Pregnancy

Your Baby’s Developing Brain

Are you pregnant or thinking about starting a family?

Do you want the best start possible for your baby, providing them with natural brain development?

Do you want to make sure your own mental health won’t have a negative impact on your baby’s developing brain?

In this fascinating, well-researched and informative series, Your Baby’s Developing Brain, author Dr. Chong Chen uses the knowledge he has gleaned from years of painstaking research, to help you give your unborn baby the start in life it deserves, with a look at things like:

  • How to sow the seeds of intelligence
  • The fundamental principles of parenting
  • Diet, weight and nutrition
  • Avoiding environmental risks
  • Getting the right amount of sleep
  • How to educate your unborn baby
  • Music to listen to
  • Managing emotions
  • And much more…

Getting the right start in life is important for every child. It is a challenge for parents to know what is best and how to achieve it, but with this series to help you can eliminate many of the dangers and begin your child’s education while it’s still in the womb.

Get your copy of this illuminating series, Your Baby’s Developing Brain, now and give your child the perfect start in life!

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Book One Psychology for Pregnancy: How Your Mental Health During Pregnancy Programs Your Baby’s Developing Brain

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Book Two The Seed of Intelligence: Boost Your Baby’s Developing Brain Through Optimal Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle

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Book Three The Wonder of Prenatal Education: Why You Should Listen to Mozart and Sing to Your Baby While Pregnant

Endorsement

Believe it or not, everything starts in the womb. A pregnancy’s full potential can be reached through a careful analysis and adjustment of the mother’s external and mental world…“Your Baby’s Developing Brain” Series by Dr. Chong Chen is a great resource to add to your knowledge about the way we function as humans and how to assist future tiny humans to reach their best physical and psychological potential.

I believe Dr. Chong Chen’s work is socially valuable, not only due to its content and immediate impact, but mainly because it promotes a lifestyle based on personal responsibility and engagement. We have the scientific data to better understand and even control significant parts of our lives. We can now update our knowledge, our attitudes and we can act accordingly, gradually changing the immediate world we live in and in time, contributing to the global social development and progress.

— Lucia GrosaruPsychology Corner
Sleep

Twelve tips to help you get a better sleep

woman-2197947_1920Sometimes, I struggle to fall asleep at night. I would lie in bed all night, trying to stop myself from thinking about anything specific. And during these times, there was always an impulse to get my phone and browse news or SNS. I would always have to struggle for a few minutes against this idea.

There is abundant neuroscientific evidence that evening use of light-emitting devices (LEDs) suppresses melatonin and increases alertness. LEDs produce enhanced short-wavelength light emissions when displaying texts. As a result, the latency to fall asleep prolongs, and the amount of REM sleep decreases. Evening use of LEDs thus leads to poor sleep quality. In a 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers compared the effects of reading an eBook on a LED with reading a printed book in the hours before bedtime. It was found that, compared to those reading a printed book, subjects reading an eBook took significantly longer to fall asleep, had delayed timing of their circadian clock, and lower next-morning alertness.

Notably, early pubertal children, namely 4-6th-grade elementary students, are particularly sensitive to evening light and show sleep disturbance after using LEDs before bedtime. Frequent usage of LEDs before bedtime impairs their alertness, attention, and learning efficiency the next day. Indeed, it has been reported that high school students who text longer at night after lights are out sleep fewer hours, are sleepier during the day, and have lower academic achievement.

Avoiding the use of LEDs before bedtime is essential. These findings also suggest that healthy sleep habits are important for optimal performance during the day time. In my new book written for pregnant women, The Seed of Intelligence: Boost Your Baby’s Developing Brain through Optimal Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle, I summarized twelve strategies that help optimize sleep. I share them with you here:

