Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


The Brain Fitness Program DVD (Michael Merzenich)

The most pop­u­lar ques­tion we got when we announced that PBS had a great spe­cial on Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram and Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity in Decem­ber was, when will the DVD be available?

Well, finally here it comes. You can click on the image or the title to go over to PBS shop to learn more and buy it.

The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram DVD ($24.95, shipped by 02/01/08). “This pro­gram presents a work­out to help view­ers get their brains in bet­ter shape. The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram is based on neuro-plasticity, the abil­ity of the brain to change and adapt — even rewire itself. In the past two years, a team of sci­en­tists has devel­oped computer-based stim­u­lus sets that drive ben­e­fi­cial chem­i­cal, phys­i­cal and func­tional changes in the brain. Dr. Michael Merzenich of the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia San Fran­cisco and his col­leagues around the world have been lead­ing this effort; he brings the research find­ings, along with a sci­en­tif­i­cally based set of brain exer­cises, to PBS view­ers in this inno­v­a­tive and life-altering pro­gram. Peter Coy­ote narrates. ”

To pur­chase: click Here.

You can watch a 3-minute trailer: click here.


Note: 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? Why is man­ag­ing stress so impor­tant to atten­tion and mem­ory? Which brain train­ing approach, if any, is worth one’s time and money?

SharpBrainsGuide_3DIf you have these ques­tions, check out this new book, The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness:

“Finally, an insight­ful and com­plete overview of the sci­ence, prod­ucts and trends to debunk old myths and help us all main­tain our brains in top shape. A must-read”
Glo­ria Cavanaugh, for­mer Pres­i­dent & CEO of the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging and found­ing Board mem­ber of the National Alliance for Care­giv­ing
Kudos for an excel­lent resource! This Sharp­Brains Guide is full of top notch infor­ma­tion, pro­vides prac­ti­cal tips and helps sep­a­rate hype from hope in the brain health arena.“
Eliz­a­beth Edgerly, Ph.D., Chief Pro­gram Offi­cer, Alzheimer’s Association
“A mas­ter­ful guide to the brain train­ing rev­o­lu­tion. Promises to stim­u­late a much needed con­ver­sa­tion that will nudge soci­ety to build a new brain fit­ness cul­ture on solid, research-based, foun­da­tions.“
P. Murali Doraiswamy MD, Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try, Duke Uni­ver­sity and Co-author of The Alzheimer’s Action Plan

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22 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    Hello, I want to buy the DVD of the actual Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram that aired, NOT a DVD of exer­cises. Is that DVD the show itself or just exercises?

  2. Alvaro says:

    Hello Mary, yes, that’s what we are talk­ing about. You can buy the PBS pro­gram that aired: Sim­ply click on the DVD image above and you will be sent to the PBS online store page where you can buy it. Enjoy!

  3. Beky Townsend says:

    I am inter­ested in buy­ing a DVD of exer­cises. Where can I get that?

  4. Alvaro says:

    Hello Beky,

    There are 2 dif­fer­ent things: a) a DVD that con­tains the TV pro­gram that aired in PBS, b) CD-Roms that con­tain the exer­cises men­tioned in that TV pro­gram, or other ones. To our knowl­edge, there is no science-based “DVD of exercises”.

    Are you look­ing for computer-based exer­cises for use in your PC?

  5. Beatrice says:

    Is the Brain Fit­ness HOme Primer going to be avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic as well, with­out hav­ing to make a dona­tion to a PBS sta­tion? I don’t mind mak­ing a dona­tion, but I’m already a mem­ber, and have lim­ited funds. $55 for a 20 page book­let (how big?? 4x6? 8x10?) sounds like a lot. For now I can’t afford the $365 either.

  6. Alvaro says:

    Hello Beat­rice,

    If what you want is infor­ma­tion, let me sug­gest you sub­scribe to our monthly newslet­ter and you will get 2 com­pli­men­tary dig­i­tal doc­u­ments with over 80 pages of great content…

  7. michael says:

    really keen to find out ways to improve my brain fit­ness, i am look­ing for small things i can do dur­ing the day while walk­ing to classes or play­ing golf?
    thanks the web­site is really good

  8. Beatrice says:

    Alvaro, from what I can tell, the Home Primer allows you to do a test on your­self to get some sort of a rat­ing. I’m look­ing more for the test than infor­ma­tion (although I want that, too!)I am a sub­scriber to the newslet­ter already, and have had a lot of fun with the brain teasers.

  9. Jon says:

    never trust a com­pany that sells prod­ucts to give you a good test…more likely than not, you will end up need­ing the prod­uct they want to sell you! bet­ter ask your doc­tor, what test he recommends.

    actu­ally, sharp­brains should offer a test, i love the site.

