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February 2014

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Dear Bill Kirby,

Fall risk is a concern for most aging adults and their loved ones. Earlier studies indicated that capabilities correlated to fall risk could be improved by BrainHQ exercises, but did not actually measure differences in fall risk from training. I am pleased to share results from a new randomized controlled trial that shows that participants who trained with certain exercises found in BrainHQ (i.e., Double Decision, Visual Sweeps, and Target Tracker) had significantly better scores on fall risk and mobility after training than the control group. The independently run study—funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) and the National Institute of Aging (NIA) and published in The Journals of Gerontology—is summarized here.

One very exciting implication of this research is to underscore the “bi-directional nature” of the mind-body connection. Just as physical exercise has been shown to improve certain cognitive functions, this study shows that brain exercise can improve certain physical functions (such as balance and walking). To our knowledge, this is the first-ever study to show that computerized brain training can improve physical health and well-being. We look forward to many more!

Best regards,

Jeff Zimman, Co-founder
Posit Science
Chronic Stress May Lead to Anxiety and Mood Disorders
UC Berkeley scientists have found that experiencing chronic stress can cause lasting changes in the brain that may predispose the brain to mental illness later in life. The researchers hope that this finding can help people with PTSD or other chronic stress-related illness reduce their risk of developing mental problems. Learn more.  

Pretty Faces Are Harder to Remember
A team of German psychologists has recently found that humans have more trouble remembering an attractive face than an unattractive one. Previously it was assumed that it was easier to memorize attractive faces, because we prefer looking at them, but the EEG and behavioral study they performed found the exact opposite to be true. Find out why.

Antioxidant Found in Strawberries and Cucumbers May Stave Off Alzheimer’s
While it has long been known that antioxidants may be beneficial to the brain, researchers studying a specific antioxidant found that it reduced Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice. Studies have found that a daily dose of the antioxidant fisetin, which is found in fruits and vegetables (most significantly, in strawberries and cucumbers) improved memory and improved Alzheimer’s outcomes. Learn more or get a brain-healthy recipe using strawberries and cucumbers.

“Selfless” Love Turns Off Brain’s Reward Centers
We’ve previously reported that romantic love can activate the brain like a drug, but researchers recently found that experiencing “selfless” love has an opposite effect—it turns off the brain’s reward centers. MRI studies showed that the brain activation was completely different in people experiencing romantic love feelings and those who genuinely felt well wishes for other people. Find out why.

Object Rotation Training Improves Math Skills
Researchers from Michigan State recently conducted a study and found that training kids aged 6-8 in spatial reasoning skills, like object rotation, led to a  marked improvement in their math skills. The mental rotation exercises used in the study were similar to the BrainHQ Navigation exercise Right Turn. Learn more.

Olympic Athletes Share “Mind Hacks” They Use to Enhance Performance
Have you been enjoying the Winter Olympic Games? When interviewed, many Olympic athletes have stressed that their training goes far beyond the physical, since the mental side of competing is also important for winning. They’ve shared some of the “mind hacks” they use to be their best, like visualizing the outcome they want and setting the right goals. Learn more.

Coffee is the Strongest Antioxidant, 5 Common Brain Mistakes, Seaweed for Brain Health, and the “10,000 Hour” Talent Myth
Check out these recent stories from the Posit Science blog!

BrainHQ Tips and Tricks
Did you know that one of the benefits of an annual subscription to BrainHQ is a discounted gift price? Annual subscribers can buy a second (or third or fourth…) subscription for just $69 a year—a savings of more than 25%. 6-month and 3-month gifts are even more affordable. To purchase a gift, just click “Buy Gifts” at the bottom of the BrainHQ homepage. Make sure you’re logged in to get the discount!

Book of the Month
Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts (2013)
Stanislas Dehaene  
Have you ever wondered how your brain creates a conscious thought, or how it’s possible to store so much unconscious knowledge? In Consciousness and the Brain, Dehaene delves into his own lab’s work and the work of other neuroscientists to share what we do and don’t about our minds and our consciousness. Buy it from Amazon.

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