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Copy of How to Train Your Brain?

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Angela Conroy

on 23 July 2014

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Transcript of Copy of How to Train Your Brain?

Lumosity Reports 24 Million dollar Revenue
Cogmed Now Operating in Over 1000 Schools Worldwide
The recent meta-analysis completed by Monica Melby-Lervag criticizes Susan Jaeggi's 2008 research which concluded that working memory training definitely increases intelligence and that more training brings larger gains. Jaeggi's data implied that a person could boost their IQ by a full point per hour of training. Melby-Lervag published in Developmental Psychology 2013, found that training isn't doing anyone much good.
The brain-training program Cogmed, all began back in 2001 in Sweden. It now boasts accomplishments in ameliorating working memory and attention deficits in over 1000 schools worldwide.
But is this program really producing lasting and worthwhile results in learning? Read on to learn about the pitfalls of this program. Is this the right tool and protocol?
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Vol XCIII, No. 311
Online solutions or everyday learning?
The brain is big business! Companies like Lumosity, Jungle Memory and CogniFit are cashing in, claiming that by using their products you can achieve significant brain gain. Specifically, they claim that you can improve your working memory and overall IQ by using their products. Students at the University of Lethbridge under the guidance of the esteemed neuroscientist Dr. Robert Sutherland began critically evaluating the empirical research to support such claims. They have determined that these claims may be false.They began by looking at the research of a young Swed by the name of Torkel Klingberg. Klingberg gave a group of children games designed to boost their memory. He claimed that after weeks of play the kids showed improvement in memory and overall intellectual functioning. (see story on page 2.)
Neuroscience News
Melby-Lervag Refutes Jaeggi's Findings
Monica Melby- Lervag- University of Oslo
To Brain Train or Not To Brain Train...
That is the Question.
You may be asking yourself, why not brain train? What harm could it do? The graduate students at the University of Lethbridge offer these thoughts.
First, these programs are very expensive. Why not save your money and spend your time partaking in an activity that has been proven to improve brain function like exercise for example.
Lumosity declares revenue of 24 million since 2005. Michael Scanlon, abandoned his neuroscience degree at Stanford to launch Lumosity in 2005. The program now reaches more than 35million people worldwide. Erica
Perng Lumosity's head of communications
stated "Lumosity is based on the science of
neuroplasticity, the idea that the brain can
change and reorganize itself given the right
kinds of challenges (Day, 2013, para..)"
Featured Columnists

Angela Conroy
- New to the field of Neuroscience. Currently teaches elementary school in Calgary. Exploring issues related to educational neuroscience. Previous neuromyth holder and promoter. Working towards creating a community of critical thinkers while enjoying a daily dose of chocolate.
A new meta-analysis by Monica Melby-Lervag and Charles Hulme has just been published in the February issue of the respected APA journal Developmental Psychology, which combined the results of 23 studies of working memory training completed up to 2011. To be included, studies had to compare outcomes for a working memory training treatment group against outcomes in a control group. Most of the studies available are on healthy adults and children, with just a few involving children with developmental conditions such as ADHD.
The results are in working memory training leads to short-term gains on tests that are the same as, or similar to, those used in training. However, Melby-Levag and Hulme write: “There is no evidence that working memory training produces generalizable gains to the other skills that have been investigated (verbal ability, word decoding, arithmetic), even when assessments take place immediately after training.
Robyn Jensen
- Budding critical consumer of all things related to neuroscience. Currently teaching grade 6 in Brooks, Alberta and aspiring to put an end to the pandemic of over consumption of misinformation in education.
Cogmed Debunked
A Free Form of Brain Gain: Exercise!!
Studies by Hillman et al. have found that adolescents in particular can see a gain in accuracy of their responses on tests and an increase in reading achievement simply by engaging in a bout of acute exercise.
While researchers only found the
gain in reading, and not in math
more research is likely needed.
So, before that big test of reading
make sure you go for a jog!
Aerobic exercise and Resistance training: Boost spatial memory while pumping iron.
Cassilhas and colleagues have found that both aerobic and resistance training are shown to improve learning and spatial memory. It is noted that the two different types of exercise effect
different pathways in the brain. Perhaps, doing both aerobic and resistance training will insure a well rounded spatial memory system.

