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3 brain games boost memory, focus, and flexible thinking – Futurity: Research News

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Three digital games can help children and adults improve their cognitive skills, say the researchers who created them.

They designed and developed the gamesavailable online and in the iOS and Google Play app storesto help users brains work more efficiently. While some games falsely claim to improve cognitive skills, these three games have actually proven to help users boost memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility, the new research shows.

Can games actually have positive effects on players? We believe they can, and we designed three games to support learners in developing cognitive skills that researchers have identified as essential for success in daily life, executive functions, says game co-creator Jan L. Plass, professor of digital media and learning sciences at the Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development at New York University.

The researchers developed the games as a result of a four-year research project. The goal of the research was to design targeted computer games that improve cognitive skillsspecifically, executive functions like memory and inhibitory control. Upon discovering that the games successfully improved executive functions after as little play as two hours, the scholars wanted to make them available to the general public for free.

While some children have access to the best schools and resources, this is not the case for many families from less affluent communities across the nation. We hope these games can help close the gap that this lack of opportunity has created, says Plass.

The researchers developed three online games: Gwakkamol, CrushStations, and All You Can ET. Each of these brain training games support a different executive function.

Unlike other games, our apps were designed from the ground up by a team of developmental psychologists, neuroscience researchers, learning scientists, and game designers to train cognitive skills, says Bruce D. Homer, a professor of educational psychology in the Graduate Center at City University of New York.

The researchers designed the first game, Gwakkamol, to train inhibitory control, a subskill of executive functions. Inhibitory control is the ability to control attention, behavior, thoughts, and/or emotions.

In the game, players are instructed to smash the avocados that pop up on the screen while avoiding any of the avocados wearing hatssome of the avocados in the game have spikey hats, hard hats, or electric hats on top of their heads. As a player gets to higher levels in the game, more avocados appear on the screen and the speed in which players must smash them increases.

Each time a player smashes a hatless avocado they gain points, and adversely, they lose points when they smash an avocado wearing a hat. Gwakkamol forces players to focus their attention and respond quickly and deliberately (by smashing hatless avocados) to gain points.

CrushStations, which involves crustaceans rather than avocados, focuses on training working memory. Working memory is responsible for temporarily holding and processing information. It plays a major role in how humans use and remember information they learn on a daily basis.

To help train working memory, CrushStationswhich takes place in the oceanrequires each player to remember the color and type of creatures on the screen to free them from a hungry octopus. If a player accurately remembers the color and type of crustacean in front of the octopus, the animal goes free. However, if a player is unable to remember both the color and type of creature, the crustacean is captured and eaten by the octopus. The game increases in difficulty by giving players more creatures to remember and more difficult sequences to process.

The third game is called All You Can ET. The researchers designed this game to train cognitive flexibilitythe mental ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, and to think about multiple concepts simultaneously.

In this game, players are providing aliens with food and drinks to help them survive. The challenge in this game is that the aliens frequently change their minds about whether they would like to eat or drink, depending on how many eyes they have and what color their bodies are.

For example, in one round, two-eyed orange aliens only eat cupcakes while one-eye green aliens only drink milkshakes. As the game increases in difficulty, the rules for what each alien prefers to eat or drink changes.

In addition to developing the games, the researchers published a series of articles reporting on the effectiveness of these games.

We found replicated evidence across multiple experiments that playing our games for two hours causes improvements in executive function skills as compared to a control group that plays an unrelated game, says Richard E. Mayer of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

This is one of the few scientific experiments showing the benefits of game-based training on executive function skills such as being able to shift from one task to another or being able to keep track of a series of events. This work shows the benefits of designing games based on the cognitive theory of game-based training.

As next steps, the scholars plan to continue research and build out virtual reality versions of the games. Together, they have also already edited a handbook of game-based learning. The handbook, published by MIT Press, will be available on February 4th and includes the results from this research as well as a myriad of other studies on games and learning.

The most recent papers appear in Learning and Instruction;Reading Psychology;and Mind, Brain, and Education;as well as two in Cognitive Development (one, two).

The US Department of Educations Institute of Education Sciences funded the work. The researchers developed all three games at NYUs CREATE lab.

Source: NYU

Original Study DOI: 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2019.01.005

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3 brain games boost memory, focus, and flexible thinking - Futurity: Research News

Whats on TV This Week: Awkwafina, ‘Avenue 5,’ ‘Star Trek: Picard’ and more – Los Angeles Times


Thespians honor their own at the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. Bombshell, The Irishman and Once Upon a Time In Hollywood lead the film categories with four noms each. 5 p.m. TBS, TNT

Annette Bening collects career kudos at the Movies for Grownups Awards with AARP The Magazine on a new Great Performances. Tony Danza hosts. 6 p.m. KOCE

The action drama 9-1-1 begets a Texas-set spinoff, 9-1-1: Lone Star. Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler star. 7 p.m. Fox; 8 p.m. Mon.

A woman who lost her family latches on to someone elses in the new thriller Murder in the Suburbs. With Nicky Whelan and Anna Hutchison. 8 p.m. Lifetime

A detective joins forces with a student of Sigmund Freud to solve murders most foul in turn-of-the-last-century Vienna in the new drama Vienna Blood. 10 p.m. KOCE

Hugh Laurie stars in the new series Avenue 5" on HBO.


