Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Update: New brain science leads to new tools and to new thinking

We often view memory, thinking, emotions, as completely separate entities, but they truly are part of the same process. So, if we want to improve brain health, we need to pay attention to the "weak link" in that process. In today's society, managing stress and negative emotions is often that weak link, as we discuss during October Q&A session with participants in SharpBrains' new e-course. Time now for Sharp­Brains' October 2012 eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing new science, new resources and new thinking.

New science:

New tools:

New thinking:

That's it for now. Have a Happy Halloween!

Pic courtesy of BigStockPhoto

Sent with MobileRSS HD

Article: Autism intervention "normalizes" kids' brain function in study

Article: Human Brain Can Only Process So Much Information At Once

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Brain circuits run their own clocks - life - 30 October 2012 - New Scientist

Global B.R.A.I.N. Prize



Award Will Recognize a Breakthrough Achievement in Brain Technology That Will Change Lives


Ramat Hasharon, Israel – Israel Brain Technologies (IBT) has launched a $1m Global B.R.A.I.N. Prize (Breakthrough Research And Innovation in Neurotechnology). The prize will be awarded to an individual or team throughout the world who can demonstrate an extraordinary breakthrough in brain technology with global implications.


The B.R.A.I.N. Prize aims at engaging the best and brightest minds across the planet to spark a new wave of neurotechnology innovation. Prize winners could, for example, help treat neurological disorders like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, depression, PTSD or even sports-related brain trauma. Or they could create the next cutting-edge brain-inspired technology that will alter our day-to-day lives.


The international judging committee will be composed of distinguished leaders in neuroscience, technology and business, including Nobel Laureates.


"The B.R.A.I.N. Prize will bring together the best minds across geographic boundaries to create the next generation of brain-related innovation, from Brain Machine Interface to Brain Inspired Computing to urgently-needed solutions for brain disease," says Dr. Rafi Gidron, Founder and Chairman of IBT. "It's a global brain-gain. Our aim is to open minds…quite literally."


"We invite innovators around the world to enter the B.R.A.I.N. Prize competition, so we can tackle some of the most exciting challenges facing our planet," said IBT Executive Director Miri Polachek. "Our aim is to bring Israeli technology to the world, and the world to Israeli technology. We want to turn the 'Start-up Nation' into the 'Brain Nation.'"


IBT was inspired by the vision of Israeli President Shimon Peres, a leading proponent of brain research and technology.


"There is no doubt that brain research in the next decade will revolutionize our lives and impact such major domains as medicine, education, computing, and the human mind, to name but some," according to President Peres." Moreover, it will not only relieve the suffering of patients of such debilitating diseases as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, but it will also engender large economic rewards as well."


The Prize will be awarded at IBT's Global Brain Technology Conference in 2013. Candidates have already begun submitting applications to vie for the million dollar prize. Interested contestants can visit to receive more information and to apply online.


About Israel Brain Technologies


Israel Brain Technologies (IBT), a non-profit organization, has embarked upon a mission to advance Israel's neurotechnology industry and establish the country as an epicenter of global brain technology and related research.


Inspired by the vision of Israeli President Shimon Peres, IBT promotes multi-disciplinary research and development projects in Israel and collaboration between the Israeli brain ecosystem and the global community of researchers and innovators.


IBT is led by a team of technology entrepreneurs and life-science professionals, and is advised by a panel of renowned academic, industry and public sector representatives including two Nobel Prize Laureates.


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Monday, October 29, 2012

Decomposing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-related effects in response speed and va

Objective: Slow and variable reaction times (RTs) on fast tasks are such a prominent feature of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that any theory must account for them. However, this has proven difficult because the cognitive mechanisms responsible for this effect remain unexplained. Although speed and variability are typically correlated, it is unclear whether single or multiple mechanisms are responsible for group differences in each. RTs are a result of several semi-independent processes, including stimulus encoding, rate of information processing, speed–accuracy trade-offs, and motor response, which have not been previously well characterized. Method: A diffusion model was applied to RTs from a forced-choice RT paradigm in two large, independent case-control samples (N Cohort 1 = 214 and N Cohort 2 = 172). The decomposition measured three validated parameters that account for the full RT distribution and assessed reproducibility of ADHD effects. Results: In both samples, group differences in traditional RT variables were explained by slow information processing speed, and unrelated to speed–accuracy trade-offs or nondecisional processes (e.g., encoding, motor response). Conclusions: RT speed and variability in ADHD may be explained by a single information processing parameter, potentially simplifying explanations that assume different mechanisms are required to account for group differences in the mean and variability of RTs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Attentional requirements during acquisition and consolidation of a skill in normal readers and devel

