Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Can Brain Fitness Innovation Enhance Cognitive Rehab and Driving Safety?

Today we share must-read insights from  Kather­ine Sul­li­van, Direc­tor of the Brain Fit­ness Cen­ter at Wal­ter Reed Army Med­ical Cen­ter, and Peter Kissinger, Pres­i­dent of the AAA Foun­da­tion for Traf­fic Safety. Both of them will dis­cuss their ongo­ing work and lessons learned at the upcom­ing 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit (March 30th — April 1st, 2011). The inter­views below were con­ducted via email.

Kather­ine Sul­li­van is the Direc­tor of the Brain Fit­ness Cen­ter at Wal­ter Reed Army Med­ical Center.

1. Kather­ine, how would you define “brain fit­ness” vs. “phys­i­cal fitness”?

In our con­text (help­ing active duty ser­vice mem­bers and vet­er­ans recover from cog­ni­tive dys­func­tion most asso­ci­ated with trau­matic brain injury), I’d say brain fit­ness is the out­come we work towards: the cog­ni­tive resources required to return to duty or rein­te­grate into daily and pro­fes­sional lives as much as pos­si­ble. In this sense, Read the rest of this entry »

Four New Speakers Confirmed — 2011 SharpBrains Summit

We are hon­ored to announce four new con­firmed Sharp­Brains Sum­mit Speak­ers: Nigel Smith at AARP, Peter Kissinger at the AAA Foun­da­tion for Traf­fic Safety, Keith Wesnes at United BioSource, and Ken Kosik at UCSB Neu­ro­science Research Institute.

Nigel Smith, AARP Strat­egy and Inno­va­tion Direc­tor, is respon­si­ble for devel­op­ing decen­tral­ized inno­va­tion mod­els for AARP and for con­sult­ing with busi­ness units in the exe­cu­tion of inno­va­tion processes. Prior to AARP, Nigel was the Direc­tor or Prod­uct Inno­va­tion for Visa USA. Other pro­fes­sional expe­ri­ences have been with McK­in­sey & Com­pany, Gold­man Sachs Group, and KPMG. Nigel holds a Mas­ters in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion degree from Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity and a Bach­e­lors in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion degree from Howard Uni­ver­sity. Read the rest of this entry »

What impressed the Judging Panel re. Innovation Awards Winners and Finalists

Let me now share what the Judg­ing PanelAlvaroFer_finalfile_180310 and the Sharp­Brains team found most impres­sive from each Win­ner and Final­ist of the 2010 Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion Awards, accom­pa­nied by some addi­tional infor­ma­tion on each of these 10 note­wor­thy ini­tia­tives and case studies.

Grand Prize Winner

USA HockeyUSA Hockey, Inc., is the National Gov­ern­ing Body of the sport of ice hockey in the United States. With a mem­ber­ship of nearly 600,000 play­ers, coaches, offi­cials and vol­un­teers that span all 50 states, USA Hockey seeks to pro­mote the growth of hockey and pro­vide the best pos­si­ble expe­ri­ence for all par­tic­i­pants by encour­ag­ing, devel­op­ing, advanc­ing and admin­is­ter­ing the sport.

Project Scope: The National Team Devel­op­ment Pro­gram (NTDP), a USA Hockey body, is a full-time devel­op­ment pro­gram aimed at prepar­ing under-18 student-athletes for par­tic­i­pa­tion on US National Teams. Its efforts focus both on high-caliber par­tic­i­pa­tion on the ice and indi­vid­ual skill devel­op­ment. The pro­gram is com­posed of two squads: the US National Under-18 and Under-17 Teams.

