Posts Tagged ‘Depression’

Brain Training Report – Tanya – Stage 3, Session 12

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Stage: 3

Session number: 12

Average n-back: 2.6

I guess there are alot of rocket engineers, brain surgeons and quantum physicists on here because I can’t seem to get completely past level 2, even at session 12, while everyone else is progressing nicely.
Any helpful suggestions for a stupid masters in literature student trying to prep for the lit subject area test? I’m horrible at math and suffer from pharmaceutically-induced short term memory problems (due to medication for depression) along with a mild case of ADD. I can tell this site is helping, but I’m also frustrated.

MindSparke Brain Fitness Software

This post was submitted by Tanya.

Short Term Advancements

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Stage: 1

Session number: 6

Average n-back: 6

I’m at the end of my second day and I’ll say, I did not expect such incredible results. In two days my BFI has increased 16%. That’s 16%. There’s been in very noticeable effect on my ability to play piano; concentration, accuracy, and musicality. I also feel much more aware and less depressed than I did previously.

I have to say that I’m not entirely sure if this program increased my intelligence to this level or if it simply renewed my old. Either way. It did a d**n good job of doing what it was intended to do.

I’ll keep updating my progress to see if it continues at this bizarre rate.

MindSparke Brain Training Software

This post was submitted by Andrew Clark.

Sticky Thoughts: Working Memory Training To Alleviate Depression

Friday, July 15th, 2011
working memory and depression

The Bane Of Sticky Thoughts

Our own customers and previous published research studies have demonstrated a strong connection between working memory training and a reduction in depression. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science suggests that people with depression find it difficult to move on from depressive thoughts. The study centered on the central role of working memory in this process.

Those with depression tend to revisit depressing memories. “They basically get stuck in a mindset where they relive what happened to them over and over again,” said Jutta Joormann from the University of Miami, study co-author with Sara Levens and Ian H. Gotlib of Stanford University. “Even though they think, oh, it’s not helpful, I should stop thinking about this, I should get on with my life—they can’t stop doing it,” she said. The team postulated a link between depression and working memory function, or malfunction. The brain uses working memory for all active thoughts — both those we want and those that creep in uninvited.

Testing twenty-six people with depression and twenty-seven who had never suffered from depression, the team presented each participant with three words in turn, allowing them one second to read the word. After being instructed to remember the words in forward or reverse order they were shown one of the words from the list and asked to say whether it had come first second or third. A faster response indicated more flexible thinking.

The results showed that the group with depression took longer to answer correctly after reversing the sequence. When the list contained words likely to be connected to depressive feelings, such as “death” or “sadness,” it took them longer still.

“The order of the words sort of gets stuck in their working memory, especially when the words are negative,” Joormann says.

So, what can we do with this information? Train our brains to be better at actively focusing on what we want to pay attention to!  Fortunately, working memory is a very flexible and trainable brain function. Intensive working memory training can help us in the moment to get into a better mood because it redirects our attention. It can also help us long term to gain greater control over our impulses and active working memory.

Brain Fitness Update: Neurogenesis And Depression

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

neurogenesis zoloft brain fitnessWe’ve reported before on the link between increased neurogenesis and a reduction in the symptoms of depression. Physical exercise, brain training with effective brain fitness software and antidepressants all increase neurogenesis and alleviate depression. Now, British scientists have apparently discovered just how antidepressants stimulate the production of new brain cells.

While other brain fitness studies had previously shown that antidepressants caused the growth of new brain cells, until now scientists had not understood the mechanisms involved.

A brain fitness study by researchers from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry and published in “Molecular Psychiatry” shows that the antidepressants regulate the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) — a protein critical to the brain’s response to stress. All types of antidepressant are dependent on the GR to create new cells, the scientists said.

Depression is accompanied by a decrease neurogenesis; this and the neurogenesis promotion associated with antidepressants leads brain fitness researchers to believe that reduced neurogenesis may be contributing to the symptoms of depression.

