How Exercise Improves Your Brain

Scientists know that exercise is healthy for our hearts and lungs: what about our brains? If exercise improves brain function, then it also is likely beneficial for mood, cognition, and overall mental performance. Within the Cognitive Labs universe, look at Dr. Ashford, a leading Alzheimer's researcher - he runs for at least one hour every day and is in top shape.

Research studies have shown that moderately intense physical activity, and especially aerobic exercise like brisk walking and running, can lead to improvements in cognitive functions like attention, reasoning, and decision making. Experiments have compared groups of people who exercised regularly with others who did not. The improvements in brain function were most dramatic in older adults, but all ages appeared to benefit from increased physical exercise.

One recent analysis looked at the combined results of 18 different studies of the possible cognitive effects of fitness training in older adults. Although the results showed gains in all types of cognitive activity among the fitness-training groups, the greatest advances were found in the exercisers' executive functioning, which controls higher-level decision making skills like planning, scheduling, multi-tasking, and dealing with ambiguity.

We need executive functioning to be able to select appropriate social behaviors and inhibit inappropriate actions. Other types of cognitive activity include reaction time, the ability to remember or interpret visual information, and lower-level decision-making.

Surveys also show that people who are physically active throughout their lives are less likely to experience cognitive decline later in life. And those who exercise regularly are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.

Some clues may explain how physical activity can help the cognitive functioning of our brains. It has been shown, for example, that fitness training can improve blood flow in the brain and increase the number of capillaries carrying the blood.

Exercise also increases levels of neurochemicals that stimulate the interconnections among neurons. And exercise may increase the size of some areas of the brain or, at least, slow their rate of decrease as we age. Many of these changes are most prominent in the brain's frontal cortex, the area most important for executive functioning.

So remember, even modest increases in physical activity can be beneficial for your brain and for the important things that organ does for you. How much exercise is enough?

That depends on your age and health, but vigorous walking for 20 to 30 minutes a few days a week is a good start.

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Your Brain Lies to You

By Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt - International Herald Tribune

Earth centric system of Ptolemy

False beliefs are everywhere. Eighteen percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth, one poll has found. Thus it seems slightly less egregious that, according to another poll, 10 percent of us think that Senator Barack Obama, a Christian, is instead a Muslim. The Obama campaign has created a Web site to dispel misinformation. But this effort may be more difficult than it seems, thanks to the quirky way in which our brains store memories - and mislead us along the way.

The brain does not simply gather and stockpile information as a computer's hard drive does. Facts are stored first in the hippocampus, a structure deep in the brain about the size and shape of a fat man's curled pinkie finger. But the information does not rest there. Every time we recall it, our brain writes it down again, and during this re-storage, it is also reprocessed. In time, the fact is gradually transferred to the cerebral cortex and is separated from the context in which it was originally learned. For example, you know that the capital of California is Sacramento, but you probably don't remember how you learned it.

This phenomenon, known as source amnesia, can also lead people to forget whether a statement is true. Even when a lie is presented with a disclaimer, people often later remember it as true.

With time, this misremembering gets worse. A false statement from a noncredible source that is at first not believed can gain credibility during the months it takes to reprocess memories from short-term hippocampal storage to longer-term cortical storage. As the source is forgotten, the message and its implications gain strength. This could explain why, during the 2004 presidential campaign, it took weeks for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against Senator John Kerry to have an effect on his standing in the polls.

Even if they do not understand the neuroscience behind source amnesia, campaign strategists can exploit it to spread misinformation.
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They know that if their message is initially memorable, its impression will persist long after it is debunked. In repeating a falsehood, someone may back it up with an opening line like "I think I read somewhere" or even with a reference to a specific source.

In one study, a group of Stanford students was exposed repeatedly to an unsubstantiated claim taken from a Web site that Coca-Cola is an effective paint thinner. Students who read the statement five times were nearly one-third more likely than those who read it only twice to attribute it to Consumer Reports (rather than The National Enquirer, their other choice), giving it a gloss of credibility.

Adding to this innate tendency to mold information we recall is the way our brains fit facts into established mental frameworks. We tend to remember news that accords with our worldview, and discount statements that contradict it.