  10. Brian Rose says:

    Why should we pay $25 for a repeat of a PBS pro­gram. That seems like a very large amount of money for a sim­ple copy. How about $10? The pro­gram will prob­a­bly be aired again in the near future because it was so popular.

  11. Alvaro says:

    Michael: great ques­tion. While play­ing golf, prob­a­bly the best is to prac­tice stress man­age­ment tech­niques, breath­ing and visu­al­iza­tions, so that you don’t only exer­cise your brain but also per­haps improve your game! Try out the tec­nique quoted in the sec­ond arti­cle here (once you have a lit­tle prac­tice, you can do it with eyes open)

    While class­ing to classes, you can do the same to ensure a great start of the day, or try some men­tal games like these

    Beat­rice, thanks for the clar­i­fi­ca­tion. Great to hear you are enjoy­ing our newslet­ter and teasers! I have to agree with Jon: you will be bet­ter off trust­ing the test put for­ward by an inde­pen­dent source, not some­one who wants to sell a prod­uct. Your doctor/ health provider can prob­a­bly point you to some good resources. We will write a post nest week about sev­eral rat­ings avail­able for free online, so stay tuned.

    Jon, thank you for your support!

    Brian: we cer­tainly don’t con­trol PBS pric­ing deci­sions… we hope you enjoy watch­ing it.

  12. Arlene says:

    I want to get computer-based exer­cises for a brain fit­ness pro­gram. What is your pro­fes­sional opin­ion about the Brain Fit­ness Gym?
    And what about Mind­fit — which is con­sid­er­ably less expensive.(I notice some of their demo exer­cises are in your Brain Teasers sec­tion.) Are there other options that are com­puter based you rec­om­mend? Thanks!

  13. Alvaro says:

    Hello Arlene, the Posit Sci­ence pro­gram is very nar­row: it is design to train audi­tory pro­cess­ing. If you need that, it’s the best.

    Mind­Fit may be a bet­ter starter point for wider train­ing. Other options include and, both online, and more inexpensive.

    They are all dif­fer­ent tools: it depends on what you want. For guid­ance, you can check our 10-Question Eval­u­a­tion Check­list

    and you can check this arti­cle in the Wall Street Jour­nal

  14. Eric says:

    Hi Arlene,
    I am Vice Pres­i­dent of Mar­ket­ing for for Posit Sci­ence. A cou­ple of points about our exer­cises:
    1. Our first prod­uct focuses on the audi­tory sys­tems of the brain because so much of what we need to remem­ber and process in life is audi­tory. Our audi­tory prod­uct improves speed of pro­cess­ing and accu­racy of the audi­tory sys­tem. Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple have used this prod­uct and report remem­ber­ing bet­ter, find­ing words more eas­ily, fol­low­ing con­ver­sa­tion more quickly and other ben­e­fits.
    2. Newsweeks Sharon Beg­ley does a great job describ­ing why the focus on audi­tory mem­ory is so impor­tant in the arti­cle below. As you’ll read, our Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram is the only pro­gram on the mar­ket that improves your mem­ory — not just the trained tasks. The the improve­ments “gen­er­al­ize” to broad mea­sures of cog­ni­tion.
    3. The Posit Sci­ence pro­gram is the only one to have been shown effec­tive in pub­lished, peer-reviewed stud­ies. This is the sci­en­tific “gold stan­dard” and the only way you can be cer­tain a prod­uct actu­ally works to improve cog­ni­tive func­tion. No other prod­uct has under­gone this rig­or­ous clin­i­cal scrutiny, includ­ing oth­ers ref­er­enced above.

    Best Regards,
    Eric Mann

  15. Alvaro says:

    Hello Eric, thanks for stop­ping by. We rec­om­mend users check our 10-Question Eval­u­a­tion Check­list, because there is no research enough today to “pre­scribe” any spe­cific inter­ven­tion for every­one. Each user must decide what may be the best tool for him or her.

    There are many impor­tant cog­ni­tive skills to take care of, so a very nar­row inter­ven­tion is not nec­es­sar­ily what every sin­gle per­son would ben­e­fit from, jus­ti­fy­ing time com­mit­ment and expense.

    Let me ask you

    1– how you you know what ben­e­fits Arlene has in mind? if she is look­ing to reduce like­li­hood of poten­tially devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s symp­toms, for exam­ple, phys­i­cal exer­cise or a vari­ety of socially and men­tally stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties have more research sup­port than any spe­cific computer-based program

    2– how many stud­ies have been pub­lished as of today in peer-reviewed jour­nals sup­port­ing the valid­ity of your program

    3– what is the median age for peo­ple in pub­lished stud­ies? what may be rel­e­vant for peo­ple in their 70s may not be the top pri­or­ity for peo­ple in their 40s or 50

    4– What is the use pro­to­col in pub­lished stud­ies? hours of train­ing per week?

