Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Training Top 10 Future Trends

In an emerg­ing, dynamic, high growth mar­ket, like brain 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.

1. We pre­dict an increased empha­sis on brain main­te­nance in loca­tions rang­ing from retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties to gyms. As a computer-savvy baby boomer pop­u­la­tion looks for ways to stay men­tally fit, brain fit­ness, or brain train­ing, is becom­ing part of their vocab­u­lary and concern.

2. Phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise will be bet­ter inte­grated. Phys­i­cal exer­cise has been shown to increase the rate of neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, whereas men­tal exer­cise helps ensure the sur­vival of any newly cre­ated neu­rons. Today both activ­i­ties usu­ally take place in very dif­fer­ent set­tings: the for­mer, in health clubs, the later, in uni­ver­si­ties. We pre­dict that the bor­ders between them will become more dif­fuse. Expect new pro­grams such as brain fit­ness pod­casts that allow us to train work­ing mem­ory as we jog or exer­cise bikes with built-in brain games.

3. Watch for a broad gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive, sim­i­lar to the one JFK led, to increase the pub­lic aware­ness of the need for brain fit­ness. It is becom­ing more widely under­stood by the med­ical and pol­icy com­mu­nity that a com­bi­na­tion of phys­i­cal exer­cise, nutri­tion, men­tal exer­cise and stress man­age­ment can help us main­tain our brain health as we age. As politi­cians and pol­icy mak­ers look for ways to delay the onset of Alzheimer-related symp­toms of our aging pop­u­la­tion, new ini­tia­tives may be launched.

4. Bet­ter and more widely avail­able assess­ments of cog­ni­tive func­tion will serve as objec­tive base­lines to mea­sure the impact of cog­ni­tive train­ing inter­ven­tions. There will also likely be bet­ter diag­nos­tic tests to iden­tify early Alzheimer’s symp­toms, for exam­ple. Reli­able diag­nos­tic assess­ments of cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties will help move this field for­ward just as jump­ing on a scale tells you if your phys­i­cal fit­ness and diet pro­gram is working.

5. Improved computer-based tools will come to mar­ket. The grow­ing pipeline of research stud­ies will enable the mar­ket lead­ers and new entrants to refine exist­ing tools and devise new ones. More clin­i­cal stud­ies will show the ben­e­fits of brain fit­ness pro­grams to address spe­cific clin­i­cal con­di­tions and learn­ing disabilities.

6. Low tech options will play an increas­ing role in the brain fit­ness field. Already, increas­ing research is show­ing the cog­ni­tive value and brain plas­tic­ity impact of inter­ven­tions such as med­i­ta­tion and cog­ni­tive ther­apy. More research and wider appli­ca­tions will help refine our under­stand­ing of when and how they can be most helpful.

7. Doc­tors and phar­ma­cists will help patients nav­i­gate through the over­whelm­ing range of avail­able prod­ucts and inter­pret the results of cog­ni­tive assess­ments. This will require sig­nif­i­cant pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment efforts, given that most doc­tors today were trained under a very dif­fer­ent under­stand­ing of the brain than the one we have today.

8. Insur­ance com­pa­nies will intro­duce incen­tives for mem­bers to encour­age healthy aging. Many insur­ance plans today include rewards for mem­bers who, for exam­ple, vol­un­tar­ily take health-related ques­tion­naires that enable them to iden­tify steps to take to improve health. Increas­ingly, brain-related lifestyle fac­tors will become part of these incen­tivized interventions.

9. Invest­ments in new cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions for the U.S. mil­i­tary will be com­mer­cial­ized. As the mil­i­tary increas­ingly funds research to improve the diag­nos­tic and treat­ment of prob­lems such as PTSD and TBI, the result­ing prod­ucts will ulti­mately find com­mer­cial uses.

10. Brain train­ing will be added to cor­po­rate well­ness and lead­er­ship ini­tia­tives. Large employ­ers with exist­ing cor­po­rate well­ness and lead­er­ship pro­grams will intro­duce brain fit­ness spe­cific pro­grams aimed not only at improved health out­comes but also at increased pro­duc­tiv­ity and cog­ni­tive per­for­mance in the workplace.

These pre­dic­tions come from mar­ket research we con­ducted in 2008. Three more recent resources are:

  • 2012 Mar­ket Report on Dig­i­tal Brain Health
  • 2009 Consumer-oriented Guide, The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: Here
  • Annual vir­tual con­fer­ence gath­er­ing 250+ Inno­va­tors and Experts: Here


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29 Responses

  1. Alvaro and Vijay — two thoughts:

    Alvaro: Re: pre­dic­tions: one more mus­ing car­ried over from attend­ing the Anti-Aging con­fer­ence at UCLA this sum­mer — pro­duced by Aubrey de Grey’s Methuse­lah Foun­da­tion: As sev­eral herein have noted, pub­lic pol­icy and broad pub­lic edu­ca­tion through mar­ket­ing may make a huge dif­fer­ence. An entire after­noon of the Anti — Aging con­fer­ence was spent dis­cus­sion mar­ket­ing issues, e.g., how to entrain the polit­i­cal cul­ture to put anti-aging research and edu­ca­tion at the top of its agenda!

    (P.S. Wish I could join you at the brain and anti aging con­fer­ence in S.F. tomor­row.… the aca­d­e­mic year is just starting!)

    Vijay: Great ques­tion, as the term fit­ness pre­sumes the log­ics of com­par­i­son and rel­a­tivism. As well, it is a word that car­ries with it the pre­sump­tions of 19th cen­tury Dar­win­ian evo­lu­tion. It might be worth sit­u­at­ing the ques­tion within a sys­tems frame­work such that the inquiry is made rel­e­vant to the con­text. Fit­ness in what time and space? For what task? Rel­a­tive to what neural func­tions of the brain?

    Neu­ro­sci­en­tists, what say you?

  2. […] Sharp­Brains, a leader in the emerg­ing field of cog­ni­tive train­ing pub­lished an inter­est report in 2008 on the Top 10 Brain Train­ing Future Trends.  The report pre­dicts we will see brain train­ing emerge in phys­i­cal exer­cise, cor­po­rate well­ness and lead­er­ship pro­grams.   […]

  3. Barbara Saunders says:

    My recent expe­ri­ence in a pub­lic school was that phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion was dis­ap­pear­ing, and its brain ben­e­fits dis­ap­pear­ing with it. I tend to believe that aca­d­e­mic prob­lems and phys­i­cal coor­di­na­tion prob­lems at the ele­men­tary level are often related.

  4. nick zhang says:

    my pre­dic­tion: brain train­ing tech­nol­ogy will make learn­ing sec­ond lan­guage much more effec­tive than any of the cour­rent method­ol­ogy to the point that one will be able to speak a sec­ond lau­guage as well as hit/her native lau­guage. In anther word the techol­ogy will iden­tify the part of brain that process the native lan­guages and engage it for sec­ond lau­guage learning.

Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness, Technology

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