Tag: Brain Health

Curious DavidMemory

Curious David Redux: Ruminations about Memory Loss

So much unfinished business forfore putting the semester to bed. I see that I have 100 drafts of unfinished blog posts. Some of the drafts ooks like their ideas are still worth developing. Other drafts I have no recall of having even of having written! Clearly it is time either to delete them or to bring the ideas to fruition. My modus operandi has always been to have a plethora of unfinished tasks.

In November 2009 I wrote this draft about the Zeigarnik effect:

“I was first introduced to the Zeigarnik effect (people typically recalling interrupted tasks better than their recalling completed ones) by my first Oberlin College Introductory Psychology professor, Celeste McCollough. My participation in her visual perception studies of the “McCollough effect” formally introduced me to the science of psychology. I remember being both amused and fascinated by Professor McCullough’s sharing an anecdote where she intentionally used the Zeigarnik phenomenon as a motivator for her to resume working on manuscripts that she was writing for publication. I find it curious how a phenomenon such as the Zeigarnik effect can be discovered, experimentally investigated, popularized, misrepresented, forgotten, and rediscovered.”

I was able to use that anecdote in a review I completed of Bob Cialdini’s newest book Pre-suasion. Equally important, I was able to use that Zeigarnik tension to motivate me to complete the revisions suggested by my editor and to successfully have the review accepted for publication.

One common theme among my unfinished work is the tensions I feel between rigorous, experimental psychological science and well-intentioned attempts to popularize psychological findings. How can one avoid avoiding overstatement and misrepresentation?  Why is there such a disconnect between what is popularized (or advertised) and what empirical evidence actually shows? Across the past fifty years I’ve seen oversimplification and misrepresentation of research investigating learning styles, mindfulness, subliminal perception, and most recently brain fitness training.

I’ve taken an increased interest lately in memory research–in part because a number of Carroll alumni have been actively involved in that area (e.g. Michelle Braun, John DenBoer and Mark Klinger). I’ve always been fascinated by the too much neglected research of Ellen Langer’s exploring concepts of mindfulness and mindlessness–as she uses the terms. I found fascinating her book Counterclockwise, though I am still struggling with believing its implications of age-reversal. Still, there IS empirical evidence (needful of replication and extension) that subjective perceptions of age can be affected by the mere process of measuring variables related to aging. This merits further study. Perhaps because I just recently read that the CEO of Evernote wants me to be able to remember everything, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jorge Luis Borges‘ Funes Memorius and about those Seven Sins of Memory outlined by Psychologist Daniel Schacter. One of the down-sides  joys of being liberally educated is that one sees interconnections among seemingly disparate things.

Based upon my thinking about the links above, I’m convinced that I don’t want a perfect memory—nor do I want technological tools for remembering everything. Still, as I grow older I am increasingly sensitive to issues of memory loss. I am haunted by the descriptions of  dementia so graphically and accurately described in Walter Mosley’s novel The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. Here is an interview with the author.

There is so much hype interest today in using technology to improve one’s brain power,  health and well-being. Try, for example, doing an online search on “brain fitness.” You’ll  be overwhelmed with the results though (hopefully) be underwhelmed by the validity of the claims. The challenge is to know how to decide which claims are “snake oil,” which represent vaporware, and which are truly science-based.  Consider these  Internet “tools” (none of which I am endorsing but each of which I am considering investigating with my students)  … and their promises and claims of success at improving one’s life

  1. lumosity.com
  2. happify.com
  3. learningrx.com
  4. brainhq.com
  5. neuronation.com

Which (if any) is based upon valid psychological science? Which is merely entertainment? Which make false or unverifiable claims? Which is patently wrong? Do brain training programs really work?

A very thoughtful and thorough  scholarly review was recently completed which provides some useful caveats and preliminary answers. A shortened summary of that report can be found here and the complete article is here. A relatively recent citizen science project, the game “Stall Catchers” (found here) provides an interesting crowdsourcing avenue for conducting Alzheimer’s research.

I hope to share my answers to these questions in the near future. Hopefully these thoughts won’t merely end up in my draft pile!

 

Brain HealthCDICLCurious David

Curious David Redux: Ten Brain Enriching Resources


As I continue my investigations and writing about brain health and brain training, I am interested in “vetting” resources that I think are best evidence-based, rich in fact, and readable. Here are ten current favorite resource links. Click them for details.

  1. Harvard Medical School Guide to Cognitive Fitness
  2. Alzheimer’s Association Articles
  3. Dr. Michelle Braun’s insights (also visit her Psychology Today blogs and her web page): 
  4. A recent Oprah wellness presentation
  5. National Institute of Health/ Aging Resources
  6. Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Way Forward (2017)
  7. The Human Brain Project
  8. The Global Council on Brain Health
  9. Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
  10. Brainfacts.org
AgingBrain health supplementsCDICLCurious David

Curious David Redux: Brain Health Resources

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Today I made additional considerable progress obtaining, reading, and vetting information about brain health issues. Thanks to Alvaro Fernandez at Sharpbrains.com for corresonding with me about the forthcoming 3rd edition of the Sharpbrains Guide to Brain Fitness. I look foward to “attending” the 2018 Sharpbrains summit in December. LinkedIn feeds are now alerting me to a number of resources about Brain Health Summits (such as this one)  and dead-ends in pharma funded research (such as this one).

