Posts Tagged Cognitive Training

Update: Innovation to Upgrade Brain Care

Here you have the July107px-gray1197thumbnail edition of our monthly eNewslet ter covering cognitive health and brain fitness topics. Please remem ber that you can subscribe to receive this free Brain Fitness eNewsletter by email, using the box in the right column.

Technology to upgrade brain care: In this extensive interview, Dr. John Docherty helps connect the dots on why new frameworks and tools are a must to put recent brain research to good use. A must read for all professionals in the field.

Research

Findings from NIH Expert Panel: The American Society on Aging asked Alvaro Fernandez to comment on the findings from a major cognitive health research review by the National Institutes of Health. Lifestyle still matters, and protective factors against cognitive decline are led by cognitive training, physical activity and cognitive engagement.

Scientific critique of BBC brain training experiment: Dr. Elizabeth Zelinski shares her concerns about the April 2010 BBC study, which included substantial and unexplained dropout rates, and questionable outcome measurement and interpretation.

The value of being bilingual and building a Cognitive Reserve to preserve learning and memory even in the face of brain damage are explored in recent studies.

San Francisco Bay Area study seeks participants: The Gazzaley Lab at UCSF is looking for participants aged 20-59 to explore the impact of distraction and multitasking on performance across the lifespan.


Innovation

What impressed Innovation Awards Judging Panel: Get some insight into what most impressed the Judging Panel about each Winner and Finalist of the 2010 Brain Fitness Innovation Awards.

New – SharpBrains’ 2010 Market Report: SharpBrains’ flagship, 207-page, third annual market report finds continued growth for digital technologies to assess, enhance and treat cognition.

To manage brain fitness through life, we need to put puzzle pieces together: innovative tools to help us better monitor our cognitive health and take informed action are badly needed….and already emerging.

The internet will fry your brain. Sure: In his latest book, Nicholas Carr does a great job highlighting the implications of lifelong neuro­plasticity, but picks the wrong enemy.

“Serious Games”: Can video games inspire people to perform acts of altruism? Kyle Smith reports.

Teasers

Yahoo Optical Illusions and teasers: Yahoo! has created an expanded section of illusions and teasers, and we were glad to contribute to it. Enjoy…and have a great summer!

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Update: Expo Day at SharpBrains Summit, 15 Top Brain Fitness Articles of 2009

In this January issue of our eNewsletter, we will first neuronsbrief you on the enlightening demos that will take place on Wednesday, January 20th, as part of the SharpBrains Summit, and then present the 15 most stimulating SharpBrains articles of 2009.

Expo Day

If you want to see and discuss the latest programs and technologies for brain fitness, presented by Summit Sponsors, Wednesday January 20th is your day. Each demo will last 30 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A.

9am. Baycrest/ Cogniciti will introduce the new Memory@Work workshop, designed to teach what memory is, how lifestyle factors such as distraction and stress can affect memory, and how to enhance memory performance at work with the use of enabling strategies.

10am. CogniFit will demo CogniFit Personal Coach and CogniFit Senior Driver, two online programs designed to assess and main cognitive functions for healthy living and safe driving, respectively.

11am. Posit Science will demo InSight, a software-based cognitive training package designed to sharpen brain’s visual system. This is the program being tested by Allstate for safer driving.

Noon. Happy Neuron will introduce HAPPYneuron PRO, a new platform for professionals for the effective delivery and management of cognitive remediation and rehabilitation programs in a patient centric manner.

1pm. SharpBrains will help navigate this growing field by discussing The State of the Brain Fitness Software 2009 report and The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness consumer guide, and summarizing key Summit take-aways.

Learn more and register HERE. Please remember that discount code sharp2010 gives you 15% off, and that registration closes on January 17th.

We want to thank our most recent sponsor, the Arrowsmith Program, a comprehensive suite of cognitive programs for students with learning disabilities available in public and private schools in Canada and the U.S. More information here.

And now, let’s review the (in our view) 15 most stimulating articles of 2009.

The Big Picture

100 is the new 65: Why do some people live, and well, to 100? Researchers are trying to find out, reports Meera Lee Sethi at Greater Good Magazine.