In another Stanford study, 48 students, half of whom said they favored capital punishment and half of whom said they opposed it, were presented with two pieces of evidence, one supporting and one contradicting the claim that capital punishment deters crime. Both groups were more convinced by the evidence that supported their initial position.

Psychologists have suggested that legends propagate by striking an emotional chord. In the same way, ideas can spread by emotional selection, rather than by their factual merits, encouraging the persistence of falsehoods about Coke - or about a presidential candidate.

Journalists and campaign workers may think they are acting to counter misinformation by pointing out that it is not true. But by repeating a false rumor, they may inadvertently make it stronger. In its concerted effort to "stop the smears," the Obama campaign may want to keep this in mind. Rather than emphasize that Obama is not a Muslim, for instance, it may be more effective to stress that he embraced Christianity as a young man.

Consumers of news, for their part, are prone to selectively accept and remember statements that reinforce beliefs they already hold. In a replication of the study of students' impressions of evidence about the death penalty, researchers found that even when subjects were given a specific instruction to be objective, they were still inclined to reject evidence that disagreed with their beliefs.

In the same study, however, when subjects were asked to imagine their reaction if the evidence had pointed to the opposite conclusion, they were more open-minded to information that contradicted their beliefs. Apparently, it pays for consumers of controversial news to take a moment and consider that the opposite interpretation may be true.

In 1919, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes of the Supreme Court wrote that "the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market." Holmes erroneously assumed that ideas are more likely to spread if they are honest. Our brains do not naturally obey this admirable dictum, but by better understanding the mechanisms of memory perhaps we can move closer to Holmes' ideal.

Sam Wang, an associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton, and Sandra Aamodt, a former editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience, are the authors of "Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life."


The Scent of Coffee Can Alter Gene Expressions in the Brain

The rich latte, double decaf with a twist, americano, or hand-picked, massaged, rinsed, organic, towel-dried super-premium ecophreak blend may alter the activity of some genes in the brain, reducing the effects of sleep deprivation, even if you don't imbibe the liquid.

As LiveScience reports, coffee has been a part of the human diet for more than 1,000 years, and is now the most widely consumed beverage worldwide.

Scientists have conducted numerous studies that investigate both the beneficial and adverse effects that coffee can have on health, from the antioxidants it possesses to the possible detriments of too much caffeine. Much of coffee's lift has been attributed to its caffeine content.

Dr. Han-Seok Seo and colleagues at Seoul National University allowed lab rats, some of which were stressed by sleep deprivation, to inhale the aroma of coffee. The researchers then compared the expression of certain genes and proteins in the rats' brains. Some of the genes expressed in the coffee-sniffing, stressed rats expressed proteins that have healthful antioxidant properties known to protect nerve cells from stress-related damage. Their stressed out counterparts who weren't allowed to smell coffee didn't show these gene expressions.

More from LiveScience

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Floods Halt Production of Captain Crunch Cereal

For the first time since 1963, the production of Captain Crunch cereal was suspended due to flooding of the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, IA, the location of the Quaker Oats plant that produces the cereal.

Here's more on the history of Captain Crunch. Even though it might be part of a balanced breakfast and vitamin fortified, whole grains would be better for the brain.

Quaker Cap'n Crunch® (Red Box) was introduced in 1963 and has become one of the most successful pre-sweet ready-to-eat cereals ever launched. Kids, ages 6 - 12, immediately took to the whimsical cartoon character, Cap'n Crunch and his cereal that stays crunchy in milk. Jay Ward created Cap'n Crunch. Mr. Ward is also known for his other creations such as Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, and George of the Jungle. Crunch Berries, introduced in 1967, and Peanut Butter Crunch, introduced in 1969, are two very successful flavors designed to broaden the Cap'n Crunch user base and strengthen market share. Cap'n Crunch cereals are produced in primarily in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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No Amyloid, Shorter Life

Naturally, the implication of the preceding story is that enzyme therapy might be only a half measure, since it shortens lifespan in laboratory research, until the cause of this accelerated aging, a kind of methusaleh syndrome, is isolated...