Increasingly there is a need for paying attention to the good work of organizations such as the  Truth in Advertising Organization (truthinadvertising.org). Recently they did good work exposing false claims about memory enhancement supplements such as Prevagen.

I still hope to pull all this information into one place in e-book format before I leave Carroll for the summer on May 13. I have now discovered several easy ways to convert WordPress files into Word or pdf formats. Stay tuned!

 

 

AgingBrain health supplementsCurious David

Works in Progress (Part 2): Brain Health, ebooks, Learning LinkedIn and Research Assistant Development

Today I made considerable progress obtaining, reading, and vetting information about brain health issues. Thanks to Alvaro Fernandez at Sharpbrains.com for introducing me to the Truth in Advertising Organization (truthinadvertising.org) and the good work they do exposing false claims about memory enhancement supplements such as Prevagen.

I hope to pull all this information into one place in e-book format before I leave Carroll for the summer on May 13. One challenge I face is finding an easy way to convert WordPress files into Word or pdf format. Any solutions would be welcomed.

 

 

 

I am delighted that I shall have a 2nd talented student joining my research assistant team in the Fall.  Kristen has already successfully stepped into the shoes of Tia and Lizzie who are abandoning me for a better deal — graduate school. I need to remind myself that Kristen is “only” a freshman since she handles responsibilities so conscientiously, responsibly, and capably.

Here are Kristen’s thoughts about LinkedIn:…

Being only a freshman in college, I am progressively expanding my knowledge on how to successfully use different platforms. Dr. Simpson recently introduced me to a site called LinkedIn. Although I have heard of this networking platform in the past, I previously had no use for it. However, as I start to enter into adulthood, we thought it would be wise to start my profile this year. Dr. Simpson assisted me in the creation of my profile by sending me a video series on this platform called Learning LinkedIn for Students created by Oliver Schinkten.

Throughout this video series, Schinkten goes step-by-step on how students can successfully obtain a professional profile. He gives nice examples for the viewers on certain information employers look for in these profiles. He also gives the viewer tips on how to stand out from other users. Although this information is useful, there is copious amounts of information that he suggests that seem to be too detailed. If one wants to use LinkedIn as a resume, they should keep it simple and organized. It can also be difficult, especially as a freshman, to add skills onto one’s profile. Maybe adding some examples on what senior high schooler/college freshman could have on their profile.

            Overall, I thought this video series was a good starting point for students who want to start their job networking. Schinkten gives a nice overview of the website and gives clear directions on how to add, edit, and use this platform. Even though some of the information he suggests can be quite detailed, Schinkten does give a nice overview of the platform. Not only does he give clear directions on how to use the platform, but also in how a student can successfully use this professional site for seeking future jobs.  

Curious David

Works in Progress…

With Kristen by my side evaluating evaluating Oliver Schinkten’s recent excellent LinkedIn for Students Course, I am pulling together materials for a series of articles about

  • how to evaluate “brain fitness” supplement claims (cocoanut oil anyone)?
  • brain health maintenance guidelines (e.g. the Global Council on Brain Health Guidelines documented here)
  • and reviewing all I learned from last semester’s Research seminar in case I get the enrollment I need to teach it again in the Fall.

First I need to clean my desk and sharpen some pencils!

 

Curious David

Linking in to Brain Health: 5 Brain Enriching Resources


As I continue my investigations and writing about brain health and brain training, I am interested in “vetting” resources that I think are best evidence-based, rich in fact, and readable. Here are five current favorite resource links.

  1. Harvard Medical School Guide to Cognitive Fitness
  2. Alzheimer’s Association Articles
  3. Dr. Michelle Braun’s insights (also visit her Psychology Today blogs and her web page): 
  4. A recent Oprah wellness presentation
  5. National Institute of Health/ Aging Resources
AgingMCIMild Cognitive impairment

Sexagenarian Obsession: the F-Word

With aging I have become overly sensitive to the F-word—- “Forgetting.” I meant to sandwich in a chance to have my photo taken with Truman, President Gnadinger’s dog. Was it “forgetting” that resulted in my not following through with my intent — or was it the fact that I was trying to squeeze that event into a time during which I was also proctoring an exam, writing a blog piece about brain health, monitoring email, and making sure that all students had the time they needed for the exam before the next group arrived.

I am well aware that nearly everyone who lives long enough experiences some cognitive decline. I am human. I am also quite familiar with that grey area of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — how to test for it, its relationship to dementia, how to compensate for it, and diagnostic guidelines for it (found here) .

According to Peter Rabins’ (University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health) 2018 White Paper on Memory (found hereit is estimated that 10 to 20% of Americans over 65 years of age have that condition with men more often affected than women and at earlier ages. Welcome, David, to your new reference group norms. Perhaps this is part of my motivation for continuing to surround myself with intellectually stimulating students — and playful, younger relatives.

In their presence I am younger. A number of studies (for example, this one: click here) suggest the preventative value of stimulating mental activities such as playing games, doing crafts, using a computer, and engaging in stimulation-rich social activities. Many studies have also found strong evidence for the value of age-appropriate strength training for global cognitive function (though not for memory). And I may have to start learning to dance ( see this link) or at least take up Tai Chi!

I have two playful partners in mind who always make me laugh when we dance or play together.