Objective: Previous research demonstrated that individuals with developmental dyslexia (DD) may suffer from a deficit in the acquisition stage of a new skill, whereas consolidation processes seem to be preserved. The present study was designed to examine whether this impaired acquisition was attributable to a lack of automatization, and whether the reported preserved consolidation was attributable to the use of DDs' conscious compensation strategies. These aims were implemented by testing a skill-learning task in dyslexics and normal readers using a dual task paradigm. The impact of dual task costs on participants' performance was used as an indication for automaticity. Method: DD and control groups completed a sequence-learning task over a first session (acquisition) and a second session 24 hours later (consolidation). The task was performed by half of the participants under a full attention condition and by the other half under a divided attention condition. Results: Consistent with previous reports in the literature, divided attention impaired sequence learning in both groups. Nevertheless, divided attention resulted in delayed acquisition of the motor skill in the DD group compared with normal readers. Finally, divided attention enhanced motor procedural consolidation only in the control group. Conclusions: The differential effect of divided attention on acquisition and consolidation of procedural skill in DD and normal readers supports the cerebellum deficit hypothesis in DD. In addition, the enhanced skill consolidation in normal readers under divided attention suggests that attentional requirements are not necessary for all types of human learning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How Do Video Games Change the Brain?

I saw this article when reading leading brains on the Mobile Edition and thought you might be interested:

How Do Video Games Change the Brain?

hope you also look at the work of Dr. Michael Merzenich, an early pioneer in the study of neuroplasticity - he is an emeritus @ UC San Francisco and co-founder of Posit Corporation who has been doi...
Read the full article on

Friday, October 26, 2012

PEBS Neuroethics Roundup (JHU)

Last Edition's Most Popular Article: A tool to quantify consciousness?, Nature News Blog In The Popular Press If Smart Is the Norm, Stupidity Gets More Interesting, New York Times Health Deeper into forensic bias, Mind Hacks Perfect Pitch: Knowing the...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, Vol. 41, Issue 6 - New Issue Alert

Monday, October 22

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We are pleased to deliver your requested table of contents alert for Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. Volume 41 Number 6 is now available on SpringerLink

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Shallow and Deep Orthographies in Hebrew: The Role of Vowelization in Reading Development for Unvowelized Scripts
Rachel Schiff
Abstract    Full text PDF

Working Memory Effects of Gap-Predictions in Normal Adults: An Event-Related Potentials Study
Arild Hestvik, Evan Bradley & Catherine Bradley
Abstract    Full text PDF

Determiner Primes as Facilitators of Lexical Retrieval in English
Emma Gregory, Rosemary Varley & Ruth Herbert
Abstract    Full text PDF

Oral and Hand Movement Speeds are Associated with Expressive Language Ability in Children with Speech Sound Disorder
Beate Peter
Abstract    Full text PDF

Do Irrelevant Sounds Impair the Maintenance of All Characteristics of Speech in Memory?
D. Gabriel, E. Gaudrain, G. Lebrun-Guillaud, F. Sheppard, I. M. Tomescu & A. Schnider
Abstract    Full text PDF

Erratum to: Escape from the Island: Grammaticality and (Reduced) Acceptability of wh-island Violations in Danish
Ken Ramshøj Christensen, Johannes Kizach & Anne Mette Nyvad
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Interactive Metronome intervention published research

I routinely receive requests for copies of research that has dealt specifically with the  Interactive Metronome intervention program.  I typically send people PDF copies of the articles I have accumulated.  Today I am putting them all in one place on this blog--so I can simply refer readers to the Interactive Metronome Research sidebar at the Brain Clock blog (on the right side of this blog).

I will update whenever new articles are acquired.  Visit the IM Science home page for additional research that has been disseminated in journals and other outlets (grant reports, professional conference presentations, etc.)

See my conflict of interest statement for my formal relationship with IM.


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Friday, October 12, 2012

Article: Monitoring cognition via mobile applications: iPad app analyzed

Article: What happens to your brain under the influence of music

What happens to your brain under the influence of music

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Another study demonstrates positive impact of Interactive Metronome treatment on reading

I just learned that the following article is soon to be published (click here for journal info)
[Click on image to enlarge]

This is the second peer-reviewed article to demonstrate a significant positive impact of Interactive Metronome (IM) training on certain reading behaviors in a study with both experimental and control groups.  The other study was one I was involved with (Taub, McGrew, & Keith, 2007; the abstract is presented below).  You can access that complete 2007 manuscript at the Brain Clock blog.

In the new Ritter et al. study, IM was combined with reading and language interventions in school-age children that had language and reading impairments.  This will be called the IM+language/reading intervention experimental group (IM+).  Half of the subjects were randomly assigned to this experimental group (n=21).  The other subjects (n=28) were randomly assigned to the same language/reading intervention, but without IM.  So, this study is not a pure investigation of the isolated benefits of IM.  Instead, it should be viewed as a study that investigated whether IM training could be a good “add on” component to other interventions focused on language and reading.  The outcome domain assessed was various components of reading achievement.

Both groups demonstrated statistically significant gains in reading rate/fluency and comprehension.  However, the IM+ demonstrated statistically significant stronger gains than the language/reading intervention only (control) group.  This suggests that IM may be a useful adjunct intervention to be used with other more traditional academic related treatments directed at reading improvement.
Similar to the Taub et al. (2007) study, the IM+ students showed more improvement (over the control students) in reading fluency/rate.  This consistent finding across both studies has been hypothesized to be due to either (a)  improvements in speed of cognitive processing, which results in greater efficiency and automaticity in reading words, (b) greater controlled attention (focus) which improves working memory functioning, or (c) a combination of both.

