Tag Archives: brain research

Brain Train Your Way to Better Performance: The FINGER Study

According to a recent study published in the journal The Lancet (March 2015) brain training, exercise, healthy eating and management of risk factors seems to maintain or improve cognitive function and delay cognitive decline.  The Finnish Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) is the first of its’ kind, ground breaking trial to combat some of the key high risk factors for dementia (eg. Heart health, high BMI).

Method

1260 Finns aged 60-77 were randomly divided equally between the control group who were given general health tips and the intervention group.  The latter had regular meetings with healthcare professionals and were given comprehensive guidance on healthy eating, exercise programs, brain training and managing metabolic and vascular risk factors, for example, with regular blood exams.

Findings

After 2 years, the participants’ cognitive performance was assessed with a standard exam, the Neuropsychological Test Battery (NTB).  The overall scores for the intervention group were higher by 25%.  The remarkable results for certain sections of the exam, processing speed at 150% and executive functioning at 83% were even higher.  Executive function refers to the brain’s capacity to manage, plan and execute thought processes.

“Much previous research has shown that there are links between cognitive decline in older people and factors such as diet, heart health, and fitness. However, our study is the first large randomised controlled trial to show that an intensive program aimed at addressing these risk factors might be able to prevent cognitive decline in elderly people who are at risk of dementia.” Professor Kivipelto, lead Researcher – Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, and University of Eastern Finland

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Journal Reference

Tiia Ngandu, Jenni Lehtisalo, Alina Solomon, Esko Levälahti, Satu Ahtiluoto, Riitta Antikainen, Lars Bäckman, Tuomo Hänninen, Antti Jula, Tiina Laatikainen, Jaana Lindström, Francesca Mangialasche, Teemu Paajanen, Satu Pajala, Markku Peltonen, Rainer Rauramaa, Anna Stigsdotter-Neely, Timo Strandberg, Jaakko Tuomilehto, Hilkka Soininen, Miia Kivipelto. A 2 year multidomain intervention of diet, exercise, cognitive training, and vascular risk monitoring versus control to prevent cognitive decline in at-risk elderly people (FINGER): a randomised controlled trialThe Lancet, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60461-5

Gender & the Brain: Differences between Women & Men

male_vs_female

A study completed recently in December 2013 on nearly 1,000 brain scans has surprisingly confirmed what many of us thought…that there are major differences between the male & female brain.  Women’s and men’s brains are indeed wired in fundamentally different ways.

The research showed that on average, female brains are highly connected across the left and right hemispheres, and connections in male brains are typically stronger between the front and back regions. Men’s brains tend to perform tasks predominantly on the left-side, which is the logical/rational side of the brain. Women, on the other hand, use both sides of their brains because a woman’s brain has a larger Corpus Callosum, which means women can transfer data between the right and left hemispheres faster than men.

ZitsListening

Here is a list of the basic differences between women & men based on research studies of the brain done up to now.  This might be a handy list to show to your other half to avoid future misunderstandings!

  • Brain Size & Brain Connections: Women’s brains are 8% smaller than men’s, but have more interconnections.  Women perform better at “bigger picture” & situational thinking while men do better on more specific spatial thinking (problem solving, and pattern prediction involving objects and their spatial relationships).
  • Multi-tasking: Men tend to be better at learning and performing a single task, like cycling or navigating, and women are better at juggling different tasks at once.
  • Social Context: Women are better at social thinking & interactions than men, while men are more abstract and task-orientated.  This is why women are normally better at communication while men more often prefer relying on themselves to get things done.
  • Emotions: Women typically have a larger limbic system than men, which makes them more in touch and expressive with their emotions.  Women are usually more empathic and comprehensive in thinking, while men focus on exact issues and disregard impertinent information.  Men have a difficult time understanding emotions not explicitly verbalized but can think more logically, while women have a more wholesome view of thinking & understanding but their emotions can sometimes influence decisions.
  • Math Skills: A brain area called the “Inferior-Parietal Lobule (IPL)” is normally larger in men than women.  This area is thought to control mathematical processes, which explains why men typically can perform mathematical tasks better than women.
  • Pain: Women tend to perceive pain more intensely than men.  The Amygdala is the brain area activated when pain is felt. The right Amygdala is activated for men and the left Amygdala is activated for women. The right Amygdala has more connections with external functions while the left Amygdala has more connections with internal functions.
  • Coordination & Movement: Men are generally better with coordination, controlling their movements, and have faster reaction times.
  • Language: Women are more attuned to words and sounds and are normally better at learning languages.  This is also why men tend to have a harder time expressing emotions verbally.
  • Memory: Women generally have better memory than men.  They have greater activity in the brain’s hippocampus, which is part of the brain that helps store memories. Studies have shown women are generally better at recalling words, names, faces, pictures, objects, and everyday events.
  • Sense of Direction: Men has shown to have better visual-spatial & geographic memory and thinking, meaning they tend to have a better sense of direction and remembering where locations and areas are.
  • Risks & Rewards: Men has a brain wired for risk-taking more than women.  Male brains get a bigger burst of endorphins, sensation of pleasure, when faced with a risky or challenging situation.  And the bigger the reward is, the more likely a man will take a risk.
  • Senses & Sex: Men focus more on their visual sense, among other senses of perception; while women tend to use multiple senses. In terms of sexual activity, men are prevalently turned on by what they see, whereas women are turned on by multiple sources: ambience, touch, scent, as well as visual perception.

What did you think about the list?  Tell us in the comments!  Be sure to follow our blog for more lifestyle & health tips and lists.  Also, both our female and male readers can benefit from a stronger & healthier brain by playing Fit Brains brain training games, so check it out!