This is your captain speaking: Houses Hugh Laurie helms the luxury space cruiser christened the Avenue 5 in this new satirical sci-fi comedy from Veep creator Armando Iannucci. 10 p.m. HBO

Noted Bernie Sanders impersonator Larry David kicks off a 10th season of his cringe comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm. 10:30 p.m. HBO


Get Carter. Jerry OConnell is back on the case in a second season of this Canadian-set mystery comedy. 7 p.m. WGN America

The Good Place costars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson join new host Keegan-Michael Key in separate episodes of the rebooted series Brain Games. 8 and 9 p.m. National Geographic Channel

Chef Marcus Samuelsson visits SoCals Armenian community where he samples traditional cuisine on a new episode of No Passport Required. 9 p.m. KOCE

Her hometowns snow maze leads a journalist to an Amazing Winter Romance in this new TV movie. With Jessy Schram and Marshall Williams. 9 p.m. Hallmark Channel

The 2019 documentary Emanuel revisits the mass shooting by a young white supremacist at an African American church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015. 9 p.m. Starz

A Somalian refugee in Minnesota is shaken by his teenage sons desire to join the terrorist group ISIS in Syria in the documentary Accept the Call on a new Independent Lens. 10 p.m. KOCE

Would-be secret agents are put through their paces in the new competition series Spy Games. Mia Kang hosts. 10 p.m. Bravo


Fortune Feimster: Sweet & Salty is a new stand-up special featuring the comic and former Chelsea Lately regular. Anytime, Netflix

In the not too distant future, Green Arrow & the Canaries leap into action in this new episode of Arrow that sets up a spin-off of the superhero drama. With Katherine McNamara, Katie Cassidy and Juliana Harkavy. 8 p.m. The CW

Jeff Goldblum, funnyman Marc Maron and public radios Terry Gross each explore their Jewish heritage on a new episode of Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 8 p.m. KOCE

Secrets of the Dead recalls Allied plans to take out a notorious Nazi death camp in the waning days of WWII in the new episode Bombing Auschwitz. 9 p.m. KOCE

The truth is out there: Dr. J. Allen Hynek (Aidan Gillen) probes the purported crash of a UFO in Roswell, N.M., on the season premiere of Project Blue Book. 10 p.m. History Channel

Star Treks Zachary Quinto goes Running Wild With Bear Grylls through the Panamanian jungle in the celebrity outdoor-adventure series season finale. 10 p.m. National Geographic Channel


Its virologists versus the next potentially devastating strain of influenza in the new docu-series Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak. Anytime, Netflix

Greenland is the destination on a new episode of the nature series Expedition with Steve Backshall. 10 p.m. KOCE

Awkwafina is Nora from Queens in Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens. The rapper turned actress (The Farewell) headlines this new series loosely based on her own life. 10:30 p.m. Comedy Central


Engage! Patrick Stewart boldly reprises his role as the former captain of the Starship Enterprise in the new franchise entry Star Trek: Picard. Anytime, CBS All Access

Patrick Stewart, left, and Jonathan Frakes in the new streaming series Star Trek: Picard.

(Trae Patton / CBS)

The Greys Anatomy spinoff Station 19 is back for Season 3. With Jaina Lee Ortiz and Jason George. 8 p.m. ABC

Jason Biggs and Psychs Maggie Lawson are Outmatched as the none-too-bright parents of a trio of high-IQ offspring in this new sitcom. 8:30 p.m. Fox

The Bold Type are back in business in a fourth season of this dramedy about set in the publishing world. With Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee and Meghann Fahy. 9 p.m. Freeform

Swamp People are back in business in an 11th season of this unscripted series set in a swamp. 9 p.m. History Channel

Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish and the lovely and talented Lizzo are among the pop stars getting a little face time in The Gayle King Grammy Special. 10 p.m. CBS


Shes a witch! Mad Mens Kiernan Shipka returns for a second season of the fantasy drama Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Anytime, Netflix

The new docuiseries The Goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow airs on Netflix.

(Adam Rose / Netflix)

The new docu-series The Goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow goes behind the scenes of the Oscar-winning actresss lifestyle and wellness website. Anytime, Netflix

Its nobodys business but the Turks in the new six-part documentary/historical drama Rise of Empires: Ottoman. Anytime, Netflix

SNLs Aidy Bryant serves up a second season of her sitcom Shrill. With Julia Sweeney. Anytime, Hulu

Host Adam Conover of Adam Ruins Everything gives contestants the runaround in the new family game show The Crystal Maze. 7 p.m. Nickelodeon


Pro hockeys best lace up their skates and hit the ice at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game. From St. Louis. 5 p.m. NBC

A family find themselves in a grave situation after moving to rural Maine in the 2019 remake of the Stephen King terror tale Pet Sematary. With Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz and John Lithgow. 8 p.m. Epix

The Curse of La Llorona is nothing to be afraid of in this underwhelming 2019 take on the weeping woman from Mexican folklore. With Linda Cardellini. 8 p.m. HBO