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Controlling Enzyme Production in Brain may Slow Brain Aging

Research in fruit flies has shown that increasing the production of a substance called neprilysin can reduce the formation of plaques and delay neuron death associated with Alzheimer's. However, a side effect is a shorter lifespan.

Scientists believe that the buildup of amyloid protein plaques within the brain is a major signpost of Alzheimer's and contributes to disease progression. In normally functioning brains, enzymes are expected to clear the plaques. However, deficiencies in the level or function of these enzymes may be a principal disease cause.

One such enzyme, called neprilysin (NEP) decreases naturally with age and this might be a cause for age-related memory decline and Alzheimer's. Enhancing NEP production might therefore be a promising therapy, and studies in mice have suggested it has potential.

Following this hypothesis, research groups led by Drs. Iijima and Iijima-Ando in Japan attempted to test it, using transgenic fruit flies expressing human NEP and amlyoid-beta protein. NEP expression successfully did reduce plaque deposits and neuron damage in the flies, but NEP also reduced the activity of important neural proteins known as CREB proteins and shortened the average lifespan of the flies (normal flies live about 60 days) by about 10 days (although NEP-flies did live longer than those only expressing amyloid protein), or about 20%.

This study sheds light on a characteristic of normal brain aging that can be possibly delayed or reversed through enzyme-related therapy,

Source: "Overexpression of Neprilysin Reduces Alzheimer's Amyloid-β 42 (Aβ42)-Induced Neuron Loss and Intraneuronal Aβ42 Deposits, but Causes a Reduction in CREB-Mediated Transcription, Age-Dependent Axon Pathology and Premature Death in DROSOPHILA."

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Marketing Wizard Pete Sealey Joins Cognitive Labs advisory board

(Atherton, CA) June 26, 2008. Peter Sealey, an expert in brand-marketing, has joined the Cognitive Labs board of advisors. Cognitive Labs is the fastest growing provider of science-based cognitive games.

Pete invented the concept of simplicity marketing, back to basics, and brand minimalism which today resonates with the digerati, whilst lampooning Hollywood's fear and trepidation of digital media's potential in Not On My Watch, and taught a famed course in digital marketing at the Haas School of Business...

"I'm delighted that Pete has decided to add his brand-building gusto and marketing vision to the Cognitive Labs project," said President Michael Addicott, "his is truly a superior genetic configuration for the deep understanding of these challenging and exciting times in which we live."

Here is his C.V.:

Dr. Peter Sealey is chairman and CEO of Sausalito Group, a brand consulting firm and one of the world's top marketing experts and business authors. Sealey was co-director of the Center of Marketing and Technology at the Haas School of Business, U.C. Berkeley from 1996 to 2006, has been a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and currently teaches entertainment marketing at the Drucker/Ito Center Graduate School of Management at Claremont University in Southern California. He consults to numerous top global corporations and Silicon Valley start-ups such as VeriSign, General Motors, Coke, Sony, Anheuser-Busch, Visa U.S.A., UPS, ImproveNet, Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett-Packard, The Eastman Kodak Company, Nokia and A.T. Kearney, Inc. He currently serves, or has served,on the Boards of Directors of cFares, Inc.,4Info, IMMI, inc., Reply!, StrongMail, Round Table Pizza, L90, Inc., MediaPlex, Inc., T/R Systems, United Parcel Service Capital, Learning Framework and Kinzan.com. He serves, or has served, on the Boards of Advisors of Intent MediaWorks, Facebook, Cognitive Labs, Rearden Commerce, Veoh Networks, Log Savvy, Inc., DiStreams, Inc., HomeGain.com, Space.com, AgentWare, Learning Framework, NetOyster, Zinio & eVoice.com.

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Loved to Death: MOAI of Easter Island Threatened

A spasm of eco-tourism is threatening the sustainability of the MOAI statues that occupy the heights on Easter Island.

When sea captains first visited the island - they were shocked by the giant visages and also by the lack of arboral flora - just grass and low bushes.

