Archive for October, 2008

Brain Fitness Newsletter: Premium Research Sponsors

Here you have the mid-October edition of our twice-a-month newsletter. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email.

Have you ever wondered how we can maintain SharpBrains’ website, blog and newsletter without selling any products and with only limited advertising? The answer is, we offer market research to organizations such as healthcare providers, research centers, technology developers, venture capital firms, consulting and training companies, and more.

Our new Premium Research Sponsors program will allow pioneering organizations to collaborate with us to shape the future of the brain fitness and cognitive health field, by sponsoring and accessing the most up-to-date information on the science and best practices to assess and improve cognitive functioning across the lifespan. You can learn more about the Premium Research Sponsors program Here.

Market News

Allstate: Can we Improve Driver Safety using Computerized Cognitive Training?: Insurance company Allstate and brain fitness software developer Posit Science just announced a very intelligent initiative, and Tom Warden, Assistant Vice President and Leader of Allstate’s Research and Planning Center, explains to us why cognitive training may be the new safety feature following seat belts and airbags.

The Cognitive Health and Fitness Market On The Move: As you have probably seen, the Cognitive Health and Brain Fitness field is rapidly evolving. Here we highlight some of the main developments affecting the field over the last 6-months: public policy initiatives in Canada and the US, the growing role of computerized assessments, several venture capital rounds, major initiatives by insurance companies, and significant research findings.

The Big Picture

Executive Summary of the Brain Fitness Market: Let’s step back and ask ourselves, “Why is the field evolving in such a fast way? What is hope, what is hype, what is reality?” A spate of recent global news coverage on brain fitness and brain training reflects a growing interest in natural, non drug-based interventions to keep our brains sharp as we age. This interest is very timely, given an aging population, the increased prevalence of Alzheimer’s rates, and soaring health care costs in the US that place more emphasis than ever on prevention and lifestyle changes. This article summarizes the main market dynamics, open questions, and top trends to watch for.

Nourishing Our Brains and Minds

Teaching is the Art of Changing the Brain: Laurie Bartels promises, “I have read a number of books that translate current brain research into practice while providing practical suggestions for teachers to implement. This is the first book I have read that provides a biological, and clearly rational, overview of learning and the brain.” Go and enjoy her review of a very interesting book by James Zull, Director Emeritus of the University Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education at Case Western Reserve.

Philosophy as the Missing Link in School Curricula: Kimberly Wickham answers provides some good answers to the question, “Why would anyone want to teach philosophy to pre-adolescent children?” that will engage your critical thinking skills.

A User’s Guide to Lifelong Brain Health: Drs Simon Evans and Paul Burghardt hope (as we do) that the emerging emphasis on cognitive exercise and fitness helps complement -not substitute- other lifestyle factors important for the “physical health of the brain and all the systems it communicates with”. Think: nutrition, exercise, sleep.

Exercising Our Brains

Excellent Reader Comments: Our last newsletter generated a round of excellent  comments by readers on cognitive training, Posit Science and Alzheimer’s Australia, gerontology and the brain, and the value of videogames. Come enjoy this collective wisdom and participate as you wish.

Brainy Haikus:
river with haikus
flowing in since the summer
keeping  us afloat

The Challenges of Gerontology?: The World Economic Forum has asked me, as one of the 16 members of the Global Agenda Council on the Challenges of Gerontology, for “an 800 word summary of your most compelling actionable idea on the challenges of gerontology.” Feel free to help me out by offering your own actionable ideas, either related to the discipline of gerontology itself or on ways to best engage the growing number of brains over the age of 60 in our planet.

Enjoy!

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Navigating Games for Health and Education

Here you have the twice-a-month newsletter with our most popular blog posts. Please brain fitness and health newsletterremember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, simply by submitting your email at the top of this page.

Quick, Are videogames good or bad?

That’s an impossible question. Good or bad for what? What  specific games are we talking about? More importantly, what are they substituting for, given time is a limited resource?  Contributor Jeremy Adam Smith, managing director of Greater Good magazine, offers an in-depth review on the trade-offs videogames present in: Playing the Blame Game.

News Round-Up

Math Innovation in UK Schools: a recent (and unpublished) study seems to support the potential role for “Serious Games” in education. Learning and Teaching Scotland reports significant improvements in pupils’ concentration and behavior, on top of math skills, after using Nintendo Brain Training game.

Alzheimer’s Australia endorses Posit Science programs: this announcement brings to surface a genuine public health dilemma – do you, as an association, promote programs before they have been shown to have long-term effects on Alzheimer’s progression and prevalence, or do you wait until you have “perfect” research, and then perhaps lose 10-20-30 years or useful contribution to thousands/ millions of brain’s Cognitive Reserves? In our judgment, it may well be worth offering options today, as long as they are accompanied by independent measurement of the cognitive benefits.

More September News: September has brought a wealth of additional worldwide media coverage on cognitive health and brain fitness topics, including the role of schools in nurturing student’s executive functions, the importance of baseline neuropsychological testing in sports, the need for gerontology as a discipline to incorporate brain research, how walking can enhance brain function, and the value of brain fitness programs for long-term care operators.

Resources for Brain Fitness Navigation

Wellness Coaching for Brain Health and Fitness: will Wellness Coaches expand their role and become “Brain coaches”? We have partnered with Sutter Health Partners, the pioneering coaching group of a major health system, to train their wellness coaches on the implications of emerging brain research for their work: focus on the 4 pillars of brain health -balanced nutrition, physical exercise, stress management and mental exercise.

Evaluation Checklist for Organizations: many healthcare and education organizations are already making purchase decisions which involve evaluating different programs that make “brain training” or “cognitive health” claims. Here we present our 10-Question SharpBrains Checklist to help organizations make informed decisions.

Evaluation Checklist for Consumers: if you are an individual interested in programs for yourself and/ or a loved one, you can use this checklist. The starting point is to recognize that no program is a “magic pill” or “general solution”, but a tool to be used in the appropriate context.

Learning to Lead, and To Think

Roundtable on Human Resources and Leadership: several bloggers discuss latest news around leadership, social intelligence, applications of brain research, and more.

Helping Young and Old Fish Learn How To Think: David Foster Wallace gave a masterful commencement speech on Life and Work to the 2005 graduating  class at Kenyon College.  Worth reading, with full attention.

Brain Teasers

Seven Brain teasers for Job Interviews: A recent CNN article explains why a growing number of technnology and consulting companies use brain teasers and logic puzzles of a type called “guesstimations” during job interviews. What are they looking for? Good executive functions. Here you have a few typical questions.

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