The new TV movie Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer retells the tragic tale of a North Carolina man who murdered his pregnant wife and two young daughters in 2018. With Sean Kleier and Ashley Williams. 8 p.m. Lifetime

Adam Driver takes time out from acting in a half-dozen movies each year to host another Saturday Night Live. Halsey is the musical guest. 8:29 and 11:29 p.m. NBC

An interior designer makes a love connection with a widower in the TV movie Hearts of Winter. With Rukiya Bernard and Victor Webster. 9 p.m. Hallmark Channel

Alt-rockers Cage the Elephant take the stage on a new episode of the concert series Austin City Limits. 11:30 p.m. KOCE

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Whats on TV This Week: Awkwafina, 'Avenue 5,' 'Star Trek: Picard' and more - Los Angeles Times

The TVLine-Up: What’s Returning, New and Leaving the Week of Jan. 19 – TVLine


This weekly feature is in addition to TVLines daily What to Watch listings.

With more than 530 scripted shows now airing across broadcast, cable and streaming, its easy to forget that a favorite comedy is returning, or that the new prestige drama you anticipated is about to debut. So consider this our reminder to set your DVR, order a Season Pass, pop a fresh Memorex into the VCR however it is you roll.

This week, youll find 11 series return from winter break (including Greys Anatomy, Riverdale and The Conners), 11 season premieres (including Curb Your Enthusiasm, Project Blue Book and Station 19), 11 debuts (including 9-1-1: Lone Star, Outmatched and Star Trek: Picard) and so much more.

Sunday, January 193:05 pm AFC Championship Game (CBS)6 pm NFC Championship Game (Fox)8 pm Batwoman returns (The CW)8 pm Kids Say the Darndest Things Season 1 finale (ABC)8 pm Ray Donovan Season 7 finale (Showtime)8 pm SAG Awards (TNT, TBS)9 pm Supergirl returns (The CW)10 pm 9-1-1: Lone Star series premiere (Fox; special night and time)10 pm Avenue 5 series premiere (HBO)10 pm Vienna Blood series premiere (PBS)10:30 pm Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 10 premiere (HBO)

Monday, January 203 am Family Reunion Part 2 premiere (Netflix)3 am Love Island UK Season 6 premiere (Hulu)8 pm 9-1-1: Lone Star regular time slot premiere (Fox)8 pm All American returns (The CW)8 pm Brain Games Season 8 premiere (NatGeo)9 pm Black Lightning returns (The CW)9 pm Prodigal Son returns (Fox)10 pm Carter Season 2 premiere (WGN America)10 pm Spy Games series premiere (Bravo)

Tuesday, January 213 am Jim Hensons Word Party Season 4 premiere (Netflix; all episodes)3 am Fortune Feimster: Sweet & Salty comedy special premiere (Netflix)8 pm The Conners returns (ABC)8:30 pm Bless This Mess returns (ABC)10 pm Project Blue Book Season 2 premiere (History)10 pm Running Wild With Bear Grylls Season 5 finale (NatGeo)

Wednesday, January 223 am Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak docuseries premiere (Netflix; all episodes)8 pm Riverdale returns (The CW)10:30 pm Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens series premiere (Comedy Central)

Thursday, January 233 am Ghost Bride series premiere (Netflix; all episodes)3 am October Faction series premiere (Netflix; all episodes)8 pm Station 19 Season 3 premiere (ABC; new time slot)8:30 pm Outmatched series premiere (Fox)8:30 pm Star Trek: Picard series premiere (CBS All Access)9 pm Greys Anatomy returns (ABC; new time slot)9:30 pm Perfect Harmony Season 1 finale (NBC)10 pm A Million Little Things returns (ABC; new time slot)10 pm The Gayle King Grammy Special (CBS)

Friday, January 243 am Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 3 premiere (Netflix; all episodes)3 am Encore! Season 1 finale (Disney+)3 am The Goop Lab With Gwyneth Paltrow series premiere (Netflix; all episodes)3 am Pick of the Litter Season 1 finale (Disney+)3 am The Ranch Part 8 premiere (Netflix; all episodes)3 am Shrill Season 2 premiere (Hulu; all episodes)3 am The World According to Jeff Goldblum Season 1 finale (Disney+)8 pm U.S. Figure Skating Championship (NBC)9 pm MTV Presents: A 2020 Grammy Celebration special (MTV)

Saturday, January 258 pm Flirty Dancing Season 1 finale (Fox; two episodes)8 pm NHL All-Star Game (NBC)11:30 pm Saturday Night Live returns with host Adam Driver (NBC)

For the latest renewal/cancellation status on your favorite shows, visit our Cable, Streaming and Broadcast-TV renewal scorecards.

Whats on your TVLine-Up for the week ahead?

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The TVLine-Up: What's Returning, New and Leaving the Week of Jan. 19 - TVLine

Dog of the Week: Clever Meadows loves brain games and treats – Dublin Live

Meet Meadow, an intelligent two-year-old German Shepherd who loves to play brain games.

If youre having a ruff day, Meadow is ready to turn it around with her infectious smile.

Meadow knows lots of clever tricks like sit, down, paw, etc. and is fully house trained.

She would love to live with a family who has interest in continuing her positive reward-based training.

