Brain Fitness Carnival Number 3

rcphp_small.jpgWelcome to the third edition of the Brain Fitness Carnival. I received dozens of submissions for this edition, so I’ve restricted the entries to one per contributor. They’re placed in 5 categories – Health, Happiness, Personal & Professional Development, Education and Science. So step into the brain gym, where our instructors have got many personal development tips for you, as well as exercises to keep your brain and mind in tip-top condition.


Breathing for beginners, at Living by Design:

Breath awareness helps the body detox, repair, regenerate and blow stress away…Breathing is the only vital autonomic bodily function that can be consciously controlled and directed by the mind. This is so for a reason; your breathing is a bridge between your body and your mind.

Counting calories, by Jakob Dupont Knudsen:

Have you ever heard about counting calories? Sure you have. Have you ever thought about actually doing it? Of course not – it’s a pain in the ass! Never being able to eat anything before weighing it and looking at the declaration so you can determine the total amount of calories. This seems to be a lot of work, especially if you have to do it six times a day. No more eating at restaurants or drinking a beer at the local bar. Unless you are a fitness freak, this is not what you want to spend your time on, right? Well maybe you should.

More fishy data, by Simon Evans, at The Brain Code:

A research team from the University of Pittsburgh presented data at a world meeting in Hungary. Dr. Sarah Conklin, who headed up the study, said that her team previously found that people with low blood levels of omega-3 fats were generally more impulsive and had worse attitudes. In their new study, they used MRI to determine that folks who ate more omega-3s had more grey matter in parts of their brains that regulate mood and emotion. While more we need more data to determine whether omega-3s cause increased grey matter, this adds another piece to the puzzle.

Anxious about being anxious, by Lorraine Roach, at Anxiety Ended:

I was doing some research on the subject of anxiety and all the related topics like phobias, shyness,depression,post traumatic stress syndrome, panic attacks and many more categories…To me, after hours of reading all the information I felt I had to find something to break the downward spiral I was headed into.

Do you worry too much? by Talia Mana, at the Centre for Emotional Well-Being:

A recent study of patients visiting their primary care doctors has found that anxiety disorders such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are as common as depression.

Hysteria over danger is stifling children more than danger, by Dr. Hal, at the North Star Mental Fitness Blog:

Fear-based parenting has insidiously become the model for many parents. Parents have always had some fear in regard to parenting their children safely. Parental fears have gone to new levels since 9/11, the Catholic Church scandal, the Amish massacre, and ongoing media reporting of children being abused, kidnapped, or killed.

You are not your illness, by Jane Chin, at Chinspirations:

Medically speaking, I’m “in remission” from clinical depression. When I get the blues now, the blue mood does not expand and darken into the sinister depression that left me functionally crippled (albeit still highly functioning) for many years.


Ten scientific findings about happiness, by yBother, at Today’s

Researchers who studied peoples level of interest in and attention to strangers found that people who were sad spent 35 percent more time focusing on strangers who looked unhappy than on strangers who looked happy.

Money cannot buy happiness, by Phil, at Phil for Humanity:

A lot of people think that being rich will make them happy. The most obvious and biggest advantage of being rich is not needing a job. Yet, the few rich people that I know, that are jobless, are still not happy… at least not openly happy. Even if they are happy, it is not because their money made them happy.

The minding life, by Aren Cohen, at Positive Psychology News Daily:

…as defined by Martin Seligman in Authentic Happiness (2002), the three branches of the full life are the pleasant life, the engaged life and the meaningful life. These three branches of the full life all operate within the psyche of one person, and while interactions with other people might all participate in aspects of these three lives, none of these lives is specifically focused on the life we live with other people.

Emotional intelligence – get it out! by Scott, at Dirty Mechanism:

Very recently I had the experience of talking to someone who has an issue with getting their emotional baggage out onto the table. It is a simple idea – express what you feel when you feel it. For some of us, this may not always be the easiest thing in the world to do. I think everyone, at one point or another, if even for only curiosity’s sake, has experimented with “holding in” their emotions until a time when they no longer can.

Visualizing happiness, by Derrick Carpenter, at Positive Psychology News Daily:

During my junior year as a varsity collegiate rower in Boston, my coach – concerned about some of our upcoming races against national championship contenders – introduced us to a variety of sports psychology techniques. We read books written by Olympic oarsmen, committed our specific season goals to paper, and even tried yoga. But the thing I remember most about that season is creating my sanctuary.


Create your own happy hour – serve 3 for 1, by David J. Pollay, at Positive Psychology News Daily:

When you receive good news – via email, voicemail, or in-person – stop and quickly think of three things that you are grateful for as a result of this news. The 3 for 1 Gratitude Stop makes you pause to take in the good news and recognize the positive impact it has on you. It also makes you more aware of all the people in your life who help make these good things happen.

Positive Psychology, Party of two, by Amy Donovan, at Positive Psychology News Daily:

Knowing that we can affect our own happiness, the next logical question is, how do we do so? And thus emerged the study of positive interventions, which are, simply put, conscious efforts, actions, and thoughts intended to enhance individual well being.

5 massive benefits of not having a television set, by Dean, at Mr.Cheap Stuff:

Well it has been about 6 months now since I did the unthinkable and tossed my TV out of the living room. I have been living without a TV for a while now and I can honestly say I don’t plan on getting one anytime soon. While it was a pretty extreme measure the benefits are huge…

Personal & Professional Development

How to achieve anything in life, by Senia Maymin, at Positive Psychology Coaching:

If there is one key to creating what you want in your life, it is daily practice. When you repeat again and again, you learn so much about the habit you’re building and about yourself. There are nuances that you do not learn from a how-to guide. Such as how to persevere.

On making a choice, by Kathryn Britton, at Positive Psychology News Daily:

Do you spend a long time at a fork in the road deciding what to do? Or with the huge number of options we have today, are you on a roundabout in the road not sure which branch to take? When you do choose a branch, do you follow it with confidence or do you look back with regret? What I’ve learned through observation, common sense, and experience about making choices lines up with research that Barry Schwart…

Biofeedback for performance: A best practive in training, by Brett Steenbarger, at TraderFeeder:

Once we have immersed ourselves in market patterns…much of our knowledge about trading is implicit: not precisely verbalizable, but present nonetheless…[A] trader’s feel manifests itself quite physically: when he is “in the zone”, his sense for market turns is felt and visceral. This is what Damasio refers to as somatic markers: it is how knowing is conveyed via emotion.

One easy way to remember someone’s name, by Henrik Edberg, at The Positivity Blog:

I have a pretty good memory for faces. I can remember them for years after just meeting them once or twice. Names are a whole different thing though. I just can’t remember them. When I hear them they just seem flow into one ear and flap away to freedom from the other one. Recently I’ve started to use one simple lifehack to remember them.


Enhancing cognition and emotions for learning, by Caroline Latham, at SharpBrains:

Learning & The Brain: Enhancing Cognition and Emotions for Learning…was a fascinating mix of neuroscientists and educators talking with and listening to each other. Some topics were meant to be applied [there and then], but many were food for thought – insight on where science and education are headed and how they influence each other.

Lectures work against the brain, by Ellen Weber, at Brain Based Business Blog:

After four to eight minutes of listening to a talk the brightest brains in the room seek other adventures … It’s not necessarily you that bores listeners, but more the fact that brains were not made to be talked at.

Does being labelled as gifted undermine personal growth? by John Wesley, at Pick the Brain:

Has being ‘gifted’ undermined my achievement? Possibly. When you’re ‘gifted’ expectations change. Intelligence becomes your identity. Everyone knows you’re supposed to do well in school. When you don’t surpass other students with ease you feel like a failure. Having your identity tarnished is very threatening.

Dear Ann Althouse — No, it’s not OK, by Dave Shearon:

Studies going back more than 15 years have repeatedly shown that law students suffer significant negative psychological chages during law school. Although they look much like other undergraduates coming in, by the end the first year 30% are depressed, and it goes to 40% by the end of law school.


Neurolaw: Leaving out a big piece of the puzzle, by Stephanie, at Idealawg:

Last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine ran a nine-page article about neurolaw. “The Brain on the Stand” by Jeffrey Rosen presents in a readable style part of the challenging puzzles confronting the law as more is learned about the brain. Curious omissions from the article were the phenomena of neuroplasticity and self-directed neuroplasticity. Rosen described the brain as if it is static and unchanging, as if we are stuck with the brain we have.

