Can Allergies Help Your Memory? Researchers think so.

When has having allergies ever been a good thing? Maybe the time has come! When researchers in Austria exposed mice to grass pollen to induce an allergic reaction, they found that the reaction stimulated the growth of new neurons. It appears as though allergic reactions suppress the decline of creating new memories, which happens with aging.



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New Year, New Student!

Start the year off right with improved study habits

Returning to school after the long holiday break can be tough, but now is the time to set routines that will stick for the rest of the school year. If your child is struggling in school, it’s possible that stronger study skills could make a difference in his or hearing learning success. There are ways you can help your child develop more effective study habits.

Encourage your child to put the following suggestions into practice:

Set daily and weekly goals.Help your child developdaily and weekly plans, as well as ways to measure their success. Write these goals down, either on paper or digitally.Here are some examples of questions your child should ask himself on a regular basis:

  • “What do I want to accomplish this week?”
  • “What are my goals for today?”
  • “Did I meet yesterday’s goals?”
  • “What kept me from meeting those goals?”
  • “What can I do differently today to help me better meet my goals?”

Stop multitasking.Is your childstuck at the kitchen table for hours trying to study while checking Facebook,texting friends, or making multiple trips to the kitchen for snacks? If so, your child is training his or her brain to dawdle. Instead, show your child how to teach his or her brain to work hard for set periods of time. One way to do this is to use a timer. Start by having your child turnoff any mobile devices and close distracting browsers. (You might also have your child finish any snacking so he or she can focus fully on studying.) Then set the timer and get started. When that timed session is over, have your child take a break. After the break, set the timer again and dive in. If at first all your child can do is fifteen minutes at a stretch, that’s fine—build up over time. The point is training your child’s brain to study, not dawdle.

Choose a couple of good study habits and practice them for a month. Experts in the formation of new and lasting habits suggest committing to two or three desired changes for a period of a month. Focusing on a few changes over the course of thirty days allows time and practice for that new change to become an integrated part of your routine. In other words, if you want help your child develop better study habits, have him pick two or three habits he wants to develop, and focus on making them an integral part of his study protocol for 30 days.

Take better notes in class.When a child sits down to study and discovers that his or her class notes are incomplete or difficult to follow, that child is simply not going to be able to accomplish what he or she needs to accomplish. Encourage your child to take complete and legible notes in class. You might start by reviewing current class notes and making suggestion on how they could be improved. Some experts say a great study tip is to rewrite class notes at home. Those notes will not only be better organized and easier to follow, the repetition will make remembering the concepts easier.

Train the skills your child’s brain uses to think and learn.Something else you can do as a parent is enroll your child in a cognitive training program. Cognitive skills are the core skills your child’s brain uses to think and learn, and when these skills are strong,learning is easier.

LearningRx is a brain training company with more than 80 centers across the United States. LearningRx uses intense mental exercise done one-on-one with a personal brain trainer to strengthen cognitive skills. These skills include attention, long and short-term memory, auditory processing, visual processing, processing speed, and logic & reasoning.

LearningRx helps children and adults of all ages. To find out if LearningRx brain training can help your child learn faster and easier, contact a LearningRx brain training center near you.

“This is Too Hard!” 5 ways to help a child with a learning disability


It’s painful watching your child struggle in school, but there are things you can do to help. Find out how to turn “This is too hard!” to “I can do this!” with these 5 tips.

  1. Remind them that even very smart kids can have a learning disability; it’s not necessary an indication of intelligence. Explain that Albert Einstein had ADHD and Thomas Edison had dyslexia and look how brilliant they were!
  2. Enroll them in personal brain training. Most learning disabilities are due to weak cognitive skills. If weak cognitive skills are, indeed, causing your child to struggle, that’s actually good news because there is something you can do about it: weak skills can be strengthened. One-on-one brain training provides a way to strengthen the core skills the brain uses to think and perform. And because every brain training program is customized, even extremely smart kids can benefit from brain training. LearningRx brain trainers work with clients of all ages about five hours a week, for 12 to 32 weeks, depending on the program. Workout sessions are customized to meet the individual objectives—and strengthen weak skills—unique to each client. And because workouts consist of game-like mental exercises, clients of all ages typically enjoy the experience.
  3. Make decisions based on facts, not assumptions. Many parents mistakenly believe that learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, are a lifelong label, or that some kids are genetically destined to always be bad at math. These are myths that can keep parents from seeking out help.
  4.  Don’t give up! At LearningRx, we hear time and time again about parents who put their child in tutoring with little to no results. That’s because tutoring is a great solution when there is an identifiable, external reason that a student did not grasp classroom content the first time it was presented in class. Perhaps a child was sick or on vacation, or a relocation in the middle of the school year created a gap in curriculum. It’s also possible that something (like an extended illness or pregnancy) impacted the consistent delivery of material. The point is, when something has interfered with the delivery of content to your child, hiring a tutor to reteach that content makes sense. On the other hand, brain training does not reteach missed content, but instead exercises and strengthens the basic skills the brain uses to think, learn, and perform. In other words, brain training improves the way the brain grasps information the first time it is presented. So, if your child is struggling in more than one class, or struggling year after year, weak cognitive skills may be to blame. And if they are, brain training can strengthen those skills.
  5. Start with baby steps. You don’t need to figure everything out at once. Begin by taking one or two small actions to get the ball rolling. Talk to your child’s teacher about specific issues your child displays, such as speaking out of turn, difficulty staying organized or taking longer than most students to complete tests. Call your local LearningRx to schedule a cognitive skills assessment. The one-hour assessment will provide a detailed look at your child’s individual cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and will give you invaluable information you need in order to decide on the next best step to help your child.