Celebrity geographer Jared Diamond profiled the island in his book Collapse, as a case study of how cultures can devolve and eventually consume all of the resources around them without realizing it, leading to depopulation in a pointed lesson for modern civilization.

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Should Your DNA Remain Hidden?

This is a question that is germane in California. It doesn't impact us because we're not in the test-tube DNA assessment business. But one is reminded of the practices of a high priesthood, such as the devotees of Amun in Egypt who chanted up the essential unknowability of Amun who was nicknamed "he-who-is-hidden" or ironically, the "double-concealed"

From the Hymn to Amun in the Leiden papyrus:

"One who is Amun,
who keeps Himself concealed from them,
who hides Himself from the gods,
no one knowing His nature.
He is more remote than the sky,
He is deeper than the netherworld.

None of the gods knows His true form.
His image is not unfolded in the papyrus rolls.
Nothing certain is testified about Him.

He is too secretive
for His Majesty to be revealed,
He is too great to be enquired after,
too powerful to be known."

The essential mystery of Amun was a strong incentive to support the priests as intermediaries in this cosmic dialog between man and the unknown. Thomas Goetz, in Wired, inquires about the deeper meaning in this modern era where knowledge is being unbundled at an exponential pace. In fact, incredible breakthroughs are happening every day in our ability to access and share what's important and are still under the radar. But, as a question of public policy, shouldn't we be in charge of our own information?

Over the weekend, one of the top stories was "ADHD may have a genetic link." Scientists have discovered (in fact have known for awhile) that certain hunter-gatherers have a higher preponderance of short attention spans related to their genetic configuration...and that this was a positive for the last 99.9% of the human experience because it made these individuals more creative and successful at accessing resources, rather than being satisfied and sedentary, with health and aging implications as well.

Taking it a step further, a creative, but impulsive student might say to the teacher..."Sorry I didn't work on the journal project every day, it was just too long. My genes say I'm a hunter gatherer, and I'm programmed to zip from topic to topic like a sprinter. Here's my genetic report, sorry." Here's a case of genes impacting our environment.

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New Clue on Alzheimer's-Related Tau Proteins

WASHINGTON (AP) — Researchers have uncovered a new clue to the cause of Alzheimer's disease. The brains of people with the memory-robbing form of dementia are cluttered with a plaque made up of beta-amyloid, a sticky protein. But there long has been a question whether this is a cause of the disease or a side effect. Also involved are tangles of a protein called tau; some scientists suspect this is the cause.

Now, researchers have caused Alzheimer's symptoms in rats by injecting them with one particular form of beta-amyloid. Injections with other forms of beta-amyloid did not cause illness, which may explain why some people have beta-amyloid plaque in their brains but do not show disease symptoms.

Full story on Google News

On Nature Medicine

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Powerful Women: Irene, Emperor of the Roman empire

In the U.S., we hear of Betsy Ross mending the stars and stripes, Molly Pitcher helping the wounded in the Revolution; Clara Barton helping the Civil War wounded, then founding the American Red Cross. Legions of women represented by Rosie the Riveter built planes, tanks, ships, and airplanes in World War II. Women serve in the Congress and Senate, but so far a woman has not been president, and it will be at least another 4 years until a woman is potentially elected.

Back in 797, Irene became Emperor of the Roman Empire. Not "empress" like Victoria, but "emperor" using the masculine form of the word in Greek, basileus. The pope in Rome, and the most powerful king in Western Europe, Charlemagne or Carolus Magnus, then established the Holy Roman empire when Charlemagne was crowned on Christmas Day in the year 800, reviving the tradition of having a Roman emperor based in Europe that had ended in 476 A.D. In the interim, the kings and chieftains of Europe had always valued the legal writ that enabled them to claim that they were representatives of the emperor in far-off Constantinople, ruling in his absence, sometimes receiving presents of gold and sending off their youths to serve in the imperial guard, though any practical suzerainty was a fiction in this, the era of Beowulf.

Irene proved to be a talented politician and negotiator, almost re-assembling the old Roman empire through a family alliance, while serving as absolute ruler.

