to list a few. And if that is not enough to convince you to include physical activity as part of your brain training efforts, a review of multiple research studies presented at a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found:
“Dozens of studies now show that aerobic exercise can increase the size of critical brain structures and improve cognition in children and older adults.”
I am interested to hear from readers that use physical activity to improve brain function and cognitive performance. What activities do you do? How frequent do you do them?
An interesting preliminary study from the psychology department at the University of Arizona found that seniors trained to use Facebook showed measurable improvement in their cognitive abilities. More specifically:
“In the follow-ups, those who had learned to use Facebook performed about 25 percent better than they did at the start of the study on tasks designed to measure their mental updating abilities”
Mental updating is the ability to add and delete contents in your working memory. The study included a small group of seniors ages 68-91 with little or no prior Facebook experience. Participants friended only those in their group and made at least one short post daily.
Researchers believe that the constant information updating on Facebook and its relatively complex interface are responsible for the improvement. But more research is needed.
I am interested to hear from readers that use Facebook as a means to boost cognitive performance or maintain brain health.
An interesting finding for parents looking to accelerated their kid’s brain development:
“A study published last month in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that musical training before the age of seven has a significant effect on the development of the brain, showing that those who began early had stronger connections between motor regions – the parts of the brain that help you plan and carry out movements.”
The study found that the effect is strongest between the ages of 6-8 and that there appears to be no effect in adults.
Interested to hear from readers that are using music as part of their Next Brain development efforts.
If you were to carefully review the scientific studies of the things parents can do to boost their kids’ IQ what would you find? That is exactly what researchers as the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development did and here is what they found:
Overall, the results of the meta-analyses indicated that certain dietary and environmental interventions can be effective in raising children’s IQ.
- Pregnant moms or newborn that eat foods rich in Omega-3 can boost IQ by 3.5 points
- Interactive reading or reading with your child boosts IQ by 6 points if they are 4 years old or less
- Going to preschools that includes a language component boosts IQ by 7 points.
Increases in IQ are approximate but these are meaningful improvements.
The researcher expect to uncover additional insights which I will blog about. In the meantime I am interested to hear from readers about specific ways to boost a kid’s IQ.
Interesting new research from Liverpool University claims that Reading Shakespeare has a Dramatic Effect on the Human Brain. Actually they found that reading any classic literature for example Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Elliot, Bard and others causes far more brain activation than the same content translated into plain language. The classic prose demands attention, occasionally stimulates self reflection and builds more mental muscle because the brain works harder.
How does it work? One insight the researchers offer:
“By throwing odd words into seemingly normal sentences, Shakespeare surprises the brain and catches it off guard in a manner that produces a sudden burst of activity – a sense of drama created out of the simplest of things.”
A bit like a magic trick.
I am interested to hear from readers that enjoy the classics. Does the non-standard use of language stimulate your brain in a positive way?
Psychology today has an interesting post on the brain boosting effects of Curry. They claim over 4000 studies of Curry’s health benefits have been conducted over the last 10 years. General findings for brain function and cognitive performance are that Curry containing tumeric can:
decrease the risk of dementia, stimulate the grow of new brain cells, increase the production of neurotransmitters that support clear thinking and good moods and is being a strong antioxidant it will reduce inflammation that can harm brain cells.
The key ingredient in Curry that is doing the brain work is the turmeric, a spice you can buy in local your grocery store. The article goes on to suggest other spices to use it with and a recipe to try. For example, using turmeric with black pepper enhances absorption of the spice into your system by 2000%.
I am going to experiment with turmeric and try and find ways to include it in my daily diet. Besides curry-based meals there are for example turmeric teas, eggs, fries and salads to try and even special turmeric or curcumin supplements.
Studies at the Rush University Medical Center involving over 1000 subjects:
“…showed that people who reported greater purpose in life exhibited better cognition than those with less purpose in life even as plaques and tangles accumulated in their brains,” said Patricia A. Boyle, PhD.”
This is great news for anyone interested in improving cognitive performance or maintaining brain health as they age.
Purpose in life is determined by the meaning you get from everyday activities and how much of your time is spent pursuing goals that are important to you. It can be measured using Ryff’s well-being scale . The instrument measures well-being along six dimensions including autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, self acceptance, positive relationships with others and purpose in life. The questions that measure purpose in life are: 5,11,17,23,29,35 and 41. Be careful to follow the scoring instructions closely as the scores for some of the questions need to be reversed before you add them up.
Cognitive Media has a free iPad application that takes you through a battery of scientific assessments of brain performance using game-like activities. There are over 14 assessments that:
“…use the same laboratory analyses neuroscientists use to measure memory, attention, and processing speed, providing users with the ability to test their cognitive functioning.”
This is an excellent tool for any one interested in taking a systematic approach to improving brain function and cognitive performance. You can use it to periodically measure your attention, executive function, working memory, visual motor coordination, spatial processing and speed of processing. If the results improve you will have good evidence that your Next Brain efforts are paying off.
A version called Brainbaseline Pocket is due out for the iPhone. I plan on completing the assessments on that App and will blog about the results.
I am interested to hear from readers that have used Brainbaseline. How often to you re-take a given assessment to check for improvement?
Categories: Software Tags:
A reader found Quantified Minds , a web site offering the opportunity to participate in a variety of simple experiments designed to measure your cognitive performance. Experiments that are running now are shown below.
You can even design your own experiments. I am going to try a couple. I’m hoping the platform is flexible enough to test some of the ideas we have discussed on the Next Brain Blog. If so, I might ask you participate in an experiment.
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We have reported many times in the Next Brain Blog on scientific studies that suggest exercise improves brain function and cognitive performance. Now a new study led by the director of the Montreal Heart Institute suggests that the more exercise you do the more cognitive improvement you see. The study focused on overweight and inactive adults that were 49 years old on average. A summary of the results:
“After four months of high-intensity interval training, heart patients in Juneau’s study had markedly improved cognitive functions: the ability to think, recall, and make quick decisions. Even more exciting is that the study demonstrated that the more exercise patients could tolerate, the better their results—their minds became “sharper.”
While there is surely some limit to this effect, it does suggest that increasing the duration/intensity of your workout could lead to an increased brain boost.