Dur­ing the past hockey sea­son, the NTDP imple­mented a cog­ni­tive train­ing sys­tem designed to help hockey play­ers develop per­cep­tion and decision-making skills called The Hockey Intel­li­Gym. Designed to enhance ‘Hockey Sense’—or the way play­ers gather infor­ma­tion from their sur­round­ings, make and exe­cute decisions—The Hockey Intel­li­Gym train­ing sys­tem uti­lizes a software-based train­ing envi­ron­ment with cus­tomized algo­rithms that adjust train­ing pro­grams to indi­vid­ual play­ers accord­ing to abil­ity and progress. Play­ers engaged in a twice-a-week cog­ni­tive train­ing reg­i­men that became an inte­gral part of their over­all train­ing pro­gram dur­ing which time cog­ni­tive sci­en­tists mon­i­tored play­ers’ per­for­mance and pro­vided coach­ing staff with analy­ses and progress reports. Among sta­tis­ti­cal fig­ures mea­sured, the most notable was the win ratio of teams involved, as Intel­li­Gym trained team won more games.

The Intel­li­Gym pro­gram took more than two years and $2 mil­lion to put together with the col­lab­o­ra­tion of Applied Cog­ni­tive Engi­neer­ing (ACE) and was enabled by a grant from the BIRD Foun­da­tion who sci­en­tif­i­cally reviewed the plan and finan­cially sup­ported it.

Project Leader: Scott Mon­aghan, Direc­tor of Oper­a­tions, USA Hockey National Team Devel­op­ment Program

Selected com­ments by Judg­ing Panel: Excel­lent team approach between spe­cial­ist, coach and player. Great con­cept and need, and insights/model could apply very broadly to skill devel­op­ment. The adap­ta­tion of cog­ni­tive train­ing to this par­tic­u­lar sports domain is clever and can be gen­er­al­ized to a wide range of other activ­i­ties. I was impressed with the USA Hockey National Team Devel­op­ment Pro­gram and their Hockey Intel­li­gym. To develop/adapt such a pro­gram and clearly demon­strate it’s impact on real-life per­for­mance, is fan­tas­tic. There is also a great oppor­tu­nity to expand this to even more ath­letes and sports and to every­day life.

Sil­ver Prize Winners

AllstateAll­state (NYSE: ALL) is the nation’s largest pub­licly held per­sonal lines insurer. All­state is rein­vent­ing pro­tec­tion and retire­ment to help indi­vid­u­als in approx­i­mately 17 mil­lion house­holds pro­tect what they have today and bet­ter pre­pare for tomorrow.

Project Scope: All­state embarked on a jour­ney with Posit Sci­ence Cor­po­ra­tion to eval­u­ate the inter­est in and effec­tive­ness of Posit Science’s software—leveraging tech­nol­ogy shown in National Insti­tutes of Health funded stud­ies to improve visual pro­cess­ing skills impor­tant for safe driving—to test a soft­ware pro­gram (Insight) in Penn­syl­va­nia. Selected dri­vers, 50 years and older, were invited to help val­i­date the impact cog­ni­tive train­ing has on dri­ving safety.

The project was a “proof of con­cept” for what may turn out to be a sig­nif­i­cant effort by All­state to pre­vent injuries and save lives, enable older peo­ple to main­tain their inde­pen­dence longer and pro­vide peace of mind to adult chil­dren faced with dif­fi­cult deci­sions as par­ents age. The most impor­tant reduc­tion was in insured losses and result­ing injuries, trauma and dis­rup­tion to the lives of those involved in auto col­li­sions. After observ­ing the acci­dent behav­ior of those who com­pleted the Posit pro­gram, rel­a­tive to a well selected con­trol group, All­state saw a mea­sur­able decline that was sta­tis­ti­cally valid.

Project Leader: Tom War­den, Assis­tant Vice Pres­i­dent, All­state Research and Plan­ning Center

Selected com­ments by Judg­ing Panel: The poten­tial impact of this pro­gram is sec­ond to none. I was impressed with Allstate’s project and their results that showed that the Posit Sci­ence soft­ware pos­i­tively impacted the acci­dent records of those com­plet­ing the pro­gram. All­state should be com­mended for try­ing some­thing new and dif­fer­ent and for cre­at­ing such an ini­tia­tive. Pretty soon I can imag­ine brain fit­ness dis­counts along­side safe dri­ver and other discounts.

images (1)Nation­wide, based in Colum­bus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diver­si­fied insur­ance and finan­cial ser­vices orga­ni­za­tions in the U.S. and is rated A+ by A.M. Best. The com­pany pro­vides a full range of per­son­al­ized insur­ance and finan­cial ser­vices, includ­ing includ­ing auto and life insur­ance, pen­sions, health and pro­duc­tiv­ity ser­vices, and more.

