September 7th, 2010

Table of Contents:

A Neuroscientist on SFA’s Brain Fitness Program (Industry news)

Make Your Day! (View these amusing brain function videos)

Senior Cognitive Health in 2010 (News and views)

Don’t Get Left Behind (Be a leader in the brain fitness movement)

Feed Your Brain (Thought for the day)

A Neuroscientist on SFA’s Brain Fitness Program

by American Senior Fitness Association

The American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) is pleased to offer special back-to-school savings on our Brain Fitness for Older Adults professional education program. Details on this time-limited opportunity are provided below. But first, here are the comments of two recent expert reviewers of the program:

  • Neuroscientist Dr. Ryan McKim: "Cognitive fitness and physical fitness are a natural fit. Drawing on recent neuroscientific research, the SFA has designed a thoughtful and progressive training program for senior fitness professionals interested in integrating cognitive fitness exercises into their existing physical activity programs. This powerful combination has the potential to make a significant impact on the health and well-being of older adults." Dr. McKim continues: "Recent advances in neuroscience are drawing long overdue attention to the importance of cognitive health. The SFA has designed an impressive and well-researched training program for senior fitness professionals."
  • Gerontologist Dr. Kathryn Thomas: "The SFA brain fitness materials gracefully strike the balance between rigorous research and practical, actionable information. The materials synthesize an enormous amount of research in a way that is manageable and enjoyable for the reader. I highly recommend the program to anyone wanting to get up to speed and actively involved in the brain fitness movement."
  • Ryan McKim, PsyD, is a clinical neuropsychologist specializing in the assessment of memory and cognitive rehabilitation. At San Francisco’s VA Medical Center, he is investigating neuroplasticity and developing novel strategies for veterans with traumatic brain injuries. Dr. McKim teaches neuropsychological assessment at the California Institute of Integral Studies and is vice president of research & outcomes at NeoCORTA Proactive Brain Fitness.

    Kathryn Thomas, PhD, is a gerontologist whose research has been published in peer reviewed journals and presented at national conferences. Dr. Thomas is an adjunct professor at Georgia State University’s Gerontology Institute and is director of business development at NeoCORTA.

    Call 888-689-6791 to take advantage of special savings on SFA’s Brain Fitness for Older Adults professional education program during our back-to-school event ending September 17, 2010. SFA office hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm ET weekdays. For ordering information, click on Special Savings. Be sure to sign in to receive your member discounts.

    SFA, winner of the National Council on Aging’s Best Practice Award for professional education programs, can help you expand your older adult health-fitness services. For details about SFA’s Brain Fitness for Older Adults distance learning course — including selected excerpts from the text — click on Become a Cognitive Fitness Facilitator.


    Make Your Day!

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    Please enjoy your LOL moment of the day — while also being entertained and informed by these three short video clips. Each is only a few minutes long, sheds light on the remarkable workings of the brain, and is sure to bring a smile.

    The first is a World Science Festival presentation called "Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale." Simply by hopping about on stage, McFerrin leads a large unrehearsed audience to sing tunes together quite beautifully. He relies on their long-time familiarity with — that is, learning of — their culture’s predominant pentatonic scale (one that includes five notes an octave). It is believed they can so easily follow McFerrin’s unvoiced cues because their brains have learned to anticipate that particular musical pattern. To view, click on All Together Now.

    On another musical note, meet Snowball the dancing cockatoo! If you’ve already seen him on YouTube, look again with this new insight in mind: At first, neuroscientists thought that surely Snowball must only be trained to boogie. But when he aced controlled testing that kept the tempo changing, they found that he was really listening and following the rhythm. This undermines an earlier view that only human beings possess the neural connections needed to dance in sync with music. For a fun overview of this subject regarding the animal kingdom at large, click on Creatures Great and Small. Get down with Snowball’s full dance routine to a Backstreet Boys hit by clicking Do It, Snowball!


    Senior Cognitive Health in 2010

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    SFA president Janie Clark, MA, was interviewed earlier this year by Sandra Dias for her article Cognitive Fitness which appeared in Health Center Today, a publication of the University of Connecticut Health Center. Discussing two of many variables that can affect mental fitness, Clark said, "There is a connection between stress and depression and the state of one’s cognitive health. We teach the instructors and trainers how to integrate stress management and relaxation techniques into their classes." SFA helps health-fitness professionals guide their clients through a lifestyle approach to improving cognitive fitness. On a personal note, Clark added, "My own mom has dementia and we want to do what we can to prevent ourselves and our kids from going through that."

