Saturday, August 18, 2012

Brain Training Increases Dopamine Release
PRESS RELEASE, 5 August 2011 and as published in Journal of Science
Posted by A.N.Loganathan
In a new study in Science, researchers from Karolinska Institutet, Umeå University, Åbo Akademi University, and the University of Turku show for the first time that working-memory training is associated with an increased release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in specific brain regions.
"Working-memory training resulted in increased dopamine release in the caudate, a region located below the neocortex, in which the dopaminergic influx is particularly large", says Lars Bäckman, Professor at Karolinska Institutet, and one of the scientists behind the study. "This observation demonstrates the importance of dopamine for improving working-memory performance."
In the study, 10 young Finnish men were trained in updating working memory for five weeks by means of a letter-memory task. The participants were presented with 7 to 15 letters during 45 minutes three times per week on a screen that was turned off after presentation. The task was to remember the last four letters in the sequence in correct order.

Compared to a control group that did not receive any training, the trained group showed a gradual improvement of working-memory performance. Results from a PET scan demonstrated an increased release of dopamine in the caudate after training. In addition, dopamine release was seen during the letter-memory task also before training; this release increased markedly after training.
Further, improvements after training were demonstrated in an untrained task that also requires updating.
"These findings suggest that the training improved working memory generally", says Professor Lars Nyberg at Umeå University.

 Benefit for Working- memory
 “Working memory is the cognitive function responsible for keeping information online, manipulating it, and using it in your thinking. It is the way that you delegate the things you encounter to the parts of our brain that can take action. In this way, working memory is necessary for Leaning, staying focused on a task, blocking out distractions, and keeping you updated and aware about what’s going on around you.” Cognition Medical

Training Module in Brain-Tutor 2012 that Enhance Working memory.



Monday, June 4, 2012

Mozart may improve learning and memory.

 by Emily Singer, San Francisco

Posted By A.N.Loganathan

New research has revealed a molecular basis for the "Mozart effect" - the observation that a brief stint of Mozart, but not other music, may improve learning and memory.
Rats that heard a Mozart sonata expressed higher levels of several genes involved in stimulating and changing the connections between brain cells, the study showed. The team, including the researcher who first proposed the Mozart effect, hope the results will help them design music therapy treatments for people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
The Mozart effect first came to light in a 1993 paper in Nature (vol 365, p 611), when Fran Rauscher, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, US, and colleagues showed that college students who listened to Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major for 10 minutes performed better on a spatial reasoning test than students who listened to new age music or nothing at all.
The findings sparked excitement from the general public - specially designed Mozart CDs leapt up the music charts - and some scepticism from the scientific community.

Rhythmic qualities

Scientists argued over whether the phenomenon had a relatively simple explanation, such as just improving a person's mood, or if the effect was tied to a unique quality of the Mozart's compositions. One study reported that the particular rhythmic qualities of Mozart's music mimic some rhythmic cycles occurring in human brains.
Now Rauscher and her collaborator Hong Hua Li, a geneticist at Stanford University in California, think they have found the molecular basis of the Mozart effect. Their study used rats, which, like humans, perform better on learning and memory tests after listening to the sonata.
The researchers found that these smarter rats had increased gene expression of BDNF, a neural growth factor, CREB, a learning and memory compound, and synapsin I, a synaptic growth protein, in their hippocampus, as compared to control rats who had listened to equivalent amounts of white noise.
"The findings are intriguing," says Howard Gardner, an IQ expert at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and sceptic of the Mozart effect. "It suggests stimulation in general has measurable neurochemical effects. But whether this effect is due to music, let alone Mozart, still has to be determined." Other experiments have shown that enriching a rat's environment with toys can spur growth of new neurons.

Electrical activity

Whether Mozart is in fact a special form of enrichment or not, his presence is already being felt in the clinic.
Patients with Alzheimer's disease perform better on spatial and social tasks after listening to the sonata. And playing Mozart for severely epileptic patients quietens the electrical activity associated with seizures, while other kinds of music do not.
Li hopes to use this latest work to design better music therapy for patients suffering form a variety of neurological disease or brain injuries. She and Rauscher also plan to study if there is a critical period during development for the Mozart effect, and if other types of music have the same properties.
The new research was presented by at the Cognitive Neuroscience Symposium in San Francisco this week.
Brain-Tutor 2012 is incorporated with Classical Music including Music from Mozart.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Berries for Brain Health