Project Scope: Nation­wide Mutual Insur­ance worked with ben­e­fits provider OptumHealth and their part­ner Brain Resource to add a Web based brain train­ing tool (MyBrain­So­lu­tions) to help employ­ees enhance pos­i­tiv­ity, emo­tional resilience and deal with oth­ers more effec­tively — all key ele­ments to pro­duc­tiv­ity. More than 500 employ­ees enrolled in the company’s ‘Healthy Hol­i­day Chal­lenge’ dur­ing the first week. The results of the new resource led to more pos­i­tive behav­ior changes and greater pro­duc­tiv­ity among the workforce.

As part of the MyBrain­So­lu­tions launch, asso­ciates were asked to reg­is­ter, take a base­line brain assess­ment, accu­mu­late a tar­get num­ber of points dur­ing a 30-day period and then take a sec­ond brain assess­ment. The com­pany found that aspects of pos­i­tiv­ity, emo­tional resilience and social skills improved in the short 6-week ini­tia­tive and saw small changes in pro­duc­tiv­ity were notice­able as well. 87% of those par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gram indi­cated they were plan­ning to take addi­tional steps to improve health after par­tic­i­pat­ing while 33.5% wouldn’t have accessed other resources to address health and well­be­ing if it weren’t for the initiative.

Project Leader: Kath­leen Herath, AVP Health & Productivity

Selected com­ments by Judg­ing Panel: Har­vard Busi­ness Review esti­mated a cou­ple years ago that $150B is lost annu­ally as a result of lost employee pro­duc­tiv­ity. Given all of the life events and tran­si­tions that indi­vid­u­als expe­ri­ence each year that can dis­tract, this pro­vides a fea­si­ble and attrac­tive lever for employ­ees to take advan­tage of. Employ­ers of the future that can imple­ment inno­v­a­tive mod­els such as these to adapt to the chang­ing needs of employ­ees, enhance employee pro­duc­tiv­ity, and help to rede­fine what work means by infus­ing the pro­fes­sional with the per­sonal will win, and have as a reward loyal employ­ees, a happy cul­ture, and an over­all higher per­form­ing work­force. The pos­i­tive self-report mea­sures were impres­sive as well as the improve­ments in such a short period of time. Seems to have poten­tial for replic­a­bil­ity with scal­able, low-cost pro­grams. In prin­ci­ple this approach could have large soci­etal ben­e­fits. Imple­ment­ing cog­ni­tive train­ing in a work place is novel and taps into the desire to opti­mize pro­fes­sional func­tion­ing as well as stave off decline.  The emo­tional and self-regulation train­ing is extremely impor­tant in the work­place setting.

Rest of Top 10 Finalists

(Note: out of the 40 orga­ni­za­tions that sub­mit­ted entries to the inau­gural 2010 Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion Awards, 10 became Top 10 Final­ists. Here we want to rec­og­nize the orga­ni­za­tions which, while not win­ning the over­all con­test, did impress the judg­ing panel with the qual­ity of their ongo­ing ini­tia­tives. They are ordered by the approx­i­mate age of their end user pop­u­la­tion, from younger to older:

Most Inno­v­a­tive Spe­cial Ed School

Arrowsmith SchoolArrow­smith School offers a com­pre­hen­sive suite of cog­ni­tive pro­grams for stu­dents with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties, tar­get­ing 19 areas of the brain most com­monly involved in learn­ing. The Arrow­smith Pro­gram, which orig­i­nated in Toronto, is now offered in schools in Canada and the US.

Project Scope: Help reme­di­ate Learn­ing Dis­abil­i­ties by devel­op­ing and imple­ment­ing a pro­pri­etary suite of neuroplasticity-based exer­cises in 3 for­mats: computer-based, audi­tory, pen and paper.

