Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Who will be the personal brain trainers of the future?

brainBrain-fitness indus­try caters to wor­ried boomers (Crain’s):

Mr. Fernandez…compares the brain-fitness indus­try of today with the physical-fitness indus­try of half a cen­tury or more ago. Whereas once there were no health clubs or per­sonal train­ers, today they’re ubiq­ui­tous. “Who will be the per­sonal brain train­ers of the future?” he says. “Are they going to be doc­tors, life coaches, neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists? Will health clubs Read the rest of this entry »

Brain training works: Study finds 10-year benefit from 10-hour training

Brain TrainingBrain train­ing helped older adults stay sharp for years –study (Reuters):

  • A brief course of brain exer­cises helped older adults hold on to improve­ments in rea­son­ing skills and pro­cess­ing speed for 10 years after the course ended, accord­ing to results from the largest study ever done on cog­ni­tive train­ing.  Read the rest of this entry »

From Anti-Alzheimer’s “Magic Bullets” to True Brain Health

If you fol­lowed lat­est head­lines sur­round­ing the release of the National Alzheimer’s Plan, you’d prob­a­bly con­clude that the likely solu­tion to main­tain life­long brain health is sim­ple: sim­ply wait until 2025 for a “magic bul­let” to be dis­cov­ered, to cure (or end or pre­vent) Alzheimer’s dis­ease and aging asso­ci­ated cog­ni­tive decline. These kinds of beliefs, often rein­forced by doc­tors and adver­tis­ing, may explain the bil­lions spent today by pharma com­pa­nies on dis­cov­er­ing new com­pounds, and by con­sumers on sup­ple­ments like ginkgo biloba. But Read the rest of this entry »

The Business and Ethics of the Brain Fitness Boom — Part 4: The Future

Build­ing Blocks for a Bet­ter Future

The best alter­na­tive for tomor­row should be bet­ter than the best alter­na­tive avail­able today. How do we get there, when “cog­ni­tion” and “brain fit­ness” remain elu­sive con­cepts in pop­u­lar cul­ture? I believe that the lack of pub­lic edu­ca­tion is the major obsta­cle that lim­its the brain fit­ness field’s poten­tial to deliver real-world ben­e­fits, since only informed demand will ensure the ongo­ing devel­op­ment of ratio­nal, struc­tured “rules of the road.” What could be done to address this and other par­tic­u­lar obsta­cles? Read the rest of this entry »

The Business and Ethics of the Brain Fitness Boom — Part 3: The Real Need

Engag­ing peo­ple where they are in the life-course

Eighty per­cent of the 38,000 adults over age 50 who were respon­ders in the 2010 AARP Mem­ber Opin­ion Sur­vey indi­cated “stay­ing men­tally sharp” was their top ranked inter­est and con­cern (Dinger, 2010). What exactly does this phrase mean? And what role can tech­nol­ogy play in “stay­ing men­tally sharp”? Intel CEO Paul Otellini has said, “You have to start by think­ing about what peo­ple want to do… and work back­ward.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Business and Ethics of the Brain Fitness Boom — Part 2: The Ethics

The ter­mi­nol­ogy “fun­da­men­tal attri­bu­tion error” describes the ten­dency to over­value personality-based expla­na­tions for observed human behav­iors, while under­valu­ing sit­u­a­tional expla­na­tions for those behav­iors.  I believe that a pri­mary rea­son behind many per­ceived and real eth­i­cal chal­lenges in the brain fit­ness field is due not so much to cer­tain stake­hold­ers’ lack of per­sonal or pro­fes­sional ethics, but derives from the flawed soci­etal con­struct that under­pins cur­rent, rel­e­vant inno­va­tions. To improve the ethics of the brain fit­ness busi­ness and its appli­ca­tion (and empower con­sumers’ informed deci­sion mak­ing), there must first be agree­ment about a mean­ing­ful, appro­pri­ate way to ana­lyze and guide inno­va­tion. This is the crux of the prob­lem. The cur­rent med­ical model is not up to the task at hand, since it is heav­ily skewed toward inva­sive drugs and devices dri­ven by disease-based mod­els, and fails to lever­age Read the rest of this entry »

The Business and Ethics of the Brain Fitness Boom — Part 1: The Business

The recent dis­cov­ery that expe­ri­ence can change brain struc­ture and func­tion at any age has sparked numer­ous health, edu­ca­tion, and pro­duc­tiv­ity appli­ca­tions whose value and lim­i­ta­tions we are only start­ing to grasp.

Brain fit­ness has quickly become a main­stream aspi­ra­tion among baby boomers and elders, pri­mar­ily in North Amer­ica. It has fueled a grow­ing inter­est in brain fit­ness classes, brain fit­ness cen­ters, and brain fit­ness pro­grams, along with atten­dant oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges. An increas­ing num­ber of adults want use­ful tools to pro­tect cog­ni­tive health and performance—not nec­es­sar­ily to reverse aging—and what they are find­ing is an expand­ing and noisy mar­ket­place where they (and also pro­fes­sion­als) need to care­fully eval­u­ate their own needs and the avail­able options (Fer­nan­dez and Gold­berg, 2009). Read the rest of this entry »

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