Do Electronic Devices Affect Sleep?

Does reading from an electronic tablet before bedtime affect sleep? We’ve known for some time that artificial lighting can alter the body’s natural 24-hour circadian rhythm. But now, our lives seem saturated with electronic devices that emit short-wavelength-enriched blue light as opposed to broad-spectrum white lights. And often, we’re reading from those gadgets at night just before trying to fall asleep. A recent survey of more than 1,500 adults suggested that 90% of Americans use some type of electronics at least several nights a week within an hour of bedtime. So researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston…

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Rewiring the Brain for Willpower

The burger or the salad? The treadmill or the sofa? Spend or save? Throughout the course of a single day, choices like these test our willpower repeatedly . . . and sometimes the choices we make can leave us feeling like a failure. If you’ve ever made a vow to practice better self-control, you know how much of a challenge it can be. But change is possible. According to Kelly McGonigal, PhD, willpower is trainable. She’ll show you how to get started by breaking apart the idea of willpower so you can see the skill sets you need in order…

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Strengthening Resilience in the Brain

What interventions could rewire the brain in mature adults, particularly those who grew up in less than ideal circumstances? Are there ways to help restore or strengthen resilience? One of my favorite neuroscientists is Dr. Bruce McEwen. He serves as Head of Neuroendocrinology Research at Rockefeller University in New York, and I find his work fascinating. Dr. McEwen recently published a paper that provides an overview of some of the most recent developments to date in brain science. He was especially interested in the impact of childhood stress on brain development and the interventions that worked best with mature adults….

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The Overthinking Brain: A New Way to Look at Learning

Ever wondered what exactly is going on in the brain when you’re learning to do something? We’ve known for some time that learning something new can strengthen the brain in adults. And, the brains of young children seem to absorb new learning like a sponge. Why is that? Well, researchers have recently revealed an interesting twist on what we thought we knew about how people learn. Scott Grafton, MD and a team of researchers at UCSB’s Brain Imaging Center wanted to see exactly which parts of the brain were impacted most by new learning. Researchers took healthy participants and had…

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Why Optimism Is Good for Your Brain

Focusing on positive experiences is a reflex for some, but it’s a skill that all of us would be wise to adopt. Because not only can it be just plain enjoyable to mentally relive good experiences, it can actually rewire the brain. New findings keep showing us that everything we do affects our brain. But that is in both positive and negative ways. So wherever we focus our attention, we’re making lasting change, for better or worse. But Rick Hanson, PhD has a way that we can positively influence changes in the brain – and it can even extend our…

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Fireworks in the Brain

We’ve been talking lately about research, exercises, and techniques anyone can use to boost overall brain health. But did you know, there’s one activity that has been demonstrated to enhance function in multiple areas of the brain. And when I tell you what it is, you’ll probably regret not practicing the piano (or clarinet) the way your parents told you to. Or, maybe you’ll pat yourself on the back for sticking with it. According to Anita Collins, PhD, Assistant Professor of Music and Arts Education at the University of Canberra, Australia, listening to music causes multiple areas of your brain…

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