For not strongly recommending “The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Optimize Brain Health and Performance at Any Age” by Alvaro Fernandez, Elkhonon Goldberg, Ph.D., and Pascale Michelon, Ph.D. The healthy memory blog reviews many books and bases posts on excerpts from many books, but HM does not believe that he has ever written that it is imperative to have a book. The apology is for not recommending this book earlier as the second edition was published in 2015.
It is imperative because every human being has a brain. And for most of us, it is our most important organ. Even if you are like Woody Allen, it should be at least your second most important organ. Perhaps you are young and think that you can put off your concern about your brain until later in life. Yet a poll asking respondents to rank the brain functions that are important for thriving personally and professionally in the 21st Century found the top three to be
Ability to handle stressful situations
Concentration power to avoid distractions
Being able to recognize and manage one’s emotions
All of the above are brain functions and are extensively treated in the Guide. Moreover, as you will find out, everything in the Guide is important to building a cognitive reserve. The following paragraph explains what is meant by a cognitive reserve.
The common caveat is that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. This is true with regarding to the defining characteristics of Alzheimer’s, the amyloid plaque and the neurofibril tangles. But in 1989 Robert Katzmann and his colleagues described 10 cases of cognitively normal older adults who, at death, were found to have advanced Alzheimer’s disease pathology in their brains. The researchers hypothesized that the cognitive and behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s did not manifest themselves because they had more neurons, more connections between them, The notion is that by having this “reserve” of neurons and abilities can offset the losses caused by Alzheimer’s and other dementias so that the brain can tolerate progressive brain pathology without demonstrating failure.
Another possible explanation that is rarely, if ever, offered is that neuroplasticity enables the brain to withstand serious insult and damage by rewiring and relearning. There is ample evidence that the brain does so to heal itself against other insults and injuries. It should also be noted that these hypotheses are not mutually exclusive.
Nevertheless, there is reason to think that many people have had the defining features of Alzheimer’s, but died never knowing that they had the disease. See the healthy memory blog post “Alzheimer’s and a Cognitive Reserve” to learn about the research that Dr. Bennet has been conducting and the database he has been keeping on this topic.
The Guide begins by describing the brain, its organization, how it changes throughout life and lifelong neuroplasticity. It encourages the reader to be a coach and not a patient, and not to outsource one’s brain. The role of physical exercise and the kinds of exercise that are most beneficial are reviewed. The roles of food and drink are discussed. It discusses the benefits of mental challenge, investing in your cognitive or brain reserve, the lifelong effects of cognitive exercise, the roles of education and occupation as well as leisure activities to build a brain reserve. The importance of social engagement is discussed as well as the types of social engagement that are most beneficial. A chapter is devoted to managing stress and building resilience. Meditation is discussed under this topic. Brain cross-training is discussed and the final chapter is titled “How to Be Your Own Brain Fitness Coach.”
This entire area of research is advancing very quickly, so I encourage you go to
sharpbrains.com to get the latest news and findings. There is a free newsletter to which you can subscribe. You can also purchase the Guide to Brain Fitness at this website.
But please do no forget HM. He shall continue to do his best at writing posts relevant to memory health and closely related topics that open minds. Open minds are healthy minds.
© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.