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Cost of Alzheimer's

Here's some tips on dealing with the cost of Alzheimer's from the Wall Street Journal Online. In the earliest stages people can manage their own affairs.

However, from medication to changes in lifestyle and services, expenses quickly add up. Creating a budget, assigning individuals to manage expenses, and implementing the plan help to remove the uncertainty.

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Web 1.0 Memories - Zap.com

In the "where are they now?" category, we've decided to profile, from time to time, some of the most interesting stories of web 1.0, since by now, the events have faded in our minds like the memory of swinging on a tire on a long past summer day.

In this case, let's go back to 1998.

Internet portal Excite!, one of the original search powerhouses, received an unsolicited purchase offer by Fax for $1.68 billion from Zap.com, a new Internet portal in the making founded by Zapata, a company which derived 40% of its revenues from selling fish protein, but originally was in the oil business.

The entrepreneurs behind Zap.com were Malcolm and Avram Glazer, owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While the purchase offer was rejected as folly, the Glazers motored on despite the ridicule from tech scribes to future successes such as buying the world's favorite football club, Manchester United in 2005.

The club has 300 million fans, 5% of the world's population, and is presently valued at 1.3 billion euros, a 10% annual return over the purchase price.

Meanwhile, Excite! didn't right itself as an independent entity, changing hands several times and ending up in the hands of Interactive Corp. Of that era, only Yahoo! survives.

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Dry Heat to Wet Heat

After a (almost) triple digit yesterday, this part of California is suddenly very humid, with a temp. of about 93 F along with a few moist looking clouds, not those dry, high pressure cirrus clouds.

In other words, your average mild summmer day in Atlanta.



Future of Telephony

Note: This post is of a commercial nature. However, no laboratory animals were harmed or bothered in any way during its writing and posting.

This is your brain. This is your brain on mobility

The Future of Telecommunications might be considered as two simple foci in the Brain.

That's the plural of focus.

At one focal point, style and aesthetics predominate.

At the other, simple functionality.

Filet Mignon vs. In-n-out
The Robb Report vs. Real Simple

If you want a simple, workable, phone that doesn't charge you for just breathing (Yeah, that's right, every time you breathe it costs almost a cent) then get a pay as you go phone.

Here's one to snag at Radio Shack. While you're there, get a spare S-connector.

Better yet, you can beam money to your friends, Scotty style. And breathe all the air you want, for free.

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Just in Time Philosophy Could Be a Casualty of Fuel Costs

For the first time in two decades or more, supply chains are threatened by the explosive cost of fuel. About a decade ago, the just-in-time movement flowered, meaning that organizations strove to reduce inventories by having product delivered exactly as needed. The justification was that (a) corporate real estate and plant investment would be reduced (b) product would be fresher and (c) stock-outs in the economy would be reduced through the application of intelligent systems and complete visibility, meaning demand was visualized, actual inventory was visualized, and both inbound and outbound materials were bar-coded and scanned creating a data stream enabling the complete visibility point.

However, the need for immediate gratification on the part of every leg of the supply chain tripod (accelerated by CRM solutions and the Internet) created the consumption market for the use of time-definite services. Not only did you have the FedEx initiated overnight service, but AM/PM selectivity, one day, two day, three day, guaranteed ground, a portfolio of international services, as well as trucking and forwarding. The major supply chain providers vertically integrated into every area of transportation through acquisitions.

These services have been growing unimpeded ever since the first gasoline crisis in the 1970s when these trends were first observed and the move towards high consumption became a fixture of Western life.

However, rampant excessive fuel costs doesn't fit into the product cost of suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers. They can't pass off the entire cost since their competitors won't. As a result, there will be a contraction in the demand for higher cost services and a move towards lower cost, slower methods. The result, macroeconomically, might be a deceleration in consumption and slackening of demand, which in the case of UPS and FedEx can be calculated as a percentage of overall GDP.

While alternative power sources is something the supply chain industry has been working on to fit with the overall greening of business, radically different modes of transport might be called for, which will create new opportunities.

