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Editorial Selections


Different Types Of Meditation Change Different Areas Of The Brain, Study Finds
FORBES.COM | 2017-10-05

There’s been a lot of discussion about what kinds of mental activities are actually capable of changing the brain. Some promises of bolstered IQ and enhanced brain function via specially-designed "brain games" have fizzled out. Meanwhile, meditation and mindfulness training have accumulated some impressive evidence, suggesting that the practices can change not only the structure and function of the brain, but also our behavior and moment-to-moment experience.

7 Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp
NEWSMAX.COM | 2017-10-04

The American Heart Association recently outlined what the organization calls “Life’s Simple 7,” a series of healthy habits that not only promote cardiovascular health, but also may help reduce the risk of dementia caused by strokes, vascular dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.

The science behind the 15 most common smart drugs
QZ.COM | 2017-09-20

Here’s a cheat sheet of 15 of the most commonly touted cognitive-boosting pills that have also been studied in clinical trials.

Is Qualia Revolutionary or Just Another Nootropic?
HUFFINGTONPOST.COM | 2017-07-31

Within the nootropics world there are at least 2 - 3 new unique smart drugs released every month. Some are run of the mill and others are more sophisticated. Qualia was launched by the Neurohacker Collective in April 2016 and has grown rapidly since then. This Qualia supplement review provides a solid non-biased overview, but today we’re focusing more on the long-term nature of this brand and product.

'Brain training' app found to improve memory in people with mild cognitive impairment
SCIENCEDAILY.COM | 2017-07-03

A 'brain training' game developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge could help improve the memory of patients in the very earliest stages of dementia, suggests a study published today in The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Your Marvelous Mind
SCIENTIFICAMERICAN.COM | 2017-07-01

How can we boost brain health? Three types of meditation help to achieve focus with less effort, reduce anxiety and improve sleep. An active social life and the Mediterranean diet are two of a handful of tactics that may help ward off Alzheimer's disease. Some brain-training programs could also prevent dementia. We all know there is nothing like a good night's sleep—sack time enhances mood, memory, immune function and hormonal balance—and yet the scientific underpinnings for sleep continue to be a mystery.

Don't Fall for the Memory Pills Targeting Baby Boomers
WIRED.COM | 2017-06-22

In January of this year, the New York State Attorney General sued the makers of Prevagen for false advertising claims, since there’s no evidence its jellyfish-based formula can help improve memory as it claims. “We sent letters to at least five major networks who were airing these ads," says Bonnie Patton, director of the consumer watchdog group Truth in Advertising. "And guess what? Prevagen ads are still airing.”

Tweaking brains with ‘smart drugs’ to get ahead in Silicon Valley
WASHINGTONPOST.COM | 2017-06-11

But while some studies have found short-term benefits, Doraiswamy says there is no evidence that what are commonly known as smart drugs — of any type — improve thinking or productivity over the long run. “There’s a sizable demand, but the hype around efficacy far exceeds available evidence,” notes Doraiswamy, adding that, for healthy young people such as Silicon Valley go-getters, “it’s a zero-sum game. That’s because when you up one circuit in the brain, you’re probably impairing another system.”

A fifth of university professors take the same 'smart drugs' as studentsl
DAILYMAIL.CO.UK | 2017-05-31

One in five university professors have admitted to using so-called 'brain booster' drugs to cope with their heavy workloads, a Cambridge University academic has claimed. Teachers are increasingly using medication prescribed for Alzheimer's, narcolepsy and ADHD, with unknown consequences, according to the neuroscientist.

The Case for Neurogenesis and Our Diet
JEWISHLINKNJ.COM | 2017-05-31

A study at the University of Texas also found that challenging mental activities and learning stimulates memory and high-level thinking. The 2009 Strangl and Thuret study also demonstrated that diet impacts our neurogenesis. This study focused on the calories we consume, how often we eat, the types of food we eat and their texture (smooth textures are not the best) and the contents of the food we eat. So when we fast a few times a year and we complain about it, or think that it hinders our system, the total opposite is true! Fasting increases the production of new neurons! Development of new neurons reduces the risk of strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and speech impediments.

Neuroscience


Your Marvelous Mind
SCIENTIFICAMERICAN.COM | 2017-07-01

How can we boost brain health? Three types of meditation help to achieve focus with less effort, reduce anxiety and improve sleep. An active social life and the Mediterranean diet are two of a handful of tactics that may help ward off Alzheimer's disease. Some brain-training programs could also prevent dementia. We all know there is nothing like a good night's sleep—sack time enhances mood, memory, immune function and hormonal balance—and yet the scientific underpinnings for sleep continue to be a mystery.

