Online Course: How to Be Your Own Brain Fitness Coach in 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 11:00 AM - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 1:00 PM (PST)
By the end of this online course you will have gained the understanding and information required to apply emerging science and tools to enhance your own brain health and functionality across the lifespan.
Summary: Information overload and longer lives expose our brains to more demands than even before. This fast-paced and interactive online course will examine the emerging science of neuroplasticity and cognitive reserve and survey latest tools and best practices to equip you to become your own ‘brain fitness coach’ and address your very own priorities in your personal and/ or professional life. Available online from anywhere with an Internet connection, this course will help you pinpoint ways to optimize brain health and functionality and delay decline, navigating the maze of fragmented research, superficial media coverage and exaggerated marketing claims. The course is based on The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness –recently named a Best Book by AARP– and SharpBrains’ new ABBC framework (Address Basics, Build Capacities), and includes weekly readings and activities.
Mechanics: The course consists of four two-hour-long live sessions to be held in March 2012 (see detailed syllabus below), which will be recorded for later viewing if you can’t participate live, and an online private forum for Faculty and Participants to interact during March and April 2012. Live sessions will take place on four consecutive Wednesdays –03/07, 03/14, 03/21 and 03/28– from 11am US Pacific Time/ 2pm US Eastern Time to 1pm PT/ 3pm ET.
Who this is for
This course is open to the general public, and ideal for anyone with at least a bachelor’s degree (in any field) who wants to understand how emerging brain and cognitive science can be applied to enhance one’s brain health and performance, and who is willing to participate in a fast-paced course that leverages e-learning to facilitate a global learning experience. This is neither an oversimplified self-help course, nor a medical/ professional continuing education one. Aristotle is quoted as saying, “Virtue is the mean between two extremes”… and we intend to ensure a virtuous experience, thinking of it as the course that anyone in our team would love to take for our own benefit, were we working in a different field.
Note: In order to ensure a valuable and interactive experience, participation will be limited to the first 200 individuals who register.
We will issue a Certificate of Attendance to those interested, but we grant no CME/CEU units.
Instructor and Guest Lecturers
Instructor: Alvaro Fernandez is the cofounder of SharpBrains, an independent market research and publishing firm helping organizations and individuals navigate the emerging brain fitness field, and the coauthor of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: 18 Interviews with Scientists, Practical Advice, and Product Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp, recently named a Best Book by AARP. He is a nationally-known speaker and expert, quoted by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New Scientist, CNN, and other media outlets. Alvaro is also produces the largest annual global and virtual conference where scientists, technologists and professionals discuss latest developments in the field. Alvaro holds an MBA and an MA in Education from Stanford University.
Guest Lecturer: Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, is the Director of the Berenson-Allen Center for Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation and a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Pascual-Leone researches the physiology of higher cognitive functions with emphasis on the study of brain plasticity in skill acquisition and recovery from injury across the lifespan. Dr. Pascual-Leone obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Neurophysiology from the Faculty of Medicine of Albert Ludwigs University in Germany, and trained at the University of Minnesota and the US National Institutes of Health. He greatly enjoys teaching and is the recipient of numerous awards.
Guest Lecturer: Robert M. Bilder, PhD, ABPP-CN is the Michael E. Tennenbaum Family Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Bilder is also the Chief of Medical Psychology-Neuropsychology at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, directs the Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity; is Co-Director of an NIMH-sponsored Center for Intervention Development and Applied Research focusing on translational research to enhance cognitive control.
What to expect
- Before March 7th: you will receive your eBook copy of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness and detailed instructions to participate in the first live session on March 7th.
- From March 7th to March 28th: you will participate in each course session (either live or recorded) via your web browser, asking questions and interacting with Faculty and participants via the course elearning platform, both during each session and in-between sessions. Weekly readings and first-hand activities will drive home the main lessons and takeaways from the course.
- After March 28th: the course elarning platform will remain active until April 30th, 2012, enabling you to watch recorded sessions and to interact with other participants.
- Required technology: all you need is a computer with Internet access and a Flash-enabled web-browser (over 95% web-browsers are Flash-enabled by default). You can test your computer Here. If you pass the first three steps of the test, then you are ready to participate in the course. (You don't need to install the Add-in suggested in Step 4.)
Course registration includes:
- eBook copy of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness
- Access to four course sessions, both live and recorded
- A private online forum will enable students to interact among themselves and with the instructor continually between March 8th and April 30th, 2012.