  • Project Leader: Bar­bara Arrow­smith, Director
  • Selected Com­ments by Judg­ing Panel:  How easy would it be to say “they’s not smart enough” or “they’re mak­ing excuses”, instead of “they have a cog­ni­tive short­com­ing that can be addressed.” The tar­get audi­ence of 5–10% of school chil­dren with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties can now have a fight­ing chance if mod­els like these can be scaled through pol­icy and/or repli­ca­tion. This gets my vote as the model cre­ates almost immea­sur­able life­time impact for those for­tu­nate enough to be reap all the cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits of the pro­gram. Arrow­smith efforts since 1979 puts them in a class of their own as pio­neers. Arrow­smith also has a process learn­ing from and refin­ing its ini­tia­tives. Pro­gram can be built fur­ther on very solid foundations.

Most Inno­v­a­tive Behav­ioral Health Provider

UBHCUni­ver­sity Behav­ioral Health­Care (UBHC) was estab­lished in 1971 as a divi­sion of the Uni­ver­sity of Med­i­cine and Den­tistry of New Jer­sey (UMDNJ) and is one of the largest providers of behav­ioral health­care ser­vices in the country.

Project Scope: Reme­di­ate cog­ni­tive impair­ments asso­ci­ated with severe men­tal ill­ness by devel­op­ing and imple­ment­ing an inno­v­a­tive cur­ricu­lum and pro­pri­etary man­ual for cog­ni­tive rehab sup­port groups, com­bin­ing best of Cog­ni­tive Behav­ioral Ther­apy, cog­ni­tive train­ing, and social skills training.

  • Project Leader: Steven M. Sil­ver­stein, Ph.D., Direc­tor, Divi­sion of Schiz­o­phre­nia Research & Direc­tor of Research
  • Selected Com­ments by Judg­ing Panel: Note­wor­thy person-centered approach, focused on how to impact qual­ity of life with self-empowerment tools and social support.

Most Inno­v­a­tive Foundation

aaaftslogoThe AAA Foun­da­tion for Traf­fic Safetyhas a mis­sion to iden­tify prob­lems, fos­ter research that seeks solu­tions, and dis­sem­i­nate infor­ma­tion and edu­ca­tional mate­ri­als that pro­mote good safety practices.

Project Scope: Improve dri­ving safety among older adults by  pro­mot­ing and test­ing visual pro­cess­ing train­ing pro­gram InSight by Posit Science.

  • Project Leader: Peter Kissinger, Pres­i­dent and CEO
  • Selected Com­ments by Judg­ing Panel: Very high qual­ity pro­gram Inno­v­a­tive. Emi­nently scal­able. Ben­e­fits users, AAA, and com­mu­nity at large – very good synergy.This approach grounds cog­ni­tive train­ing in an activ­ity that for many is crit­i­cal to inde­pen­dence. The tie to insur­ance will moti­vate the train­ing which may increase road safety and have broader ben­e­fits for cog­ni­tive health.

Most Inno­v­a­tive Hospital

Saint Lukes Brain and Stroke Institute LogoSaint Luke’s Brain and Stroke Insti­tute, part of Saint Luke’s Health Sys­tem in Kansas and Mis­souri, cov­ers the entire spec­trum of care includ­ing acute inter­ven­tion, pre­ven­tion of com­pli­ca­tions, sec­ondary pre­ven­tion and neurorehabilitation.

Project Scope: Help extend healthy inde­pen­dent liv­ing and address cog­ni­tive impair­ments by mak­ing acces­si­ble a Brain Fit­ness Cen­ter that com­bines edu­ca­tion, assess­ments, lifestyle advice and tar­geted neu­rocog­ni­tive and mindfulness-based training.

  • Project Leader: John Cor­ba­ley, M.S., M.A., CCC/Sp., Direc­tor, Brain Fit­ness Cen­ter, Saint Luke’s Hos­pi­tal of Kansas City
  • Selected Com­ments by Judg­ing Panel: Saint Luke’s pro­gram was impres­sive in a num­ber of ways. I liked that they worked with mul­ti­ple dis­ci­plines to cre­ate a holis­tic pro­gram focused on improved brain health through cog­ni­tive train­ing, nutri­tion and exer­cise as well as other activ­i­ties. It is no sur­prise that they have a wait list of users eager to join their program.