Is Neuroscience Rediscovering The Soul?
NPR.ORG | 2017-04-05

But what if we revisit the definition of soul, abandoning its canonical meaning as the "spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal" for something more modern? What if we consider your soul as the sum total of your neurocognitive essence, your very specific brain signature, the unique neuronal connections, synapses, and flow of neurotransmitters that makes you you?

New Frontier for Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy Is Recovery From Stroke
WALL STREET JOURNAL | 2015-07-13

Many questions remain to be answered before DBS can become a clinically useful treatment. The biggest: Will its effects hold in humans? Promoting the formation of new neurons is probably harder in humans than in rats. To date, there isn’t direct evidence that electrical stimulation of the cerebellum will promote the formation of new neurons in humans, although that remains a possibility and a hope, says Dr. Machado.

Missing link found between brain, immune system
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA HEALTH SYSTEM | 2015-06-01

In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer's disease to multiple sclerosis.

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function
SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE | 2015-03-18

Publishing in Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called a focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to activate. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps that are responsible for the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s. [Sci Transl Med 11 March 2015 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa2512]

What are the Unsolved Problems of Neuroscience?
DISCOVERMAGAZINE.COM | 2015-02-28

In an interesting short paper just published in Trends in Cognitive Science, Caltech neuroscientist Ralph Adolphs offers his thoughts on The Unsolved Problems of Neuroscience.

Day dreaming helps the mind in doing complex tasks later
INDIATIMES.COM | 2015-02-24

In an unanticipated finding, the present study demonstrated how the increased mind wandering behavior produced by external stimulation not only does not harm subjects' ability to succeed at an appointed task, it actually helps. Bar believes that this surprising result might stem from the convergence, within a single brain region, of both the "thought controlling" mechanisms of executive function and the "thought freeing" activity of spontaneous, self-directed daydreams.

How Can A Stroke Change Your Brain?
WGBHNEWS.ORG | 2015-02-20

When neuroanatomist Jill Bolte-Taylor felt her brain shut down during a stroke, she was more fascinated than panicked. Even though she spent eight years recovering, she's grateful for the stroke.

Pollution Damages Short Term Memory, IQ and Brain Metabolism
ZMESCIENCE.COM | 2015-02-12

City smog significantly lowers children’s IQ, while also raising the risk for Alzheimers disease. A new study has found that children living in highly polluted cities are at an increased risk for detrimental effects to the brain, including short-term memory loss.

The Coming Boom In Brain Medicines
FORBES.COM | 2015-02-11

Last year investors poured $3.3 billion into firms that are developing drugs for brain-destroying or psychiatric illnesses, more than in any of the last ten years, says NeuroPerspective. Some big drug companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Roche and Novartis, are finding ways to reinvigorate their efforts. New medicines for severe depression, psychosis and schizophrenia could reach the market within the next few years, and treatments for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and some forms of autism are a real possibility, too.

Nootropics


The science behind the 15 most common smart drugs
QZ.COM | 2017-09-20

Here’s a cheat sheet of 15 of the most commonly touted cognitive-boosting pills that have also been studied in clinical trials.

Is Qualia Revolutionary or Just Another Nootropic?
HUFFINGTONPOST.COM | 2017-07-31

Within the nootropics world there are at least 2 - 3 new unique smart drugs released every month. Some are run of the mill and others are more sophisticated. Qualia was launched by the Neurohacker Collective in April 2016 and has grown rapidly since then. This Qualia supplement review provides a solid non-biased overview, but today we’re focusing more on the long-term nature of this brand and product.

Don't Fall for the Memory Pills Targeting Baby Boomers
WIRED.COM | 2017-06-22

In January of this year, the New York State Attorney General sued the makers of Prevagen for false advertising claims, since there’s no evidence its jellyfish-based formula can help improve memory as it claims. “We sent letters to at least five major networks who were airing these ads," says Bonnie Patton, director of the consumer watchdog group Truth in Advertising. "And guess what? Prevagen ads are still airing.”

Tweaking brains with ‘smart drugs’ to get ahead in Silicon Valley
WASHINGTONPOST.COM | 2017-06-11

But while some studies have found short-term benefits, Doraiswamy says there is no evidence that what are commonly known as smart drugs — of any type — improve thinking or productivity over the long run. “There’s a sizable demand, but the hype around efficacy far exceeds available evidence,” notes Doraiswamy, adding that, for healthy young people such as Silicon Valley go-getters, “it’s a zero-sum game. That’s because when you up one circuit in the brain, you’re probably impairing another system.”

