Dad Was Right: Sugar Rots Your Brain

Does Your Sugar Intake Approach the "Tipping Point?" There's a reason Mental Mojo is sweetened with natural stevia: sugar is linked to Alzheimer's. As a neurochemist-designed, patent-pending brain booster whose actives were originally developed to fight this pernicious disease, we saw the proverbial writing on the wall with sugar years ago, but it wasn't until February of 2017 that the Sugar-Alzheimer's link was made official in a clinical study conducted by the University of Bath. The study…

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Does Intermittent Fasting Make You Smarter?

There is no doubt that intermittent fasting--a practice by which one fasts and feeds at set intervals--has helped many practitioners drop fat, but is it also making these folks smarter? Mark Mattson, the chief scientist at the Laboratory of Neurosciences thinks it might. Mattson’s team studied forty mice. Both groups consumed the same number of calories over the course of the study, but one group took every other day off eating while the other group ate normally.…

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The 20 Most Common Cognitive Biases

In laymen's terms, a cognitive bias is a shortcut taken by your brain that leads to illogical conclusions. Cognitive biases arose in the brains of our ancestors, whose environment placed a premium on quick decisions at the cost of accuracy. Today, these biases can still benefit us in certain contexts (e.g. athletic competitions or life and death situations), but can really hurt us in arenas governed by rationality (e.g., one's career or investment decisions). Luckily, 20% of cognitive biases are responsible…

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Is Your Reality an Illusion?

Since the dawn of humankind, we've believed that we've been immersed in a continuous flow of consciousness. But that was merely an illusion our brains created according to cognitive neuroscientists at the Swiss National Science Foundation.  Their paper, published earlier this month, is titled "Time Slices," and theorizes that consciousness works much like a movie reel--we rapidly perceive myriad discrete images and our brains splice them together to create what we perceive as consciousness. Because visual processing takes only a few milliseconds,…

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Left-Handedness and Genius

Despite stunning scientific advances in genetics, nanotechnology and robotics (to name a few), many neurologic phenomena remain unexplained. Take hand dominance. Scientists have been struggling for centuries to explain why, unlike animal populations whose right vs. left limb dominance always follows a 50/50 distribution, nearly 90% of the human population is right-handed. Although the answer is still blurry, the history of how neuroscientists arrived at it--including a dissection of Einstein's brain--is fascinating. As a preliminary matter, it is…

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Neuroscience Reveals the Best Time to Take a Test

As you may have already surmised, the best time to take a test is in the morning. This revelation is courtesy of researchers at the Danish National Center for Social Research, who published an enlightening study in February of 2016. The study concludes that "for every hour later in the day, test performance decreases by .9%...however, a 20 to 30 minute break improves average test performance by 1.7%..." The researchers reason that this trend is driven by cognitive…

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Is Your Brain Over the Hill by 30?

Cognitive aging is widely misunderstood. It is true that many cognitive capabilities begin to decline in one's twenties, foremost among them fluid intelligence (the ability to solve novel problems). However, new studies are emphasizing that this is only half of the intelligence equation. The other half--crystallized intelligence--continues to improve all the way into one's seventies. And what's more, new theories are being advanced that fluid intelligence, once thought to be static and genetic, can be amplified through focused…

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How Ignoring Stuff Makes You Smarter

We've all accused somebody of selective hearing before, or have been accused of the same. We probably thought at the time that this potential manifestation of selective attention was an impediment. But neuroscientific studies of working memory are revealing the opposite. Working memory is like the brain's dashboard--it's where the brain stores things before determining whether they will be committed to long term memory. For a long time now, it's been generally accepted that working memory can store about…

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Dumb and Grumpy: The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

This blog often discusses cognitive enhancers, such as mental mojo, but one of the single most devastating cognitive detractors is sleep deprivation. Increasingly, neuroscientific studies are showing that sleep deprivation is cognitive kryptonite. For starters, it blunts the brain's ability to be positive. According to findings of two related studies published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, less sleep makes the brain more sensitive to negative stimuli, and less sensitive to positive ones. This is why, as many new parents will…

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The Five Best Brain-Boosting Rituals

Your brain is your engine of success. Research suggests that adopting the five following rituals will keep it finely tuned into your golden years. Savor the little victories: your brain doesn't know the difference between little ones and big ones, but perceived progress is an enormous driver of positive behaviors and neurochemistry. Consider a morning routine that ends with an accomplishment (working out, writing a blog entry, etc.) to get your victory in the bag at the…

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