Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Transcript: Dr. Gary Small on Enhancing Memory and the Brain

Below you can find the full transcript of our engaging Q&A session today on mem­ory, mem­ory tech­niques and brain-healthy lifestyles with Dr. Gary  Small, Direc­tor of UCLA’s Mem­ory Clinic and Cen­ter on Aging, and author of The Mem­ory Bible. You can learn more about his book  Here, and learn more about upcoming Brain Fitness Q&A Sessions Here.

Perhaps one of the best questions and answers was:

2:55
Question: Gary, you’ve worked many years in this field. Let us in on the secret. What do YOU do you, personally, to promote your own brain fitness?
2:57
Answer: I try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic conditioning each day; try to minimize my stress by staying connected with family and friends; generally eat a brain healthy diet (fish, fruits, vegetables), and try to balance my online time with my offline time. Which reminds me, I think it is almost time for me to sign off line. Read the rest of this entry »

Debunking 10 Cognitive Health and Fitness Myths

As part of the research behind the book The SharpBrains Guide for Brain Fitness we interviewed dozens of leading cognitive health and fitness scientists and experts worldwide to learn about their research and thoughts, and have a number of take-aways to report.

What Santiago Ramon y Cajal can we clearly say today that we couldn’t have said only 10 years ago? That what neuroscience pioneer Santiago Ramon y Cajal claimed in the XX century, “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor his own brain”, may well become reality in the XXI.

And transform Education, Health, Training, and Gaming in the process, since Read the rest of this entry »

News on physical, cognitive and emotional fitness

Brain Health NewsNice weekend reading material – recent news reiforcing emerging trends on physical, cognitive and emotional fitness, but with new twists.

Fit teens could be smarter teens

“Researchers from Sweden and USC examined data on 1.2 million Swedish men born between 1950 and 1976 who also enlisted for the country’s mandatory military service. They looked at the participants’ global intelligence scores as well as logical, visuospatial, verbal and technical scores. The greater the cardiovascular fitness, the higher the cognitive scores at age 18. The association between muscle strength and global intelligence, in contrast, was weak.”

UPMC Health Plan Offers Brain Fitness Software to Improve Health

“UPMC Health Plan announced today that it has signed an agreement to offer award-winning brain fitness software from Posit Science®, at no cost, to all UPMC for Life Medicare Advantage members. This brain training program is a new part of the UPMC Health Plan wellness services, which focus on both mind and body fitness.

The brain fitness software, known as the Insight(TM) Brain Fitness Program, is a suite of five game-like computer exercises that make brain training challenging and effective. The program engages the brain’s natural plasticity (the brain’s ability to rewire itself) to improve basic brain function.”

Brain-fitness industry grows as baby-boomers work to stay sharp.

“When we’re younger we’re learning quite intensively,” she said. “By middle age, we’re not learning intensively anymore and just using skills we’ve already mastered. That’s why it’s important to stretch your brain.”

Brain fitness games also have the potential to improve one’s emotional health, said Mark Baldwin, a psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal.

Baldwin has developed a number of computer games based on keeping a brain active physiologically, to improve it psychologically.

“It’s about practising or using games to train beneficial habits of thought, ” he said.

Corporate Wellness Programs start to include Brain Health

Brain-fitness games join workplace, as well as senior center, arsenals (MarketWatch)

– “Consumers and retirement homes have made brain-fitness games and exercises a commercial hit, but now some insurers and employers are incorporating them into wellness programs that promote health not just for the body but also for the mind.”

– “Improving brain health can result in less presenteeism, the tendency to be at work but be distracted and not able to focus,” he added. “If you look at disability costs, absenteeism and presenteeism account for most of the medical costs, and that’s a good reason for employers to be focused on brain health.” (according to Dr. Eugene Baker, vice president at OptumHealth’s Behavioral Solutions division)”

The article reviews innovative practices at OptumHealth, Nationwide Auto Insurance Company, Humana, Penn Treaty American Corp, Allstate, and the US Army. I am glad to see the media start to notice the importance of cognitive assessments and the growing activity by insurers. Read the rest of this entry »

Announcing the Premium Research Sponsors program

Have you ever wondered how we can maintain SharpBrains website, blog and newsletter without selling any product and with only limited advertising? People often ask us that question, especially once we explain that we don’t sell products (selling products would present a conflict of interest given our mission to “provide individuals, companies and institutions with high-quality, research-based, information and guidance to navigate the growing cognitive and brain fitness market”.)

The answer is, we offer proprietary market research and advisory services to organizations such as these. They want to fully understand emerging Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health trends, opportunities and challenges, in order to make better-informed decisions. Examples:

– leading healthcare providers evaluating cognitive assessment and training options.
universities and research centers trying to bridge brain research and practice.
developers of technologies that help assess and/ or train cognitive functions who want a better view of market size, trends and the competitive landscape.
consulting and training companies interested in understanding market trends to scope their own potential offerings.
venture capital firms looking for investment ideas and due diligence on existing/ potential deals.

We chose to focus our efforts on providing quality market research and advisory services given the growing confusion in the marketplace and the need for an independent and qualified source of information, market data and best practices. The brain fitness software field (defined as software applications that help assess or train cognitive functions) is projected to exceed $2B by 2015, fueled by an increasing amount of applied research on neuroplasticity and cognition; a rapidly evolving marketplace of products making cognitive claims; and growing consumer and institutional demand. Large and small organizations are already taking the first steps to leverage those technologies.

