Posts Tagged brain awareness week

Brain Fitness Update: Man is a Tool-Making Animal

Here you have the February edition of our monthly eNewsletter covering cognitive health and brain fitness topics. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, by visiting http://www.SharpBrains.com and subscribing there.

The recent SharpBrains Summit witnessed the convergence of Benjamin Franklin’s words (”Man is a Tool-Making Animal”)  with neuroscientist Santiago Ramon y Cajal’s  (”Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor of his own brain.”) The neuroplasticity revolution that may well transform education, training, healthcare, aging, is under way.

New Tools

Will the Apple iPad Be Good for your BrainProf. Luc Beaudoin lays out key criteria to assess Apple iPad’s potential value for our cognitive fitness, and judges the iPad against a comprehensive checklist.  His verdict? Thumbs-up.

Is Working Memory a better predictor of academic success than IQ?Dr. Tracy Alloway summarizes  a recent landmark study, published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, which  tracked children over a six-year period. Key finding: Working memory can be a more powerful predictor of academic success than IQ scores.

Old Tools

Building Fit Minds Under Stress: According to Science Daily’s take on a just published study, “a high-stress U.S. military group preparing for deployment to Iraq has demonstrated a positive link between mindfulness training, or MT, and improvements in mood and working memory”.

The Evolution of Empathy: Empathy is not a uniquely human trait, explains primatologist Frans de Waal in this Greater Good Magazine article. Apes and other animals feel it as well, suggesting that empathy is truly an essential part of who we are.

Reflections

Reflections on Creativity – Interview with Daniel Tammet:  Scott Barry Kaufman recently interviewed Daniel Tammet, known for vividly describing autistic savantism from the inside. Their in-depth conversation made Scott reflect that “Daniel Tammet’s feeling of a great loneliness and isolation growing up spoke to me, for sure. But I’m sure it also spoke to a great many people reading the interview.”

Summit Reactions

The SharpBrains Summit took place January 18-20th, helping engage over 250 participants in 15 countries. Here are a couple of reactions from participants:

5 Key Reflections on “Neurocentric Health”: Institute For The Future researcher Jake Dunagan summarizes his main take-aways, including this overall assessment – “Although the conference was virtual, aside from the rigors of travel and a basket of bagels on the hallway table, my level of intellectual stimulation (and fatigue) mirrored most of my face-to-face conference experiences. It was a technical success and the content was first-rate.” (Thanks, Jake!)

The Future of Cognitive Enhancement: Neuroethics researcher Peter Reinerponders,  “Will brain fitness software dominate the world of cognitive enhancement?”.  His take: “Prior to this conference I was quite skeptical, but the overall impression that I was left with was that brain fitness software may turn out to have some distinct advantages over pharmacological approaches.” Read his article to discover why.

Community

Network for Brain Fitness Innovation (private LinkedIn group):  Members are engaging in many good discussions, including most surprising things learned during the SharpBrains Summit, how to deal with conflicts of interest in industry and academia, resources and conferences relevant to education and children, and ways to elicit a wider interest in brain health.

Looking for Speakers: We are always looking for best practices and research-based innovation. If you are interested in speaking at future SharpBrains events (including Games for Health brain tracks), please Contact Us and tell us about 1) your innovation or research, 2) its measured and/ or potential impact, 3) recent coverage in general, trade, or scientific media, 4) the typical audience you talk to, and a couple of descriptions of recent talks, 5) what you propose talking about.

Offer

Brain Fitness Information Package for Libraries:  libraries of all kinds can now  order a copy of our main report, The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009, at 50% off price.  Using discount code sharplibrary leaves this premium report at $645 (offer valid until March 31st, 2010). Offer is  valid for individuals and organizations who commit to donating their copy to a library, in good shape, after consulting it.

Finally, a reminder that Brain Awareness Week (March 15-21, 2010) is approaching soon!

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Update: Does Cognitive Training Work?

Here you have the February edition of our monthly newsletter covering cognitive health and brain fitness topics. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Brain FitnessNewsletter by email, simply by submitting your email at the top of this page.

Cognitive training (or structured mental exercise) definitely seems to work – as long as we define properly what “work” means, don’t expect magic cures, and help navigate options. Please keep reading…

Interview: Baycrest

Interview with Baycrest’s CEO Dr. William Reichman: Discussing the recent Centre for Brain Fitness at Baycrest, Dr. Reichman suggests that “we have an opportunity to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI century, similar to what happened with Cardiovascular Health in the XXth, and technology will play a crucial role.” A major obstacle? We need a consensus on “widely accepted standards for outcome measures”.

Does It Work?

Does cognitive training work? (For Whom? For What?): The growing field of cognitive training (one of the tools for brain fitness) can appear very confusing as the media keeps reporting contradictory claims. These claims are often based on press releases, without a deeper understanding of the scientific evidence. Dr. Pascale Michelon, SharpBrains’ Research Manager for Educational Initiatives, analyzes a couple of recent studies, clarifying what they mean – and what they don’t mean.

It Works, and It Doesn’t Work: the IMPACT study (a major, multi-site study on the Posit Science auditory program) will be published at the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in April. Results support that cognitive training works – but doesn’t support the grandiose “brain age” claims we see too often.

Cognitive Training can Influence Brain Biochemistry: Dr. David Rabiner discusses a recent scientific study that “shows that brain biochemistry can be modified by experience”, and that computerized cognitive training (Cogmed working memory training) can provide that experience.

The Big Picture

Making Healthy Choices – Primare Care and Prevention: a panel at the recent World Economic Forum explored why “New markets and industries are arising – “silver industries” such as financial services, health, housing and hospitality geared to senior citizens. Longevity needs to be linked to health – including cognitive health – and lifestyle choices play a major role in health.”

Enrich your environment now and benefit your future offspring: Dr. Robert Sylwester reports that “all sorts of long held-beliefs about our brain and cognition are being re- examined by cognitive neuroscientists” because of fascinating studies such as the one  he reviews (with mice): “The study’s findings seemed to suggest that acquired characteristics can be genetically transmitted…long-term benefits accrue from a stimulating early environment that encourages curiosity and exploration.”

Managing Emotions

From Distress to De-Stress: helping anxious, worried kids: In a detailed 2-part article, (Part 1, Part 2), Dr. Jerome Schulz provides great tips on how to help children learn to self-regulate emotions, adding that “Teachers, occupational therapists, physical education teachers and parents need to actually teach children (of all ages) how to get themselves into a physical state of being relaxed. This doesn’t happen automatically. If it did, there wouldn’t be so many adult yoga classes!”

Lie to Me, Paul Ekman and Biofeedback: You may have watched the new series Lie To Me, with Tim Roth, based on the work of Paul Ekman. The introduction to the second episode shows why what are called “lie detectors” are nothing but biofeedback systems that measure physiological anxiety.

News

Brain Games for Baby Boomers: round-up of other recent news, covering the effects of gaming, cognitive training for driving skills, and brain fitness classes.

Neurocognitive assessments and sports concussions: a new study and a new resource to understand and address the 1.6 to 3.8 million cases of sports-related concussions that occur annually in the United States.

Brain Teaser

How will you, your organization, your neighbors, participate in Brain Awareness Week, March 16th-22nd, organized by the Dana Foundation with the participation of thousands of outreach partners, including SharpBrains? You can find event ideas, excellent resources (yes, including puzzles), and a calendar of events, Here.

Have a great month of March!

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