Learning about Learning: an Interview with Joshua Waitzkin: Scott Barry Kaufman interviews “child prodigy” Joshua Waitzkin on The Art of Learning.

Debunking 10 Brain Health Myths: Does your brain have a “Brain Age”? Is a Magic Pill to prevent memory problems right around the corner?  Check out the facts to debunk 10 common myths.

Why is working memory relevant to reading and mathematics: A recent large UK study identified 1 in 10 students as having working memory difficulties. Dr. Tracy Alloway elaborates why this matters.

Change Your Environment, Change Yourself: Dr. Brett Steenbarger explains why new environments  force us to exit our routines and actively master unfamiliar challenges.”

Tools

Retooling Use it or lose it: Alvaro Fernandez discusses why routine, doing things inside our comfort zones, is the most common enemy of the novelty, variety and challenge our brains need.

Does cognitive training work? (For Whom? For What?): Dr. Pascale Michelon, dissects a couple of recent press releases and the underlying studies to clarifying what they mean – and what they don’t mean.

New Study Supports Neurofeedback Treatment for ADHD: Dr. David Rabiner reports the promising findings from the first well-designed controlled trial on the effect of neurofeedback treatment for ADHD.

Do Art Classes Boost Test Scores? Is there a “Mozart Effect?”: Some researchers suggest so; others are not convinced. Karin Evans offers a  thoughtful review of the evidence and asks, “Now, is this the right question?”

Does coffee boost cognitive functions over time? Dr. Pascale Michelon reports good news (long-term effects seem more positive than negative, so coffee leads to no clear harm) and bad ones (no clear beneficial effects on general brain functions).

Industry

Brain fitness heads towards its tipping point: How do you know when something is moving towards a Gladwellian tipping point? When insurance companies and policy makers pay attention, Dr. Gerard Finnemore reports.

Visual Representation of the State of the Market 2009: Paul Van Slembrouck beautifully presents the main findings of our 150-page market report, The State of the Brain Fitness Market 2009.

Michael Merzenich on brain fitness: neuroscientist Michael Merzenich discusses neuroplasticity, technology, safe driving, mental health, and the need for standards, automated assessments and “personal brain trainers”.

Brain Teaser

Stimulate your Concentration Skills: when one really wants to memorize a fact, it is crucial to pay attention. Dr. Pascale Michelon challenges you to count a few simple letters.

Resolution

Finally, an article that may inspire some New Year Resolutions. In Yes, You Can Build Willpower, Daniel Goleman discusses how the brain makes about 10,000 new cells every day, how they migrate to where they are needed, and how each cell can make around 10,000 connections to other brain cells. Implication? Meditate, mindfully, and build positive habits.

Wishing you a Happy and Productive 2010, and looking forward to meeting many of you (200 so far) at the inaugural SharpBrains Summit!

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Debunking 10 Brain Training/ Cognitive Health Myths

Think about this: How can anyone take care of his or her brain when every week brings a new barrage of articles and studies which seem to contradict each other?

Do supplements improve memory? Do you need both physical and mental exercise –or is one of them enough? Which brain training approach, if any, is worth one’s time and money?

We tried to address these questions, and many others, in our recent book, The SharpBrains Guide to Brain FitnessSharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness. The Book (182 pages, $24.95), that we presented at Games for Health Conference last week. The book is the result of over two years of extensive research including more than a hundred interviews with scientists, professionals and consumers, and a deep review of the scientific literature, led by neuropsychologist Elkhonon Goldberg and myself with the help of cognitive scientist Pascale Michelon. As we wrote in the Introduction, what we wanted to do first of all was to debunks these 10 myths on brain health and brain training:

Myth 1. Genes determine the fate of our brains.
Facts: Lifelong neuroplasticity allows our lifestyles and actions to play a meaningful role in how our brains physically evolve, especially given longer life expectancy.

Myth 2. Aging means automatic decline.
Facts: There is nothing inherently fixed in the precise trajectory of how brain functions evolve as we age.

Myth 3. Medication is the main hope for cognitive enhancement.
Facts: Non-invasive interventions can have comparable and more durable effects, side effect-free.

Myth 4. We will soon have a Magic Pill or General Solution to solve all our cognitive challenges.
Facts: A multi-pronged approach is recommended, centered around nutrition, stress management, and both physical and mental exercise.

Myth 5. There is only one “it” in “Use It or Lose it”.
Facts: The brain is composed of a number of specialized units. Our life and productivity depend on a variety of brain functions, not just one.

Myth 6. All brain activities or exercises are equal.
Facts: Varied and targeted exercises are the necessary ingredients in brain training so that a wide range of brain functions can be stimulated.

Myth 7. There is only one way to train your brain.
Facts: Brain functions can be impacted in a number of ways: through meditation, cognitive therapy, cognitive training.

Myth 8. We all have something called “Brain Age”.
Facts: Brain age is a fiction. No two individuals have the same brain or expression of brain functions.

Myth 9. That “brain age” can be reversed by 10, 20, 30 years.
Facts: Brain training can improve specific brain functions, but, with research available today, cannot be said to roll back one’s “brain age” by a number of years.

Myth 10. All human brains need the same brain training.
Facts: As in physical fitness, users must ask themselves: What functions do I need to improve on? In what timeframe? What is my budget?

Do you have other myths in mind you would like  us to address?

We have started to receive great feedback from the healthcare community, such as this email from a neurosurgeon in Texas:

“I really like the book, it is comprehensive without being too technical. I have recommended it to several patients. There are some other books that I expected would be greeted with enthusiasm, but were too complex for most of my patients. I think this book is right in the sweet spot”.

And this great book review by an Internist Physician and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow, titled Is Your Brain A Couch Potato?:

“…a short, sweet, entertaining read of a complex topic, with timely (written in 1/09) reviews of 21 top technology products, as well as informed and expert predictions of where this burgeoning brain-fitness field is headed. More importantly, after you read it, you’ll have a good, detailed sense of where you, personally, can act to improve your own couch-potato brain – and how to keep it fit and flexible your whole life. The SharpBrains Guide To Brain Fitness reminds of us all why books (and not just googling a topic) can be well worth your time and money. Two Stethoscopes Up – check it out. life.”

—Doc Gurley, book review for SFGate.com (06/08/09)

The bookThe SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness (available via Amazon.com Here, review copies available upon request).

Description: While most of us have heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” very few understand what “it” means, or how to properly “use it” in order to maintain brain function and fitness. The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness is an invaluable guide that helps readers navigate growing brain research and identify the lifestyle factors and products that contribute to brain health and fitness. By gathering insights from eighteen of the world’s top scientists and offering tools and detailed descriptions of over twenty products, this book is an essential guide to the field of brain fitness, neuroplasticity and cognitive health. An accessible and thought-provoking read, The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness educates lifelong learners and professionals in healthcare, education, business, etc., on emerging trends and forecasts of what the future will hold.

Products Reviewed (we reviewed scientific studies published before January 2009, when the manuscript text was closed):

- Overall brain maintenance: Brain Age series (Nintendo), BrainWare Safari (Learning Enhancement Corporation), FitBrains.com (Vivity Labs), Happy-Neuron.com (Scientific Brain Training), Lumosity.com (Lumos Labs), MindFit (CogniFit), (m)Power (Dakim)

- Targeted brain workout: Classic and InSight (Posit Science), Working Memory Training JM and RM (Cogmed), DriveFit (CogniFit), Earobics (Houghton Mifflin), Fast ForWord (Scientific Learning), IntelliGym (Applied Cognitive Engineering), Vision Restpration Therapy (NovaVision)

- Emotional self-regulation: emWave PC and Personal Stress Reliever (HeartMath), Journey to the Wild Divine (Wild Divine), RESPeRATE (InterCure), StressEraser (Helicor)

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Top 30 Brain Health and Fitness Articles of 2008

Here brain teasers job interview you have SharpBrains’ 30 most popular articles, ranked by the number of people who read each article in 2008. Thirteen Expert Contributors and staff members have written these articles for you, covering a wide range of brain health and fitness topics.