A fifth of university professors take the same 'smart drugs' as studentsl
DAILYMAIL.CO.UK | 2017-05-31

One in five university professors have admitted to using so-called 'brain booster' drugs to cope with their heavy workloads, a Cambridge University academic has claimed. Teachers are increasingly using medication prescribed for Alzheimer's, narcolepsy and ADHD, with unknown consequences, according to the neuroscientist.

“Smart drugs” may help intelligent people to become deeper thinkers
QUARTZ | 2017-02-08

A randomized-controlled trial has shown that two commonly prescribed prescription drugs—modafinil and ritalin—can be used to enhance performance in chess games. Modafinil is a wakefulness-promiting agent used to treat sleep disorders, while ritalin is often used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Both drugs are commonly used off-label as so-called “smart drugs” to improve cognitive function.

For the productivity-obsessed of Silicon Valley, coffee alone may not cut it anymore
MARKETPLACE.ORG | 2017-01-16

Nootropics are marketed as pills that will increase your productivity and boost your brain power. Many in the scientific community question the claims. But in Silicon Valley, nootropics have become part of a subculture that is trying to work as many productive hours a day as possible.

This is what happened when I tried unregulated, mind-bending chemicals bought from the internet
RAWSTORY.COM | 2016-08-31

Intellectually, I can appreciate the difference between dominating and living. But in practice? Still, I was intrigued. If the Russians go to the trouble to restrict a substance, and Dick Pound himself condemned it, it must do something, right?

How Effective Are Nootropics and “Smart” Drugs?
LIFEHACKER.COM | 2016-08-01

Imagine a pill you can take to speed up your thought processes, boost your memory, and make you more productive. If it sounds like the ultimate life hack, you’re not alone. There are pills that promise that out there, but whether they work is complicated. Here are the most popular cognitive enhancers available, and what science actually says about them.

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs turn to fasting and 'smart drugs'
MERCURYNEWS.COM | 2016-07-09

Woo and other entrepreneurs are using fasts and other tricks to "hack" their brain chemistry like they would a computer, hoping to give themselves an edge as they strive to dream up the next billion-dollar idea. Known by insiders as "biohacking," the push for cognitive self-improvement is gaining momentum in the Silicon Valley tech world, where workers face constant pressure to innovate and produce at the highest levels.

Diet


The Case for Neurogenesis and Our Diet
JEWISHLINKNJ.COM | 2017-05-31

A study at the University of Texas also found that challenging mental activities and learning stimulates memory and high-level thinking. The 2009 Strangl and Thuret study also demonstrated that diet impacts our neurogenesis. This study focused on the calories we consume, how often we eat, the types of food we eat and their texture (smooth textures are not the best) and the contents of the food we eat. So when we fast a few times a year and we complain about it, or think that it hinders our system, the total opposite is true! Fasting increases the production of new neurons! Development of new neurons reduces the risk of strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and speech impediments.

11 Foods To Eat If You're Having Trouble Focusing Or Concentrating
BUSTLE.COM | 2016-07-25

No one food is magic (except maybe coffee), but if you eat the right balance of nutrients, you might be surprised at how much more alert you'll feel and how much info you can retain. If you want to improve your focus, concentration, and memory, try incorporating these 11 brain-boosting foods into your, and you might see a spike in your productivity.

Are smartphones making our children mentally ill?
TELEGRAPH.CO.UK | 2015-03-21

She is emphatically not anti-internet, but rather anti- the negative side effects of it on our young. “It is battering our children’s brains. They have no times for the goodies in life – kindness, acceptance, conversation, face-to-face, nature, nurture. They need to find a sense of purpose by connecting with other people, not being on the Internet all the time.

Nurturing The Brain – Part II, Chocolate
BRAINBLOGGER.COM | 2015-02-28

The neurobiological effects of flavanols are believed to occur by direct promotion of neurogenesis through the expression of neuroprotective and neuromodulatory proteins which regulate neuronal function and brain connectivity. Flavonols, whose cardiovascular beneficial effects are well-known, may also improve blood flow and angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) in the brain. Protective effects of long-term flavanol consumption have also been shown in animal models of normal aging, dementia, and stroke. Human studies have provided evidence for a positive effect of cocoa flavonoids on vision, cognition, learning, memory, mood, and reduced cognitive decline in aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

Resveratrol Not Only Good for the Heart but Halts Memory Loss As Well
GENEGNEWS.COM | 2015-02-05

Resveratrol has been widely touted for its potential to prevent heart disease, but Dr. Shetty and a team that includes other researchers from the health science center believe it also has positive effects on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is critical to functions such as memory, learning, and mood.