Hey Big Spender! Why our brains make us spend too much during the holidays


Whether or not we stay within our holiday shopping budget may not depend as much on willpower as it does on the circuitry of our own brains. Learn why your brain “lights up” when shopping—and how you can avoid impulse spending this season.

Three Simple Tips to Avoid Impulse Spending and Stay within Your Holiday Budget

The holidays are here, which for most of us means spending time shopping in malls or online looking for gifts for loved ones (and even for ourselves!). It also means trying to keep from spending too much money.

Apparently whether we stay within our holiday shopping budget may not depend as much on willpower as it does on the circuitry of our own brains.

Brian Knutson of Standford University and colleagues mapped the brains of shoppers using a MRI. They discovered that, as people contemplated whether or not to make a purchase, one of two segments of their brains would “light up.” If the nucleus accumbens–part of the reward and pleasure center of the brain–lit up, the subject would invariably make the purchase. If the insula–the part of the brain that registers pain (such as the pain of something costing more than its perceived value)–lit up, the subject would invaribly say “Thanks, but no thanks.”

By watching which part of the brain became active, researchers could accurately predict whether or not the shopper would make the purchase.

The reason shopping feels so good may be related to the brain chemical dopamine. This “feel good” chemical is released anytime we are exposed to the exciting mix of new places, challenges, sights and sounds–all of which are plentiful at the mall.

Looking to the brain for reasons people make the decisions they do is a new science. Baba Shiv, professor of marketing and an expert in the field of “decision neuroscience” says that, “Ten years ago if you said there is going to be fMRI in marketing research, I would have said it will never happen.” He explains that now business researchers and neuroscientists are working together, “moving toward systems of brain analysis, figuring out what gives us the juice to make decisions.”

Knudsen agrees, adding, “We’re moving from the outside to the inside of the mind.”

As you go about your holiday shopping, understanding how your brain perceives and even influences the experience may help you make better decisions.

If you’re prone to impulse purchases and are worried about staying in your budget, try these three things:

For starters, be extra careful while traveling–the novelty of shopping in a new city can make you particularly vulnerable to the heady pleasure of bagging a bargain.

Also, when contemplating a purchase you suspect you’ll regret, neutralize the thrill of the moment and activate your insula by thinking of three unpleasant ramifications that might be related to the purchase you’re trying to resist.

Finally, consider leaving the store and coming back the next day to let the dopamine settle before making your final decision.

The 2017 Smart Mom’s Toy Box


10 Classic Games from YOUR Childhood that Boost Brain Skills

If you’re like most of us, you feel torn between letting your child spend time on their technology and getting some free time of your own to get something done (even if that something is a nap).

But what if there was a compromise? What if you chose games and toys that are fun for your kids, but also boost cognitive skills, like memory, auditory & visual processing, attention, logic & reasoning, and processing speed? That’s exactly what you will find in our 2017 Smart Mom’s Toy Box …

LearningRx ( has put together a list of classic games that you’ll probably recognize from your own childhood—some with a modern spin. Chances are, you’ll bond with your child, have fun, and maybe boost some of YOUR brain skills in the process!


Try to repeat increasingly complex patterns with this fast-paced, handheld, electronic game.

Ages: 8+

Cognitive skills: auditory processing, visual processing, memory, attention, processing speed, executive processing, inductive reasoning, sustained attention

Rubik’s Cube

Challenge yourself to match up the colors on all six sides.

Ages: 8+

Cognitive skills: planning, visual processing, logic & reasoning, attention, working memory, problem solving


Use strategy to capture your opponent’s king before they get yours.

Ages: 6+

Cognitive skills: divided attention, executive processing, logic & reasoning, planning, problem solving, sequential processing, strategy


Locate your enemy’s ships and destroy all five before they sink yours.

Ages: 7+

Cognitive skills: logic & reasoning, planning, problem solving, working memory


Devise a plan to capture your opponent’s flag in this classic battlefield game of strategy.

Ages: 8+

Cognitive skills: logic & reasoning, planning, short-term memory, working memory


Get rid of all your cards first to earn points from other players.

Ages: 7+

Cognitive skills: logic & reasoning, short-term memory, sustained attention, visual processing, working memory


Jigsaw puzzles are relaxing, but they’re also working your brain skills!

Ages: 2+

Cognitive skills: deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, planning, problem solving, short-term memory, visual processing, working memory


Group and play cards in combinations to gain points.

Ages: 7+

Cognitive skills: divided attention, executive processing, logic & reasoning, mental math, numerical concept, problem solving

Connect 4

Be the first to get four discs in a row.

Ages: 6+

Cognitive skills: divided attention, executive processing, logic & reasoning, planning, problem solving, sequential processing, strategy


Earn points by making high-scoring words out of your letter tiles.

Ages: 8+

Cognitive skills: deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, long-term memory, problem solving, sequential processing, short-term memory, simultaneous processing, visual processing, word attack

Ready to head to the store (or online!) to do your holiday shopping? Take this list, or download a free Games for Skills Chart at: