Archive for the ‘brain research’ Category

That Challenging Job May Be Helping Your Brain

June 16, 2015

lovejobDid you know that a job or work that is mentally demanding can actually help protect your memory and thinking skills later in life?

According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, challenges at work can be positive if they build up mental reserve over the long term. In fact, the type of career you have may be even more important than your education level for protecting brain health.

In the study, a thousand people over age 75 were given memory and thinking tests every 18 months for eight years. Researchers rated participants’ work history based on how often participants had to schedule activities, resolve conflict, develop strategies and perform other complicated tasks.

They found that those who had the highest levels of tasks that stimulated verbal intelligence and executive functions during their career had half the rate of mental decline compared to those with low levels of mentally demanding tasks.

One of the first signs of age-related cognitive decline is a decrease in executive function—the ability to organize thoughts. But just as lifting weights builds muscle, handling challenging mental tasks every day may strengthen neural processes that then build up mental reserve in old age.

So take your job and love it—it may be the ticket to enjoying a great retirement!

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping students of all ages improve study, reading, math and cognitive skills. Our customized brain fitness programs take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive power and concentration. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

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The Brain Initiative Holds Promise for Treating Brain Disorders

June 9, 2015

brain1With nearly 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections, the human brain remains one of the greatest mysteries in science and one of the greatest challenges in medicine. In the last decade alone, scientists have made a number of landmark discoveries that now create the opportunity to unlock the mysteries of the brain.

Recently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued its first research awards for what’s been called America’s next moon shot: the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative is part of a new Presidential focus aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain.

By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a revolutionary new dynamic picture of the brain, giving us new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders.

The hope is that the Brain Initiative will result in the development of innovative technologies to capture dynamic pictures that reveal how the brain’s cells and complex circuits interact at the speed of thought. This in turn will enable scientists to transform how we diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression and traumatic brain injury.

Sources: National Institutes of Health and AARP

Optiminds is a cognitive-based, professional brain training skills center that has earned a reputation for helping students of all ages improve study, reading, math and cognitive skills. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

MSU Researcher Working on Natural Treatment for Alzheimer’s

April 9, 2015

Berries2A plant that has been used for hundreds of years in Indian, Ayurvedic, Unani and African medicine may hold the secret for stopping the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, and maybe even preventing the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Muraleedharan Nair, a natural products chemist in the horticulture department at Michigan State University, has patented a botanical compound called withanamides. This compound is derived from the ancient plant known as Ashwagandha, which is an herbal remedy used to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, alter the immune system and calm the brain.

Withanamides is believed to work by neutralizing the damaging effects of a byproduct of the protein that triggers plaque buildup that signals the early stages of Alzheimer’s. It is this plaque buildup that starts to kill brain cells in the frontal lobe and erase memories before it moves deeper into the brain. Withanamides would help prevent Alzheimer’s at an earlier stage than some of the solutions currently being worked on by pharmaceutical companies.

Withanamides has been tested in mouse trials and is currently in clinical trials, after which it will hopefully be submitted for FDA approval. Because it has already been deemed a “food safe plant,” it should require fewer hurdles to meet compliance.

If you are looking for ways to keep your brain healthy, Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Things You Can Do to Turbocharge Your Brain—Part Two

March 23, 2015

Based on her extensive research, Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D. and expert in brain science, has developed seven suggestions for improving brain performance that anyone can implement.

We posted Dr. Chapman’s first three suggestions in our March 3rd post. Here are her remaining four tips for turbocharging the brain:

Thinker3Think big—The brain is designed to shift between details and the big picture, so it gets overwhelmed by too much focus on details and minutiae. It’s more effective to take the time to think about a problem or idea from the 10,000-foot view. This shifts our perspective—and strengthens brain systems to generate high-level ideas and transformative solutions.

Calibrate mental effort—Mental energy, like physical energy, can be depleted. Prioritize your day by focusing effort on the most important tasks while your brain is at peak operating power, usually at the start of the day.

Innovate—Stepping outside your routine is important to brain health and performance. Our brains seek novelty and innovation, so challenge yourself to expand your knowledge and learn new skills.

Motivate—While it is important to learn new skills, the brain is happiest when exploring areas you are passionate about. Focusing on what motivates and matters to you actually increases your rate of learning.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping students of all ages improve study, reading, math and cognitive skills. Our customized brain fitness programs take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive power and concentration. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Things You Can Do to Turbocharge Your Brain—Part One

March 16, 2015

The human brain is the most powerful and complex electro-biochemical machine ever created—housing 100 billion neurons in a small calcium shell, laced with organic pumps, channels, and switches.

Researchers are finding that rather than being static and unchangeable, this amazing organ is dynamic, adaptable, flexible and repairable. Based on her extensive research, Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D. and expert in brain science, has developed seven suggestions for improving brain performance that anyone can implement. Dr. Chapman is Founder and Chief Director of the Center for Brain Health at The University of Texas at Dallas

Here are Dr. Chapman’s first three suggestions (The remaining tips can be found in our March 16th post):

multitask3Start single tasking—Your brain is not built to perform two tasks at the same time. Instead, it must switch quickly from task to unrelated task. Multitasking actually tires the brain and activates stress hormones. So contrary to what multitaskers think, giving your full attention to the project at hand will increase accuracy, innovation, and speed.

Limit information—Thanks to our technology-driven and uber-connected world, the sheer volume of information we are exposed to every day is nearly 200 times more than we were exposed to 20 years ago! Research shows that this information overload comes at a price. High-performing minds are more efficient at knowing what to block out and what to keenly pay attention to. Limit what you take in to enhance your brain’s natural ability to block out what does not matter.