Stress management workshop for international womens’ day, by Alvaro at SharpBrains:

[March 8th was] International Women’s Day 2007…and I was fortunate to lead a fun workshop on The Neuroscience of Stress and Stress Management in their San Francisco office, helping over 125 accomplished women (and a few men) learn what stress is, its implications for our brain functioning, performance and health, and of course some tips and techniques to develop our “stress management” muscles.

How thinking can change your brain, from Cognitive Therapy Today:

Sharon Begley’s article about changing your brain appeared in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago…Begley talks about the fact that thoughts can alter and shape the brain’s structure and circuitry – you can actually change your brain with your own mind.

Beyond science, religion and philosophy, by TupeloKanyon:

Science, philosophy and religion all have one thing in common. They are all subjects we think about, accessed through the mind. Therefore, to go beyond science, philosophy and religion, it is necessary to go beyond the mind, beyond thought.

When it comes to chocolate, modern science and the stomach both agree it’s good for brain functioning, by Wesley, at Life Two:

Researchers from The University of Nottingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy used advanced MRI technology to determine that consumption of a cocoa drink rich in flavanols — a key ingredient of dark chocolate and certain other foods— boosts blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours.

Two billion affected by brain-related illness, by Zack Lynch, at Brain Waves:

…the Neurotechnology Industry Organization, today announced that a new World Health Organization (WHO) report which estimates that one billion people worldwide suffer from neurological disorders is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to measuring the global impact of brain-related illness. According to NIO, when psychiatric illnesses including addiction, attention disorders, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and sleep disorders are incorporated, the number of people affected by brain disorders reaches nearly two billion, almost 100 million in the U.S. alone. The group estimates the global economic burden at $1 trillion per year.

Psychiatry – label-based quakery or research-based science? by Shaheen, at GNIF Brain Blogger:

Do we do more harm than good when we define patients’ conditions based on commonly accepted labeling guidelines? How valid are the guidelines? Presumably, using established rating scales, clinicians can more objectively formulate diagnosis. Or can they?

Mirror neurons at work, artfully, by Nicky Penttila, at First Words:

During a recent Smithsonian Associates lecture, author Richard Restak was using old studies in a new way to describe the “social nature” of the brain…what captured my imagination, and caused me to radically change my planned behavior, was not a research study but a literary one. To illustrate what the recently named “mirror neurons” in the brain do, Restak read aloud from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Purloined Letter,” circa 1844.

Shift happens, by Neal, at SharpBrains:

When we began developing the SharpBrains coaching model two months ago, we knew we were in uncharted waters. After some study, and a lot of interaction with members, a five stage SharpBrains Coaching Model emerged from the synapses of our minds.

The next brain/mind workout will be hosted by Jane Chin at Naked Medicine. Submit your exercises here.

8 thoughts on “Brain Fitness Carnival Number 3

  1. Breath awareness does not “detox” the body in any way. Learning to meditate by focusing on the breath can calm you, and that calm can have many effects, but “detoxing” – whatever that means – is not one of them.

    Also, breath awareness is not about controlling the breath; that’s a Bad Thing. It’s about simply observing the breath as it is. And breath is not a “bridge between your body and mind”.

    Nevertheless, focusing on the breath is the most effective form of relaxation, but it is not easy. It is, however, a skill worth learning.

  2. Thanks MC, great presentation. will link to it now.

    Kirk: there are different breathing techniques. In meditation you usually just observe breathing, as you say. Other yoga-related techniques focus on ensuring specific patters, than can be “created” if you will (better word perphaps than “controlled”). I agree, in any case, that it is a “skill worth learning”.

    Mitch: just to clarify- the key autonomic function to measure and “create”/ control for stress and anxiety management is heart rate variability, more than heart rate itself.

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  6. ‘Visualizing Happiness’, by Derrick Carpenter must be my favourite article from the list above. Visualization is underutilised technique that can really help us achieve more than we expect…

  7. I agree with SpiritOfVenus on this one. I myself always visualizing my own happiness all the time that sometime my wife call me crazy. Usually when we visualize on something, we tend to make it real some day.

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