    5– Does pub­lished research show far trans­fer into non-trained domains such as visual mem­ory and exec­u­tive functions?

    6– can you pro­vide an overview of all major cog­ni­tive skills and where audi­tory pro­cess­ing fits in

    7– Have you seen the pub­lished research back­ing other pro­grams such as Cogmed, Space­Fortress, cog­ni­tive ther­apy, biofeed­back? I find it sur­pris­ing that (despite the appar­ent great qual­ity of the IMPACT study, not pub­lished yet), you can make claims like the ones you make in your comment.

    Look­ing for­ward your response.

  16. Laura Fay says:

    Hello Arlene,
    I am Chief Oper­at­ing Offi­cer with Happy Neu­ron, a provider of var­i­ous Brain Fit­ness pro­grams (men­tioned above)

    Alvaro makes a good point about choos­ing the pro­gram that is right for YOU. Sharp­brains 10-Question Eval­u­a­tion Check­list is a great way to eval­u­ate the most suit­able brain fit­ness pro­gram. To assist with that eval­u­a­tion, Happy Neu­ron has out­lined how our pro­gram stacks up against the check­list. You can read it here.

    Good luck with your research.


  17. Talya says:

    Is there any way to find a tran­script of the Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram DVD that aired on PBS?

  18. Alvaro says:

    Hello Talya: I don’t know; you bet­ter con­tact PBS directly.

    Please let us know what you find out.

  19. Roy Israely says:

    Hello Arlene,
    I’m a psy­chol­o­gist at Cog­niFit, a leader in devel­op­ing brain fit­ness soft­ware.
    I have to agree with Alvaro’s answer: When try­ing to find a cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­gram, the most impor­tant thing is to make sure it fits YOU. Since most com­put­er­ized train­ing pro­grams last for sev­eral months, it’s impor­tant that you will choose the pro­gram that will keep your moti­va­tion high, as well as will improve your cog­ni­tion. Although dif­fer­ent pro­grams offer dif­fer­ent things to the users, if a wide cog­ni­tive train­ing is what you are look­ing for, Mind­Fit could be the solu­tion for you, since it trains 14 major cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties that are cru­cial for a day to day func­tion­ing. In addi­tion, it is worth men­tion­ing that Mind­Fit offers an assess­ment phase before the begin­ning of the actual train­ing, which makes it pos­si­ble to cre­ate a self– suited train­ing pro­gram that matches the spe­cific cog­ni­tive needs for each user. You can find some more infor­ma­tion on our web­site: .
    Keep in mind that men­tal train­ing is not enough. In order to main­tain a healthy brain you’ll also need to engage in phys­i­cal activ­ity, proper nutri­tion and stress man­age­ment. You can find a good sum­mary in the fol­low­ing link:

  20. Thomas (Doubting) says:

    The Posit Sci­ence pro­gram is the only one to have been shown effec­tive in pub­lished, peer-reviewed stud­ies. This is the sci­en­tific “gold stan­dard” and the only way you can be cer­tain a prod­uct actu­ally works to improve cog­ni­tive func­tion. No other prod­uct has under­gone this rig­or­ous clin­i­cal scrutiny, includ­ing oth­ers ref­er­enced above.”

    »This is far from the truth. Being pub­lished in a peer-reviewed jour­nal does not equal being “effective.”

    No sin­gle study could legit­imize the claim for being “effective.”

    List the ref­er­ences for the stud­ies and let us review the empir­i­cal evi­dence for our­selves. Please include the double-blind atten­tion con­trol ran­dom­ized study with 6 month fol­low up. Thanks.

  21. Mike Logan says:

    While I can appre­ci­ate the need for research, and use it as a guide, I like to try out tools like this to see what hap­pens. Then look to the research to see if there is any intu­itive “aha!” My expe­ri­ence will guide me as much as the research. I read some­where once that sta­tis­tics are tools used to try and make sense of incom­plete data. Or course, I am not mar­ket­ing to the uni­verse here. Mike Logan

  22. Alvaro says:

    Mike, beau­ti­ful point.

    Sci­en­tific stud­ies are very valu­able to see what works, what may work, and what does NOT work.… thereby inform­ing pub­lic pol­icy, con­sumers and professionals.

    Now, lab results needs not replace the judge­ment of healthy indi­vid­u­als mak­ing their own deci­sions with their own money.

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