Most Inno­v­a­tive Adult Education

OUSD Logo Color JPEG
Oak­land Uni­fied School Dis­trict has a mis­sion to ensure that all stu­dents grad­u­ate as car­ing, com­pe­tent, and crit­i­cal thinkers, as well as fully-informed, engaged, and con­tribut­ing cit­i­zens, pre­pared to suc­ceed in col­lege and career. Adult and Career Edu­ca­tion ser­vices empower adults through through edu­ca­tion and training.

Project Scope: Extend healthy inde­pen­dent liv­ing (for new pilot: improve aca­d­e­mic suc­cess among at-risk stu­dents) by offer­ing a Brain Fit­ness Class that com­bines cur­ricu­lum, dis­cus­sions and com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive train­ing (by Posit Sci­ence, for older adults; by Lumos Labs, for new pilot with young adults).

  • Project Leader: Teri Barr, Brain Health Pro­gram Coordinator
  • Selected Com­ments by Judg­ing Panel: Strong approach to over­come some of the age bound­aries among tar­geted pop­u­la­tions. What I love the most about this won­der­ful suc­cess story is how this pro­gram has been able to appeal to indi­vid­u­als across socio-economic, demo­graphic, and edu­ca­tional back­grounds, and in the process deliver both real and per­ceived value. One way I think it has done this is through pre­sent­ing a multi-faceted value propo­si­tion (i.e., build cog­ni­tive health + build com­mu­nity + have fun in the process) in a sin­gle set­ting. Lessons learned were also very well artic­u­lated, and the approach of com­bin­ing high-tech with high-touch I thought was inge­nious and real­is­tic given the context.

Most Inno­v­a­tive Men­tal Health Association

1-12754The Men­tal Health Asso­ci­a­tion of Rock­land County, in New York State, is a non-profit orga­ni­za­tion with a mis­sion to pre­vent men­tal ill­ness and fos­ter men­tal well­ness through com­mu­nity out­reach, direct ser­vice and advo­cacy for leg­is­la­tion and programs.

Project Scope: Extend healthy inde­pen­dent liv­ing by offer­ing a cog­ni­tive health series of live events to engage the com­mu­nity with a stigma-free, proac­tive brain fit­ness mes­sage, sup­ported by pro­fes­sional train­ing, social­iza­tion plat­forms and cog­ni­tive train­ing (by CogniFit).

  • Project Leader: Karen Oates, Director
  • Selected Com­ments by Judg­ing Panel: So great to see a Men­tal Health Asso­ci­a­tion pro­mot­ing this impor­tant project and ally­ing with so many groups and orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing Cog­niFit, in doing so. Great that they have been able to over­come the stigma so often asso­ci­ated with aging and men­tal fit­ness through the project. With the man­ual and pam­phlet, there are excel­lent repli­ca­tion possibilities.

Most Inno­v­a­tive Health Plan

logoSCAN Health Plan has been focus­ing for more than 30 years on the unique needs of peo­ple with Medicare and is now the country’s fourth largest not-for-profit Medicare Advan­tage plan. The com­pany cur­rently has nearly 120,000 mem­bers in Cal­i­for­nia and Arizona.

Project Scope: Extend healthy inde­pen­dent liv­ing by devel­op­ing the con­cept of a “SCAN Van” to deliver health screen­ings & edu­ca­tion com­bined with phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive exer­cise (Wii gam­ing; touch screen-based cog­ni­tive train­ing by Hap­pyNeu­ron) in places where seniors gather.

  • Project Leader: Lena Perel­man, Direc­tor of Com­mu­nity Outreach
  • Selected Com­ments by Judg­ing Panel: A clever plan for the deliv­ery of cog­ni­tive exer­cises. SCAN’s is inno­v­a­tive not only because its mobile but because it presents a more holis­tic approach to brain health with its “multi-pronged” program.

