Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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10 Predictions on How Digital Platforms will Transform Brain Health in 2013

Just a quick note: we’ll host a webinar on January 30th to discuss key market predictions based on “The Digital Brain Health Market 2012-2020: Web-based, mobile and biometrics-based tech­nol­ogy to assess, mon­i­tor and enhance cog­ni­tion and brain functioning”, our new market report.

Here are 10 predictions, many of which will likely be realized before the end of 2013: Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Preparing Society for the Cognitive Age, and Industry Webinar

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

Scientific publication Frontiers in Neuroscience recently published a special issue on Augmenting Cognition, and invited me to contribute with an article titled Preparing Society for the Cognitive Age. Groundbreaking brain research has occurred over the last 20 years. The opportunity to improve brain health and performance is immense, but we need to ensure the marketplace matures in a rational and sustainable manner, both through healthcare and non-healthcare channels. Click Here to read my article.

Announcements

In May 2009 SharpBrains published The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009, the main industry report for leading organizations preparing their members, their clients, and their patients for the cognitive age. 150-pages long, the report includes a market survey with 2,000+ respondents, detailed analysis of 20+ vendors, research briefs written by 12 leading scientists and data and trends for 4 major customer segments.webinar

Below we share the full Executive Summary of the report and announce an exclusive webinar on September 29th to discuss the State of the Market in more depth with buyers of the report.

To order the report and access both the report and the webinar, you can click Here. (Only $975 -a 25% discount- using Discount Code Frontiers2009 before September 28th).

State of the Market

The brain fitness field holds exciting promise for the future while presenting clear opportunities and challenges today. The good news is that there are more tools available than ever before to assess and train a variety of cognitive skills. The bad news is that there are no magic pills and that consumers, while satisfied overall, seem confused by competing claims on how to reduce one’s “brain age.” We do see signs that this early-stage market can mature in a more rational, structured manner; but there is much work to be done. We estimate that the size of the U.S. brain fitness software (i.e., applications designed to assess or enhance cognitive abilities) market in 2008 was Read the rest of this entry »

Cars don’t work because they don’t fly

Study Questions Effectiveness Of $80 Million Per Year ‘Brain Exercise Products Industry for Elderly (Science Daily)

– “There is much research on the benefits of cognitive rehabilitation strategies among elderly who already experience mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer’s disease, as well as on the positive impact of physical exercise. The researchers, however, wanted to evaluate current research that would focus on the impact of cognitive interventions in the healthy elderly population.”

– “…they concluded that there was no evidence indicating that structured cognitive intervention programs had an impact on the progression of dementia in the healthy elderly population”

Comment:  we have not reviewed the analysis yet, so cannot comment in depth. However, just from the press release, we see a few potential problems in how the study was framed, reducing its practical value: Read the rest of this entry »

Brain fitness & training heads towards its tipping point

How do you know when something is fast moving towards a Gladwellian tipping point? When health insurance companies and public policy makers launch significant initiatives.

For example, the government of Ontario recently announced a $10 million investment with Baycrest Research Centre who will partner with MaRS Venture Group to develop and commercialise brain fitness technologies. The investment was matched by an additional $10 million from private sources.

Another important development was the $18 million agreement between the Australian-based Brain Resource Company (ASX:BRC) and OptumHealth in the US. This will allow for the provision of web-based cognitive assessments as part of a clinician’s decision support systems.

These are some initiatives covered in a webinar Top Ten Cognitive Fitness Events of 2008 presented in December for SharpBrains’ clients. Alvaro Fernandez described the state of play and main drivers behind the growth of the burgeoning brain fitness market – which I will try and summarize here.

The key drivers seem to be Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Update: Best of 2008

Dear reader and member of SharpBrains’ community,
We want to thank you for your attention and support in 2008, and wish you a Happy, brain fitness and health newsletterProsperous, Healthy and Positive 2009!

Below you have the December edition of our monthly newsletter. Enjoy:

Best of 2008

Announcing the SharpBrains Most Important Book of 2008: Neuroscientist Torkel Klingberg has written a very stimulating and accessible book on a crucial topic for our Information Age: The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory. We have named it The SharpBrains Most Important Book of 2008, and asked Dr. Klingberg to write a brief article to introduce his research and book to you. Enjoy it here.

Top 30 Brain Fitness Articles of 2008: We have compiled SharpBrains’ 30 most popular articles, written by thirteen Expert Contributors and staff members for you. Have you read them all?

November-December News: No month goes by without significant news in the field of cognitive fitness. Summarized here are 10 recent developments worthy of attention, including an upcoming brain training product for ice hockey players, my lecture at New York Public Library, and more.

Interviews: Videogames, Meditation

Are videogames good for your brain?: A landmark study by Dr. Arthur Kramer and colleagues has shown that playing a strategy videogame can bring a variety of significant mental benefits to older brains. Another recent study, also by Kramer and colleagues, does not show similar benefits to younger brains (despite playing the same game). How can this be? Dr. Kramer, who has kindly agreed to serve on SharpBrains’ Scientific Advisory Board, elaborates.

Meditation on the Brain: Dr. Andrew Newberg provides an excellent overview of the brain benefits of practices such as meditation. He recommends, “look for something simple, easy to try first, ensuring the practice is compatible with one’s beliefs and goals. You need to match practice with need: understand the specific goals you have in mind, your schedule and lifestyle, and find something practical.”