Detox distractions—On average, individuals work for three minutes at a time before being interrupted. Complicating matters, technology is actually rewiring our brains to be addicted to interruption, as we anxiously wait for the next ping signaling a new email, text or social media post. By silencing your phone and computer and closing your office door, you can actually accelerate your brain’s ability to complete tasks.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping students of all ages improve study, reading, math and cognitive skills. Our customized brain fitness programs take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive power and concentration. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Blood Tests for Alzheimer’s On the Horizon

December 16, 2014

AlzBloodStill in early stages of development at the National Institute on Aging, a new blood test for Alzheimer’s appears to detect the disease as many as 10 years before clinical diagnosis is possible, much sooner than other tests in development.

The test could soon be used to identify and treat patients with Alzheimer’s earlier in their disease progression. Those people could participate in clinical trials to help find new treatments. Already, the test distinguishes between patients and healthy elderly with 100 percent accuracy.

In separate research at Georgetown University, a blood test has been developed that can predict with 90 percent certainty whether a senior will suffer from dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease within the next few years. The test would be an improvement over expensive MRIs and PET scans currently used to diagnose Alzheimers, but which are limited in their diagnostic ability.

The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease affects thinking, memory, behavior and autonomy. It is estimated that by 2050 135 million people globally will have dementia.

Optiminds offers customized brain fitness programs to help seniors take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive power. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Your Brain Is Much Better Than You Think

August 9, 2014

brainpower1No human has fully explored the capacities of the brain. Contemporary psychological research has shown that, when it comes to the human brain,we have more potential—virtually unlimited—than we think.

In 1968, psychologist Pyotr Anokhin demonstrated that the minimum number of potential thought patterns the average brain can make is the number 1 followed by 10.5 million kilometers of typewritten zeros.

Scientists have also found that the brain:

  • is capable of making a virtually unlimited number of synaptic connections or potential patterns of thought
  • is more flexible and multidimensional than any supercomputer
  • can learn seven facts per second, every second, for the rest of your life and still have plenty of room left to learn more
  • will improve with age if you use it properly
  • is not just in your head; intelligence is also located in cells that are distributed throughout the body.
  • is unique. There has never been anyone quite like you. Your creative gifts, expressions, DNA and dreams are unprecedented and unique.

Source: “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci,” by Michael J. Gelb.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. We also have specialists in college counseling and athletic college prep counseling on our staff. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

Get Moving to Strengthen Your Brain

April 14, 2014

As we age, our brains shrink a little, but they continue to create new neurons and fine-tune neural connections as long as we are alive. So if you want to increase the new growth, start exercising.

Aerobic exercise boosts blood flow to the brain, which encourages the release of a chemical called “brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF stimulates the formation of new neurons near the hippocampus, which is the area involved in memory, learning and the ability to plan and make decisions. It also repairs cell damage and strengthens the synapses that connect brain cells.

In short, exercise reduces the level of brain loss, keeps us cognitively sharp and reduces our risk of Alzheimer’s disease. And regular exercise can pump up your brainpower regardless of your age. So if, for example, you are 55 years old and have never exercised, it’s not too late.

In a classic study, people aged 60 to 79 were asked to complete a six-month walking program. At the conclusion of the study, participants showed an increase in the size of the hippocampus, and levels of BDNF comparable to levels normally found in people almost two years younger.

Aim for about two and a half hours of brisk activity a week. Walking is great but if you have mobility issues, try walking in the pool, riding a stationary bike or practicing yoga or tai chi.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. Be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

Einstein’s Brain

December 23, 2013

Einstein3An analysis of recently unearthed photos of Albert Einstein’s brain indicate that the father of the theory of relativity had a colossal corpus callosum. That’s the brawny bundle of white matter that carries electrical signals between the brain’s right and left hemispheres, making brain regions with different functions work together.

Scientists believe this fact is part of what made Einstein’s brain so creative. When the corpus callosum works well, the human brain is a marvel of social, spatial and verbal reasoning.

While Einstein’s corpus callosum at the time of his death at age 76 was much better connected than those of similarly aged men, it was not as strikingly more connected than those of healthy young men in a control group.

So what the findings suggest is that Einstein’s extraordinary cognition was related not only to his large corpus callosum but also to enhanced communication routes between some parts of his two brain hemispheres. This might reflect the fact that Einstein continued to exercise his brain strenuously—more like a young person—forestalling much of the atrophy that comes with age.

Check out Optiminds’ programs for adults and seniors, designed to increase mental capacity, process information better and faster, and get your memory up to its peak performance.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.

The Restorative Powers of Sleep

November 9, 2013

soundsleep3We know that people who don’t get enough shut-eye have trouble learning and making decisions, and are slower to react. But despite decades of research, scientists have not been able to agree on the basic purpose of sleep, with explanations ranging from processing memory to saving energy to regulating the body.

But now, the long held assumption that sleep serves a vital function has gained new support with a recent study by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center suggesting that when we close our eyes, our brains go on a cleaning spree.

The research team had previously found a plumbing network in mouse brains that flushes out cellular waste. For the new study, the scientists injected the brains of mice with beta-amyloid, a substance that builds up in Alzheimer’s disease, and followed its movement. They determined that the potentially neurotoxic substance was removed faster from the brains of sleeping mice than awake mice.

The team also noticed that brain cells tend to shrink during sleep, which widens the space between the cells. This allows waste to pass through that space more easily.

Scientists say there is reason to think the same “housekeeping” process happens in humans. Among other things, the results may provide new clues to slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other mind disorders.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: jstewart@optimindsct.com. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: optimindsct.com.


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