Super Noggin Newsletter Archive - Issue 4

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Newsletter Issue 4 

Super Noggin


Laughter and the Mind-Body Connection 

The newest class in the Super Noggin program will make you laugh.  It's a look at the science behind why laughing is good for us and explains why you SHOULD try this at home.  Norman Cousins discovered the power of laughter almost 40 years ago when he designed his own "laughter therapy" to combat a life-threatening illness.  Laughing ManHis account of healing through laughter was described in his ground-breaking book, Anatomy of an Illness as Described by the Patient, which inspired research into the effect of emotions on health that continues to this day.  Today there is an association of professionals who use laughter therapy in their work (The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor) as well as a worldwide laughter club (Laughter Yoga) whose members gather to laugh "just for the health of it."  The Super Noggin class includes some laughter exercises inspired by Dr. Mahdan Kataria's Laughter Yoga clubs.


More evidence of Mediterranean diet benefits

We've all heard that a Mediterranean diet is good for you, and you're never too young to start.  A study reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that even teen-agers, age 12-17, experienced accelerated vascular damage
when they did not adhere to their traditional diet.  The study focused on teenagers in Greece (where the traditional diet includes an average of 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily).  Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011: 65 pp. 219-225.


What is a Mediterranean diet?  Mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish, with limited intake of meat and dairy products.  Whole wheat bread is dipped in olive oil instead of buttered, for example.  If you want a good description and diagram of a Mediterranean diet pyramid, go to the Mayo Clinic website at


The secret to cutting down on your meat consumption is to find delicious meatless dishes.  To help, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine provides a long list of recipes in every category you can think of.  Go to and scroll down to the Vegetarian recipes.  We like the Vegan Mexican Food!  Mexico may not be on the Mediterranean, but these recipes are super healthy.


The Bilingual Advantage 

Regular use of two languages is associated with a delay in the onset of Alzheimer's disease symptoms, according to a study by cognitive neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok.  BilingualIn an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Bialystok described how she started out studying how children acquire language, which led to questions about how learning a second language affected thought.  That led to questions about how using two languages affects the brain's networks.  Over the course of her 40-year studies of language, thought, and the brain, she turned to studies of older bilinguals.  Generally speaking, normally aging bilinguals had better cognitive functioning than normally aging monolinguals.  She encourages immigrants to teach their children their heritage language, not only because it connects them to their ancestors but also because bilingualism is good for the brain.  It is excellent brain exercise!  Source: The New York Times May 30, 2011



Novel Solution for Insomnia

Good quality sleep is good for the brain, but for insomniacs, getting a good night's sleep is a challenge.  Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine are trying a brand new approach: cooling the brain.  Research participants who were insomniacs were asked to wear "cooling caps," soft plastic caps fitted with tubes for circulating water at different temperatures.  Insomniacs who wore the coolest caps slept at least as well as people who sleep normally.  Normal sleepers take an average of 16 minutes to fall asleep and sleep 89% of the time they are in bed.  The explanation of why the caps work is that the cooling slows metabolism in the frontal cortex of the brain.  Insomnia is associated with increased metabolism in the frontal cortex.  Source: Los Angeles Times, June 13, 2011.
For more information on the innovative Super Noggin cognitive fitness lifestyle program, visit our website at  The program was developed by LEAF Ltd., a private foundation and nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of cognitive wellness.

© 2010 Super Noggin