The new study differed from the earlier study in that IM+ group displayed greater reading comprehension gains than the academic only intervention group.  Taub et al. (2007) found no improvement in reading comprehension.  Given that both groups received the same language and reading comprehension treatment, it is hypothesized that the addition of IM may be impacting some cognitive processes that facilitate reading comprehension.  I agree with Ritter et al. (2012) that a viable hypothesis is that by increasing focus (attentional control) the students working memory’s were more efficient.  Working memory is the minds limited capacity “mental workbench” (just think of trying to recall a new phone number you just looked up in the phone book).   Increased attentional control (focus) increases the ability to actively maintain information just read in working memory long enough for it to be associated with material retrieved from long-term memory—thus “hooking” newly read information into the person’s store of acquired knowledge.  Click here for a recent brief video (I think…therefore IM) where I explain the role of focus and working memory and how it may facilitate higher level cognitive processing, comprehension, etc.

Of course, the small total sample (n=49) suggests some degree of caution.  But when combined with the Taub et al. (2007) study with larger samples, this form of replication in a new sample provides more support for the academic benefits (especially ease and rate of reading words) of IM interventions in school-age children.  Independent replication is a cornerstone of scientific research.

Article: PEBS Neuroethics Roundup

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

New Self-Paced Brain Fitness Course Answers 40 Common Questions about Brain Health and Brain Trainin

We are pleased to offer the first self-paced course designed to equip lifelong learners with the under­stand­ing and infor­ma­tion required to apply neuroplasticity and cognitive reserve findings and tools to enhance their own brain health and func­tion­al­ity.

Detailed information is available at How to Be Your Own Brain Fitness Coach. Reg­is­tered par­tic­i­pants can imme­di­ately log into the course and gain access to four recorded lectures–each last­ing two hours– and to online mate­ri­als and discussions. Registration fees are $95, and stu­dents have six months to com­plete course.


  • How can one define brain fitness
  • What is link between stress, focus and memory
  • Does "brain age" even exist
  • How to enhance over­all men­tal pro­duc­tiv­ity, vs just IQ
  • Is there some "ceil­ing" to my improve­ment or can I always try more things
  • How brain func­tions evolve with age. What improves, what declines, what should I be pay­ing atten­tion to
  • Can life­long learn­ing delay dementia
  • What are spe­cific guide­lines to lead a lifestyle that max­i­mizes brain fitness
  • How to increase my chances to avoid Alzheimer's Disease
  • How do I know what is part of the nor­mal aging process and what isn't
  • What are the main pil­lars to enhance cog­ni­tion, and how do they work
  • What are the "active ingre­di­ents" for expe­ri­ences to build new neural pathways
  • Are dietary sup­ple­ments ben­e­fi­cial? How does nutri­tion and exer­cise improve cog­ni­tive skills?
  • What is the state of the sci­ence of cog­ni­tive health and fit­ness? What types of claims make sense?
  • Can videogames pro­tect from dementia
  • Does stress kill neurons?
  • Can we increase the capacity/ plas­tic­ity of the brain?
  • What are the best pre­ven­tive steps that can be taken today to main­tain brain health over many years?
  • What are the types of activ­i­ties shown to build cog­ni­tive reserve
  • How can brain train­ing prin­ci­ples can be APPLIED to every­day work and life and learn­ing, not just while doing programs
  • Can I improve mem­ory and focus capabilities
  • What's the best evi­dence for what helps in brain training
  • How can I train my brain to focus/concentrate more when I need to focus/concentrate and shut down when I need to or want to sleep
  • How to effec­tively use brain teasers and brain games to improve brain func­tion
  • How do I choose between prod­uct A or B?
  • How brain train­ing works and the ben­e­fits we can expect to receive from it
  • How can I eval­u­ate whether the claims are evidence-based
  • Is med­i­ta­tion bet­ter than yoga for the brain?
  • How does brain train­ing gen­er­al­ize to every day life? Is there research to sup­port claims?
  • How I can pre­vent age-related cog­ni­tive dete­ri­o­ra­tion/ loss/ dementia
  • How to enhance men­tal flexibility?
  • How do I mea­sure progress and results? How can I track that what I try really works?
  • How I go about being my own Brain Fit­ness Coach
  • How do I get started?
  • How to eval­u­ate whether real change has occurred?
  • How to set up a con­sis­tent prac­tise with say 20 min­utes everyday
  • Will any of this help me at work? How?
  • How can the aver­age per­son develop and self-manage a struc­tured coach­ing plan in all phases of life that is valid and a good time investment
  • What are the three or four things one can do on a daily basis to improve health and pre­vent impair­ment with age?
  • What can I do in my every­day expe­ri­ences to keep my brain in great con­di­tion, as I have/had sev­eral cases of demen­tia and Alzheimer's in my family?
  • How do I know what's my base­line and how do I track/maintain pos­i­tive progress over time?


Detailed information is available at How to Be Your Own Brain Fitness Coach.