Posts Tagged cognitive

For brain training to work, it must induce neuroplasticity in regions that matter

Leave a Comment

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!

Leave a Comment

Update: Preparing Society for the Cognitive Age, and Industry Webinar

Here you have the August edition of our monthly newsletter covering cognitive health and Brain Fitnessbrain fitness topics. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

Scientific publication Frontiers in Neuroscience recently published a special issue on Augmenting Cognition, and invited me to contribute with an article titled Preparing Society for the Cognitive Age. Groundbreaking brain research has occurred over the last 20 years. The opportunity to improve brain health and performance is immense, but we need to ensure the marketplace matures in a rational and sustainable manner, both through healthcare and non-healthcare channels. Click Here to read my article.

Announcements

In May 2009 SharpBrains published The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009, the main industry report for leading organizations preparing their members, their clients, and their patients for the cognitive age. 150-pages long, the report includes a market survey with 2,000+ respondents, detailed analysis of 20+ vendors, research briefs written by 12 leading scientists and data and trends for 4 major customer segments.webinar

Below we share the full Executive Summary of the report and announce an exclusive webinar on September 29th to discuss the State of the Market in more depth with buyers of the report.

To order the report and access both the report and the webinar, you can click Here. (Only $975 -a 25% discount- using Discount Code Frontiers2009 before September 28th).

State of the Market

The brain fitness field holds exciting promise for the future while presenting clear opportunities and challenges today. The good news is that there are more tools available than ever before to assess and train a variety of cognitive skills. The bad news is that there are no magic pills and that consumers, while satisfied overall, seem confused by competing claims on how to reduce one’s “brain age.” We do see signs that this early-stage market can mature in a more rational, structured manner; but there is much work to be done. We estimate that the size of the U.S. brain fitness software (i.e., applications designed to assess or enhance cognitive abilities) market in 2008 was $265M – growing 18% from $225M in 2007, and representing an annualized growth rate of 38% since 2005. Growth came in roughly equal Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a Comment

Update: Public Libraries as Health Clubs for the Brain

Here you have the July edition of our monthly newsletter covering cognitive health and Brain Fitnessbrain fitness topics. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

Public libraries have long offered the public more than books. And now, recent demographic and scientific trends are converging to fundamentally transform the role of libraries in our culture. You may enjoy reading this recent article I wrote for the May-June 2009 Issue of Aging Today, the bimonthly publication of the American Society on Aging: Public Libraries: Community-Based Health Clubs for the Brain.

The Big Picture

Can You Outsmart Your Genes? An Interview with Author Richard Nisbett: David DiSalvo interviews Richard Nisbett, the author of Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count, who has emerged as a persuasive voice marshalling evidence to disprove the heredity-is-destiny argument.

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.

Bird’s Eye View of Cognitive Health Innovation: Alvaro Fernandez opened the Cognitive Health Track during the Games for Health Conference (June 11-12th, Boston) with an overview of the serious games, software and online applications that can help assess and train cognitive abilities. The presentation is available Here.

Brain Tests and Myths

The Best Memory Tests, from the Alzheimer’s Action Plan: Dr. Murali Doraiswamy discusses the Pros and Cons of the most common assessments to identify cognitive problems, including what the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) does and doesn´t, and innovative computerized neuropsychological tests.

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

Resources

Free Webinar: On July 21st, 10am Pacific Time/ 1pm Eastern Time, Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg and Alvaro Fernandez, co-authors of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness, will cover the main highlights from this new book and address the questions submitted by readers. You can learn more and register HERE.

Research References: This is a partial list of the scientific studies reviewed during the research phase of SharpBrains´s new book, organized by relevant chapter, for those of you who like to explore topics in depth by reading original research (perhaps PubMed should promote itself as a never ending source of mental stimulation?).

Brain Teasers

Brain Teasers on Brain Fitness: Are you ready to test your knowledge of several key brain fitness metrics? For example: How many soldiers in the US Army have gone through computerized cognitive testing before being deployed, and why?
Finally, a request: if you have already read The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness, and could write a brief customer review at Amazon.com, we would surely appreciate! The Amazon.com book page is Here.

Best regards, and enjoy the month

Leave a Comment

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)

Leave a Comment

Market Report Finds Growth, Promise and Confusion

Here you have the April edition of our monthly newsletter covering cognitive health and Brain Fitnessbrain fitness topics. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

We are excited to release our 2009 market report The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009. To be formally released on May 4th but available now for our clients and readers, this report aims to inform decision-makers at healthcare, insurance, research, public policy, investment and technology organizations about important developments in the brain fitness and cognitive health space.

2009 Market Report

The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009: This new 150-page report finds The State of the Brain Fitness/ Training Software Market 2009 reportsustained growth in the brain fitness software market (from $225m in 2007 to $265m in 2008) and promising seeds for future growth, combined with increased confusion given aggressive marketing claims and lack of education and standards. The report includes, for the first time, a Market & Research Momentum Matrix to categorize 21 key vendors, 10 Research Executive Briefs written by 12 leading scientists, and the complete results of our market survey with 2,000+ respondents. You can learn more, and acquire the report, Here.

News and Resources

Cognitive Health News April Round-Up: New cognitive track at the Games for Health conference, bilingual brains, poverty’s effect on the brain and working memory due to stress, diabetes, neuroenhancing drugs, Kellogg’s settlement with the FTC, neurocognitive testing in the military.

Normal Aging vs. Alzheimer’s Disease: Dr. Murali Doraiswamy shares his very insightful views on the key question, “How can we help the public at large to distinguish Alzheimer’s Disease from normal aging — so that an interest in early identification doesn’t translate into unneeded worries?”, based on his recent book The Alzheimer’s Action Plan.

Upcoming Guide

The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: It seems every week brings a new barrage of articles and studies which often contradict what you read the month before: Does Gingko Biloba improve memory? Can physical exercise help you stay sharp as you age? Which  “brain fitness program”, if any, is worth your money? Why is managing stress so important for memory and the brain?. This new book (available both in print and Kindle versions) aims to answer those questions -and more. We will send you an email announcement when the book is ready for purchase, in late May.

The Big Picture

Do Art Classes Boost Test Scores? Is there a “Mozart Effect?”: Some researchers suggest so; others are not convinced. Karin Evans, through our collaboration with Greater Good Magazine, offers a very thoughtful review of the evidence. She also challenges us by asking, “Now, is this the right question?”

Improving the world, and one’s brain, at the same time: The Goldman Environmental Prize recently recognized seven social entrepreneurs who are clearly helping improve the state of the world. Now, the “state of the world” does include their very own brains – as you may have seen in a recent study.

Brain Teasers

Brain plasticity and daily live: If you lived in London, and wanted to grow your hippocampus, which job would you choose?

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.

Have a great May

Leave a Comment

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.

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.