She also loves tasty treats and will make you smile with her playful antics.

If you have room in your heart and home for Meadow then please contact Dogs Trust on 01 879 1000.

They are based in Finglas, just off exit 5 on the M50. Map and directions can be found on their website .

You can also find them on Facebook or Twitter @DogsTrust_IE.

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Dog of the Week: Clever Meadows loves brain games and treats - Dublin Live

5 Ways To Challenge Your Mind And Stay Youthful – Thrive Global

As we get older, our cognitive abilities start to decline. It becomes essential to stay active and keep ourselves mentally fit.

Its common knowledge that you need to exercise to keep your body healthy. Likewise, its necessary to exercise your mind to keep it sharp.

The key is to challenge yourself mentally to boost your memory and build more gray matter over time. When you present your mind with a challenging activity, you light up more pathways in your brain. You create new neural connections that help keep your mind youthful.

There are many activities that can stimulate your brain and help it grow. Lets look at some ways you can challenge your mind every day so that it remains vital and alert.

As an adult, learning a new language is one of the most challenging things you can do. Youre likely to feel frustration and discomfort as you build your vocabulary and learn new grammar,

It will take a long time to see any progress or improvements. However, whether you become fluent at a new language or not, your mind will see cognitive benefits.

Learning a new language engages many parts of your brain. It creates connections between these areas and leads to higher mental functioning. Research suggests that learning a new language can delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimers.

When it comes to keeping mentally fit, focus on learning every day even if you find it slow. Being able to speak in another language is rewarding on its own, but the benefits it brings your mind are more important.

Mental exercise in the form of games can keep our brains young and fit. Try to play brain games to activate your neural circuits and boost your mental acuity.

Focus on crossword puzzles and logical thinking games to boost the left side of your brain that controls language and reasoning. You can work on jigsaw puzzles, mazes, and other visual games that will tease your right brain, which is in charge of visual skills.

Brain games can sharpen your reaction time, improve short-term memory and enhance your minds processing speed.

Try to play brain games every day to stay mentally fit and active. You can make it a habit by doing it with some other daily routine. Work on a reasoning skill challenge on your commute, or do a crossword puzzle when you have your morning coffee.

Today, its possible to learn almost anything you want online. There are many platforms offering free and premium online courses to help you develop skills. Learning a new skill or subject can challenge you and boost your mental fitness.

Its a simple way to keep your mind active since you can access an online course on any device. You can pick up something that builds on what you know or try something entirely new.

Doing an online course can not only expand your mind, but it can also give you the skills to switch careers or start a new business.

There are many subjects that can challenge you and give you marketable skills. Try coding, learning excel, or building a website. You can also study history, music, creative writing and much more to help you develop new skills.

Writing is an activity that can make you more creative. Whether you write by hand or type on a keyboard, the act of writing stimulates your brain. It engages different parts of the brain and boosts your cognitive functioning.

Make it a habit to write every day. You can begin by writing in your journal daily. There are other outlets as well, such as starting a blog, writing poems, or taking an online writing course.

Writing is a simple but effective way that engages your vision, hand, and mind to create stories and content. Use it to enhance your creativity, improve memory, and stay sharp.

Studies have found that meditation increases gray matter in the brain. Its a powerful way to lower stress and anxiety.

If youre someone with a short attention span, then learning to meditate can be quite challenging.

It takes time and practice to be able to sit still and watch ones thoughts over a long period of time. Its a powerful way to grow and manage your feelings. Learn to meditate and youll retain your cognitive abilities over time.

It can be uncomfortable to challenge yourself mentally. But its the discomfort and new information that keeps you from becoming forgetful and dull as you grow older.

Use these tips to stay mentally active, but also ensure that you have a healthy lifestyle by eating good food and exercising.

Staying fit and strong in mind and body will enable you to live a fulfilling and happier life.

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5 Ways To Challenge Your Mind And Stay Youthful - Thrive Global

Barks and Recreation dog daycare slated to open mid-February – Freeport Journal-Standard

FREEPORT As a dog lover and a lifetime pet owner, Brooke Baran of Freeport is living a dream as she watches renovations take place at her new business called Brookes Barks and Recreation to open by mid-February.

It was Friday that Baran watched workers from Marks Backyard Oasis of Belvidere install a recreation therapy pool that will be used for dogs and their owners when she is ready to open her doggie daycare and exotic animal boarding facility on Meadows Drive in Freeport.

As a dog lover and lifetime pet owner, I understand the powerful bond between an owner and their furry friend, Baran said. They provide the best source of unconditional love, but sometimes we need extra help with them.

Baran is ready to provide that extra help in her new business. She plans to call herself and her fully-trained staff Bark Rangers.

Baran is also a certified Dog Guru, who completed training with an organization that helps people who want to open their own dog business. To become a certified Dog Guru, Baran took courses to help make her business successful, and to be able to offer pet owners a chance to make sure their beloved canines are taken care of in the most lovingly and trained capacity.

Baran said she has been working with dogs since she was a 16-year-old growing up in West Virginia. She used to volunteer her time at a rehabilitation center for dogs, becoming a certified dog trainer and therapy dog expert.

