Is Your Memory as Good as a Waiter’s?

We are delighted to bring you our latest memory game called Restaurant. Waiters have notoriously great memory – they train day after day. They remember who ordered specific dishes sometimes even after the guests have shuffled seats. They do this despite the distractions of restaurant noise and kitchen conversations. Is your memory as good as a waiter’s?

Brain Stimulation Reduces Alzheimer’s Risk

In addition to good nutrition and regular exercise, researchers recommend that seniors also keep their minds active. According to a National Institute on Aging four year study, keeping the brain actively stimulated across a variety of areas reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Read more here….

Brain Training Makes You More Desirable

Unbelievable for some, but true:  Apparent smarts makes men more attractive in women’s eyes!

Scientists from Elon University  conducted a study on female  students, asking them to choose the most desirable males from videos showing them accomplishing athletic and cognitive tasks. It turned out that the women picked those men who appeared the most intelligent!  It makes for very interesting reading here…

Is it true? What do you think?

Your Brain after Chemo

Chemo brain is a common term used by cancer survivors to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur after cancer treatment. Chemo brain can also be called chemo fog, cognitive changes or cognitive dysfunction.

If you or someone you know has been dealing with Chemo Fog, you might refer them to a recently published book by Dan Silverman, MD, Ph.D. of UCLA and journalist, Idelle Davidson called Your Brain after Chemo. The book addresses several strategies for dealing with chemo fog.  One approach is to look at how fear, stress and depression may factor into, and potentially intensify, memory loss and other cognitive challenges.

Dealing with cancer can be one of the most difficult experiences of a person’s life — in fact the American Psychiatric Association lists the diagnosis of a life threatening illness as one criteria for identifying post-traumatic stress disorder.

So in Your Brain After Chemo, several exercises are introduced to first deal with identifying issues of fear, stress and more.  Your Brain After Chemo also offers advise for stimulating your mind and organizing your life in a  nine-step program.

Juggle your Way to a Sharper Brain

Early in October a team of researchers from the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council of the University of Oxford in England, U.K. , published the results of a new study discussing how juggling and similar activities increase brain connections.

In brain scans of 48 subjects made after an extensive 6-week practice period, the researchers observed changes in regions of the brain’s white matter that are linked with reaching, grasping, and peripheral vision, independently from the acquired level of juggling skill.

These results suggest that it is not how well a person learns to do something that matters, but rather that the time spent practicing and training is the key to improving the brain function. So, when engaging in such an activity as brain training, it is essential to do it over a period of time to realize the positive changes and benefits.   You can read more about the findings here.

Brain Rehabilitation Research

As you may have seen, this week we announced a relationship with the French National Research Center and the Pierre & Marie Curie University (UPMC) at La Pitié-Salpétrière Hospital in Paris. The research program aims to measure the positive effects of HAPPYneuron‘s products on the cognitive rehabilitation of patients suffering from depression and Alzheimer’s disease. We are talking not just about preventative training activities to defer the onset of age related brain decline, but the actual regaining of cognitive function through rehabilitation. This is a very exciting prospect for so many who suffer from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

The team at the Pierre & Marie Curie University Hospital are indeed dedicated and committed to this project which we are very optimistic about the positive outcomes and we are excited to be working hand-in-hand with them.

A second objective of the collaboration is to develop distance therapy procedures that can be applied and used by practitioners in the rehabilitation of patients without the patient’s need too visit the doctor’s office in person. This will have huge implications for people located in rural areas and those that may be house bound or find it difficult to get to a doctor’s office for therapy. For the medical practitioner, the goal is to guide the patient’s therapy through phone interaction with the assistance of a cognitive informational dashboard to assess the patient’s compliance and progress.

Lastly, we expect to focus on further research on emotional rehabilitation.

We look forward to sharing the results of this research as it evolves.

More Splitwords!

The “tip of the tongue” phenomenon just got a little more help. You’ll be pleased to learn that 25 new word categories and over 2,500 new words have been added to this addictive game.

We continue to add more and more categories to this Language Cognitive Exercise all the time. If you have a favorite hobby or interest, why not let us know and we’ll look to add it. If there’s a category that you have an interest in, be sure that others will too and enjoy de-splitting the words!