The Emerging Field of Nutritional Mental Health
CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE | 2015-02-02

The current revolution is broader, consisting of the rapidly accumulating knowledge of how inflammation, microbiome imbalance (gut dysbiosis), oxidative stress, and impaired mitochondrial output affect brain function. Suitable interventions for fighting inflammation, restoring normal gut function, reducing oxidative stress, and improving mitochondrial metabolism incorporate lifestyle variables, including nutrients and probiotics.

What Is Bulletproof Coffee and Should You Be Drinking It?
THEFASHIONSPOT.COM | 2014-12-30

Darretta also points out that people may react very differently to Bulletproof coffee because the rate at which a person metabolizes caffeine (which you can find out with a test like 23andMe) will determine the impact caffeine has on your chances for heart disease. Your sensitivity to mold will have an impact on how much mycotoxins really adversely impact you, etc. Meaning that just because you read about someone else having an amazing experience drinking the coffee, it doesn’t mean that you will.

Spice up your memory
MONASH.EDU | 2014-11-18

Adding just one gram of turmeric to breakfast could help improve the memory of people who are in the very early stages of diabetes and at risk of cognitive impairment.

Omega-3s Could Curb ADD In Kids, And Most Americans Still Don't Consume Enough
MEDICALDAILY.COM | 2014-11-13

There have been literally thousands of studies analyzing and confirming over and over again how beneficial omega-3s are to the body. One of the most important findings was published in the DHA (docasahexaenoic acid) Oxford Learning and Behavior (DOLAB) study. In a double-blind randomized study, children were given either an omega-3 DHA or a placebo, and within 16 weeks parents reported a significant improvement in their child’s reading ability and behavior.

8 Foods that Benefit Your Brain
COSMOPOLITAN.COM | 2014-11-06

To help you keep your mind in tiptop shape, Stephanie Clarke and Willow Jarosh, registered dietitians and co-owners of C&J Nutrition, have shared their top eight foods to benefit your brain: Coffee, Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Salmon, Whole Grains, Dark Chocolate, Avocado, and Water.

BrainTraining


'Brain training' app found to improve memory in people with mild cognitive impairment
SCIENCEDAILY.COM | 2017-07-03

A 'brain training' game developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge could help improve the memory of patients in the very earliest stages of dementia, suggests a study published today in The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Ancient Brain Training Technique Can Boost Memory
SMITHSONIAN.COM | 2017-03-10

Memorizing Pi to one thousand digits or committing the entire Quran to memory might seem like feats reserved for ultra-nerds or the ultra devout. But a new study of an ancient memory trick called the Memory Palace shows that such feats of mega-retention are within the grasp of ordinary people, and that just trying to become better at memorizing can have lasting impacts on brain function.

Does brain training make you smart?
THEGUARDIAN.COM | 2017-02-05

Can we really train our brains? The hope that maybe we can is based on the idea of “brain plasticity”: that no matter how old you are, and how set in your ways, your brain is constantly changing to adapt to new experiences. Brain plasticity is based on a decade’s worth of hard science, which is how it came to spawn a billion-dollar brain training industry. But there’s a problem. When scientists look at whether brain training games actually make people smarter, the answer is very clear: no.

Brain Training: A Case Study in Scientific Spin
INVERSE.COM | 2016-08-06

To call the findings preliminary barely scrapes the surface. Admittedly, this research could become the first large-scale randomized trial to link brain training with long-term dementia risk — but that should be a signal for caution, not celebration, an encouraging sign but not necessarily a definitive one.

Could Brain Training Prevent Dementia?
NEWYORKER.COM | 2016-07-23

Even as dozens of researchers, some funded by the National Institutes of Health and other reputable government agencies, continued to insist that the field was not the neuroscientific equivalent of desktop fusion or coffee colonics, the fact remained that no brain game, nor any drug, dietary supplement, or lifestyle intervention, had ever been shown in a large, randomized trial to prevent dementia. That was the case until today, when surprising new results were announced at the Alzheimer’s Association annual meeting, in Toronto.