Here you can learn more about the 2010 Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion Awards.

Update: Retooling Use It or Lose It at New York Public Library

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

In the cur­rent edi­tion of The Jour­nal on Active Aging, I dis­cuss why we need to Retool “Use it or lose it”, and why rou­tine, doing things inside our com­fort zones, is the most com­mon enemy of the nov­elty, vari­ety and chal­lenge our brains need. You can read the full arti­cle for free Here.

Book Tour

We are glad to report that The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness con­tin­ues to obtain excel­lent endorsements:

This is the only book that I know of that seam­lessly inte­grates lat­est infor­ma­tion about cog­ni­tive health across the lifes­pan. Very use­ful to any­one inter­ested in brain care.”

–Arthur Kramer, Ph. D., Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­ogy at Uni­ver­sity of Illinois

…we now have a rock solid primer on brain health that we can rec­om­mend with confidence…I found it par­tic­u­larly effec­tive to start the book with a list of ten brain myths that need debunk­ing.“
–Michael C. Pat­ter­son, for­mer Man­ager NRTA/ Stay­ing Sharp at AARP

The offi­cial book tour starts this week, and includes New York Pub­lic Library!
09/08: Club One Fit­ness Cen­ter, Petaluma, CA
09/09: San Fran­cisco State Uni­ver­sity OLLI
09/11: ASA Brain Health Day, Oak­land, CA
09/23: New York Pub­lic Library, Bronx Library Cen­ter
09/25: New York Pub­lic Library, Stephen Schwarz­man Build­ing
10/06, Smart­Sil­vers MIT North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Palo Alto, CA
10/14: UC-Berkeley OLLI, CA

You can find all the details here. If you haven’t read the book yet, you can order it via Ama­zon Here (print book) or Here (Kin­dle edi­tion). Or ask your local book­store or library.

Brain Reserve

Edu­ca­tion AND Life­long Cog­ni­tive Activ­i­ties Delay Mem­ory Loss: Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon reports how a recent follow-up to the Bronx Aging Study, where 488 ini­tially healthy adults have been tracked over 20 years, shows that every addi­tional cog­ni­tive “activ­ity day” (par­tic­i­pat­ing in one activ­ity for one day a week) helps delay for about two months the onset of rapid mem­ory loss as we grow older.
Need ideas for extra activities?

Chang­ing our Minds…by Read­ing Fic­tion: What about get­ting a novel in your hands (or writ­ing one)? By imag­in­ing many pos­si­ble worlds, argues psy­chol­o­gist Keith Oat­ley, fic­tion gives us the sur­prise which can help expand our under­stand­ing of our­selves and the social world.

Sharp­Brains Fan Page in Face­book: What about par­tic­i­pat­ing in our new Fan Page at Face­book? You can not only receive lat­est updates but com­ment on your favorite arti­cles and teasers, and dis­cuss your own ideas and resources.

Med­ica­tion and Training

Cog­ni­tive Enhance­ment via Phar­ma­col­ogy AND Neu­ropsy­chol­ogy: our co-founder Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg inte­grates three appar­ently sep­a­rate worlds –cog­ni­tive enhance­ment via drugs, brain fit­ness train­ing soft­ware, com­put­er­ized neu­rocog­ni­tive assessments-, in a much updated new edi­tion of his book The Exec­u­tive Brain.

Com­par­ing Cog­ni­tive Train­ing & Med­ica­tion Treat­ment for ADHD: a recent study shows that work­ing mem­ory train­ing improves work­ing mem­ory more than stim­u­lant med­ica­tion treatment-and ben­e­fits per­sist longer. Does this mat­ter?, Does this mean train­ing is bet­ter than med­ica­tion for kids with atten­tion deficits?  Dr. David Rabiner dis­sects the study search­ing for answers.

Inno­va­tion

AAA to deploy Dri­ve­Sharp: Peter Kissinger, CEO of the AAA Foun­da­tion, explains why the cur­rent sys­tem of dri­ver licens­ing is inad­e­quate and incon­sis­tent, why AAA is rec­om­mend­ing older dri­vers use a new cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­gram, and why he believes insur­ance com­pa­nies will soon start to offer brain train­ing to their members.