The overall business model, consolidation of many small shipments with coordinated line-haul operations, sorting, air and ground movements, and local hub-based delivery was worked out in the 1920s into a fundamental scalable operating model. The management philosophy it turned on borrowed from Frederick Winslow Taylor, the creator of scientific management and time and motion studies.

Since the 1950's, the overall model has been getting more efficient while the operations it underlies have grown to a massive size, linked by a neural net of information technology. this development is largely responsible for your ability to get whatever you want, whenever you want it, at any store, anywhere.

It may be that as an economy we have reached an efficiency frontier bounded by the cost of one of the inputs - fuel, which necessitates a re-thinking of the this synchronous model, which has functioned like a clock with infinite parts, 24x7.

If so, both demand and available supply of services will need to adapt to keep functioning in an altered economic landscape. In the case of extreme fuel shortages, complete substitutes might have to be developed, such as a solar or battery-powered vehicles, dirigibles instead of aircraft, using less energy but probably lacking the overall lift capacity of conventional fuel-powered aircraft.

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The Tower of Hanoi

French mathematician Edouard Lucas came up with the Tower of Hanoi. You must move a series of disks from a left pole to a right pole, going one at a time - and each disk must fit on top of a larger disk. With 4 disks, it's fairly easy. With 7 disks, challenging and prone to distraction.

But remember, math operations are always simple in essence, requiring repetition and focus on each component in order to solve correctly.

This exercise also may light up the brain. Reaction time is not important, rather, it's logic and problem solving ability - working a different part of your brain.

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The Tower of Hanoi

The Mathematician Edouard Lucas came up with this little exercise.

The object is to move the disks from the left pole to the right pole in the least number of moves.

There is a minimum number of moves required mathematically to solve each game with a given number of disks n.   This is easy with 3 disks but progressively harder going up to seven disks, and the number of moves required increases logarithmically. At seven disks it's easy to get distracted by the increasing complexity.

But remember, like all math operations that essentially its


Ashoka's Changemakers Games for Health

Cognitive Labs is highlighted by Ashoka's Changemakers' mosaic....along with Dance Dance revolution, Sim City, Second Life, Re-Mission, BrainAge, Darfur is Dying, and other breakthrough games and projects. The common thread is games that promote positive change in people's lives.

From their site:

Games are an ideal way to engage people in activities that promote healthy lifestyles and tackle their health problems head-on. Accessing these activities through games can make them more attractive and effective because games are designed to be fun, easy to access, and give players a sense of control and safety that is sometimes lacking in more traditional health services and products. The field of Games for Health is at a take-off point. We present this mosaic of solutions for Games for Health at this critical time to promote such innovative approaches that improve health.

Consider what’s in a game: A strong interactive computer or video game provides a serious challenge that players must overcome to reach a goal, usually with fun and some learning along the way. At their best, games for health create experiential scenarios that channel what players learn during the game into smarter choices outside the game. Superb graphics and clever storytelling, applied to high-stakes issues such as cancer remission and natural disaster preparedness, make games for health anything but kids’ play. Though games for health are serious, they only work when they’re fun. Sometimes, they surprise you without intending to, like the calorie-burning benefits of playing Nintendo’s Wii or Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution.

Games for health, like the best social enterprises, have tremendous potential for profit and behavior change. Additional research into games for health can only prime and improve the marketplace for the next generation of ideas and products.

This mosaic highlights some important dimensions of games for health, and we hope it inspires new ideas and new research about play that improves health.

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APOEe4 Genetic Marker is an HIV Severity Accelerator

Gladstone Institute at UCSF and University of Texas researchers have found the APOEe4 genetic marker, known as the most significant genetic risk determinant of Alzheimer's Disease and a factor in heart disease and stroke, also may play a role in the severity of HIV in people who have the disease. Results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A seemingly trifling sequence difference of just one amino acid has profound implications for the structure and function of the APoE4 protein. ApoE4 has an extra intra-molecular bond that results in a more compact structure, and it also is more likely to be unstable, linked to its deleterious effects. Although the apoE3 gene is the most prevalent in all human populations, with frequencies of 50%, the genetic variant that leads to production of apoE4 is also widely distributed; its prevalence is 15.% (Some sources estimate at 20% or more of all humans)

Those with two copies of APOEe4, the homogeneous zygote, had a much more rapid progressions of HIV, leading to death, than those with two copies APOEe3.

