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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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Heart Rate Variability as an Index of Regulated Emotional Responding

Continuing with the theme of a Week of Science sponsored by Just Science, we will highlight some of the key points in: Appelhans BM, Luecken LJ. Heart Rate Variability as an Index of Regulated Emotional Responding. Review of General Psychology. 2006;10:229–240.

Defining Heart Rate Variability
Effective emotional regulation depends on being able to flexibly adjust your physiological response to a changing environment.

“… heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of the continuous interplay between sympathetic and parasympathetic influences on heart rate that yields information about autonomic flexibility and thereby represents the capacity for regulated emotional responding.”

“HRV reflects the degree to which cardiac activity can be modulated to meet changing situational demands.”

The sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic (PNS) branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) antagonistically influence the lengths of time between consecutive heartbeats. Faster heart rates, which can be due to increased SNS and/or lower PNS activity, correspond to a shorter interbeat interval while slower heart rates have a longer interbeat interval, which can be attributed to increased PNS and/or decreased SNS activity.

The frequency-based HRV analyses are based on the fact that the variations in heart rate produced by SNS and PNS activity occur at different speeds, or frequencies. SNS is slow acting and mediated by norepinephrine while PNS influence is fast acting and mediated by acetylcholine.

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Inaugural Edition: Brain Fitness Blog Carnival #1

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Brain Fitness Blog Carnival. The timing couldn’t be better — you have probably seen the featured CBS News/TIME Series on Brain Neuroplasticity.Thanks to the over 40 people who submitted posts. We have had to select the posts we enjoyed the most to help facilitate an engaging and informed conversation.

Learning is physical. Our experience literally shapes our brains. And vice versa. The media seems to be focusing mostly on brain fitness for seniors, but its implications go beyond that, as you will see in this post by Caroline: What is Brain Fitness?, and the articles in this carnival.

Science-based understanding is evolving from “Use it or Lose It” to “Use It and Improve It”. As Fast Company’s Alan Deutschman provocatively puts it in his last book, Change or Die. We couldn’t agree more with his summary recommendation: “Relate. Repeat. Reframe.” Alan presents a blog article announcing his book (here is his original article).

Keep Reading the Inaugural Edition: Brain Fitness Blog Carnival #1.

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Daniel Goleman and Social Intelligence

The Financial Times has a fun interview today as part of their Lunch with the FT series.

Danieal Goleman is the author of bestseller Emotional Intelligence, and is now promoting his recent book “Social Intelligence”.

An quote from the interview:

– The journalist asks, “So how do the rest of us get better?”.

– The answer, he says, is very simple: by listening. “Listening poorly is the common cold of social intelligence. And it’s being made worse by technology. To have a human moment, you need to be fully present. You have to be away from your laptop, you put down your BlackBerry, you end your daydream and you pay full attention to the person you’re with. It may sound rudimentary, but think about how often we just keep multitasking and half pay attention. You can overcome that by becoming mindful of what is happening.”

Keep reading the FT article Poetry in emotion.

And Social Intelligence and Mirror Neurons

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Change or Die: Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain

We are tempted to drop it all, find a nice warm tree in the park or coffeehouse table, and simply read 2 books that have just been published. We haven’t read them since they have literally just been released today, but we are certain there will be a fun and illuminating read for anyone interested in the brain and the mind.

Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life by Alan Deutschman. Alan, a journalist for Fast Company, turns the superb article Change or Die he wrote in May 2005 into a book. We liked the article so much, that it has been at the top of our recommended Articles since then.

Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves by Sharon Begley. Sharon is the Science writer at the Wall Street Journal, and here relates the 2004 Mind & Life Institute meeting between the Dalai Lama and several top neuroscientists. The book description leads with “Is it really possible to change the structure and function of the brain, and in so doing alter how we think and feel? The answer is a resounding yes.”

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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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New Year’s Resolutions for Brain and Body

We’re full of resolutions for the upcoming new year. But, if you haven’t found one yet and need a little inspiration, here are some ideas to stimulate your commitment to a healthy brain and body this year …

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