Please note that, since the first article already includes most of our most popular brain teasers, we have excluded teasers from the rest of the ranking.

Blog Channel
Article
1. Top 50 Brain Teasers and Games to Test your Brain
- By Alvaro Fernandez
It is always good to stimulate our minds and to learn a bit about how our brains work. Here you have a selection of the 50 Brain Teasers that people have enjoyed the most.
2. The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Brains
- By Alvaro Fernandez
Let’s review some good lifestyle options we can follow to maintain, and improve, our vibrant brains. My favorite: don’t outsource your brain (even to us).
3. Why do You Turn Down the Radio When You’re Lost?
- By Caroline Latham
You’re driving through suburbia one evening looking for the street where you’re supposed to have dinner at a friend’s new house. You slow down to a crawl, turn down the radio, stop talking, and stare at every sign. Why is that? Neither the radio nor talking affects your vision. Or do they?
4. Brain Plasticity: How learning changes your brain
- By Pascale Michelon
You may have heard that the brain is plastic. As you know the brain is not made of plastic! Neuroplasticity or brain plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to CHANGE throughout life.
5. Top 10 Brain Training Future Trends
- By Alvaro Fernandez
In an emerging market like brain fitness training, it is difficult to make precise projections. But, we can observe a number of trends that executives, consumers, public policy makers, and the media should watch closely in the coming years, as brain fitness and training becomes mainstream, new tools appear, and an ecosystem grows around it.
6. Brain Exercise and Brain Health FAQs
- By Alvaro Fernandez
Answers to 7 most common questions around brain exercise and health, to help you navigate this emerging field.
7. It is Not Only Cars That Deserve Good Maintenance: Brain Care 101
- By Alvaro Fernandez
If we can all agree on the importance of maintaining our cars that get us around town, what about maintaining our brains sitting behind the wheel?
8. Evaluation Checklist for Brain Fitness Software and Training Games
- By Alvaro Fernandez
Unless you have been living in a cave, you have read by now multiple articles about the brain training and brain exercise craze. Now, how do you know which of the new programs can help you more, or whether you need any of them?
9. Brain Training Games: Context, Trends, Questions
- By Alvaro Fernandez
This past Tuesday, the MIT Club of Northern California, the American Society on Aging, and SmartSilvers sponsored an event to explore the realities and myths of this growing field. Here is the summary.
10. Stress Management Workshop for International Women’s Day
- By Alvaro Fernandez
Global consulting company Accenture organized a series of events, and I was fortunate to lead a fun workshop on The Neuroscience of Stress and Stress Management in their San Francisco office, helping over 125 accomplished women (and a few men).
11. Mindfulness and Meditation in Schools for Stress Management
- By Jill Sutie
With eyes closed and deep breaths, students are learning a new method to reduce anxiety, conflict, and attention disorders. But don’t call it meditation.
12. Stress and Neural Wreckage: Part of the Brain Plasticity Puzzle
- By Gregory Kellet
“My brain is…fried, toast, frazzled, burnt out.” How many times have you said or heard one version or another of these statements. Most of us think we are being figurative when we utter such phrases, but research shows that the biological consequences of sustained high levels of stress may have us being more accurate than we would like to think.
13. How can I improve my short term memory? Is there a daily exercise I can do to improve it?
- By Caroline Latham
By choosing to attend to something and focus on it, you create a personal interaction with it, which gives it personal meaning, making it easier to remember.
14. Cognitive and Emotional Development Through Play
- By David Elkind
Play is rapidly disappearing from our homes, our schools, and our neighborhoods. Decades of research has shown that play is crucial to physical, intellectual, and social-emotional development at all ages.
15. Judith Beck: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person
- By Alvaro Fernandez
Brain Fitness doesn’t require the use of expensive equipment. Your brain is enough. We were honored to interview Dr. Judith Beck on how cognitive techniques can be applied to develop a number of important mental skills. The latest application of these?. Losing weight.
16. Easy Steps to Improve Brain Health
- By Caroline Latham