  1. Establish more regularity and consistency in the timing of daily activities, especially the timing of getting up, evening meals, and bedtime routine. For example, you may want to read, take a hot shower, and then go to bed. Higher levels of regularity in behavioral rhythms are associated with better sleep outcomes, lower depression, and improved health.
  2. Make your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark, and your bed comfortable to promote sleep.
  3. Use your bedroom only for sleep, do not work or watch TV or videos in bed. This helps to establish a conditioning between your bedroom and sleep.
  4. Nap early, keep it short and before 5 p.m. Regular napping has been associated with enhanced mood, reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and better cognitive functioning; but late napping may interfere with night sleep.
  5. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine for three to six hours before bedtime, as these chemicals interfere with sleep.
  6. Avoid heavy meals 2–3 hours before bedtime. Eating big or spicy meals may cause discomfort and interfere with sleep. If you feel hungry, try a light snack at least 45 minutes before bedtime.
  7. Consume enough drinks during the day, but balance it before sleep so that you won’t wake up thirsty nor have to go to bathroom in the middle of
  8. Do not use light-emitting electronic devices such as cell phones and tablets before bedtime, as it has negative effects on sleep.
  9. Exercise every day, as regular exercise improves sleep quality. But try to avoid vigorous exercise within 2 hours of going to bed, for vigorous late-night exercise may produce increased arousal and prolong your sleep onset latency.
  10. Try to reduce total sitting time and time spent television viewing. The more total sitting time and time spent viewing television, the greater odds of long sleep onset latency (≥ 30 min), waking up too early in the morning and poor sleep quality, and the higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea.
  11. If you can’t fall asleep after 20–30 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do something relaxing, for example reading or listening to slow, soothing music until you are tired enough to sleep.
  12. Don’t stare at your clock at night. It actually increases stress and interferes with sleep.

There is a general belief that certain food may improve sleep quality. I’m now reviewing the scientific evidence and will share with you the result soon.

Pregnancy

Coming soon: Psychology for Pregnancy

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As someone with an extensive background in medicine, psychiatry, and brain science, my friends and family had been approaching me, asking what science says about pregnancy and parenting. They wanted to know how one can boost a baby’s brain development, and of course, raise a genius. To answer the question, I set out by myself to answer the unknown through research. After over 6-years of extensive research, I finally completed this comprehensive pregnancy report: Psychology for Pregnancy: How Your Mental Health During Pregnancy Programs Your Baby’s Developing Brain. The book will be officially released on August 8, 2017.

There are many books out there on how to promote the physical health of a baby. I was interested in the brain development as it relates to intellectual, emotional, and social functioning. This is a finding all parents deserve to know and understand.

Here are three endorsements for the book:

“A very impressive work. Psychology for Pregnancy is a must-read for every parent who cares about the future of their child.”

— Takeshi Inoue, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Tokyo Medical University, Japan

Pleasurable, informative, and motivating, all at the same time.”

—  Gregor Hasler, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, University of Bern, Switzerland; Secretary, Section of Affective Disorders, World Psychiatric Association

“I had never thought of how much your psychological state could affect you and your baby during pregnancy. As I read the title I didn’t know it would be so inspiring before reading the whole book. There were so many great things in this book.”

─ Sharrell Porter, Exercise Physiologist

Spread the word on this book’s official availability, and head on over here for more information and download a FREE sample.

Memory

The art and science of memory: a journey towards remembering everything

Memory is everything we have. We are our memory and humans have been constantly searching for ways to improve memory. Mnemonics, a technique that boosts memory, has been around for centuries. Sherlock’s mind palace is but one example. It is more professionally known as “the method of loci”. The method of loci was extensively used by the ancient Greek and Roman orators. Together, with “the major system”, these two techniques perhaps are the most popular mnemonics.

About four years ago, I tried them and managed to remember pi to 1,100 digits within a week, by practicing some 30-60 minutes a day. Joshua Foer, another guy, also tried these techniques. He managed to train himself to be a professional mental athlete and won the United States Memory Championship. You can find his personal experience in his book Moonwalking with Einstein: the art and science of remembering everything.

Mnemonics is not just an art, but also a sound science. Earlier this year, Martin Dresler at Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany published a study on mnemonic training in the journal Neuron. Using fMRI, he showed that a six-week mnemonic training changed subjects’ brain networks and made their brains activities more like those of the world’s top 50 memory athletes. The training consisted of daily 30 minutes of a web-based program using the method of loci. Dresler found that the training dramatically improved the subjects’ memory performance, so that they could remember over three times more words than control subjects who did not attend the training. Meanwhile, after training, the subjects exhibited brain patterns more like those of the world’s most successful memory athletes. This study suggests that mnemonic training can change the brain to support superior memory.