Sharp­Brains Net­work for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion: in order to help lead­ers of the brain fit­ness and cog­ni­tive health com­mu­nity learn, con­nect and col­lab­o­rate, Sharp­Brains has cre­ated a vir­tual LinkedIn net­work for clients. The net­work will be for­mally launched with a webi­nar on Sep­tem­ber 29th that will dis­cuss The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket in 2009. For orga­ni­za­tions that want to order the report, attend the webi­nar, and join the net­work, more infor­ma­tion is avail­able Here.

Brain Teaser

Brain Quiz: Do You Have a Brain?: Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon dares you to answer these 10 ques­tions cor­rectly to prove that you have a brain.

Enjoy!

AAA to deploy Brain Fitness Software DriveSharp to Assess and Train Older Driver’s Brains

The AAA Foun­da­tion for Traf­fic Safety just started to rec­om­mend a new dri­ver safety pro­gram called Dri­ve­Sharp (see AAA and Posit Release Pro­gram to Improve Dri­vers’ Minds), devel­oped by Posit Sci­ence. Dri­ve­Sharp is a com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive assess­ment and train­ing tool based on Kar­lene Ball’s research on older adults’ cog­ni­tive fit­ness and driving.

In the press release for the agree­ment, Peter Kissinger, dri­ver safety research and pol­icy vet­eran and CEO of the AAA Foun­da­tion, says thatPeter Kissinger AAA Foundation “Part of mak­ing our nation’s roads safer is help­ing mature dri­vers who wish to stay active — a quickly grow­ing pop­u­la­tion — main­tain or improve their dri­ving safety.”

We have Peter Kissinger with us to dis­cuss the con­text for this inno­v­a­tive initiative.

Peter, I appre­ci­ate your time. In order to set the con­text, would you intro­duce the role and pri­or­i­ties of the AAA Foundation?

Sure. All your read­ers will know that AAA is the main dri­ver asso­ci­a­tion in North Amer­ica, with over 50 mil­lion mem­bers. The AAA Foun­da­tion is focused on the research and pol­icy required to improve dri­ver safety and has 4 strate­gic pri­or­i­ties:
– Intro­duce a cul­ture of traf­fic safety. It is an out­rage that there is a driving-related death every 13 min­utes in the US, and yet, we seem to accept this as sta­tus quo
– Improve road safety, espe­cially on rural roads, where almost 60% of the deaths occur,
– Improve safety among teens, one of the high­est risk groups
– Improve safety among seniors, another high-risk group.

In terms of driver-centered inter­ven­tions, are your pri­or­i­ties are teenage and older drivers?

driver fatality rateYes. You have prob­a­bly seen the U-shaped risk curve (Edi­tor note: see fig­ure at left) that shows how acci­dent risks are very high among teenagers, then decrease and remain sta­ble until our 60s, and then increase again.

We have pro­moted ini­tia­tives such as Dri­verZED (see www.driverzed.org) to help teenagers bet­ter iden­tify and man­age the typ­i­cal sources of risk, so they advance faster through the learn­ing curve. For older dri­vers we focus on how to bal­ance the priv­i­lege of dri­ving with the right of mobil­ity — we know that los­ing dri­ving inde­pen­dence can bring a vari­ety of neg­a­tive con­se­quences for the individual.

Given aging pop­u­la­tion trends, it is clear we need to intro­duce bet­ter sys­tems to bal­ance those two goals you just out­lined –safety and mobil­ity. Do you think as a soci­ety we are prepared?

I don’t think we are, and I am pes­simistic that we will be in the short term. This is a very impor­tant prob­lem: offi­cial esti­mates say that the pro­por­tion of all dri­vers who are over 65 years of age will grow from 15% today to 25% in 2025.

Let me give you some back­ground: two years ago we put together a work­shop to iden­tify the state of the research and the state of the prac­tice of dri­ver safety among Read the rest of this entry »

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