Brain Awareness Week: Brain Fitness Book Give Away

Here at Highlight HEALTH, we’re very interested in health and wellness, and the evidence-based preventive steps that can be taken to maintain or preclude disease or injury. This same idea applies to brain health: what preventive measures can be taken to improve or retain mental ability and brainpower?

Cognitive decline as you age appears to be largely due to altered connections among brain cells. Keeping the brain active — reading, writing, working crossword or other puzzles, educational courses, memory exercises — appears to strengthen the brain and may build reserves of brain cells and connections.

Today, it’s common to hear the buzzwords “brain fitness”, “brain training” and/or “neuroplasticity”. There are several products available on the market that can help to maintain and/or rebuild cognitive performance. We reviewed the SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness when it was released in 2009. The guide aims to help people make informed decisions about brain health and cognitive fitness, based on the latest scientific research, and to help navigate new products and confusing myths and claims that are part of the emerging brain fitness market.

SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness book give away

For Brain Awareness Week, SharpBrains has generously provided 5 copies of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness for us to give away. Here’s how it works:

Simply leave a comment below and tell us in 2-3 sentences how brain research can impact health and/or healthcare. Together with Alvaro Fernandez at SharpBrains, we’ll select the 5 best answers and send the authors a copy of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness.

If you need ideas to help you get started, check out past stories on the brain here at Highlight HEALTH.

Steps to brain fitness

An unhealthy lifestyle can lead to diseases like obesity, diabetes and brain-related health problems, all of which increase the risk of stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These conditions can be managed and even prevented by a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that brain health is promoted by a healthy lifestyle that includes [1]:

  • Eating a brain-healthy diet
  • Staying mentally active
  • Exercising and keeping fit
  • Staying socially engaged
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Managing stress
  • Protecting your head from trauma
  • Controlling risk factors
  • Avoiding unhealthy habits
  • Understanding your genetic risk

The decision to review your current lifestyle and start making changes for brain health is truly an important choice to make. Following the healthy steps listed above will be effective at any age; however, the earlier you start, the better off you will be. Your goal should be to make a brain-healthy lifestyle a normal part of your everyday.


  1. Steps to Brain Fitness. Alliance for Aging Research. 2006.

Brain Awareness Week 2011 at Highlight HEALTH

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is the global campaign to increase public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. Founded and coordinated by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and European Dana Alliance for the Brain, every March BAW unites the efforts of organizations worldwide in a week-long celebration of the brain.

Brain Awareness Week

Health in Public Media: Highlight HEALTH Joins 170 Million Americans

Congress and the White House are clashing over the federal budget. Congress is considering serious cuts in funding for all public broadcasting. Since January, three bills have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to cut or eliminate the $430 million currently allocated for the Corporation For Public Broadcasting (CBP). Pending a vote in congress this week, the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), considered by the public to be the second-best use of taxpayer dollars (outranked only by defense spending [1]), could cease to exist.

170 Million Americans

The Best of Highlight HEALTH 2010 – The Year in Review

This holiday season, Highlight HEALTH is celebrating its fourth year promoting advances in biomedical research. As the year draws to a close, we’re taking a look back at the top stories readers were interested in.

We’ve compiled a list of the most-viewed stories for the year, both in terms of the absolute number of page views and average number of page views per day posted. Many of the stories that made the list were obvious contenders; however, a few were surprising. One thing we know is that readers enjoy discovering the science of health.

The Highlight HEALTH Network

The Highlight HEALTH Network consists of three web sites:

There are a number of ways to connect with the Highlight HEALTH Network, including Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed and email or RSS feed. Highlight HEALTH is also optimized for mobile devices such as your iPhone, Android phone or Blackberry.

Top stories for 2010

We’ve calculated the top stories for 2010 on Highlight HEALTH using two measures, either by the highest absolute number of page views for the year (shown in red) or by the average number of page views per day (shown in white).