The Need for Objective Assessments

Cognitive screenings and Alzheimer’s Disease: The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America just released a thoughtful report advocating for widespread cognitive screenings after the age of 65 (55 given the right conditions). SharpBrains readers, probed by Dr. Joshua Steinerman, seem to agree.

Quantitative EEG for ADHD diagnosis: Dr. David Rabiner reports on the findings from a recent study that documents the utility of Quantitative EEG as an objective test to assist in the diagnosis of ADHD. If this procedure were to become more widely used, he suggests, the number of children and adolescents who are inappropriately diagnosed and treated for the disorder would diminish substantially.

Shall we question the brand new book of human troubles?: The fights over the new version of the psychiatric diagnostic manual, the DSM-V, are starting to come to light. Dr. Vaughan Bell wonders why the public debate avoids the key question of whether diagnosis itself is useful for mental health and why psychometrics are simply ignored.

Resources for Lifelong Learning

Education builds Cognitive Reserve for Alzheimers Disease Protection: Dr. Pascale Michelon reviews a recent study that supports the Cognitive Reserve hypothesis – mentally stimulating experiences throughout life, such as formal education, help build a reserve in our brains that contributes to a lower probability of developing Alzheimer’s symptoms.

5 Tips on Lifelong Learning & the Adult Brain: Laurie Bartels asks us to please please 1) challenge ourselves with new learning, 2) remember that neuroplasticity and neurogenesis are hallmarks of our brains, 3) check for mis-learning on an ongoing basis, 4) more visuals, less text, 5) move it, move it – start today!

Neuroscience Core Concepts: We all have heard “Use It or Lose It”. Now, what is “It”? The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) has just released a user-friendly publication titled Neuroscience Core Concepts, aimed at helping educators and the general public learn more about the brain.

Encephalon #61: Brain & Mind Reading for the Holidays

Welcome to the 61st edition Encephalon brain blog carnivalof Encephalon, the blog carnival that offers some of the best neuroscience and psychology blog posts every other week.

We do have an excellent set of articles today. covering much ground. Enjoy the reading:

Neuroscience and Society

Neuroanthropology,
by Greg Downey
The Flynn Effect: Troubles with Intelligence
Average IQ test scores had risen about 3 points per decade and in some cases more. Tests of vocabulary, arithmetic, or general knowledge (such as the sorts of facts one learns in school) have showed little increase, but scores have increased markedly on tests thought to measure general intelligence.
MindHacks,
by Vaughan Bell
Medical jargon alters our understanding of disease
Understanding how popular ideas influence our personal medical beliefs is an essential part of understanding medicine itself.
Cognitive Daily,
by Dave Munger
Is it sexist to think men are angrier than women?
Are we more likely to perceive a male face as angry and a female face as happy? A recent study sheds light on the issue.
Neurocritic Crime, Punishment, and Jerry Springer
Judges and jurors must put aside their emotionally-driven desire for revenge when coming to an impartial verdict. Does neuroimaging (fMRI) add anything to our understanding of justice?

Alzheimer’s Disease and Neurocognitive Health Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive screenings and Alzheimer’s Disease

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America just released a thoughtful report advocating for widespread cognitive screenings after the age of 65 (55 given the right conditions).

According to the press release,

– “The report shatters unsubstantiated criticism and instead emphasizes the safety and cost-effectiveness of these tools and calls on Congress to develop a national dementia screening policy.”

– “Lifting the barriers to early detection is long overdue, Hall said. “Conversations about brain health are not taking place. We must educate and empower consumers to talk openly about memory concerns, particularly with primary care providers, so they get the attention and quality of life they deserve.

– “Demand for screenings is evidenced by the success of AFA’s recent sixth annual National Memory Screening Day held on November 18, during which an estimated 50,000 people were given free confidential memory screenings at nearly 2,200 community sites nationwide. During last year’s event, approximately 16 percent of individuals who had a face-to-face screening scored positive and were referred to their primary care providers for follow-up. An AFA survey of participants revealed that fewer than one in four with self-reported memory complaints had previously discussed them with their physicians despite recent visits.”

Excellent report available: here

Please note that the Alzheimer’s Association recently argued in the opposite direction (no screenings) – which probably triggered this response.

We see emerging trends that suggest the position in favor of cognitive assessments may in fact gather momentum over the next few years: widespread computerized cognitive screenings in the US Army, insurance companies like OptumHealth adding such tools to its clinical decision-making systems, polls such as the American Society of Aging’s a couple of years ago indicating a very strong demand for an “annual mental check-up”, the availability of useful assessment tools and research-based preventive advice.

The starting point is to understand what those assessments are NOT: they are not diagnostic tools. When used properly, they can be used as a baseline to track performance in a variety of cognitive domains over time, so that both the individual AND the physician are not blinded by a one-time assessment, comparing an individual with his or her peers (instead of his or her past performance) when serious symptoms have frequently already been going on for a while.

Our contributor  Dr. Joshua Silverman, from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, recently generated a nice debate on the topic by asking our readers their reaction to these 3 questions: Read the rest of this entry »

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