Brain training and memory games: Benefits may be all in the mind
THEHERALD.COM.AU | 2016-06-21

The benefits of brain and memory training could be all in the mind, nothing more than a placebo effect, finds a major study by American researchers. The results cast doubt on the booming billion dollar industry that has resulted in online training, apps and television shows, that tap into dark fears about ageing, and the promise of maintaining brain function.

Billion-dollar brain training industry a sham—nothing but placebo, study suggests
ARSTECHNICA.COM | 2016-06-20

In a study designed to assess the experimental methods of earlier brain-training studies, researchers found that sampling bias and the placebo effect explained the positive results seen in the past. “Indeed, to our knowledge, the rigor of double-blind randomized clinical trials is nonexistent in this research area,” the authors report. They even suggest that the overblown claims from brain training companies may have created a positive feedback loop, convincing people that brain training works and biasing follow-up research on the topic.

Brain Training Exercise Gives Athletes 'Super Vision'
YAHOO.COM | 2015-05-15

As the players' ability to distinguish the contrast improved, the contrast in the grating got fainter and the task got harder. At the end of the task, the players' eyesight had improved by about 30 percent on a visual acuity test, and many of them reported subjective improvements in their vision, Seitz said.

For an Aging Brain, Looking for Ways to Keep Memory Sharp
NYTIMES.COM | 2015-05-11

Participants aged 60 to 85 who trained on the game for four weeks improved their ability to focus well enough to outscore untrained 20-year-olds, and they maintained the benefit for at least six months. Effects of the training transferred to other cognitive skills known to decline with age: sustained attention, divided attention and working memory, the researchers reported in the journal Nature. In addition, physical evidence of the benefit was demonstrated with electroencephalograph measurements of brain activity that indicate cognitive control.

What Science Tells Us About Brain Training Games
LIFEHACKER.COM.AU | 2015-05-08

Although practice makes perfect, any improvement is usually limited in its scope. So, practising the piano does not make you a better basketball player, but it might help your xylophone playing. However, playing basketball should have cardiovascular benefits that improve performance not only on the court, but also in the swimming pool. Likewise, gaming may help certain cognitive processes that have benefits beyond the particular game being played — but not in everything our brains do.

Meditation


Different Types Of Meditation Change Different Areas Of The Brain, Study Finds
FORBES.COM | 2017-10-05

There’s been a lot of discussion about what kinds of mental activities are actually capable of changing the brain. Some promises of bolstered IQ and enhanced brain function via specially-designed "brain games" have fizzled out. Meanwhile, meditation and mindfulness training have accumulated some impressive evidence, suggesting that the practices can change not only the structure and function of the brain, but also our behavior and moment-to-moment experience.

Neuroscience + Buddhism Uncovers How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life
COLLECTIVE-EVOLUTION.COM | 2017-03-13

Open Focus is the name of an attention training program created by Dr. Lester Fehmi, a neuroscientist and psychologist from Princeton University. Dr. Fehmi found that once our whole brain activity becomes more synchronous in alpha frequency, our mental and physical health improves. He created a series of mind exercises that help to cultivate this brainwave pattern, and he designed a neurofeedback EEG machine that can detect it.

Mindfulness May Make Memories Less Accurate
PSYCHOLOGICALSCIENCE.ORG | 2015-09-09

Mindfulness meditation is associated with all sorts of benefits to mental and physical well-being, but a new study suggests that it may also come with a particular downside for memory. The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, show that participants who engaged in a 15-minute mindfulness meditation session were less able to differentiate items they actually encountered from items they only imagined.

Exercise, music and meditation: How to rebuild your brain after a stroke
EXPRESS.CO.UK | 2015-03-01

Listening to music is a little bit of magic for the brain, as countless studies have proved. Scientists believe it’s because music activates lots of brain regions at once – attention, memory, verbal, emotion and meaning. One study in Finland among stroke patients who listened to music every day for two months found they had better verbal memory and focused attention after the trial.

Long-term meditation tied to less brain loss
REUTERS.COM | 2015-02-16

The new study “adds a little bit more evidence to the idea that the brain has plasticity, and by practicing certain mental activities, such as meditation, we can see structural changes in the brain as a result,” he said.

Finding your zen on a smartphone
WIRED.CO.UK | 2015-01-01

When former monk Andy Puddicombe announced his idea to teach mindfulness with an app, his Tibetan Buddhist teacher was horrified. "I felt very unsure as well," says Puddicombe, cofounder of LA-based Headspace. "In the Tibetan tradition, there's an unbroken oral lineage from teacher to student of almost 900 years. There's a risk in scaling something like this, taking it out of its environment, diluting it."