Stay Connected to Improve Brain Function

They say that human beings are social animals. It seems intuitive (even for introverts!) that social contact has benefits. Obviously we need other people to fulfill basic needs such making sure that our genes outlive us. Maybe less obviously, we seem to need other people to maintain adequate levels of mental well-being and motivation. Even less obviously still, social contact may help us improve our brain functions…

Mental fitness seems to depend on a large part on being connected with other people. A study published in 2008 by Ybarra and his colleagues showed that socializing and mental exercises have very similar effects in terms of improving brain functions! Ybarra hypothesized that social interaction could facilitate cognitive functioning.

First, they collected data from 3600 people aged 24 to 96. They assessed how often these people talked on the phone with friends, neighbors and relatives and how often they got together with the same parties. They also assessed mental functioning of their sample using the mini-mental exam. It was found that the more socially engaged people were, the higher their cognitive performance. Great news, right? Stay connected and your neurons will stay healthy!

One limitation of this type of study is that is shows a CORRELATION. The result shows that people who are socially engaged are also doing well in terms of brain function. This does not mean that being socially engaged results or CAUSES good brain functioning.
This correlation can be interpreted in several ways:

  1. being socially engaged results in good brain functioning
  2. Good brain functioning results in being socially engaged
  3. being wealthy (for instance) may result both in being socially engaged and good brain functioning

As a consequence, Ybarra and colleagues proceeded to conduct another study to show that social interaction indeed CAUSES better cognitive performance.
They randomly assigned participants (aged 18-21) to three groups:

  1. a social group, in which the participants engaged in a discussion of a social issue for 10mn
  2. an intellectual activities group, in which the participants solved stimulating tasks (crossword puzzles and the likes) for 10mn
  3. a control group, in which the participants watched a 10mn clip of Seinfeld

After they participated in the discussion or watched the clip or solved the puzzles, the cognitive functioning of all the participants was assessed. Two tasks were used (for those you are interested: these were a speed of processing task and a working memory task). Here is what Ybarra et al. found:

  • People in the intellectual activities group did better in the cognitive tasks than people who merely watched a movie. This shows one more time that stimulating your neurons is a great way to boost your performance
  • People who were in the social group did better in the cognitive tasks than people who merely watched a movie. This is the first time that social interaction is shown to directly CAUSE better cognitive functioning. This is a very exciting result. Remember that participants engaged in discussion for only 10m!

The benefit from social interaction was as great as the benefit from intellectual activities.

Why would social interaction boost brain function?
Ybarra and colleagues offer the following reasoning. Social interaction involves many behaviors that require memory, attention and control. These mental processes are also involved in many cognitive tasks. Thus social interaction would act as a prime, it would “oil” these processes so that they are ready to be used when a cognitive task is to be solved. This is a tentative explanation that may require some refinement but the results are here! Social interaction seems to benefit the brain.

Read the original article:

Ybarra, O., Burnstein, E., Winkielman, P., Keller, M. C., Manis, M., Chan, E., & Rodriguez, J. (2008). Functioning Mental Exercising Through Simple Socializing: Social Interaction Promotes General Cognitive. Pers Soc Psychol Bull., 34, 248.

Announcing the 2009 Winter Release!

We are delighted to bring you a set of great new features to improve your overall cognitive cross training experience. These new features can be found in the Games, in your Performance Profile and in the Brain Workout Sessions. Go to 2009 Winter Release for more information about these feature.

Of course we’d love to hear what you think so that we can continually improve your cross-training experience,. We’d really appreciate it if you can take a moment to send us your comments my emailing us at feedback@happy-neuron.com.

Have a great brain workout!

Never forget your brain workout again

Do you have trouble remembering things? Of course, working on memory strategies can help a lot. But what if you even forget to do your memory workout? Now, with the new “Workout Reminders” feature, you can tell the HAPPYneuron Coach to email your personalized workout on a schedule that suits you.  You may never forget your brain workout again!

To schedule your workout reminder, Login and click “My Workout Reminders”. You can select as many days a week as you like and any type of workout. Of course, to be sure you receive your reminders, you may need to make a ’safe recipient’ in your email program. The FAQ can tell you how for your particular email program.

As always, to see sustainable cognitive improvements, workouts are recommended up to 45 minutes, 3 times per week and continue for 10+ weeks. Staying on track with your cognitive workout program just got little easier.