I loved the essence of dog training, she said. With service dogs I learned the positive approach to dog training, to be able to help train therapy dogs for veterans.

Baran moved to Freeport two years ago with her husband Ingin Baran. She knew she always wanted to own her own dog care business, and began doing research for a business plan, and looking for the right facility to turn her vision into a reality.

I want a place where dog owners can have a peace of mind when they place their dogs into the care of others, Baran said. I equate my daycare with a preschool, where the dogs will do brain games while at daycare.

The brain games that Baran speaks of is about using tools and training to keep the dogs brain active, which will include games and activities like bobbing for balls. The idea is to have the dogs spend time with a Bark Ranger in small groups for each activity.

Brain games help the dog engage in learned play to give them a chance to think, she said.

The therapy pool is large, measuring 12 feet by 24 feet. This is hydro therapy, which is beneficial to canine exercise for various ailments or just exercise. Baran said the pool therapy will strengthen muscles.

Marilyn Smit of Freeport said she is excited for the new business to be part of the landscape of Freeport.

I see this as a great addition to Freeport, Smit said. This is a different kind of business, and the therapy pool is the closest one to Freeport. I know local veterinarians are excited to be able to have a therapy pool for their clients.

Bran said she plans to have one trained Bark Ranger for no more than 10 dogs. There will also be a chance for one-on-one training. Baran is building on a curriculum for her brain games training and is excited for the public to be part of something different for their dogs.

While the business will not be a kennel for dogs, Baran will offer boarding for people with exotic animals, like bunnies, parrots and other non-traditional pets.

Engaging the dog between brain and nose is something extra than a traditional walk, Baran said. Its basic psychology for dogs and their owners.

Baran plans to have a soft opening for her business by mid-February, with a hard opening by March. Brookes Barks and Recreation is located at 420 W. Meadows Drive in Freeport. For more, visit

Jane Lethlean;; @DOGWMN2

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Barks and Recreation dog daycare slated to open mid-February - Freeport Journal-Standard

Why I’m ready to quit bad-mouthing brain games –

(To learn more about activities that really do protect cognition, see the BeBrainFit article here: 36 Ways to Improve Your Memory)

OK, I just need to come out and admit this. Ive got an attitude problem. In the work I do, I continually bad-mouth crossword puzzles and other so-called brain games like Sudoku or Words with Friends.

And I just got called out on it. I got an email from a gentleman named Rodrigo, and he gave me a bit of a scolding. He thinks that Im way too harsh on crossword puzzles, and he thinks I need to adjust my attitude.

And you know what? Hes right. I do think Ive been unfair to crossword puzzles and the people who do them, people like Rodrigo probably like you and I owe them an apology. So thats what I am here to offer today.

Hi, Im Tony Dearing, of, the website for people with mild cognitive impairment.

I do these brain health videos every week, and no one has to guess what my attitude toward crosswords and brain games in general has been. Right there, sitting on the homepage of my website is an article, The false promise of brain games (and what actually works instead!). It was published in May 2017 and month after month, it remains one of the best-read articles on

What I wanted people to understand is that when it comes to defending your cognition and protecting yourself from the risk of dementia, these kind of games dont offer that protection.

And in my own defense, Ive never met an expert in brain health who didnt feel that way.

Dr. Richard Isaacson, of the Alzheimers Prevention Clinic, told me, You can do all the Sudoku you want, but youll just get better at Sudoku. It wont have a spillover effect that will help you over the long-term.

Sarah Lock, executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health, said to me: These games are fun to do, but if you think they are the panacea, you are sadly mistaken.

Jacquelyn James, of Boston College, says: We used to think that doing crossword puzzles was the best way to keep our cognitive ability alive and developing, but were seeing that it takes more than that.

So Im not out on a limb here. But the longer Ive been doing this, and just dealing with people with mild cognitive impairment who are educating themselves and out there doing the work to protect their cognition decline, the more Im realizing that Ive got the messaging wrong here.

My attitude has been overly negative and dismissive and actually kind of insulting to people like Rodrigo who do crossword puzzles and enjoy them.

He send me an email telling me that I am too down on crossword puzzles. He knows theyre not the cure for MCI, but he does them and he says seem to help him. In part, he says, A while back I started not being able to recall some words that I knew and that was so frustrating! He says doing crossword puzzles helps him remember SOME words that I may not be able to recall at that moment.

And really, thats the key. Two, three, four years ago, the reason that brain health experts were being so strident about this is because there seemed to be a prevailing public misperception that things like crossword puzzles were the best thing you could do. It was like, Oh, if youre worried about dementia, go home and do a New York Times crossword puzzle.

At one point, I was talking to a woman whose mother had MCI, and she told me that she couldnt get her mother to do any of the things her mom really needed to do. She said her mom would just go home every night and eat a Big Mac and do the New York Times crossword.

And thats like, Oh God no, please, no. Really, thats like having someone say to you, Yeah, my mom is really worried about having her home broken into, so what shes doing to defend herself against burglars is to leave her door unlocked and put a sign on it that says, The money is under the mattress.'

You cant leave the door unlocked for dementia. You need to put a deadbolt on it. You need to nail that damn door shut. Crossword puzzles dont do that for you. But there are things that can.

