The Brain Health News That You Can Use

What’s the brain health news for today? Well, the winner of the 2008 USA Memory Championship was recently announced. His name is Chester Santos and he can memorize a deck of cards in three minutes, learn 100 random words and 100 new names and faces in just 15 minutes. How does he do it? That’s his secret. He’s willing to teach you, for a price, of course. He recently quit his software job to teach his memory training techniques full time. According to the Associated Press, the brain fitness software market was worth $225 million in 2007, more than doubling the receipts from 2005.

Due in part to Nintendo’s release of the “Brain-Age game” and now the second version of that game, the industry’s income is expected to grow again and again over the next several years. By 2015, analysts expect to see the industry take in billions of dollars.

Want more of the brain health news for today? While the majority of the games and puzzles target aging baby boomers, teenagers and college students are also getting into brain exercises.

Some teachers are using the techniques to improve their student’s ability to remember facts, dates, names, etc. It is estimated that the K-12 market accounted for $60 million worth of the earnings in 2007.

Will any of these techniques help you, specifically? There’s a bit of a question mark on that. While some techniques work for some people, they don’t necessarily work for everyone.

All that you have to do is read a few software reviews to see that. Some people love the games and teasers. Others are not impressed.

In May of 2008, the brain health news was all about the introduction of Posit Science’s new “cognitive behavioral training”. If you took any psychology classes, that term may bring to mind names like Pavlov and B. F. Skinner, whose techniques were not always pleasant.

But, the term actually encompasses a broad range of behavioral therapies that relieve conditions such as depression, anxiety and even schizophrenia. It is common today to rely on mood altering drugs for those conditions, but when cognitive therapies are combined with drug therapy, the results are always more positive.

Posit Science’s program is rather expensive at $395, but it does combine a kind of personalized program with regular assessments for effectiveness. Instead of a single exercise, the program includes a variety of techniques aimed at improving memory, multi-tasking abilities and mental clarity.

In August of 2008, the brain health news from the Washington Post was a little different. While many of us are exciting about the growing number of available options, some experts warn that consumers may be just as well off to save their money.

The Nintendo game, for example, is very inexpensive and the teasers range from a kind of “rock-paper-scissors” to telling time on an upside down clock. Researchers have shown that video games improve a person’s cognitive function, but only when the volunteers were “non-players”.

Well, that’s it for the brain health news of today. The experts all agree that the best advice is to never stop looking for new challenges.

Current Health News Sources Need to Be Reliable

Having constant access to new information and current health news is an exciting part of modern life. But recently there have been a number of email hoaxes and internet scams that have resulted in a more cautious public when it comes to finding out the latest in health bulletins. Your best bet when searching for medical information online is a website that does not attempt to sell anything and does not require a paid membership to view the contents.

Emails are still the number one source for medical misinformation. A rather disturbing email hoax that made the rounds recently told people that they were getting a virus from boxes mailed from a specific company. The company received endless calls asking about the “virus” and there were a number of people that not only called but asked where their boxes were, stating that they were clients of the company and willing to risk the imaginary virus in order to get the nonexistent box.

Another unreliable source for current health news is any internet site that sells a product that is supposed to cure whatever terrible disease that the same site is stating is an epidemic. First the scam artists discuss in urgent tones a life threatening illness and then they claim that best cure is the medicine or equipment they are selling. Any medical information site that tries to scare you into buying something is not a good source of information.

Some sites actually ask for money before they give you answers. Membership fees, answer fees, or access fees are all names for basically charging you for information that should be publicly available to all. Most medical information is available via search engines but it can be a bit laborious slogging through all the search engine results. It’s great to have one site that you can do a search on for a specific topic or just review current health news, but not if the purpose of the site is to make money off of you. There are several high quality websites that you can access that provide excellent medical information and news without charging you.

Be sure and be cautious when looking for up to date medical news and information. Find a reliable website that does not charge you, and make sure that you take all email notifications with more than a grain of salt.

Children’s Health News You Can Use

The Effects of Violent Television on Kids

As a child, my parents insisted their four kids pick one main television show per week to watch and supplement it with educational TV. So the local PBS station was usually on when I was a wee one. The older we became, we were not allowed to watch anything racy, violent or something which dealt with adult topics. But TV in the 70’s and 80’s was a lot different than it is now. My brother chose shows like “Star Trek” and my sister and I chose shows like “Little House on the Prairie”. These were good shows for kids to watch.

A 2011 study showed that pre-schoolers watched about 4.1 hours of television and other screen activities daily. What they watch is as important as what they eat. In another study just recently published, children who were allowed to watch anything they wanted tended more toward aggressiveness, yelling to get what they wanted and had poor social skills. Parents in the group were given age-appropriate viewing guidelines and reported that the children showed more empathy, were less aggressive and had better socialization skills when watching suitable programs to enjoy. While it may be easy to plunk a child down on the couch and turn the TV on to keep them occupied, it is better to take the time and watch television with them. What an adult thinks is funny content can be completely in- appropriate for a pre-school age child.

Taxes on Sodas May Lesson Child Obesity

Most Americans do not like the idea of government sticking their nose in to our pantries and refrigerators. The state of New York has somehow passed some laws which ban super-sized sodas in the movie theaters and the ones sold on the street. In California, a recent poll showed that the vast majority of respondents were opposed to the same kind of tax. Yet, when it was mentioned that the tax money would go toward health and fitness in the schools more than half supported it. This tells us that we think, as adults, it is okay to be overweight and choose less healthy food and barely get any exercise, but it is not for our children. Additionally, the city of Oakland, California gave bags of fresh fruit and vegetables to 15 families last year and about half of the children in those families lost or maintained weight.

Making Health Food Choices Accessible

The lack of grocery stores and even small community markets in lower income neighborhoods is a part of the problem. Retailers do not want to open in possibly crime prone areas. Some small stores in these places barely carry fresh fruit and or other healthy food and snacks. These businesses are where school age children stop to and from school to get something to eat. In some cities, local non-profits are supplying fresh fruit and incentives for small businesses to give to kids, and seem to be working. These are smart improvements in areas where none might otherwise be done.

They Need to Know as They Grow

There are many programs on TV today which are specifically geared to children which teach them something they need to know as they grow. Kids may find adult comedies funny, and especially the young ones, do not have the cognitive skills needed to understand what they are watching. Put aside time to watch television with little ones and ask them questions about what they are watching to see if they understand it.

Personally, there was never a Twinkie, a bag of Doritos or a six-pack of soda in my parent’s house. An after school snack was an apple or some pretzels. As an adult who moved out on her own after college graduation, I dove into those goodies and quickly gained weight. Thinking back – moderation is a better way to go. An unhealthy snack every now and then would not hurt. But a diet which includes junk food on a regular basis promotes a lifetime of poor health and eventual obesity. A bag of apples costs a little bit less than a bag of cookies.