How can the same brain plasticity-based training programs help individuals with cognitive losses arising from normal aging, exposure to IED explosions, or chemotherapy?

Over the years, I have specifically discussed the potential value of intensive brain plasticity-based brain fitness training for individuals with ALL of these (and other, related) personal histories. How in the heck can “one size fit all”? How on earth can the losses in mental faculties stemming from an explosion of little bubbles in the…

Why science can be confusing, just another example

A provocative article in an Issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Columbia researchers (Saxe, Malleret, et al.) described a study in which scientists documented the consequences of blocking neurogenesis (the birthing of new neurons) on maze-learning in mice. Since we already know that the magnitude of neurogenesis in this brain…

“What’s Normal?” The diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children is on the rise

In an article in an issue of the New Yorker, Jerome Groopman writes lucidly about the explosion in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children. Reading it made me thank my lucky stars once again that I am not a child neurologist or child psychologist or child psychiatrist who actually has to address the problems…

Alvaro asked a tough question: How do you define SMART?

Alvaro asked this question as a comment after a blog entry discussed recent evidence that physical exercise contributes to academic success. Alvaro, “smart”, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. You do not necessarily want a computer jockey next to you in your foxhole. You do not necessarily want a great world scholar…

“WAR’S NEW WOUNDS. A shock wave of brain injuries”

That was the headline in a Washington Post article written by Ronald Glasser, published on Sunday, April 8, 2007. It reported a rather astounding statistic that applies to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars: About 30% of soldiers in those conflicts have been directly exposed to IED or other powerful explosions. That exposure has…

More, better, quicker. New middle/high school computer-based language training programs

I attended a scientific meeting a few years ago in which Bill Jenkins, the program development team leader at Scientific Learning, described a radically improved version of one of their middle- and high school-targeted language learning programs (which they call “Literacy Advanced”). They have completely re-worked the game-play aspects of these exercises. Changes resulted in…

Brain plasticity-based “cognitive training” elevates BDNF

Serum BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophin factor) has been repeatedly shown to be lower than normal in schizophrenic, bipolar and depressed patient populations. Moreover, the severity of manias or depression have been shown to be inversely correlated with serum BDNF. This key brain trophic factor plays a complicated panoply of roles in brain development, in maintaining the…