Mind over matter, brain alone can tone muscle
BREITBART.COM | 2014-12-24

New research suggests muscles respond to simple thoughts of exercise; simply imagining exercise can trick the muscles into delaying atrophy and even getting stronger. It’s further proof that brain and body, which evolved together, are more intwined than separate.

Evan Thompson’s ‘Waking, Dreaming, Being’
NYTIMES.COM | 2014-12-19

[Book Review] Thompson argues that these contemplative practices are relentlessly empirical. “In the yogic traditions,” he writes, “meditation trains both the ability to sustain attention on a single object and the ability to be openly aware of the entire field of experience without selecting or suppressing anything that arises.”

Man behind meditation app goes from monk to millionaire
TELEGRAPH.CO.UK | 2014-10-12

“I realised I felt more passionate about teaching meditation than I did about being a monk,” he explains, “and that being a baldheaded guy in a skirt presented considerable challenges in terms of making mediation more accessible.” Although Andy didn’t realise it at the time, this is when the idea of Headspace first took root.

Scientists Have Finally Proven What Yoga Lovers Have Known for Centuries
MIC.COM | 2014-07-03

It was a simple, but enlightening discovery: When scientists looked at the brains of expert meditators, they found some startling physical changes. Extra wrinkles (which in the case of the brain happens to be a good thing) lined the cortex, the outer portion of the brain responsible for complex thinking like abstraction and introspection. The hippocampus, the seahorse-shaped brain structures that help us process memories, was generally bigger and more dense.

Meditation


Different Types Of Meditation Change Different Areas Of The Brain, Study Finds
FORBES.COM | 2017-10-05

There’s been a lot of discussion about what kinds of mental activities are actually capable of changing the brain. Some promises of bolstered IQ and enhanced brain function via specially-designed "brain games" have fizzled out. Meanwhile, meditation and mindfulness training have accumulated some impressive evidence, suggesting that the practices can change not only the structure and function of the brain, but also our behavior and moment-to-moment experience.

Neuroscience + Buddhism Uncovers How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life
COLLECTIVE-EVOLUTION.COM | 2017-03-13

Open Focus is the name of an attention training program created by Dr. Lester Fehmi, a neuroscientist and psychologist from Princeton University. Dr. Fehmi found that once our whole brain activity becomes more synchronous in alpha frequency, our mental and physical health improves. He created a series of mind exercises that help to cultivate this brainwave pattern, and he designed a neurofeedback EEG machine that can detect it.

Mindfulness May Make Memories Less Accurate
PSYCHOLOGICALSCIENCE.ORG | 2015-09-09

Mindfulness meditation is associated with all sorts of benefits to mental and physical well-being, but a new study suggests that it may also come with a particular downside for memory. The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, show that participants who engaged in a 15-minute mindfulness meditation session were less able to differentiate items they actually encountered from items they only imagined.

Exercise, music and meditation: How to rebuild your brain after a stroke
EXPRESS.CO.UK | 2015-03-01

Listening to music is a little bit of magic for the brain, as countless studies have proved. Scientists believe it’s because music activates lots of brain regions at once – attention, memory, verbal, emotion and meaning. One study in Finland among stroke patients who listened to music every day for two months found they had better verbal memory and focused attention after the trial.

Long-term meditation tied to less brain loss
REUTERS.COM | 2015-02-16

The new study “adds a little bit more evidence to the idea that the brain has plasticity, and by practicing certain mental activities, such as meditation, we can see structural changes in the brain as a result,” he said.

Finding your zen on a smartphone
WIRED.CO.UK | 2015-01-01

When former monk Andy Puddicombe announced his idea to teach mindfulness with an app, his Tibetan Buddhist teacher was horrified. "I felt very unsure as well," says Puddicombe, cofounder of LA-based Headspace. "In the Tibetan tradition, there's an unbroken oral lineage from teacher to student of almost 900 years. There's a risk in scaling something like this, taking it out of its environment, diluting it."

Mind over matter, brain alone can tone muscle
BREITBART.COM | 2014-12-24

New research suggests muscles respond to simple thoughts of exercise; simply imagining exercise can trick the muscles into delaying atrophy and even getting stronger. It’s further proof that brain and body, which evolved together, are more intwined than separate.

