In light of the current BBC-led controversy on whether “brain training” works , we believe it is critical to spend some time discussing the basics of brain functioning and brain-healthy lifestyles, what “brain training” is and isn’t (to be accurate, the BBC didn’t test Brain Training as a category, only the new games that their researchers chose to build from scratch and designate as “brain training” ignoring previous research), what methodologies for brain training are in fact backed up by science (meditation, cognitive therapy, biofeedback, computerized cognitive training) as valuable for a variety of populations and goals, and how consumers and professionals can learn to navigate the growing array of claims. SharpBrains wants to contribute to a healthy conversation by sharing online a new online resource based on the content from the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness (May 2009, $19.95), by Alvaro Fernandez and Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg.
You are a lifelong learner. You may also be a caregiver, or a professional in fields such as healthcare, education, or psychology. The goal of this resource is to help you make informed decisions about brain health and cognitive fitness, based on latest scientific findings. First of all, let’s debunk some common myths. Keep reading .
In order to make informed decisions about brain health and brain training, you need to first understand the underlying organization of the human brain and how it evolves across our lifespan. For example, the brain is composed of a number of specialized regions serving distinct functions, our life and productivity depend on a variety of brain functions, not just one, and there is nothing inherently fixed in the trajectory of how brain functions evolve as we age. Keep reading .
Thanks to lifelong neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, our lifestyles and actions play a meaningful role in how our brains physically change. Now, there is no “general solution” or “magic pill” for brain maintenance. A multi-pronged approach centered on nutrition, stress management, and both physical and mental exercise is recommended for better brain health. Keep reading .
In this section we focus on mental exercise – which we will call brain training, to distinguish it from mental activity in general. Brain training goes beyond mental activity. It is the structured use of cognitive exercises or techniques aimed at improving specific brain functions, and can be delivered in a number of ways: meditation, cognitive therapy, cognitive training, biofeedback. Keep reading .
The state of the research does not allow for strong “prescriptions” of specific products: we want to offer you the best information available today so that you can make better informed decisions. Different people face different cognitive demands, and have different starting points, so there is no general solution for everyone and everything. As in physical fitness, informed consumers and professionals must ask themselves a number of questions. Keep reading .
The same way there are many reasons to exercise our bodies (run in a marathon, stay in shape, lose weight, become an Olympian, have strong abdominal muscles, etc.), there are many reasons to exercise our brains. In this chapter, we review a few current and future applications of brain training through the lifespan, including education, corporate wellness, retirement communities, clinical conditions, and more. Keep reading .
In this section our aim is to describe the trends we think are important in order to help you be ready for the future. Informed and proactive adults will look for solutions to integrate brain fitness to their everyday activities. Professionals will identify opportunities to offer new services and programs. We hope this chapter will give you ideas as to how to introduce brain fitness in your personal life and/or your workplace. Keep reading .
Our ultimate goal is to stimulate discussion. In this final section we want to provide you, proud brain owners and ambassadors of brain fitness, with additional food for though. Processing new information is a stimulating intellectual exercise, and discussing insights and open questions with a group of people can be equally if not more stimulating. Keep reading .