Session I. Debunking Brain and Brain Fitness Myths: We will first debunk popular misconceptions that stand in the way of making informed decisions to spend our time and money wisely. We will explore hot topics such as genetics vs. environment vs. lifestyle, intelligence, left/ right brain hemispheres, “brain age”, cognitive enhancement, supplements, learning styles, brain training, neurogenesis, neuroplasticity, cognitive reserve, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Additionally we’ll contrast the findings from a major recent scientific study with their media coverage, equipping participants to become better informed readers of news and scientific findings.
When: Wednesday, March 7th, 11am-1pm US Pacific Time (live session will be recorded for later viewing).
- Introduction and Chapter 1 of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). 2010. Alzheimer's Disease and Cognitive Decline, Structured Abstract and Evidence Report. April 2010. www.ahrq.gov/clinic/tp/alzcogtp.htm
Activity: five-finger meditation.
Session II. How to Address the Basics: In this session we will discuss the complementary roles and mechanisms underpinning the major lifestyle pillars for brain fitness: healthy nutrition, aerobic exercise, stress management and mental stimulation that incorporates novelty, variety and challenge. We’ll explore how the human brain is a dynamic system to optimize and enhance, and how each of the major lifestyle pillars plays a fundamental role in developing, enhancing, and maintaining key cognitive, executive and emotional self-regulation functions require to thrive at every stage of life (“brain fitness”).
When: Wednesday, March 14th, 11am-1pm US Pacific Time (live session will be recorded for later viewing).
- Chapter 2 of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness.
Activity: cognitive reappraisal.
Session III. How to Build Brain-Based Capacities: What are some of the most promising research-based “brain training” methods (hint: meditation, cognitive training, biofeedback, cognitive therapy) and what are emerging best practices and guidelines on how and when to use each of them to build core capacities such as attention, working memory, emotional self-regulation, information processing, cognitive monitoring and reappraisal? This session will survey the value and limitations of available tools and suggest appropriate scenarios of use.
When: Wednesday, March 21st, 11am-1pm US Pacific Time (live session will be recorded for later viewing).
- Chapters 3 and 4 of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness.
Activity: participants choose biofeedback-based exercise or cognitive training.
Session IV. How to Be Your Own Brain Fitness Coach: This session will equip you with the frameworks and checklists required to integrate the knowledge and tools introduced during the whole course to meet your specific personal and professional priorities. “No one size fits all” applies to brain fitness, and this course is designed to help you build your own personal “brain fitness toolkit” to meet the priorities you are facing today and will face tomorrow.
When: Wednesday, March 28th, 11am-1pm US Pacific Time (live session will be recorded for later viewing).
- Chapters 6 and 7 of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness.
Activity: develop your own “brain fitness plan” for 2012.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Who has registered to participate so far?
Answer: Over 100 individuals have registered so far, representing a fascinating diversity of backgrounds. We have health and medical professionals, educators, business executives, traders, consultants, coaches, software engineers, therapists, and more.
Question: Is this a train-the-trainer? are you offering CME/ CEUs?
Answer: No. This is a course designed for a well-educated general audience. Let us explain the inception of the course: Alvaro Fernandez, the main course instructor, has been teaching a similar course at UC-Berkeley Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. By offering this course online we want to engage everyone who is interested in learning “how to be their own brain fitness coach”, no matter their occupation, geography or age. This is neither an oversimplified self-help course, nor a medical/ professional continuing education one. Aristotle is quoted as saying, “Virtue is the mean between two extremes,” and we intend to ensure a virtuous learning experience, thinking of it as the course that anyone in our team would love to take for our own benefit. We will issue a Certificate of Attendance to those interested, but we grant no CME/CEU units.
Question: I have already read your book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness (May 2009; 182 pages). Is it still worthy to attend the course?
Answer: Yes. The book is indeed a key reference for the course, but the course goes well beyond it both in terms of content and quality of learning experience. Books are an excellent medium to share information, but educational courses are a better medium to ensure learning and understanding on how to apply the information. Think about the difference between reading a biology textbook and attending a Biology 101 course.
Question: I cannot participate in the four scheduled live sessions. Can I still get value from the course?
Answer: It may require a bit more effort on your side, but we certainly think so. All live sessions will be recorded for later access, and the online course platform will enable continued interaction among Faculty and Participants throughout March and April. All weekly activities are designed to be completed on your own.
Question: When will Guest Lecturers participate?
Answer: Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone is scheduled to co-teach the March 7th session on Debunking Brain and Brain Fitness Myths, and Dr. Robert Bilder is scheduled to co-teach the March 14th session on How to Address the Basics.
If you have any questions or would like further details about the course please Contact Us.
SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and well-being applications of brain science. We maintain a state-of-the-market report, produce an annual virtual conference, publish a book for the general public, and provide advisory services.
SharpBrains.com is one of the most popular brain blogs with 100,000+ monthly readers and 45,000+ eNewsletter subscribers.