We are now launching a new Premium Research Sponsors program to partner with pioneering organizations who want to collaborate with us to shape the future of Read the rest of this entry »

The Brain Fitness/ Training Market: An Executive Summary

Over the next weeks we are going to be sharing the Executive Summary of our market report The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2008 with members and clients of several partner organizations (the British Columbia Seniors Living Association, where I will be speaking this Thursday, Neurotech Reports, where I will speak on October 24th, and the Health 2.0 conference, where we are sponsoring a panel on gaming for health), so it is only fair that we first share it with our own readers.

Executive Summary

A spate of recent global news coverage on brain fitness and brain training reflects a growing interest in natural, non drug-based interventions to keep our brains sharp as we age. This interest is very timely, given an aging population, increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s rates, and soaring health care costs in the US that place more emphasis than ever on prevention and lifestyle changes.

US brain fitness market: significant and growing

We estimate the size of the US brain fitness market was $225m in 2007 – more than double what it was in 2005. Whereas K12 school systems were the largest buyers in 2005, consumers were responsible for most of the growth from 2005 to 2007. We estimate that the consumer segment grew from a few million in 2005 to $80m in 2007, and foresee significant market growth driven not only by consumers but also by healthcare and insurance providers.

Market dynamics

As we speak to diverse audiences about this emerging field around the country we are frequently asked the following questions:

– Why are we talking about the brain fitness field at all?

Over the past decade, teams backed by neuroscientists around the world Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Newsletter: December Edition

Brain exercise, brain exercisesI hope you are having a joyful holiday season, and wish you a Happy and Prosperous 2008. The Brain Fitness field has made a great deal of progress in 2007, and we are looking forward the New Year.

Here you are have the Monthly Digest of our Most Popular Blog Posts. You can consider it your monthly Brain Fitness/ Exercise Newsletter.

(Also, remember that you can subscribe to receive our blog RSS feed, or to our monthly newsletter at the top of this page if you want to receive this monthly Digest by email).

Let me first of all introduce you to our new “Author Speaks Series“, where we will give leading scientists and experts a forum to present their new brain-related books. We are honored to kickstart the series with Larry McCleary, former acting Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Denver Children’s Hospital. You can read Here his article on how to keep a brain-friendly lifestyle. This series will complement our ongoing Neuroscience Interview Series.

Brain Fitness in the News

Brain Fitness @ PBS: PBS featured a fantastic special program on neuroplasticity and brain fitness during the month of December. Before you ask: as of today, the DVD of the program is still not available in PBS online shop. We expect to see it there in 2-3 weeks. We will keep you informed.

The Huffington Post started featuring a column written by me: you may enjoy taking a look at Alvaro Fernandez – Living on The Huffington Post.

Jogging our Brains for Brain Vitality, Healthy Aging-and Intelligence!: a roundup of several great recent articles on memory, aging, IQ and cognitive abilities such as self-control.

Health & Wellness

Brain Training: No Magic Bullet, Yet Useful Tool. Interview with Elizabeth Zelinski: Dr. Zelinski, leading researcher of the IMPACT study, shares fascinating insights. For example: “…cognitive enhancement requires the engagement in a variety of activities, those activities must be novel, adaptive and challenging-which is why computer-based programs can be helpful. But even at a more basic level, what matters is being engaged with life, continually exposed to stimulating activities, always trying to get out of our comfort zones, doing our best at whatever we are doing. A major typical misconception is that there is only one general intelligence to care about. In reality, we have many different cognitive abilities, such as attention, memory, language, reasoning, and more, so it makes sense to have different programs designed to train and improve each of them.”

How to Evaluate and Choose a Brain Fitness Program: To help you navigate the growing number of computer-based programs and games, we published this 10-Question Checklist, based on dozens of interviews with scientists, experts and consumers.

Travel and Engagement as Good Brain Exercise: As we’ve seen, novelty, variety and challenge are the key guidelines for “brain exercise” that help build new neural connections, force one to be mindful and pay attention, improve abilities such as pattern-recognition, and generally contribute to lifelong brain health. In this post we feature the brain building / mind expanding experience of a SharpBrains friend working in Namibia.

Alzheimer’s Prevention and Diagnostic Tests: analysis of several recent articles on emerging research behind Alzheimer’s diagnostic and prevention.

Corporate Wellness and Training

Cognitive Reserve and Intellectually Demanding Jobs: a recent study shows how “Intellectually demanding work was associated with greater benefit to cognitive performance in later life independent of related factors like education and intelligence.”

Cognitive Health and Baby Boomers- 6 Points to Keep in Mind: based upon an excellent McKinsey report titled Serving Aging Baby Boomers, we discuss a variety a news articles, including interesting numbers, some bad news, and some good news.

Lifelong Learning Is Changing My Brain: Andreas, the neuroscience PhD student who spent last summer working with SharpBrains, writes some reflections on his experience and on how scientists and business professionals can learn from each other.

Brain Teasers

Traveler IQ Game: Check out this stimulating online game…

Events

Learning & The Brain Conference, February 5-7 2008, San Francisco: Sign up now for this great conference for educators who want to learn about the latest brain research findings and implications. I will be speaking at the conference giving an overview of innovative cognitive training programs. The organizers are offering a Special Discount for SharpBrains readers until January 25th 2008, so click here if interested.

If we don’t talk beforehand…Happy New Year!

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You can also enjoy our previous editions of our Brain Fitness Newsletter:

November Edition

October Edition

September Edition

August Edition

July Edition

Welcome to SharpBrains

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