The APOEe4 protein is smaller and more compact, but more unstable - than the APOEe2 and APOEe3. The reason for the APOEe4 mutation, it is hypothesized, helped people metabolize a lean, scarce diet and avoid starvation and possibly lowered the chance of child mortality. It also may be linked to colder temperatures, or possibly to those groups with the mutation who migrated into northern latitudes - it is more prevalent in Finland as a percentage of the population than anywhere else on earth, and also amongst relatively homogeneous ethnic groups (for example, German Russians) where increased APOEe4 risk has followed such groups even after migrating to North America where it is seen in distinct family histories of Alzheimer's Disease.

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Space Travel Requires You to Change Your Brain

Your brain changes during space travel.

In fact, this change begins at high elevations within earth's atmosphere and continues as you approach the vacuum. This is something the space entrepreneurs and budding hoteliers/inflatable condo marketers need to get a bead on.

Even with artificial pressurization and atmosphere, low and zero gravity appears to cause structures in the brain to morph.

Whether or not perception is altered relativistically in proportion to the level or duration of the exposure to such conditions is unknown. Protocols require astronauts to undergo a Windows-based cognitive battery assessment periodically on the I.S.S. Another threat vector is cosmic rays, which may induce a cancerous reaction in body systems. (See video below)

NASA has known this going back to the Mercury and Apollo missions and before, to the 'right stuff' era of 1950's U.S. test pilots and before that, Luftwaffe aces who flew the jet and rocket powered German concept planes of the 1940's. In the design process for these high-speed, high G vehicles Nazi aeronautical engineers received feedback on imponderable questions such as "How much G-force can an individual undergo before blacking out?" and "What is the response of the human organism to the vacuum" from their counterparts in the SS who had access to a supply of test subjects.

Link: Society for Neuroscience Discussion

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Scans Reveal Similarity in Brain Structure Between Gay Men and Straight Women

Once again, the objective mirror of science casts lights on a controversial topic. In this case, the National Academy of Sciences' latest publication is reporting that gay men and straight women share common attributes in the area of the brain responsible for emotion, anxiety, and mood.

"The observations cannot be easily attributed to perception or behavior," the researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institute wrote. "Whether they may relate to processes laid down during the fetal or postnatal development is an open question."

Brain scans of 90 volunteers showed that the brains of heterosexual men and homosexual women were slightly asymmetric with the right hemisphere slightly larger than the left, Ivanka Savic and Pers Lindstrom wrote. The brains of gay men and heterosexual women were not.

Then they measured blood flow to the amygdala -- the area key for the "fight-or-flight" response -- and found it was wired in a similar fashion in gay men and heterosexual women. Symmetrically, the brains of heterosexual men and those of the inhabitants of the island of Lesbos, e.g., lesbians, also were similar.

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Social Networking Growing Faster than Democracy, Bolshevism, and Fascism

Ancient mythology has it that Narcissus, a vain youth, chanced to look down into a pool and was captivated by his own appearance.

Now, imagine that there, in that clear pool, he had access to all his friends - in fact he could see there images reflecting in their own pools, on to infinity.

That's the phenomenon of social networking.

It takes self-absorption and adds an exponential multiplier. This explains the fast growth of this medium.

Purely by scale, consider this:

The U.S. population at the time of the Gettysburg Address, "Fourscore and seven years ago, etc., our forefathers..." was 29,902,174. It took 87 years to build up from 2.5 million at the close of the Colonial period in 1776.


Space Meteorite Contains Two Chemicals Found in Human RNA and DNA

Scientists have announced that two chemicals isolated on an extraplanetary meteorite fragment from Australia, xanthine and uracil, also are present in human RNA and DNA.

Following the logical thread, one could deduce that the theory of panspermia has found more supporting evidence.

Francis Crick, discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA, advocated a concept known as "directed panspermia," that is a view that an intelligent process or organizing algorithm resembling independent intelligence or sentience was behind the distribution of DNAs factors. What scientists announced today implies that panspermia could be a reagent to the life-forming process itself.