The study reviewed the effects of Zoloft, known generically as sertraline — an SSRI used to treat depression (other SSRIs include Prozac and Paxil). But the results also hold true for serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), including Effexor and Cymbalta.

“For the first time in a clinically relevant model, we were able to show that antidepressants produce more stem cells and also accelerate their development into adult brain cells,” brain fitness researcher Anacker said. “A specific protein in the cell, the glucocorticoid receptor, is essential for this to take place,” he went on. “The antidepressants activate this protein which switches on particular genes that turn immature stem cells into adult brain cells.”

As we’ve said before, all of the brain fitness research into pharmaceutical stimulation of neurogenesis is great, but we shouldn’t forget the benefits of physical exercise and working memory training.

Coping And Brain Growth

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
stress coping and neurogenesis

(Not The Actual) Squirrel Monkeys

While we may not particularly like the process, it seems that coping with stress leads to neurogenesis. Professor David Lyons (Stanford) and his team examined the impact of social stress in primates. They found increased brain cell growth in the hippocampus when the animals successfully reorganized their social ties after a separation.

The team tested their premise, that coping tends to counteract the otherwise negative effects of stress, by intermittently separating pairs within a group of adult male squirrel monkeys and allowing new pairs to form.

They found increased hippocampal neurogenesis in the squirrel monkey males. Previous studies with rodents found that hippocampal neurogenesis contributes to spatial learning performance, and Lyons’s team found enhanced spatial learning in the monkeys, too.

The conclusion for us? Therapies designed to promote stress coping potentially have similar effects in humans, particularly those suffering from depression.

Here then we have another reason why Brain Fitness Pro can help alleviate depression.

Neurogenesis And Depression – Further Research

Saturday, January 30th, 2010
Brain Cell

Brain Cell

A clinical study shows that promoting neurogenesis has a positive impact on the symptoms of major clinical depression.

As we’ve noted on this blog before, the process of brain training also seems to have a positive impact on mood. Evidence builds that the connection is the stimulation of new brain cell growth…

Read more about the study…

Link Between New Brain Cell Survival And Anxiety

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Scientists from the University of Michigan have found that low levels of a particular brain growth factor (fibroblast growth factor 2) inhibit new brain cell survival and cause anxiety.

This provides another link connecting inhibited cell growth and brain plasticity with anxiety, stress and depression.

(Full post over at our sister site.)

Brain Plasticity: Learning to Rethink Drugs

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

An article in MIT’s Technology Review “Making an Old Brain Young: Scientists are developing new ways to manipulate the brain’s normal plasticity” caught my eye this week. From the title I thought this would be a serious review of the medical advances expected from therapies that leverage brain plasticity.

Unfortunately, the article focused entirely on the possibility for developing drugs that exploit plasticity.

I’m not against drugs. Drugs are amazing. One very immediate example in my life: My daughter has congenital hypothyroidism — without synthetic thyroid hormone she would have been severely disabled. The medical world should be evaluating drugs that leverage plasticity. What concerned me about the article was the lack of any mention of reference to non-drug therapies. At the moment such therapies seem to be appearing or surfacing thick and fast and can be used right now, without waiting for the drugs to be developed, tested and approved: The Australian Alzheimer’s Association has endorsed brain training exercises as a non-pharmacalogical mechanism for delaying or preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms. The most effective therapies for stroke victims leverage plasticity through non-drug therapies (see Drake and Taub). Many learning specialists now work with brain exercises to mitigate or correct learning dysfunctions rather than accommodations. And other research has shown that the generation of new nerve cells in the dentate gyrus helps combat depression — something that can be assisted with exercise and brain exercise…

Surely, if our newfound knowledge of plasticity teaches us anything it teaches us that non-drug therapies can achieve some remarkable results.

More on Depression And Brain Exercise

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Here’s another article on the relationship between stimulating new neural growth and combatting depression. This one approaches the subject from the opposite perspective — that stress inhibits neural growth and can induce or exacerbate depression and reduce the effectiveness of antidepressant treatment.

(See previous post on how exercise and brain exercise can help combat depression.)