Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Nintendo BrainAge, Lumosity, Happy Neuron, MyBrainTrainer…

A col­lec­tion of recent announce­ment in the “brain games” or “brain train­ing games” space:

The Wii sets new gen­er­a­tional stan­dards for the videogame industry

  • “The age­ing of the Japan­ese pop­u­la­tion com­pelled gamemaker Nin­tendo to widen its audi­ence. Now, the Wii is lead­ing the indus­try stan­dards. But hard­core gamers are still too impor­tant to be neglected.”

Strain your brain the smart way

  • George Har­ri­son, Nintendo’s senior vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing and cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions, has said that more than half of the company’s mar­ket­ing for Wii is aimed at adults. And the sys­tem has been pre­sented at con­ven­tions for the aging “gray gamer” pop­u­la­tion.” and talks about sudoku, Brain Age, Big Brain Acad­emy, and more.

SBT Announces the Acqui­si­tion of Quixit

The new Mental Game: sport psychology, coaches, get ready!

One of the many Sharp Brains around, who is up to date of every­thing related to brain health and fit­ness (yes, Jeanne, that’s you! thanks for being such a great bureau chief!) has sent us a very inter­est­ing press note on how brain fit­ness and train­ing can be applied in the sports per­for­mance world. I haven’t been able to track down the research behind the spe­cific pro­grams men­tioned in the arti­cle, but the the­o­ret­i­cal ratio­nale makes sense based on sim­i­lar pro­grams we are famil­iar with: you can see below a sum­mary of our inter­view with Prof. Daniel Gopher, sci­en­tific mind behind computer-based cog­ni­tive sim­u­la­tions for mil­i­tary pilots and for bas­ket­ball play­ers.

The note Sports Vision Train­ing Takes Ath­letes to New Fron­tiers explains how

  • Spe­cialty sports vision facil­i­ties are help­ing ath­letes train skills that many believed were “untrain­able”; skills like antic­i­pa­tion, field vision, tim­ing, sport intel­li­gence, game tempo, reac­tion speed, focus and concentration.”
  • What has every­one all worked up is the knowl­edge that they can actu­ally train ath­letic skills that many believed were “untrain­able.” We’re talk­ing about intan­gi­bles like antic­i­pa­tion, field vision, tim­ing, sport intel­li­gence, game tempo, reac­tion speed, focus and con­cen­tra­tion. “One of the worst mis­takes an ath­lete can make is to believe that you’re either born with or with­out these kinds of skills, and that they’re con­se­quently not train­able, says Brian Stam­mer, edi­tor of SportsVi­sion Mag­a­zine. “If you want to be the best ath­lete you can be, you must do exer­cises to con­di­tion and sharpen your sen­sory sys­tem, includ­ing visual, audi­tory and brain-processing speed.
  • This is the link to the mag­a­zine they men­tion: SportsVi­sion Magazine

And here is the sum­mary of my (AF) inter­view with Prof. Daniel Gopher (DG) on Cog­ni­tive Sim­u­la­tions and cog­ni­tive training:

  • AF: …Can you sum­ma­rize your research find­ings across all these exam­ples and fields, and how you see the field evolving?
  • DG: In short, I’d sum­ma­rize by say­ing that
  • - Cog­ni­tive per­for­mance can be sub­stan­tially improved with proper train­ing. Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness news.

A cou­ple of good recent articles:

(You can join our monthly newslet­ter by sub­scrib­ing at the top of this page).

Brain Games will give adults all the chal­lenge they can handle

Bal­ti­more Sun, MD. Mar 22, 2007.The reporter pro­vides a great sur­vey of prod­ucts. The only parts I find miss­ing are:

1) what spe­cific cog­ni­tive skill/s is/are being trained by each prod­uct? if we under­stand that the brain has a vari­ety of struc­tural and func­tional areas, it becomes evi­dent that dif­fer­ent pro­grams may be train­ing dif­fer­ent “men­tal muscles”.

2) How does each pro­gram enable the user mea­sure progress in an objec­tive way? I’d say this is the main dif­fer­ence between “games” and brain fit­ness pro­grams. If you have a wildly dif­fer­ent brain age every­time you try…that so-called brain age is not very credible.

Does brain exer­cise fight demen­tia?
Min­neapo­lis Star Tri­bune (sub­scrip­tion), MN. Mar 18, 2007.As the arti­cle men­tions, no pro­gram can claim to “pre­vent Alzheimer’s”. And I haven’t seen Posit Sci­ence (or us) claim such a thing, or imply it. But what can be claimed is mean­ing­ful: Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Programs, “Brain Gyms”…Explained

SharpBrains Vision
Thanks to Mind­Hacks for the link to a good Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle, “Pump­ing Neurons”.

A cou­ple of quotes:

Recent research shows that the brain remains plas­tic, or basi­cally train­able, through­out life. In a study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion in 2002, sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­ages of the 2,802 par­tic­i­pants age 65 and older who trained for five weeks for about 2 1/2 hours per week improved their mem­ory, rea­son­ing and information-processing speed.

When we learn, we cre­ate phys­i­cal changes inside our heads. By prac­tic­ing a skill, we repeat­edly stim­u­late the same area of the brain, which strength­ens exist­ing neural con­nec­tions and cre­ates new ones. Over time, we can become more cog­ni­tively effi­cient, using fewer neu­rons to do the same job. And the more often we fire up cer­tain men­tal cir­cuits, the eas­ier it is to get them going again.

Read the rest of this entry »


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