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Japanese Government Moves to Enforce Waistline Limit

Being fat in Japan - defined as a waist size of over 33.5" for men and 35.4" for women will soon subject individuals to censure from the government and participation in an officially mandated re-education program.

The objective is to limit cases of stroke and diabetes as the population ages.

In contrast, the average male waist-size in the U.S. is a corpulent 39".

One solution is to lay off the cheese fries. However, a benefit of fuel price increases could be forcing people to get more exercise in the form of walking. However, U.S. cities and suburbs aren't designed with walking in mind, just the comfort and centrality of the freeway clover.

Being overweight is a noticeable risk factor for Alzheimer's, so it is worthwhile to keep the suggestions of the Japanese in mind. NY Times article

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The Kung Fu Panda Cognitive Labs missing link?

Brain games that don't suck. That's our mantra. The promos for the new film Kung Fu Panda looked to us somehow familiar, then we went back to our endangered animal gym and saw the pics of our two pandas, big and small. Play the online game at the Dreamworks site and you'll see a few inspirational similarities, including the "get ready!" message before you play. That's about it, as the Dreamworks game is a multi-player entertaining game, not a test - but an interesting connection nonetheless. And it's the number one film in America, outpacing Zohan. And we've got the number one brain site (collectively), brain.com

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Dr. Thomas Crook joins the Cognitive Labs advisory board

Thomas Crook, Ph.D., has joined the Cognitive Labs advisory board, in one of two announcements we will be making today. We first got to know Tom during the process of rolling out the BrainSpeed product on behalf of the wellness company Natrol (since acquired by Plethico Holdings of Mumbai). He also is highly recommended by several individuals holding academic posts at Stanford. He might be considered the founder of diagnostic cognitive clinical assessment in the pharmaceutical realm, with an extensive knowledge of neuropsychological instruments. His consulting work also includes institutions such as NASA and the FDA

Here is his background:

Dr. Thomas Crook is a worldwide expert on cognition and diagnostic cognitive instrumentation with 200 credited scientific papers, nine books, and 300 invited lectures. (See the Tom Crook section on Google Scholar) He has over thirty years experience in research related to the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of adult-onset cognitive disorders. His background includes fourteen years at the NIH's NIMH division (National Institute of Mental Health) where he served as Chief of the Institute's Geriatric Psychopharmacology Program. He has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, 20/20, CBS, NBC and CNN Evening News, CNBC Equal Time, and Prime Time Live, as well as Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, Fortune, Esquire, Vogue and many others. Dr. Crook also writes the "Head Coach" column for Rodale's Prevention magazine. Dr. Crook has served as a consultant to most of the world's major pharmaceutical companies and to governmental agencies ranging from NASA (e.g., your brain, on space) to the FDA. He also has been Chairman of Task Forces formed by both the NIMH and the American Psychological Association (APA) to establish guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of adult-onset cognitive disorders. Dr. Crook has also been the Principal Investigator on more than 50 large, multi-center studies related to the effects of drugs on cognition and several hundred smaller studies.

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115 Year Old Mind

An autopsy was recently performed on a deceased 115 year old woman who left her body to science at age 82.

Her brain showed almost no evidence of Alzheimer's disease. The finding suggests Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are not inevitable, as had been suspected.

"Our observations suggest that, in contrast to general belief, the limits of human cognitive function may extend far beyond the range that is currently enjoyed by most individuals," said lead researcher Gert Holstege, a neuroscientist at the University Medical Center Groningen, in The Netherlands.

The results are detailed in the August issue of the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

This finding underscores the need for individuals to take proactive action to manage their cognitive fitness.

Holstege is a leader in imaging and analyzing the orgasmic brain of both men and women.

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ReDesign of Home

Our home page has been updated and brain.com also has been refreshed. We consider design an iterative process - we're never finished, and it's never complete. We're gradually redesigning the whole site

It hasn't stopped growth, which is pushing up to about 2 million page views a month.

Here's the new front page snapshot:

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