But I think you know that by now. Youre learning what those things are, and youre doing them, and I applaud you for that and I promise you that Im going to stop haranguing you about crossword puzzles.

Rodrigo got it exactly right. He ended his email by saying: I know there are many other ways that can be used to expand the mind: combing my hair or brushing my teeth with my other hand, taking a different route to go somewhere, etc. ..

Thats just spot on. You protect your cognition by doing things that grow new neural pathways in the brain. That helps other parts of your brain compensate for the part of your brain where MCI is causing something to go wrong.

Doing something you already know how to do over and over again, and just getting a little bit better at it, doesnt build those neural connections. For that, you need to learn something new, something you dont already know how to do. Like learning to play an instrument. Or a new language. Or knitting or playing fantasy football or figuring out how to fix a light switch.

Thats what helps lock the door. The best list of these kinds of activities that Ive seen can be found in a post on the website BeBrainFit. Go down the the section called Boost Your Memory with Mental Workouts, and review tips no. 13 through 23.

So thats your homework for this week. Check out the post, find one thing new and novel that looks interesting to you, and try it.

After that, if you want to sit down and reward yourself by doing a crossword puzzle or Sudoku, go for it, as long as youre doing other things as well. So there. Youve never needed my permission to do crosswords, but now you have it anyway.

You also my invitation to join me again next week. Until then, be kind to your mind.

Originally posted here:
Why I'm ready to quit bad-mouthing brain games -

How could my wife have Alzheimers? She was only 56. – The Boston Globe

No. Theyre all just talking constantly and I never get a chance to say anything.

But Laurie, thats what happens at dinner parties. Youve got eight people fueled by a lot of alcohol and they all are clamoring for the floor. Thats just the way it is.

I didnt get to speak. I hated it. Why wont they let me speak?

Im puzzled. Laurie was always the life of any get-together: raucous, loud, leading the room from one topic to the next. What was going on?

At another dinner party a few weeks later, I notice Laurie sitting back, silent. Hey Laurie, I say in a loud voice. Anything youd like to add? The room quiets and everyone looks at her.

No, she says, and sips from her glass of wine.

The next morning were arguing again. No one, she says, would let me speak.


Im sitting in the living room in 2011, reading.

Hes coming over with the stuff to do the thing, Laurie says.

It takes me a moment to realize shes speaking to me. What?

Hes coming over with the stuff to do the thing.

What stuff? What thing? And who is he?

She glares at me. You know. The words are accusatory and full of weight.

I wonder if I am becoming that stereotypical husband who ignores his spouse, just responding Uh-huh, uh-huh.

Im sorry. I must not have been paying attention. Whos coming over?

She turns and walks out of the room.


Weve flown to Washington to visit our oldest daughter, Lauren, at college. We get together for drinks with one of my brothers. Shes doing the thing pretty soon, Laurie says.

What? my brother asks. Laurie, seriously, we need to find out whats going on with your speech. Somethings up.

Laurie looks shocked, and says, What do you mean?

Your speech, the way you talk. I dont understand what youre saying.

She laughs. Oh, thats nothing. Its the beer.

When Laurie gets up to go to the restroom, I say to my brother, Youve been noticing it?

Everyones been noticing it, he says.

I thought it was just me.


Worried, I reach out to Lauries primary care physician, asking her to refer Laurie for tests. She talks to Laurie, who eventually agrees.

When we meet with a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital to find out the results, he says Laurie has primary progressive aphasia of the logopenic variant.

Whats that mean? I ask.

Its aphasiaan inability to communicateand its specifically word-related. Thats the logo part. Lauries having trouble finding words. Thats our primary diagnosis.

Then he says, And its progressive.

Progressive? I ask.

Meaning its going to get worse.

Im bewildered and want to know what caused it. Did she have a stroke? Heavy metals, pesticides? He says probably not, but can run more tests to check.

Well, I think we need to, I say. Right, Laurie? She nods.

This is just crazy, I say. Shes only 56.

We stand up and the neurologist asks me to stay behind for some paperwork. As Laurie waits outside, he says, I didnt want to say it in front of her, but in all likelihood what she has is younger-onset Alzheimers. It just started in a unique part of her brainthe left rear lobebut like all Alzheimers, it eventually will spread throughout the entire brain.

You need to prepare yourself, he adds.

Alzheimers? I thought that only happened to people in their 80s and 90s. But shes only 56, I repeat. Shes got her MBA in finance.


Laurie and I had first met at a punk-rock club in Washington, where Id moved for work in 1982 after graduating from law school. I was there with friends when she walked in, 5 foot 11, tan, wearing a black miniskirt. I spent the evening glancing her way, occasionally approaching but then backing off, certain she was out of my league. Toward midnight, I finally went up to her and managed to say Hello.

Giving me a withering look, she said, Well, it took you long enough. I was smitten.

She would turn out to be the wittiest, smartest, and most talkative person I had ever met. And now all of that was fading away.


Were at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, walking into a small conference room to meet with a neurological researcher. Months earlier, Laurie had agreed to be part of his study testing whether a combination of certain dyes in the bloodstream and positron electron tomography imaging could pick up the presence of abnormal amyloid proteins in her brain. This is a marker of Alzheimers disease, usually only found in an autopsy.

