Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Study: Why Super Mario 3D World may train your brain better than Angry Birds

Stark_151124_01_1500_szPlaying 3-D video games can boost memory formation, UCI study finds (UCI News):

“…Craig Stark and Dane Clemenson of UCI’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory recruited non-gamer college students to play either a video game with a passive, two-dimensional environment (“Angry Birds”) or one with an intricate, 3-D setting (“Super Mario 3D World”) for 30 minutes per day over two weeks. Read the rest of this entry »

Calling high school students/ teachers to design creative experiments on the human brain

Design a Brain Experiment Competition, by the Dana Foundation:

“The Dana Foundation is devoted to promoting an interest in brain research in schools across the country. Encouraging students to take an interest in scientific research, especially related to the brain, is crucial, not only for students, but also for the future development of neuroscience. Read the rest of this entry »

The Mental Game: How High-Level Athletes Remain Calm and Focused

The Mental Preparation of High-Level Athletes (briefing paper by the Dana Foundation):

“Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra is credited with saying that “90 percent of the game is half mental.” Over the years, the line has been appropriated beyond the world of baseball to explain the importance of factors like focus and motivation Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Awareness Week is Approaching: March 12-18th, 2012

Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is the global campaign, organized by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. Every March, BAW unites the efforts of partner organizations worldwide in a celebration of the brain for people of all ages. Events are Read the rest of this entry »

Experience Corps: Promoting Healthy, Meaningful Aging Through Social Involvement

The current issue of Cerebrum –a great publication of the Dana Foundation– includes the excellent in-depth article Promoting Healthy, Meaningful Aging Through Social Involvement: Building an Experience Corps, written by researcher Michelle Carlson:

“Over the last decade, scientists made two key discoveries that reframed our understanding of the adult brain’s potential to benefit from lifelong environmental enrichment. First, they learned that the adult brain remains plastic; it can generate new neurons in response to physical activity and new experiences. Second, they confirmed the importance of Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Awareness Week Starts Today

Got a Brain?

If so, please join us in celebrating Brain Awareness Week (March 14-20th), the annual global campaign organized by the Dana Foundation to increase public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research.

Want to learn about activities in your area? Please visit BAW’s International Calendar of events.

Want to discuss professional implications from this research, cross-sector partnerships and industry opportunities? Consider registering for our very own BAW Partner event, the 2011 SharpBrains Summit (March 30th – April 1st).

Preparing Society for the Cognitive Age (Frontiers in Neuroscience article)

Frontiers in Neuroscience Augmenting Cognition(Editor’s note: this article belongs to the excellent May 2009 special issue on Augmenting Cognition at scientific journal Frontiers in Neuroscience. The article, an industry overview, is reproduced here with authorization by the Frontiers Research Foundation)

Preparing Society for the Cognitive Age

By Alvaro Fernandez

Groundbreaking cognitive neuroscience research has occurred over the last 20 years – without parallel growth of consumer awareness and appropriate professional dissemination. “Cognition” remains an elusive concept with unclear implications outside the research community.

Earlier this year, I presented a talk to health care professionals at the New York Academy of Medicine, titled “Brain Fitness Software: Helping Consumers Separate Hope from Hype”. I explained what computerized cognitive assessment and training tools can do (assess/enhance specific cognitive functions), what they cannot do (reduce one’s “brain age”) and the current uncertainties about what they can do (i.e., delay Alzheimer’s symptoms). At the same symposium, Dr. Gary Kennedy, Director of Geriatric Psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center, provided guidance on why and how to screen for executive function deficits in the context of dementia.

I could perceive two emerging trends at the event: 1) “Augmenting Cognition” research is most commonly framed as a healthcare, often pharmacological topic, with the traditional cognitive bias in medicine of focusing on detection and treatment of disease, 2) In addition, there is a growing interest in non-invasive enhancement options and overall lifestyle issues. Research findings in Augmenting Cognition are only just beginning to reach the mainstream marketplace, mostly through healthcare channels. The opportunity is immense, but we will need to ensure the marketplace matures in a rational and sustainable manner, both through healthcare and non-healthcare channels.

In January 2009, we polled the 21,000 subscribers of SharpBrains’ market research eNewsletter to identify attitudes and behaviors towards the “brain fitness” field (a term we chose in 2006 based on a number of consumer surveys and focus groups to connect with a wider audience). Over 2,000 decision-makers and early adopters responded to the survey.

One of the key questions we asked was, “What is the most important problem you see in the brain fitness field and how do you think it can be solved?”. Some examples of the survey free text answers are quoted here, together with my suggestions.

Most important problems in the brain fitness field

Public awareness (39%): “To get people to understand that heredity alone does not decide brain functioning”. We need to ramp up efforts to build public awareness and enthusiasm about brain research, including establishing clear links to daily living. We can collaborate with initiatives such as the Dana Foundation’s Brain Awareness Week and use the recent “Neuroscience Core Concepts” materials developed by the Society for Neuroscience to give talks at schools, libraries and workplaces.

Claims (21%): “The lack of standards and clear definitions is very confusing, and Read the rest of this entry »

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