    Others interviewed for the article included George Kuchel, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and director of the UConn Center on Aging. One of the greatest boosters of cognitive reserve, he said, is lifetime education. As Dr. Kuchel explained and Dias reported: "Intellectual stimulation throughout life is now believed to build brain cells and improve connections between them. It appears that education acts as a buffer against cognitive declines associated with aging, as well as pathological changes." He said it is never too late to challenge the brain and that, in fact, it is critical.

    In other news, while most Experience! readers are aware of the recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) expert panel report on preventing Alzheimer’s disease, broad access to thoughtful analysis of the project has been lacking. The independent NIH review did not find that specific interventions are proven to forestall the disease and, subsequently, some oversimplified interpretations of the endeavor have emerged in the media. Countering that course, we recommend examining useful commentary on the topic by Alvaro Fernandez of SharpBrains. Writing for the American Society on Aging (ASA), he cautions against drawing simplistic conclusions. For example, he asks and answers: "… does this mean that all recent news on the brain benefits of aerobic exercise are somehow unscientific? No, it doesn’t mean that." Elaborating, Fernandez notes that "… perhaps the most important take-away [is that] preventing Alzheimers … is a different outcome from improving cognitive fitness which, I would argue, is what most people care about …" To read this nuanced treatment of the matter in its entirety, click on ASA Article 1 and ASA Article 2. These links will open as PDFs.


    Don’t Get Left Behind

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    Don’t miss out on this economical opportunity to further professionalize your senior fitness skills and services. Call 888-689-6791 to take advantage of special savings on SFA’s Brain Fitness for Older Adults professional education program during our back-to-school event ending September 17, 2010. SFA office hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm ET weekdays. To order on-line click on Special Savings. Be sure to sign in to receive your member discounts.

    Here’s what recent graduates of the course are saying about SFA’s Brain Fitness for Older Adults professional education program:

  • "Lots of new information about keeping old brains young." -David, Georgia
  • "It was very thorough, clear and easy to follow the course outline. All aspects and materials included in the course were pertinent ‘knowledge-wise’ and of value ‘practice-wise’ … I REALLY enjoyed and appreciated what I learned (very positive and uplifting)." -Marie, Canada
  • "I liked how in-depth the information was … very specific, maybe too advanced for some." -Jeff, Connecticut
  • "Many thanks for a wonderful course. The valuable information was clear, straightforward and in language I could understand — precise without being lofty. I currently teach yoga and tai chi, mainly to seniors. This course will enhance my own life and those of my students greatly. Thank you so much!" -Dixie, Georgia
  • "This course has brought a great deal of excitement to our program. Thanks!" -Mark, Texas
  • "This course started my interest in neuroplasticity, neurogenesis, and social intelligence plus play! I now have a library …" -Patricia, Florida
  • "The fact that I can implement cognitive and physical activities at once — this awareness is a lot more than I could ask for. Thanks." -Sandra, California
  • "Very enlightening and helpful to learn more about how the brain functions and what we can do to improve our cognitive fitness … Very glad I did this course. Thank you." -Diane, United Kingdom
  • "What I liked most was the review of brain anatomy and the multitude of suggested ideas for incorporating cognitive fitness." -Jeanne, Kansas
  • "I found it very informative. I liked the suggestions for incorporating brain fitness into exercise routines. Some of the content is very scientific …" -Debra, Florida
  • "Excellent, current information, easy to follow directions, excellent DVDs, great stress management strategies …" -Hanne, Canada
  • "I like the suggestions for activities and the explanations about the various functions of the brain." -Mary, Pennsylvania
  • "Easy to follow." -Sonia, Virginia
  • "I liked the clear way of explaining everything." -Erika, Florida
  • "I enjoyed the knowledge on how the brain works and how to improve — or that we have the ability to improve …" -Monique, California
  • "I like the combination of theoretical basics of the functioning of the brain as well as the wealth of practical applications to keep the brain fit …" -Dawn, Canada
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    Feed Your Brain

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    The French physiologist Pierre Cabanis, who lived from 1757 to 1808, was a man ahead of his times. Consider his words, quoted below, in terms of their application to the values of mental stimulation and continuing education:

    "Impressions arriving at the brain make it enter into activity, just as food falling into the stomach excites it to more abundant secretion of gastric juice."

    – Pierre Jean George Cabanis, translated from French