April 1, 2009

Living With Traumatic Brain Injury

People with traumatic brain injuries may experience physical, cognitive or personality changes that affect their work and relationships. In this program from the University of Washington, you will hear stories of people who are rebuilding their lives and readjusting to family, careers and everyday life after a brain injury:

Coping with Brain Injury: Caregiving Strategies

It's certainly not easy to be the caregiver for someone with a serious brain injury. Depression, sense of loss and frustration are likely consequences. This informative interview explores strategies to avoid isolation and anger, and points the way toward resources to make the job easier.

February 1, 2009

Coping with Brain Injury: Robots and Rehabilitation

There are no silver bullets after brain injury, but new robotic technologies are effective in helping stroke victims regain function in their arms and legs. This cutting edge technology doesn't just assist by moving limbs; it fosters learning that actually rewires the brain. Robots are emerging as a promising new rehabilitation tool.

November 7, 2008

Brain Fitness: Sight & Sound

Join host Peter Coyote in "Brain Fitness 2: Sight & Sound," the follow-up to "The Brain Fitness Program," as he explores the brain's ability to change and grow, even as we age, helping us maintain and improve our vision and hearing.

"Brain Fitness 2: Sight & Sound" is a special in-depth look at the advances in neuroplasticity and how it relates to healthy aging, with a particular focus on making the most of information filtered through our eyes and ears.

October 16, 2008

A User's Guide to Lifelong Brain Health

By Dr. Simon Evans

"To keep the body in good health is a duty...otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear." - Buddha, circa 500 B.C.
As the Brain Fitness industry continues to gain momentum, and people explore all the incredible brain-training tools being developed, we hope that enthusiasts don't take their eye off the importance of the physical health of the brain and all the systems it communicates with. The brain is unique in that it houses our cognitive and emotional capacities in the form of the mind. It is a 'cognitive' organ that hungers for stimulation from new experiences and challenges. Many brain fitness programs strive to satisfy this need.

Yet the brain is also a physical organ that plays by many of the same rules as the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. To stay healthy and perform optimally it requires quality nutrition, physical activity and optimal sleep. The brain, especially, relies on a healthy vascular system to efficiently deliver oxygen and key nutrients and remove waste. In fact, the brain uses approximately 20% of the oxygen we breathe to satisfy its high-energy demands. Given that the brain only weighs about 2% of the body, we can consider it an energy hog and we must cater to its needs very carefully.

Nutrients play key roles in brain function. Several have shown efficacy in clinical trials treating cases of mood disorders, cognitive decline and of course benefiting the physical health of the brain. Nutrients are both the raw materials employed in creating new neural connections and important components in regulating the activity of genes involved in these processes. Specific nutrients involved in mitochondrial efficiency, the energy factories of brain and body cells, are particularly important for many aspects of brain function. Other nutrients are involved in the inner workings of neuronal membranes, responsible for ensuring that electrochemical signals, which make up our thoughts, transmit efficiently and reliably.

Finally, antioxidants, important throughout the body, are especially important in the brain due to its high energy production rates and concurrent high capacity for free radical leakage. Keeping this in mind, it is readily apparent that nutrition provides the building blocks for our brain's structure and function, and therefore cannot be ignored.

Exercise is a clearly established component for promoting brain health as well. No longer can we think that the brain is completely separate from the brawn. Human studies have shown the value of exercise in controlling stress and maintaining positive mood states; in improving cognitive function, including performance on memory and executive tasks; and in improving the brain's two-way communication streams with the rest of the body. Some of these benefits are likely due to the positive effects of exercise on neurovascular health, which parallel cardiovascular health. Other benefits seem due to increased grey matter in 'front office' functions of the cortex; and neuronal birth, or neurogenesis, in the hippocampus, a brain region that controls aspects of memory and mood regulation.

Whatever the mechanism, giving your body a workout will produce substantial benefits in terms of brain health. Remember, a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and your brain and body will be together your whole life.

Read More Here: http://www.sharpbrains.com/

September 25, 2008

Fluid Intelligence and the Prefrontal Cortex

The Positive Manifold: Reactive Control in Fluid Intelligence?
by Chris Chatham

What neural mechanisms underlie "fluid intelligence," the ability to reason and solve novel problems? This is the question addressed in a recent paper by Gray et al. in Nature Neuroscience. The authors begin by suggesting that fluid intelligence is related to both attentional control and active maintenance of information in the face of ongoing processing (i.e., working memory).

Each of these concepts, in turn, has been associated with the functioning of the lateral prefrontal cortex - a region that has been massively expanded in humans compared to even our closest evolutionary relatives.

Read More: Here

September 22, 2008

On Neuroplasticity - Audio

The dogma used to be that the adult brain was a rigid, unchangeable organ, but that pessimistic perspective is now being radically revised. Psychiatrist Dr Norman Doidge journeyed into the labs and lives of the 'neuroplasticians' -- once scientific mavericks, they're challenging the old neurological nihilism. Professor Jeffrey Schwartz is one. They both join Natasha Mitchell in discussion to reveal how the human brain has underestimated itself!

All In The Mind is Radio National's weekly foray into the mental universe, the mind, brain and behaviour - everything from addiction to artificial intelligence.