Top 10 stories by highest absolute page view for the year

  1. The 2010 NF Conference — Connecting the Public with the Research
    (article #65; 10,525 page views)
    Neurofibromatosis (NF) encompasses a set of genetic disorders that cause tumors to grow on nerves. The Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) annual NF Conference is being held from June 5th – June 8th. Although the conference is restricted to researchers, the CTF will update the public about the research presented with a series of blog posts and short videos from the conference floor.
  2. The Association Between Smoking and Back Pain
    (article #34; 6,470 page views)
    A new study published in The American Journal of Medicine highlights another reason not to light up that cigarette — smokers (current and former) are more likely to suffer from low back pain than people who have never smoked.
  3. Cancer Research Blog Carnival #38 – Breast Cancer
    (article #83; 6,053 page views)
    Welcome to the 38th edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival, the monthly blog carnival that discusses what’s new in cancer research. In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this edition’s focus is on breast cancer.
  4. Social Media in Health and Medicine: Medlibs Round 2.7
    (article #75; 5,836 page views)
    Welcome to Medlib’s Round, edition 2.7, the monthly blog carnival highlighting excellent blog posts in the field of medical information. For this edition, we wanted to focus on how social media is being used to promote health information online.
  5. The Link Between Positive Psychology and Cancer Survival
    (article #77; 5,747 page views)
    The seemingly common idea that a positive outlook will help someone in poor health is currently under scientific investigation. A special supplement of the Annals of Behavioural Medicine directly addressed this topic and a recent article in the Lancet explored the relationship between positive psychology and cancer pathology.
  6. Is Junk Food Addictive?
    (article #64; 5,460 page views)
    In a recent paper in Nature Neuroscience, two researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida report that obese rats with extended access to what they deemed “palatable food” — bacon, sausage, cheesecake, pound cake, frosting and chocolate — exhibited compulsive like eating behavior, much like rats with extended access to cocaine or heroin.
  7. Refusing Immunizations Increases Risk of Chickenpox in Children
    (article #11; 5,224 page views)
    According to a new study published in the journalArchives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, children of parents who refuse vaccines are over eight times more likely to get chickenpox compared to fully immunized children [1]. The study, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), it is the first to assess the relationship between parental vaccine refusal and the risk of chickenpox in children.
  8. The National Health Observances Toolkit
    (article #42; 5,103 page views)
    To help promote certain health observances, the National Health Observances Toolkit provides information and ideas to engage the public in health promotion activities.
  9. Scientists Find New Form of Prion Disease that Damages Brain Arteries
    (article #44; 5,046 page views)
    National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists investigating how prion diseases destroy the brain have observed a new form of the disease in mice that does not cause the sponge-like brain deterioration typically seen in prion diseases. Instead, it resembles a form of human Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, that damages brain arteries.
  10. Personalized Medicine Approach Provides More Benefit for Patients with High Cholesterol than Current Guidelines
    (article #36; 4,966 page views)
    A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a simple tailored treatment for high cholesterol provides more benefit per person treated and prevented significantly more coronary artery disease morbidity and death than the currently recommended treat-to-target approaches.

Top 10 stories by average number of page views per day

  1. Avastin, the FDA and Breast Cancer Patient Survival
    (article #106; average: 156 page views/day)
    The issue surrounding the use of Avastin for breast malignancies has nothing to do with rationing healthcare and everything to do with patient survival.
  2. Grand Rounds: the Impact of Healthcare Reform
    (article #102; average: 151 page views/day)
    For this edition of Grand Rounds, we’re focusing on the impact of healthcare reform: what are the changes to healthcare delivery, utilization, quality, costs (either as a provider or a patient) and outcomes.
  3. Happy Holidays (and watch the cookies!)
    (article #109; average:147 page views/day)
    Families everywhere are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and the temptation to eat and drink in excess during the holiday season can be hard to overcome. For example, consider Santa Claus.
  4. Blood Protein Linked to Alzheimers Brain Abnormalities
    (article #108; average: 136 page views/day)
    Researchers report that a protein in the blood may reflect the levels of beta amyloid protein in the brain and eventually lead to a blood test that helps to predict the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  5. The Benefits of Animal Research
    (article #107; average: 122 page views/day)
    Animals are our allies in the war against cancer and other deadly diseases. Animal research is saving and extending both human and animal lives.
  6. Genetic Link to ADHD Identified
    (article #107; average: 122 page views/day)
    A recent study published in The Lancet finds that children with ADHD are more likely to have small segments of their DNA duplicated or missing than other children that don’t have the disorder.
  7. Health in 200 Countries Over 200 Years in 4 Minutes
    (article #101; average: 93 page views/day)
    The story of world health in 200 countries over 200 years using 120,000 numbers in just four minutes.
  8. Cancer Research Blog Carnival #38 – Breast Cancer
    (article #83; average: 70 page views/day)
    Welcome to the 38th edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival, the monthly blog carnival that discusses what’s new in cancer research. In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this edition’s focus is on breast cancer.
  9. The Flu and Your Health
    (article #105; average: 68 page views/day)
    It’s the gift-giving season. However, there’s one gift this time of year you don’t want to give or get: the flu virus.
  10. Adds Topic on Anxiety Disorders in Older Adults
    (article #103; average: 63 page views/day)
    NIHSeniorHealth, the health and wellness website for older adults from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has added a topic about anxiety disorders.

Thanks for reading and Best of Health in the coming year!

Happy Holidays (and watch the cookies!)

December can be a fun, joyous season. Families everywhere are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Each of these winter holidays brings many festivities and lots of yummy, delicious food. The temptation to eat and drink in excess can be hard to overcome.

Although getting your five-a-day is important for promoting good health, overindulging on anything is bad for you. Indeed, overindulgence — consuming more calories than your body requires — is one of the main factors contributing to weight gain. Many of us love sweets during the holidays, but large portions won’t do anything but add surplus calories that get converted into fat.

Cookies and Santa Claus

Consider Santa Claus. One of the benefits of being “good St. Nick” is eating all the holiday cookies left by children around the world on Christmas eve.