The researcher is hoping his technique can detect Alzheimers before death. Were hoping hell tell us her increasingly apparent aphasia is caused by something else.

We sit down. He picks up a piece of paper, looks at it, and then looks at us. He starts to cry.


Laurie is standing in the middle of our living room, sobbing. I go to her and hold her. I dont need to ask whats wrong; I know. We just stand there, hugging.

A few days later, I look in the medicine cabinet at Lauries medications, Aricept and Namenda, representing the only two types of Alzheimers-related drugs on the market. Neither stops the disease, let alone cures it, but theyre thought to help improve cognition. The containers seem full. Too full.

Laurie, I ask, Have you been taking your pills?

No, she says. I dont need them.

Yes, you do, I say. You need them for your Alzheimers.

I dont have Alzheimers, she says.


Laurie comes out the front door along with our youngest daughter, Bryn, to see the new Honda CR-V Im driving.

I want to try it, Laurie says. Bryn and I exchange looks. Its 2015 and I havent let Laurie drive for months, finding one excuse or another. But I reluctantly say OK, and we climb into the car, me in the front passenger seat, Bryn in back. I suggest we go to get lunch at one of our regular places, an easy drive on mostly back roads.

At the first stop sign, I remind her to take a right. She immediately starts to go left. No! I say sharply, The other right!

She takes the next turn without appearing to think. She seems to be doing fine, and I begin to relax. A quarter mile later, at a light, she asks Where?

I point to the left, and she turns that way. At the restaurant, she cruises toward a parking spot right in front. I realize shes about to hit a car to our left. I reach across and pull the steering wheel down so we swerve right, saying Laurie, stop. Stop! She does.

Let me park it, I say. She gets out, and I get in.

After lunch, I drive home. Bryn and I have a few minutes alone.

That was awful, she says. She shouldnt be driving.

Later, Laurie tells me that its the new car. I was fine with the old one.


Laurie walks into the apartment, her face ashen. Is everything OK? Did you get the money? I ask. She bursts into tears. Its not working.

I stand up, go to her, and hug her. Its no big deal. Lets go down and take a look. Maybe the ATMs just broken.

We go across the street. I watch as she puts her card in and types her password. The screen reads incorrect password. She tries again and the error message flashes once more. Whats your password? I ask.


Im pretty sure its our anniversary, I say. Try typing that in. The numbers she presses are nothing close to our anniversary.

Laurie, I say, my voice rising. Pay attention. Thats not your password. I catch myself and try to cool down. I ask her to let me help, and type in the password. A few seconds later she has $60 in her purse.


Im sitting in our bedroom and I hear the click of a door shutting. I get up and look around. Laurie? Theres no answer. I walk outside to the hallway. No sign of her. I take the elevator to the lobby and see the doorman. Have you seen Laurie?

Not this morning, he says. I run up the stairs and find her between the second and third floors. What are you doing here?

She looks at me, bewildered.


She got her MBA in finance in 1986, shortly after we got married. An ardent feminist, she kept her own name and we gave our children both of our surnames. She wrote, acted in local plays, ran film groups, and threw herself headlong into our childrens lives.

I sit and contemplate how much Laurie has lost. She can no longer write. She cant even sign her own name. The televisions remote control mystifies her. When we go out for dinner, she cant read the menu. She no longer showers, seemingly afraid of the water. She wears the same clothes, day after day. Her hair has grown ragged and when the telephone rings, she simply looks at it.

I understood the word progressive when her neurologist first diagnosed it. But I realize I never really absorbed it, fooling myself into thinking that however she was would remain the same way. When Id notice some new diminishment, Id just reorder my thinking, believing that this was now the new normal.

I now understand none of thats true. Ive lost her. And shell never come back.


Im nervous. For months, Lauren, Bryn, and I have been talking about a next step for Laurie. I travel a lot for work; I cant care for her at home anymore. Were worried about her wandering. After touring places, we settle on Avita of Needham, a memory care facility. Today, June 29, 2016, is the day she is supposed to move.

But Laurie seems completely unaware.

A care manager we hired to help us is at the apartment. Laurie, she says, Tom needs to go on a long business trip. Hes going to be gone for a while.

Laurie looks terrified. Do you feel afraid to be alone? she asks. Laurie nods.

The care manager continues. I know a place thats safe and fun and where you get to play brain games. Doesnt that sound good? Laurie nods again. Would you like to visit with me? Laurie nods a third time.

We go to the car and after a short drive are walking through the front door of Avita. The executive director greets us. Everything has been carefully staged. She and others gather around Laurie, hugging her and talking and leading her down a corridor and past a locked door. She doesnt turn around to look at me.

That night in bed I realize shell never sleep next to me again. Despair washes over me.


I call frequently to find out how shes doing, but I dont visit. The idea is to give her time to adjust, to become acclimated.

After two weeks, I finally come in to see her. Im waiting for the questionsWhere have you been? Why am I here? Can I go home now?and rehearsing my answerThis is your home now. Im preparing for the tears and anger.

Theres none of that. We visit, have a cup of coffee. I talk; she listens. I walk her back to her room, she sits in a chair, and I leave.

