Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


News: ASA Brain Health Day, powered by SharpBrains

I  am very excited to pre-announce a collaboration with the American Society on Aging (ASA) to co-produce a Brain Health event, themed “New Tools, New Partnerships”, to take place in Oakland, CA, on September 11th.

Registration will be open next week so we will issue the formal announcement and provide links then ($150 for the whole day, which includes a signed copy of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness), but here you have the agenda & speakers in case you want to pencil in the date.

Context: Since 2006, healthy aging pioneers have been actively evaluating and implementing an expanding menu of stimulating brain health programs. The American Society on Aging and SharpBrains have partnered to introduce aging professionals to the best practices in a variety of community-based and residential settings, discuss emerging trends that will affect your work in years to come, and offer you resources to understand and navigate through the growing array of options. Participants will receive a complimentary and signed copy of the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness (May 2009, $24.95).

Learning objectives:

– Understand the complementary value the four main lifestyle pillars for lifelong brain health and why “mental exercise”, beyond simple “mental activity”, is one of them.
– Identify the best mix of brain health practices and technologies by discussing real world case studies in a variety of settings: adult education, independent living, assisted living.
– Discuss the opportunities and challenges of building innovative partnerships between a non-profit organizations and a for-profit companies.
– Explore emerging trends in research, public health, lifelong learning, and technology, to ensure that health and aging professionals are well equipped for years to come.


9:00 – 10:30 am Keynote- The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness

This session will provide an overview of the most recent research, guidelines and resources to “Use It and Improve It”, summarizing the main findings and topics from the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness. It will debunk 10 brain fitness myths; discuss how the brain works and the 4 pillars of brain maintenance; explain the difference between mental exercise and mental activity and identify research-based ways to exercise our brains; and review what 21 brain fitness software packages do – and what they don’t do. Finally, the session will discuss emerging trends to ensure that health and aging professionals are well equipped for years to come.

Alvaro Fernandez, SharpBrains

11:00 to 12:00 noon Bringing Brain Fitness to the Community Center

Science continues to highlight the importance of staying active mentally as well as physically; people of all ages and situations face the challenge of learning what brain exercise is, how it can help them, and how to incorporate it into their busy lives. The Peninsula Jewish Community Center (PJCC) has formed a unique partnership with vibrantBrains, a pioneering gym for brain exercise, to explore new ways to bring brain fitness into the community on top of its existing fitness and educational activities.

Deborah Pinsky, Peninsula Jewish Community Center; Lisa Schoonerman, vibrantBrains

1:30 to 2:30 pm Latest Technologies and Brain Health: Value and Limitations

Four innovative practitioners will share their first-hand experience implementing computerized cognitive training programs in different settings: adult education classes, independent living, and assisted living. They will discuss the Pros and Cons of technology programs provided by Dakim, Posit Science and CogniFit, helping the audience explore how technology can enhance existing brain health and wellness programs and how this trend will affect their work in the future.

James Arp, Belmont Village; Kari Olsen, Front Porch; Shellie Sullivan, Lakeview Village; Teri Barr, Oakland Unified School District

2:30 to 3:15 pm Engaging the Community to Integrate Brain Health Research into Lifelong Learning

OLLI @Berkeley has developed a membership team to investigate how to integrate neuroscience discoveries into their lifelong learning curriculum and ongoing community activities. If older adults are told that, in addition to exercise, nutrition, among other things, mental stimulation is required that is novel, challenging and varied—how can lifelong learning centers and adults themselves judge what that is and how to integrate those understandings our activities and lives?. Susan Hoffman will share the methodology and insights of working with the community as well as with a wide range of experts and scientists, and discuss what might be possible in a variety of institutional settings such as yours.

Susah Hoffman, OLLI@Berkeley

3:30 to 4.30 pm San Francisco Alzheimer’s Education & Prevention Taskforce: Getting Ready for the Future

The San Francisco Mayor’s office, in partnership with the Department of Aging & Adult Services recently convened an expert panel and committees to create a strategic plan for addressing the needs of San Franciscans with memory loss and dementia through the year 2020. Learn about the process, findings and recommendations on how the city of San Francisco plans to address education and prevention of dementia now and in the future.

Elizabeth Edgerly, Alzheimer’s Association; Bill Haskells, Department of Aging & Adult Services

4:30 pm What We Have Learned, What is Next

What are some of the priorities and challenges for the next 12 months for the field at large, and for everyone involved? This interactive session will help us summarize the key highlights from the whole day, identify emerging assumptions, themes, and priorities, and discuss collaborative next steps.

Carole Anderson, American Society on Aging; Alvaro Fernandez, SharpBrains

Some Bios (again, registration and all info will be ready by Monday)

Elizabeth Edgerly, Ph.D., is the Chief Program Officer for the Alzheimer’s Association and national spokesperson for the Association’s Maintain Your Brain program. She oversees the many programs of the Association for patients, families and health care professionals. In addition, she staffs the Medical Scientific Advisory Council of the Alzheimer’s Association – Northern California. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the State University of New York and specialized in geropsychology and neuropsychology. Dr. Edgerly joined the Alzheimer’s Association after completing a fellowship in clinical geropsychology at the Palo Alto VA Hospital.

James Arp works as the West Regional Director for Activity and Memory Programs for Belmont Village, where he was involved in a pilot program using computerized cognitive training. James has also worked as an Administrator for several Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled and in Guardianship, and has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and Communication Disorders.

Kari Olson, Chief Information Officer of Front Porch, leads all technology initiatives for Front Porch and its partners. Kari is also the President of the Front Porch Center for Technology Innovation and Wellbeing whose mission is to explore innovative uses of technology to empower individuals to live well, especially in their later years. Kari is actively involved in the Center for Aging Services Technologies where she serves as a commissioner, steering committee member and task group chair for Boomer Technology Needs Research and co-chair of the Provider Needs Research Workgroup. Kari speaks regularly around the country on technology for aging services. Kari holds a BA in economics from University of California, Los Angeles and has completed graduate course work in education at California State University, Los Angeles.

Lisa Schoonerman is a co-founder at vibrantBrains. Lisa held a variety of technical and editorial positions with the Thomson Corporation in the Legal Publishing division (now ThomsonReuters), beginning in Rochester, NY and then coming to San Francisco to work for what was then Bancroft Whitney. Lisa’s work for Thomson included a 3-year assignment in the UK, where she was Editorial Director of the group providing content for Westlaw UK, the first international application of the Westlaw database.

Susan E. Hoffman is the director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute within the Vice Provost’s Office for Teaching and Learning at UC Berkeley. For the past fifteen years she has worked at UC and CSU campuses launching new interdisciplinary and international programs. Before then, she served as the Executive Director of the California Confederation of the Arts, representing California artists, art educators and arts organizations in Sacramento and Washington for a decade. Her creative work includes being a writer and filmmaker. Her faculty appointments have been in creative writing, theatre and political philosophy.

Teri Barr administers the brain fitness classes for older adults at Oakland Unified School District. She has a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and a MSPE from the University of Illinois. In Illinois, she designed and implemented wellness classes in Community College, University and Hospital settings. Since moving to California, she has worked for OACE (Oakland Adult and Career Education) in the Older Adult Program. She started research for brain health classes in 2006 and began the program at OACE in 2007.

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