Evan Thompson’s ‘Waking, Dreaming, Being’
NYTIMES.COM | 2014-12-19

[Book Review] Thompson argues that these contemplative practices are relentlessly empirical. “In the yogic traditions,” he writes, “meditation trains both the ability to sustain attention on a single object and the ability to be openly aware of the entire field of experience without selecting or suppressing anything that arises.”

Man behind meditation app goes from monk to millionaire
TELEGRAPH.CO.UK | 2014-10-12

“I realised I felt more passionate about teaching meditation than I did about being a monk,” he explains, “and that being a baldheaded guy in a skirt presented considerable challenges in terms of making mediation more accessible.” Although Andy didn’t realise it at the time, this is when the idea of Headspace first took root.

Scientists Have Finally Proven What Yoga Lovers Have Known for Centuries
MIC.COM | 2014-07-03

It was a simple, but enlightening discovery: When scientists looked at the brains of expert meditators, they found some startling physical changes. Extra wrinkles (which in the case of the brain happens to be a good thing) lined the cortex, the outer portion of the brain responsible for complex thinking like abstraction and introspection. The hippocampus, the seahorse-shaped brain structures that help us process memories, was generally bigger and more dense.

Exercise


Walking linked to improved brain function
REUTERS | 2017-05-16

“More specifically, it reduces one’s risk of developing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes (type II), and high cholesterol. These chronic conditions have a negative impact on the brain - likely through compromised blood flow to the brain,” said Liu-Ambrose, a researcher with the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Brain Benefits of Exercise Diminish After Short Rest
NYTIMES.COM | 2016-09-28

Before you skip another workout, you might think about your brain. A provocative new study finds that some of the benefits of exercise for brain health may evaporate if we take to the couch and stop being active, even just for a week or so.

Exercise Boosts Brain Health, but Is There a Downside?
NYTIMES.COM | 2016-08-24

“We need far more studies in many different species” to better understand the nuances of how exercise changes the brain and mind, he said. He and his colleagues hope to start such studies soon.

How physical exercise makes your brain work better
THEGUARDIAN.COM | 2016-06-18

A wave of studies exploring the unexpected links between mental and bodily fitness is emerging from labs. This research might give you the impetus to get more active. It can also help you choose the best ways to prepare physically for mental challenges such as exams, interviews and creative projects.

High-Intensity Interval Training And Brain Health
BRAINBLOGGER.COM | 2015-07-19

Physical inactivity is one of the top ten risk factors for poor health, being associated with an increased risk of premature cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Exercise, on the other hand, is known to benefit the brain by promoting angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation), neurogenesis, and synaptic plasticity, thereby improving cerebral blood flow and metabolism and counteracting age-associated cognitive decline and dementia.

Drumming Improves Quality of Life in Many Ways
HUFFINGTONPOST.COM | 2015-05-21

So just what is the science? When it comes to our health, drumming may:

1. Improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure, stress and anxiety levels, and blood lactate (lactic acid that can cause pain and inflammation). 2. Support brain health by enhancing executive function and improving callosal white matter microstructure in people, specifically in people with neurological conditions like Huntington's Disease. 3. Reduce pain by activating the production and release of feel-good endorphins in people playing music or drumming. Endorphins promote a sense of well-being, and can improve mood, boost immunity, and help us feel connected to others. 4. Reduce stress hormones by decreasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol levels drop, it can give the body's natural killer cells a boost, which in turn boosts immunity.

5 Ways Working Out Makes You Smarter
STACK.COM | 2015-04-01

Working out isn’t just good for the body, it’s good for the mind. Multiple studies have found that exercise has synergistic effects on brain power. Here are five ways that working out can make you smarter.

Power nap of just 45 minutes can boost memory five-fold
DAILYMAIL.COM | 2015-03-22

The scientists, from Saarland University in Germany, said that during sleep, bursts of brain activity known as sleep spindles play an important role in consolidating newly learned information.

Why It Should Always Be the Season for Exercise
HUFFINGTONPOST.COM | 2015-01-13

Although it may come as no surprise that exercise is good for your brain, we still do not have the metrics to guide optimal exercise for mental health. Today, the most common explanations for how exercise boosts mental health are that when we exercise we release endorphins that make us feel good and that exercise increases blood flow to our brains. Another explanation is that when we become more "physically fit," our brains become more fit. But the truth is that scientists still cannot fully explain the numerous mental health benefits of exercise.

