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Brain fitness goes mainstream: integration of physical and mental exercise, government initiatives

Increased emphasis on brain maintenance

ahThe emphasis on brain maintenance will increase in locations ranging from retirement communities to gyms. As a computer-savvy adults population looks for ways to stay mentally fit, brain fitness, or brain training, is becoming part of their vocabulary and concern.

However, for this to happen, higher quality research will need to back up specific interventions.  The need for independent studies is strong. Indeed, published research of cognitive training interventions has so far been sponsored and/or conducted by the companies themselves. As Dr Arthur Kramer says: “We need … a kind of independent “seal of approval” based on independent clinical trials”

Integration of physical and mental exercise

Today physical and mental exercise usually take place in very different settings: the former, in health clubs, the later, in universities or at home. 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.

Broad government initiatives

Government initiatives to increase public awareness of the need for brain fitness will be launched. It is becoming more widely understood by the medical and public policy communities 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 and other dementias in our aging population, new initiatives may be launched.

Initiatives are underway. Dr. Daniel Gopher explains that he is involved in a new research project labeled “Skills-multimodal interfaces for the capturing and transfer of skills” (see Dr. Gopher’s interview at the end of Chapter 5 in the book). This project aims at facilitating and improving the acquisition and transfer of skills using virtual-reality multimodal interfaces. It is supported by the European Commission: 15 industry and university research partners, from nine countries, are involved.

The government of Ontario, Canada, has invested $10 m to create a Brain Fitness Centre at Baycrest Research Institute to develop brain fitness applications that can be distributed through their healthcare channels.

Keep learning by reading more articles in the Resources section, and also please consider joining our free monthly Brain Fitness eNewsletter

This new online resource is based on the content from the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness (May 2009, $19.95), by Alvaro Fernandez and Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg.

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