There may be a great reason for you to get out on the course this summer and take up golf as your new leisure activity. Researchers Bezzola and colleagues looked to confirm their hypothesis that novice golfers would show adaptations in gray matter in regions of the brain associated with learning to golf. The researchers concluded that both low and high intensity training produced changes in neuroanatomy. The individual learning of a new leisure activity under an individualized training program seemed
to have similar benefits to increases in gray matter as those with a strict experimental training program. Perhaps then a leisurely golf game wouldn't be so bad after all. You can just let your wife know that taking up golf is essential for your brain health!
CAUTION- use with discretion
--It is important to note that although this program is well known and well researched, the computerized training programs
did not
improve children’s performance on standardized tests outside of the memory-training program. If you are considering purchasing this program, consider the fact that these improvements in memory may only exist within the program. There is not strong evidence indicating lasting effects on tasks outside of the program. “There were no improvements in these tasks five months after training, when any improvements in cognitive support for learning could be expected to have worked their way through to advances on standardized tasks” (Thompson, Stevens, Hunt, & Bolder 2009, p.213). Without evidence of lasting effects on standardized tests, these training programs seem to be counterproductive, and an ineffective use of student time.
Get some ZZZZs
So many of us here at the university say that we’ll catch up on sleep, it’ll be ok...
And yet Cohen et al. (2010) show evidence that sleep loss leads to profound performance decrements. Many individuals believe they adapt to chronic sleep loss or that recovery requires only a single long sleep to catch up!
Researchers measured chronic and acute sleep loss and it’s effect across times through day and night as well as how much a long sleep might help a person restore task performance. They found 10-hour sleep opportunities consistently restored task performance for the the first several hours after waking. However, chronic sleep loss increased the rate of deterioration in performance across wakefulness, particularly at "night."
Their evidence also shows us that extended nights revealed cumulative detrimental effects of chronic sleep loss on performance, with potential adverse health and safety consequences.
Those nights you stay up late and decide to catch up on the weekend – it works – but only to an extent... A good lesson in getting some consistent shut eye.
Or take a nap???
Go ahead, take a nap!
As shown by Lovato and Lack (2010), naps can reduce sleepiness and improve cognitive performance. The benefits of 5-15 min. naps are almost immediate and last about 1-3h. Longer naps (> 30 min) can produce some inertia for a short period after waking but then produce improved cognitive performance for many hours after!
It was found that early afternoon was the most favourable time for napping and interestingly enough, those who regularly nap seem to show greater benefits than those who rarely nap.
So maybe before your afternoon class, a quick nap might be just the thing you need!
It’s good to socialize, no matter how old you are!

Social interaction is a central feature of people's life and engages a variety of cognitive resources. Thus, Ybarra et al. (2008) suggest that social interaction should facilitate general cognitive functioning. They examined the relation between mental functioning and direct indicators of social interaction, in 2 diffferent studies. Study 1 found a positive relationship between social interaction, assessed via amount of actual social contact, and cognitive functioning in people from three age groups including younger adults. Study 2 using an experimental design found that a small amount of social interaction (10 min) can facilitate cognitive performance.

Ertel, Glymour and Berkman (2008) wanted to see whether social integration protected against memory loss and other cognitive disorders, specifically in elderly populations.
What they found was that the more their participants were integrated socially, through marital status, volunteer activity, and contact with children, family, and neighbors the less memory decline there was over a period of 6 years compared to those less integrated, suggesting that social integration delays memory loss!

So the next time we decide to meet up after class... Remember it’s helping our brains!

Be a Social Butterfly!
Go ahead... laugh it off...
Or maybe just let your mind wander...
Baird, Smallwood, and Schooler (2011) show us that our wandering minds may help us with planning ahead!