Exercise can improve memory in 60-year-olds
MOLECULAR PSYCHIATRY | 2014-10-14

A new study, in which researchers from Karolinska Institutet participated, shows that physical activity can improve memory performance in older people through increasing volume and blood flow in an area of the brain called hippocampus. It is the first time these connections are being studied in people over 60 years of age. The results are published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

HardTech


Timing is Key to Electrically Stimulating the Brain
THECONVERSATION.COM | 2017-05-15

This study is notably different from those before. Rather than indiscriminately zapping the brain, the researchers showed that the brain state at the time of memory encoding determines whether brain stimulation helps or hinders. It’s an invaluable insight for future studies that try to tease apart the effects of brain stimulation on memory.

Magnetic Brain-Training Technique Hope for Alzheimer's
EXPRESS.CO.UK | 2017-02-09

"Ultimately, a treatment that can slow or halt the damage occurring in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s could offer the best chance of improving the lives of those living with the disease, and this will only be possible with sustained investment in research.”

Can zapping your brain be beneficial?
CBC.CA | 2016-07-20

"You only have one brain. Wait for the research to catch up with all the hype," Krause said.

How to Plug In Your Brain
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | 2016-05-01

The protocol Barbey has designed combines tDCS, nutrition, and cognitive and physical exercise in a comprehensive regimen with the potential to enhance everything from math skills to abstract reasoning. Through his work, he is probing the nature and structure of the human mind and, in the process, asking what it really means to be smart.

Constantly checking your mobile phone can lead to 'cognitive failures'
INDEPENDENT.CO.UK | 2015-08-17

But whether the most digitally active people are more distracted because their excessive online activity makes them jittery or hyperactive, or whether it is the other way around – that they are more drawn to these activities because they naturally have short “attentional control” – is unclear at this stage, he says. Dr Hadlington does have a theory, however: that it is a mix of the two. In other words, those people already suffering from short attention spans are drawn to the distractions of modern technology, which makes it even harder for them to pay attention to their surroundings. His research has been published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour. He is now working on research to answer this question more comprehensively and to look for ways to solve the problem.

Adventures in transcranial direct-current stimulation.
NEWYORKER.COM | 2015-04-06

This was my first experience of transcranial direct-current stimulation, or tDCS—a portable, cheap, low-tech procedure that involves sending a low electric current (up to two milliamps) to the brain. Research into tDCS is in its early stages. A number of studies suggest that it may improve learning, vigilance, intelligence, and working memory, as well as relieve chronic pain and the symptoms of depression, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, and schizophrenia. However, the studies have been so small and heterogeneous that meta-analyses have failed to prove any conclusive effects, and long-term risks have not been established.

The Electric Mood-Control Acid Test
TECHNOLOGYREVIEW.COM | 2015-03-12

A wireless signal from a smartphone app controls the frequency and intensity of the pulses, gradually changing them in five- to 20-minute long programs that Thync calls vibes. The amount of electricity it produces is small—once it’s set up properly, I can barely feel it. Yet Thync says it has a marked impact on key parts of a person’s brain. An energy vibe, the company contends, can make you feel as if you’ve just had a Red Bull or similar energy drink. The calm vibe—the one I just ran—is for “whenever you’re frustrated, anxious, or stressed.”

Is your satnav harming your brain?
DAILYMAIL.COM | 2015-03-02

Can't recall a friend's phone number? Press the speed dial on your mobile. Don't know the way to their house? Use a satnav. Modern technology has taken the strain off our brains with the answers to so many problems available at the click of a button. But is there a dark side to all this convenience? Growing scientific evidence suggests a future where our brains may prematurely fail in later life through under-use, thanks to Mother Nature's rule that we 'use it or lose it'.

Will 2015 Be The Year Our Smartphones Link Up To Our Brains?
POPSCI.COM | 2015-02-25

Thync bills itself first and foremost as a neuroscience company. Its sole product—slated for release later this year—is a smartphone-controlled wearable device that will allow the user to actively alter his or her brain’s electrical state through transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). The big idea: give users active influence over their brain chemistries, and therefore their moods, their anxiety, and even their mental productivity—an app that can conjure feeling of calm and tranquility or dial up a user’s attention and focus on demand.

Second blow to the head for effects of brain zapping
NEWSCIENTIST.COM | 2015-01-29

"Most studies have more than one outcome measure, such as accuracy, speed, errors made and so on," explains Horvath. And while one study may show, for example, improved accuracy on a memory task after tDCS but no effect on speed or errors, another memory study may show improved speed, with no effect on accuracy or errors. When put together they cancel each other out. This pattern played out in studies of memory, processing speed and mathematical ability, Horvath found.