We can summarize a lot of research by saying that there are four essential pillars to maintaining a healthy brain that functions better now and lasts longer. Those pillars are: 1) Physical Exercise, 2) Mental Exercise, 3) Good Nutrition, 4) Stress Management.
17. Report: The State of the Brain Fitness/ Training Software Market 2008
- By Alvaro Fernandez
After many months of work, we have just released our inaugural report on the emerging Brain Fitness Software Market, the first to define the brain fitness and training software market and analyze the size and trends of its four customer segments.
18. Improve Memory with Sleep, Practice, and Testing
- By Bill Klemm
There are whole markets (think crosswords, herbal supplements, drugs, brain fitness software) aimed at helping us improve our memory. Now, what is ¨memory¨? and how does the process of memory work?.
19. 10 Brain Tips To Teach and Learn
- By Laurie Bartels
If you agree that our brains are designed for learning, then as educators it is incumbent upon us to be looking for ways to maximize the learning process for each of our students, as well as for ourselves.
20. Cognitive Training and Brain Fitness: Interview with Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg
- By Alvaro Fernandez
Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg is a clinical professor of neurology at New York University School of Medicine. His areas of expertise include executive functions, memory, attention deficit disorder, dementia, traumatic brain injury. Dr. Goldberg was a student and close associate of the great neuropsychologist Alexander Luria.
21. Maximize the Cognitive Value of Your Mental Workout
- By Schlomo Breznitz
Like in the case of physical fitness, cognitive fitness requires deliberate exercising. The main reason for this rests on the fact that our brains are basically lazy. There are in principle two very different modes of activity that our brains engage in whenever faced with a problem.
22. Brain Fitness Program and Neuroplasticity @ PBS
- By Alvaro Fernandez
Information on the PBS special program on neuroplasticity, brain fitness, aging and the brain titled “Brain Fitness Program”.
23. Mindfulness Meditation for Adults & Teens with ADHD
- By David Rabiner
Although medication treatment is effective for many individuals with ADHD, including adolescents adults, there remains an understandable need to explore and develop interventions that can complement or even substitute for medication.
24. Can Intelligence Be Trained? Martin Buschkuehl shows how
- By Alvaro Fernandez
Dr. Martin Buschkuehl is one of the University of Michigan’s Cognitive Neuroimaging Lab researchers involved in a recent cognitive training study that received much media attention since it was published at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
25. How Strong is the Research Support for Neurofeedback in Attention Deficits?
- By David Rabiner
Understanding the extent of available research can help families better understand the strengths and limitations of the existing research on neurofeedback and enable them to make a better informed decision about whether to consider this treatment option for their child.
26. Exercising the body is exercising the mind
- By Adrian Preda
One of the most important development in neuroscience was when the official dogma claiming that there was no neurogenesis (production of new brain cells) in the adult brain was toppled.
27. Brain Evolution and Why it is Meaningful Today to Improve Our Brain Health
- By Larry McCleary
You may feel overwhelmed by the stream of seemingly contradictory suggestions regarding the best way to maintain mental clarity as you age. Based on an analysis of seminal factors in the development of modern brain anatomy, I believe it is possible to make some very compelling recommendations for growing big brains, enhancing their function, and making them resistant to the aging process.
28. Physical Exercise and Brain Health
- By Pascale Michelon
What is the connection between physical and mental exercises? Do they have additive effects on brain health? Are they redundant? Let’s start by reviewing what we know about the effects of physical exercise on the brain.
29. Posit Science, Nintendo Brain Age, and Brain Training Topics
- By Alvaro Fernandez
The concept of having a “brain age” is, itself, profoundly unscientific. It is one thing to have that concept popularized by a game developer such as Nintendo through its popular Brain Age/ Training Series, and another one to have it reinforced by companies that are developing and marketing science-based applications.
30. Sleep, Tetris, Memory and the Brain
- By Shannon Moffet
Sleep is so obvious a physiologic need (from insects to mammals, all animals sleep) that it doesn’t even occur to most of us to wonder why we have to do it.

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