by A. Grano on April 6th, 2012

Research has suggested for years that strawberries, blueberries and blackberries may help restore cognitive functioning and prevent age-related memory loss, which has been accelerating in recent years due to factors such as poor diet, pollution, and lifestyle habits.
New research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry supports this theory, as lead researcher Dr. Barbara Shukitt-Hale of the USDA Agricultural Research Service at Tufts University said that berries have neuro-available, neuro-active phytochemicals that offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and direct effects on the brain.”
This boost to brain health comes from the berries’ support of multiple metabolic systems in the body, including maintaining cellular function, as the high levels of antioxidants help protect the brain from harmful oxidative effects of free radicals.
In addition, the researchers found that consumption of certain berries may actually modify neuron communication and brain signals. This in turn negates some of the inflammation that can contribute to neuron damage, thus improving cognitive processes.
While eating berries might not cause an overwhelming improvement in memory and brain functioning nor completely ward off conditions such as dementia, but they are nevertheless a healthy snack and welcome addition to any balanced diet.
For year-round enjoyment and typically lower prices, check your grocer’s frozen food section for berries, which can be added to smoothies or added to oatmeal and cereals.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

‘Overeating may cause memory loss too’

Article from "The Hindu"

Overeating has been linked to a host of health hazards like high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Conditions such as memory loss, dementia and even Alzheimer’s may also be added to the list soon, according to a new study.

Preliminary findings of a study on ageing conducted by the Mayo Clinic indicate that overeating may greatly increase the risk of memory loss for elderly people.

The results found a correlation between caloric intake in the elderly and the onset of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — the stage between normal age-related memory loss and early Alzheimer’s disease.In 2006, the Mayo Clinic chose a random sample of 1,233 people in Minnesota, aged between 70 and 89 years, with none previously diagnosed with dementia.

They asked the participants to fill out a questionnaire describing their diets over the previous year. On the basis of their answers, the researchers grouped the participants into three categories: those whose daily caloric consumption was between 600 and 1,526 calories; between 1,526 and 2,143; and between 2,143 and 6,000.

Each participant then underwent a series of MRI brain scans and cognitive tests. Correlating caloric intake with test performance, the researchers found the odds of having MCI more than doubled for those in the highest calorie-consuming group compared with those in the lowest calorie group.

“With MCI, the person is not demented. But when you test them on certain memory tests they do poorly as compared to their age, education and sex-matched peers,” study author Yonas Geda was quoted as saying by Scientific American.

“We observed that a daily caloric intake in excess of 2,143 was associated with a significant chance of having MCI.

If I am consuming more than 2,143 calories per day, my odds of having MCI is twice that of somebody that consumes 1,526 calories per day,” Geda added.

However, there are several caveats to these findings, said the researchers, who will present their findings at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in New Orleans in April.

For instance, the report did not take into account the types of food and beverages consumed nor did it examine the rate at which food was eaten throughout a day, Geda said.

Geda acknowledged that the research to better understand the link between MCI and eating in the elderly is still preliminary, but he noted that it does create a foundation for more extensive cause-and-effect research they are currently pursuing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Brain Games for Dementia

Much has been written about the potential of "brain games" to prevent or at least delay the onset of dementia. But what about games for people who already have memory loss? Games provide social and mental stimulation that contribute to well-being, so consider some computer games such as below that are fun, exercise the brain and may possibly slow cognitive impairment.

Picture Games

Word Games

For more info please visit

Monday, February 14, 2011

Posted by AN.Loganathan
As published at

Ginseng, Fish, Berries, or Caffeine?
Listen to the buzz about foods and dietary supplements and you'll believe they can do everything from sharpen focus and concentration, to enhance memory, attention span, and brain function.
But do they really work? There's no denying that as we age chronologically, our body ages right along with us. The good news is that you can increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain -- if you add "smart" foods and beverages to your diet.

Caffeine Can Make You More Alert
There's no magic bullet to boost IQ or make you smarter -- but certain substances, like caffeine, can energize and help you focus and concentrate. Found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some medications, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake-up buzz -- though the effects are short term. And more is often less: Overdo it on caffeine and it can make you jittery and uncomfortable.

Sugar Can Enhance Alertness

Sugar is your brain's preferred fuel source -- not table sugar, but glucose, which your body metabolizes from the sugars and carbohydrates you eat. That's why a glass of something sweet to drink can offer a short-term boost to memory, thinking processes, and mental ability.
Consume too much, however, and memory can be impaired -- along with the rest of you. Go easy on the sugar so it can enhance memory, without packing on the pounds.

Eat Breakfast to Fuel Your Brain

Tempted to skip breakfast? Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention. Students who eat breakfast tend to perform significantly better than those who don’t. Foods at the top of researchers' brain fuel list include high-fiber whole grains, dairy, and fruits. Just don't overeat; researchers also found high-calorie breakfasts appear to hinder concentration.