This really is her home now.


Nine months later, Laurie and I are sitting in the living room at Avita. My mother died yesterday, I tell her. They had been close. Laurie turned to my mom when the children were first born and she felt out of her depth, wondering how she would ever manage motherhood.

Laurie just looks at me and stares.


Its been a year and a half, and Avitas executive director tells me Laurie needs more care than the facility can provide. I am not surprised.

When Laurie first entered, she could manage most everything, only needing some persuasion to take her medication or brush her teeth. Now shes largely incontinent, increasingly needs help eating, and is unsteady on her feet.

Continued here:
How could my wife have Alzheimers? She was only 56. - The Boston Globe

Jason Silva has some interesting, but potentially eyeroll-inducing, things to say about cannabis – The GrowthOp

The former host of National Geographics Brain Games and current host of podcast Flow Sessions with Jason Silvarecently sat down with reporters from Benzinga Cannabis to discuss his work and theories, including those around cannabis.

While Silva had some interesting things to say, it can be a tough slog wading through his verbosity to get to the good stuff. And even his interviewers cant seem to prevent what is very likely the source of eyerolls for many a reader.

Silva told Benzinga that he discovered cannabis after writing an article for his high school newspaper.

Before I knew it, this was our own version of Dead Poets Society, he said. Very similar to the Charles Baudelaire and his hashish parties in Paris in the 1920s. We were very intentional in ingesting this tonic, having it facilitate and inform an experience of heightened reactivity and receptivity to stimuli, and then essentially reading each other poetry, he relayed.

A pretty grandiose way of saying he and his friends smoked weed in high school, but the type of response that seems typical of Silva.

In the interview, he expresses a serious interest in flow state, known in common parlance as being in the zone, a concept embraced by the likes of psychologist Mihly Cskszentmihlyi that stems from positive psychology.

The problem? Positive psychology is often regarded as scientifically questionable and/or problematic by many respected names in the field of psychology and beyond. This includes investigative journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, who has penned a book on the subject and poked serious holes in positive psych.

Still, Silva told Benzinga: Were witnessing a renaissance and were witnessing a reframe, and I think cannabis is leading the way, referring to cannabis as an entry point into the larger conversation about new approaches to wellness and mental health.

Cannabis may be a catalyst for new research and discussion of other forms of mental health treatment. That said, it may be best to consume the many words of storyteller, futurist and keynote speaker Silva, bearing in mind the qualifications he has, and those he lacks.

Want to keep up to date on whats happening in the world of cannabis?Subscribeto the Cannabis Post newsletter for weekly insights into the industry, what insiders will be talking about and content from across the Postmedia Network.

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Jason Silva has some interesting, but potentially eyeroll-inducing, things to say about cannabis - The GrowthOp

Quizmaster 2019: Meet the cast of famous brainiacs Eric Monkman, Pat Gibson, Kevin Ashman! – Reality Titbit – Celebrity TV News

Not a day goes by without a quiz show appearing on the TV schedule.From University Challenge and Eggheads to The Chase and Mastermind, these competitive quizzes come in all different formats but we love them all the same.

And while each of them allows the contestants to flex their knowledge in that particular area of expertise, there now comes a show to crown the ultimate quizzer.

Its practically the Olympics of brain games!

Cue Quizmaster, a special one-off quiz show on ITV this December which seeks to find the best quizzer from the telly. But just who are the brainiacs taking on this brand new challenge?

From Spungold ProductionsQUIZMASTERPictured: (l-r) Who Wants to be a Millionaire Winners David Edwards, John Robinson and Pat Gibson

There are fifteen contestants taking on the Quizmaster challenge this Christmas 2019. And they all have a reputation for being some of the toughest quizzers to beat.

Heres the full cast list of the Quizmaster 2019 contestants:

From Spungold ProductionsQUIZMASTERPictured: (l-r) University Challengers Freddy Leo, Bobby Seagull and Eric Monkman

There are five groups of quizzers, with three contestants in each group. They all come from a different quiz show, although some have appeared on a variety.

The first group is comprised of Fifteen to One finalists. They are Gareth, Olav and Ailsa (who was the grand champion back in 2015).

Next we have previous winners of The Chase: Terry, Susan and Diane.

There are the famous University Challenge contestants Eric and Bobby who have had their own spin-off show on the BBC. They are joined by Freddy Leo for Quizmaster.

Then we have the winners of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? which includes infamous Egghead Pat Gibson. Pat is joined by David and John on Quizmaster.

Completing the line-up are the winners of Mastermind: Isabelle, Kevin (also an Egghead) and Shaun.

From Spungold ProductionsQUIZMASTERPictured: Quizmaster Studio

The Christmas special episode of Quizmaster will air on Sunday, December 29th at 6 pm on ITV.

After broadcast it will then be available to catch up with on the ITV Hub.

Hopefully if all is a success, they might make Quizmaster a permanent feature of ITVs quiz show line-up, rather than just a one-off special.



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Quizmaster 2019: Meet the cast of famous brainiacs Eric Monkman, Pat Gibson, Kevin Ashman! - Reality Titbit - Celebrity TV News

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