The idea that our experience changes our brain is not unfamiliar to us. British scientist Eleanor A. Maguire’s pioneering research of London taxi drivers has been a milestone in this field. Eleanor found that London taxi drivers, who navigated in the city on a regular basis, had larger posterior hippocampus than control subjects who did not drive taxis. These taxi drivers also had larger posterior hippocampus than driving experience matched bus drivers who followed a set of predetermined routes during driving.

These studies encourage us to set out on a new journey towards better memory, and a more fulfilled life. Stay tuned, we will introduce more on this topic.

Marriage

Married people have lower levels of stress hormone than single people do

Recently Brian Chin at Carnegie Mellon University published an interesting paper on Psychoneuroendocrinology. Chin showed that compared to single people, married people have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva. The level of salivary cortisol resembles that in the blood. Notably, in this study, the salivary cortisol was measured during waking hours on three separate days. This suggests that the level of cortisol here reflects the basal or chronic level of stress response in the body.

Stressed people, shift-time workers, sleep deprived individuals, patients receiving hormone therapies, depressed people (melancholic), and overweight people often exhibit high levels of cortisol. Chin’s study suggests that single people are more stressed than married people and that marriage buffers chronic stress.

This finding reminds me of several insightful studies published years ago. When threatened by electric shock in the laboratory, compared to women holding a male stranger’s hand or no hand at all, married women holding their husband’s hand exhibited attenuated brain activation in areas representation threat responses such as the anterior insula. This threat buffering effect varied with marital quality, so women with higher marital quality show much less activation in the threat-related brain areas.

High-quality partner support is the magic here. I will treat this topic thoroughly in my forthcoming book Psychology for Pregnancy . Again I’ll keep you updated.

Exercise

Plato’s Insight released

“With education and exercise, man can attain perfection.”

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The words of Plato are still as pertinent today as they were when he was alive, almost 2500 years ago, and as we enter an era where we are less physically active than ever before, it’s time to look again at his insightful thoughts on the matter.

In this new book, Plato’s Insight: How Physical Exercise Boosts Mental Excellence, you will discover the links between IQ and physical fitness, and why:

  • Physically active students perform better at school
  • People who regularly exercise have better memories
  • Those who are physically active endure less stress
  • Exercise boosts self-discipline
  • Exercising as a family provides the most benefits
  • And much more…

With a slant towards children and academic achievement, Plato’s Insight is actually a book which has benefits right across the age spectrum of society.

Presenting ground-breaking findings about the links between exercise and how it impacts on our brains, Plato’s Insight shows how physical fitness is a powerful strategy for protecting you and reducing cognitive deficits we can all suffer from.

Read Plato’s Insight today. It will reveal more than you ever expected.

Exercise

Playing Tennis Enhances Cognitive Ability

Congratulations to Dr. Ishihara and Professor Mizuno for the acceptance of their new paper: “Relationship of tennis play to executive function in children and adolescents”.

Executive function is a core set of cognitive abilities. Executive function determines our fluid intelligence, that is our reasoning and problem-solving abilities. An example of executive function is working memory or the capacity to hold multiple bits of information. For instance, try to do this mental arithmetic within 5 seconds:

67 x 78.

Challenging? Sure, because our working memory is limited. It is difficult to hold five or six pieces of information in the mind while doing the calculation. Yet, there does exist individual differences so that some people have higher working memory. They are better at reasoning and processing information.

In this study, Dr. Ishihara and Professor Mizuno reported that in 6-15-year-old students, older students had executive function higher than younger students. That is, as a young child grows older, he/she will have greater executive function. This reflects the development maturity of cognitive ability. Meanwhile, students with higher BMIs tended to show executive function lower than those with lower BMIs. This is consistent with the detrimental influence of abdominal fat and obesity on the brain.

More importantly, playing tennis also boosted executive function. Students who played tennis more frequently and for more years showed higher executive function. Say, a student who plays tennis three times per week will have executive function way higher than another student who plays merely once a week. Nevertheless, even among those who play merely once a week, the more total years of tennis experience, the higher the executive function.

Tennis, just like soccer and basketball, is a cognitively stimulating sport. The more you play it, the more enhanced brain capacity you get. I will treat this topic, the benefit of sports and exercise on our brain and mind, in two of my forthcoming books. Both books are written for regular people or dummies. Will keep you guys posted on my progress.