Fish really is Brain Food

A protein source associated with a great brain boost is fish -- rich in omega 3 fatty acids, essential for brain function and development. These healthy fats have amazing brain power: higher dietary omega 3 fatty acids are linked to lower dementia and stroke risks; slower mental decline; and may play a vital role in enhancing memory, especially as we get older.
For brain and heart health, eat two servings of fish weekly.

Add a Daily Dose of Nuts and Chocolate

Nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age. Dark chocolate also has other powerful antioxidant properties. And it contains natural stimulants like caffeine, which can enhance focus and concentration.
Enjoy up to an ounce a day of nuts and dark chocolate to provide all the benefits you need without excess calories, fat, or sugar.

Add Avocados and Whole Grains

 Every organ in the body depends on blood flow, especially the heart and brain. Eating a diet high in whole grains and fruits like avocados can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower bad cholesterol. This reduces your risk of plaque buildup and enhances blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells.
Whole grains, like popcorn and whole wheat, also contribute dietary fiber and vitamin E. Though avocados have fat, it's the good-for-you, monounsaturated fat that contributes to healthy blood flow.

 Blueberries Are Super Nutritious

Research in animals shows that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Studies also show that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements?
Store shelves groan with supplements claiming to boost health. Although many of the reports on the brain-boosting power of supplements like vitamins B, C, E, beta-carotene, and magnesium are promising, a supplement is only useful to people whose diets are lacking in that specific nutrient.
Researchers are cautiously optimistic about ginseng, ginkgo, and vitamin, mineral, and herb combinations and their impact on the brain.

Check with your doctor.

Benefits of a Healthy Diet

 It may sound trite but it's true: If your diet lacks essential nutrients, it can decrease your ability to concentrate. Eating too much or too little can also interfere with your ability to focus. A heavy meal may make you feel lethargic, while too few calories can result in distracting hunger pangs.
Benefit your brain: Strive for a well-balanced diet full of a wide variety of healthy, wholesome foods.

Get Ready for a Big Day

Want to power up your ability to concentrate? Start with a meal of 100% fruit juice, a whole grain bagel with salmon, and a cup of coffee. In addition to eating a well-balanced meal, experts also advise:
  • Get a good night's sleep.
  • Stay hydrated.- Drink plenty of Water
  • Physical Exercise to help sharpen thinking.
  • Mental Exercise to help Neuron connection and brain cell growth
  • Meditate to clear thinking and relax.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Is Cognitive Software?

Posted by A.N. Loganathan
As published at

The word "cognitive" refers to the brain’s ability to think and process information. Cognitive software or popularly known as Brain Training Software is a type of computer program designed to help improve a user's memory and attention skills. This type of software is developed using cognitive psychology as its basis, and aims to help people achieve success in their academic and professional goals.

ColorMatch-A typical example Brain Training Module
Brain X-Trainer 5 Home Edition

The ColorMatch module is one of the ways that the Brain X-Trainer ™ 5 may help to improve mental (attention) vitality and flexibility.  The cognitive mechanism involved in this task is directed attention.  The task will help to develop the ability to manage and direct attention, and foster the ability to inhibit or stop the initial response in the presence of conflicting information.

Cognitive software is largely based around the concepts of cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy, also known as behavioral therapy, is a type of counseling that helps an individual use more positive and effective thinking strategies to overcome mental difficulties, such as anxiety and depression. Many people who have gone through cognitive therapy find more beneficial ways of thinking whenever they find themselves in an unfavorable situation.

People who have problems with cognitive skills have been helped to develop better ways to process information by using cognitive software. Candidates who suffer from a variety of mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and other cognitive impairments may also benefit from using this software. It is also helpful for people who have learning disabilities such as ADHD, who have been known to have problems with their attention span and listening skills.

Cognitive retraining software is also used for people who have had severe head trauma and need assistance with learning many of the basic skills they had prior to sustaining an injury. It helps people with head injuries relearn tasks such as matching, association, memory skills, and others. In addition, this technology is used in workplaces around the world to help people perform better in their jobs. This software helps people find better ways to solve problems, while at the same time sharpens their abilities to process complex information, thus making them more valuable employees.

Memory training is a concept used within cognitive software that enhances a person's intelligence and memory. The reason it is able to accomplish this is because it uses techniques such as rhyming and placement of numbers by using "chunking" to help people learn more easily. For instance, when people are trying to learn a key phrase they will make up a word that rhymes with the words — two is for glue. Chunking is another technique that can be used to remember a long list of numbers, such as a phone number. The number 1234567, for example, could be more easily memorized when it is broken into chunks: 123-45678. 

Cognitive games are another type of cognitive software that can help with information processing and brain training abilities. This software incorporates games that test and improve functions, such as processing speed, verbal fluency, and spatial working memory skills. Each game targets each individual function in the brain and helps the user develop better cognitive abilities.