So when you were day dreaming in class (not neuroscience class of course – there was no time!) you may have been doing some autobiographical planning. Meaning you were using that high working memory capacity to plan for the future! This suggests that mind-wandering can enable us to use our brains better as we plan to navigate through our daily lives.

I would say that sounds like multi-tasking but we know that's a

these tests do?
Isen, Daubman, and Nowicki (1987)reviewed experiments indicating that positive affect, induced by means of seeing a few minutes of a comedy film or by means of receiving a small bag of candy, improved performance on two tasks that are generally regarded as requiring creative ingenuity.

Don’t worry, be happy...

De Dreu, Baas, and Nijstad (2008) looked to understand when and why mood states influence creativity, and found that activating moods, such as being happy, lead to more creative fluency and originality than do deactivating moods.

"I think it is a fascinating idea," said Dr Adam Hampshire, who developed the Medical Research Council of Cambridge tests, which were designed to give a more sophisticated take on the brain's 100bn neurons than a single IQ test. "It really gets to the nub of the issue, which is that showing improvements on the exact tasks that are trained is not really sufficient to claim a 'brain-training' effect. This is because such improvements may be specific to the exact tasks that are trained and consequently should not be classified as learning unless a generalized effect is shown. I am unaware of any convincing evidence to support the view that the commercially available brain-training devices have general benefits in normal healthy adults."
In interview with Elizabeth Day, April 2013

The Evidence Seems Limited
Melanie Kirk
- Currently pursuing a graduate degree in education. Planning to continue her pursuit of truth by looking into the possible benefits of alcohol consumption.
Mindful Meditation
Several studies over the past three decades have reported that meditation practices have an effect on psycholgical well-being that extend beyond the time that the individual is formally meditating. (Baer, 2003) and (Grosman et al., 2004) The studies have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing anxiety and (Romer et al., 2004), depression (Teasdale et al., 2000) Neuroscientists are exploring the neural mechanisms underlying mindful meditation practices (Goldin and Gross, 2010). In one study researchers reported concentration changes in grey matter. Significant increases were noted in the left hippocampus. The study confirmed that structural changes in this region are detectable within 8 weeks following participation in their "Mindfulness training program (Hozel, 2011)
cont from pg.1.... Klingbergs findings were supported by Susanne Jaeggi. She reported that the results were even more amazing. She concluded in her study in 2008 that working-memory training definitively increased intelligence and with more training came more gains. Her data implied that a person could boost their I.Q. by a full point per hour of training. Over the last few years, however, the idea that working-memory training has broad benefits has crumbled. Monica Melby-Lervag, of the University of Oslo, has been published in a top journal. The results of her research suggest that the benefits of brain training have been highly over-rated. See story on page 3.

References 2
Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuehl, M., Jonides, J., & Perrig, W. J. (2008). Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
, 105(19), 6829-6833.

Hillman,C. H., Pontifex,M.B.,Raine, L. B., Castelli, D.M., Eric, E., & Kramer, A.F.,(2010). The effect of acute treadmill walking on cognitive control and academic achievement in preadolescent children.
Hozel, B, Carmody, J. Vangel, M. Congleton C, Yerramseti, Sita M. et.al (2011) Psychiatry Research:
vol 191. (1) p.36-43
Goldin,P. Gross, J. The effects of mindful based stress reduction on emotion regulation.
, Vol 1011. Feb 2010, 83-91 doi 10.1037/a0018441
Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., Walach, H.,J. Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis.
Psychosom Res
. 2004. Jul;57 (1): 35-43
Hampshire, A., Highfield, R. R., Parkin, B. L., & Owen, A. M. (2012). Fractionating Human Intelligence. Neuron, 76(6), 1225-1237. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2012.06.022

ILovato, N., & Lack, L. (2010). The effects of napping on cognitive functioning. Prog Brain Res, 185, 155-166. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-444-53702-7.00009-9

Isen, A. M., Daubman, K. A., & Nowicki, G. P. (1987). Positive affect facilitates creative problem solving. J Pers Soc Psychol, 52(6), 1122-1131.
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