.

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New Brain Fitness Guide

We are very excited to announce our newly released Brain Fitness for Sharp Brains: Your New New Year Resolution. We wrote it in order to provide an introduction to the concept, science, and practice of brain fitness in plain English, by answering the Top 25 questions we have received over the last four months. Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, Alvaro Fernandez and myself (Caroline) have been working hard on this.

You can click here to receive your complimentary copy of the complete guide. Otherwise, please make sure to check our new blog location here, as we will publish a new question and its answer every Monday and Thursday before 9AM Pacific Standard Time. If we missed your pressing question, let us know!

Here is a sneak preview of the questions we will be answering …

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Waltzing Your Way to Physical and Mental Fitness

“From a mind-body perspective, anything you do successfully on the physical end will positively affect your mental and emotional states.” commented Jenny Susser, Ph.D., a sports psychologist at the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery, a leading center for sports medicine. The article Dance Your Way To A Better Body goes on to say:
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Brain Fitness and Mind Fitness Glossary

Senia has a good post on the importance on learning the “jargon” of new fields of interest.

Let’s review a few terms we have been or will be using often:

Brain Fitness or Mind Fitness: the general state of good, sharp, brain and mind, especially as the result of mental and physical exercise and proper nutrition.

Brain Fitness Program: structured set of brain exercises, usually computer-based, designed to train specific brain areas and functions in targeted ways, and measured by brain fitness assessments.

Chronic Stress: ongoing, long-term stress. Continued physiological arousal where stressors block the formation of new neurons and negatively impact the immune system’s defenses.

Cognitive training (or Brain Training): variety of brain exercises designed to help work out specific “mental muscles”. The principle underlying cognitive training is to help improve “core” abilities, such as attention, memory, problem-solving, which many people consider as fixed.

Cognitive Reserve (or Brain Reserve): theory that addresses the fact that individuals vary considerably in the severity of cognitive aging and clinical dementia. Mental stimulation, education and occupational level are believed to be major active components of building a cognitive reserve that can help resist the attacks of mental disease.

fMRI: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a non-invasive neuroimaging technique that enables researchers see images of changing blood flow in the brain associated with neural activity. This allows images to be generated that reflect which structures are activated (and how) during performance of different tasks.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV): describes the frequency of the cardiac cycle, and is one of the best predictors of stress and anxiety. Our hear rate is not “flat” or constant: HRV measures the pattern of change.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR): yoga and meditation practices designed to enable effective responses to stress, pain, and illness.

Neurogenesis: the process by which neurons are created all throughout our lives.

Neuroimaging: techniques that either directly or indirectly image the structure, function, or pharmacology of the brain. Recent techniques (such as fMRI) have enabled researchers to understand better the living human brain.

Neuroplasticity: the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections throughout life.

PubMed: very useful tool to search for published studies. “PubMed is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes over 16 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles back to the 1950s. PubMed includes links to full text articles and other related resources.”

Working memory: the ability to keep information current for a short period while using this information. Working memory is used for controlling attention, and deficits in working memory capacity lead to attention problems. Recent research has proven that working memory training is possible and helpful for people with ADD/ ADHD.

You can read more on the Science of Brain Fitness.

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