March 20, 2020

Hello,

All around the world, medical experts and governments are advising (or requiring) us to stay at home. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, our “sheltering in place” is now in its third week. These are troubling times—when maintaining good physical and mental health is as important as ever.

For most, staying at home means a change in routines and perhaps a bit of a time dividend. Using some of that time to exercise your brain to help build resilience is a good idea. There are many challenging activities to choose from to get a good workout for your brain—for example, learning a new language, doing a jigsaw, and (of course) using BrainHQ. The important thing is to challenge yourself. This syndicated article from The Sydney Morning Herald has some good ideas!

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy at this time—and continue to thrive in the future.

Best regards,

Jeff Zimman
Co-founder
Posit Science


Brain Exercise Helps Keep Your Body in Shape
There is quite a bit of research suggesting that physical exercise is good for the brain. But what about the reverse? Can exercising the brain improve physical fitness? A new study that looked at more than 100,000 people age 50+ says that it can. In fact, the study found that “cognitive abilities ward off inactivity much more than physical activity prevents the decline in cognitive abilities.” Learn more.

Is Hoarding Natural?
In these challenging times, some people are hoarding goods (toilet paper comes to mind). Others are shaming those that hoard. According to behavioral neuroscientist Stephanie Preston, both are normal, natural behaviors that evolved for good reasons. Learn more.

The Awesome Upside of the Teenage Brain
You may have heard that in teenagers, the “rational” brain develops later than the “emotional” one. A lot of the talk about teenagers is how that combination can be dangerous —leading to risky behavior. But we shouldn’t focus on the downside, researchers say. This same quality leads teenagers to excel in creativity, lead social movements, and more. What is going on in the teenage brain and how can we tap into it for better outcomes? Learn more.

We Live (Slightly) in the Past
It takes some time—about 120 milliseconds—for our brains to process what we sense. So, what we think is happening “right now” is a prediction, based on what was happening milliseconds before. That’s how a batter can hit a baseball, even though his visual sense lags behind its movement. As Elizabeth Fernandez says, “This is just another example that the world we perceive is not necessarily the world that is there, but one that our brain creates.” Learn more.

“Neuroforecasting” Video Virality
Can our brains predict which videos will go viral, even if we don’t know it? According to a new study, the answer is yes. In the imaging study on 36 people, researchers found that the group brain activity predicted both how often and how long people would watch a video. Their behavior matched how long people would spend watching the video, but not how often — suggesting that the brain knew something the people did not realize. Learn more.

Why Study the Sea Anemone Brain?
An animal called the starlet sea anemone has a pretty unique ability: it can regenerate its neurons. By studying how they do that, scientists hope to gain insight into how stem cells transform into neurons — something that has eluded them so far. The long-term goal: determining if regenerative therapies could be used to treat Parkinson’s, stroke, and other disorders of the central nervous system. Learn more.

Book of the Month
The XX Brain: The Groundbreaking Science Empowering Women to Maximize Cognitive Health and Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease (2020)
By Lisa Mosconi
There is a lot of conversation about how different men and women actually are—what’s nature and what’s nurture. One thing we do know is that women are significantly more likely to suffer from certain neurological issue—from Alzheimer’s to anxiety. In The XX Brain, Dr. Lisa Mosconi (who is the director of the Women’s Brain Initiative at Weill Cornell Medical College) suggests that estrogen plays a significant role in the brain, and shares evidence-based approaches to improving brain health specifically for women. Learn more or buy on Amazon.