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Marie Pasinski, M.D.

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5 Apps for a Smart Brain

Posted: 06/19/2012 4:20 pm

They don't call it a "smartphone" for nothing. Your phone is the perfect tool to keep you mentally sharp both in the short term and in the long run. Get smart by downloading these apps today.

1. GrubWithUs

Do you love socializing over meals and discovering new restaurants? GrubWithUs takes the convenience and connectivity of online social networks and combines it with offline experiences. GrubWithUs is a social meal network dedicated to bringing people together over delicious food. To add to the fun, GrubWithUs picks the restaurant and menu for you and the restaurant remains a mystery until 72 hours before grub time.

Brain Benefits: Making friends is wonderful for your brain. Numerous studies show that having a rich social network is associated with better mental performance, lower rates of dementia and increased personal happiness. [1] [2] [3] In addition, meeting new people is a fun way to expand your intellectual horizons.

2. Fitocracy

Fitocracy is an online fitness community that aims to provide you with all the resources you need to achieve your fitness goals. From running marathons to yoga to powerlifting, connect with others who share your same exercise interests. Exchange routines, document your workouts and access training tips all on one platform.

Brain Benefits: Physical activity enhances concentration, mental processing speed, memory and mood. It promotes the birth of new neurons, the creation of new neural pathways and measurably increases brain volume, all of which is associated with better cognitive performance and a decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

3. Myfitnesspal

Struggling to lose weight? Not sure how many calories are in that delicious burrito bowl? Most diets fail because people lose sight of how many calories they are actually consuming. With the largest online nutritional database, Myfitnesspal will help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Brain Benefits: Belly fat is a well-established risk factor for heart disease. Only recently have we come to realize that it also increases our risk of stroke and dementia. Slimming down decreases chronic inflammation throughout the body, including the brain, promoting better health from head to toe!

4. Sleep Pillow Sounds

The sounds we hear can have a significant influence on our state of mind. Sleep Pillow Sounds offers a collection of soothing sounds, complete with a fade out and sleep timer that will help you drift off to sleep. Whether you're trying to take a 15-minute snooze or get a good night's rest, the first step is to relax your mind.

Brain Benefits: Beyond improved concentration and mood, sweet dreams are essential for keeping your memory sharp. Sleep enhances the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus (the brain's memory center), while sleep deprivation reduces the production of new neurons. It also appears that beta amyloid, an abnormal deposit that accumulates in Alzheimer's disease is cleared from the brain during sleep. New research suggests that ensuring adequate sleep may prove to be helpful in staving off Alzheimer's disease. [4] [5] [6]

5. Meetup

From arts and literature to politics and outdoor adventures, Meetup brings together people with common interests. It is the world's largest network of local groups, making it easy to connect in real life with others in your community who share your passions.

Brain Benefits: Challenging your mind with innovative ideas and pursuing novel passions keeps you mentally sharp and appears to protect against dementia. By embracing new activities and developing advanced skills your brain is stimulated to create neurons and forge additional neural pathways. This happens every time you extend your scope of experience and think in new ways. In fact, by simply reading this article and learning to use the above apps your brain has begun updating its infrastructure.

Happy Apping!

1. Savica R, Petersen RC. Prevention of dementia. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2011 Mar; 34(1):127-45. PubMed PMID: 21333844.

2. Demir M, Ozdemir M, Marum KP. Perceived autonomy support, friendship maintenance, and happiness. J Psychol. 2011 Nov-Dec;145(6):537-71. PubMed PMID:22208134.

3. Amieva H, Stoykova R, Matharan F, Helmer C, Antonucci TC, Dartigues JF. What aspects of social network are protective for dementia? Not the quantity but the quality of social interactions is protective up to 15 years later. Psychosom Med. 2010 Nov;72(9):905-11. Epub 2010 Aug 31. PubMed PMID: 20807876.

4. Kang JE, Lim MM, Bateman RJ, Lee JJ, Smyth LP, Cirrito JR, Fujiki N, Nishino S, Holtzman DM. Amyloid-beta dynamics are regulated by orexin and the sleep-wake cycle. Science. 2009 Nov 13;326(5955):1005-7. Epub 2009 Sep 24. PubMed PMID:19779148; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2789838.

5. http://www.aan.com/press/index.cfm?fuseaction=release.view&release=1025

6. http://journals.lww.com/neurotodayonline/Fulltext/2009/11050/New_Animal_Study_Suggests_Sleep_Deprivation_May.5.aspx

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