Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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AARP’s Best Brain Fitness Books

We are hon­ored to announce that AARP has included our very own book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (182 pages; $14.95) in its new List of Best Books on Brain Fit­ness, which will be unveiled dur­ing AARP’s upcom­ing Life@50 National Event. We hope this list will help many more indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions learn about our resource: given that 80% of respon­dents to a recent AARP sur­vey selected “Stay­ing Men­tally Sharp” as their top pri­or­ity, we cer­tainly know there is a sig­nif­i­cant need for qual­ity information!

AARP’s Best Books Guide


Brain Fit­ness


The Dana Guide to Brain Health, by Floyd E. Bloom, M. Flint Beal, and David J. Kupfer (Dana Press, 2006).

The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp, by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Elkhonon Gold­berg. (Sharp­Brains Inc., 2009).

Save Your Brain: The 5 Things You Must Do To Keep Your Mind Young and Sharp
, by Paul Nuss­baum. (McGraw-Hill, 2010).

The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Sur­pris­ing Tal­ents of the Middle-Aged Mind, by Bar­bara Strauch (Viking, 2010).

The Mem­ory Bible: An Inno­v­a­tive Strat­egy for Keep­ing Your Brain Young
, by Gary Small (Hype­r­ion, 2003).

___________

Also Rec­om­mended:

The Mature Mind: The Pos­i­tive Power of the Aging Brain, by Gene Cohen (Basic Books, 2006).

The Brain That Changes Itself, by Nor­man Doidge (Pen­guin, 2007).

Spark: The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary New Sci­ence of Exer­cise and the Brain, by John Ratey and Eric Hager­man (Lit­tle, Brown and Co., 2008).

Think Smart: A Neuroscientist’s Pre­scrip­tion for Improv­ing Your Brain’s Per­for­mance, by Richard Restak (River­head, 2010).

Com­piled by:
Office of Aca­d­e­mic Affairs, AARP

Wanted: Your Feedback on The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness

If you have already read The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, to Keep your Brain Sharp, by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg, please take a few min­utes to answer six ques­tions folow­ing link below. Your feed­back will ensure that future book edi­tions are even more rel­e­vant and valu­able to you. Thank you very much in advance!

Take this survey

If you have not read it yet, may we kindly encour­age you to do so, and to let us know what you think? The book is now eas­ily avail­able in the USA, Canada and the UK via Amazon.com stores.

To order in the USA:
Print ($19.95): click Here
Kin­dle ($9.99): click Here
To order in Canada:
Print (CDN$20.5): click Here
To order in the UK:
Print (GBP 12): click Here
Kin­dle (GBP 7.2): click Here

Invitation to SharpBrains Summit — Technology for Cognitive Health and Performance

We are excited to invite you to the first vir­tual, global Sharp­Brains Sum­mit (Jan­u­ary 18-20th, 2010). The Sharp­Brains Sum­mit will fea­ture a sharpbrains_summit_logo_webdream team of over 25 speak­ers who are lead­ers in indus­try and research from 7 coun­tries, to dis­cuss emerg­ing research, tools and best prac­tices for cog­ni­tive health and per­for­mance. This inau­gural event will expose health and insur­ance providers, devel­op­ers, inno­va­tors at For­tune 500 com­pa­nies, investors and researchers, to the oppor­tu­ni­ties, part­ner­ships, trends, and stan­dards of the rapidly evolv­ing cog­ni­tive fit­ness field.

Reg­is­ter Today

Learn more and reg­is­ter Here today, at dis­counted early-bird rates, to receive these benefits:

  • Learn: Full access to all Con­fer­ence live ses­sions, and Down­load­able Record­ings and Handouts
  • See: lat­est tech­nolo­gies and prod­ucts dur­ing Expo Day
  • Con­nect and Dis­cuss: become a mem­ber of the Sharp­Brains Net­work for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion (members-only LinkedIn Group) through the end of 2010, access online chats dur­ing the sum­mit, meet other reg­is­trants in your city
  • Under­stand the Big Pic­ture: access 10 Research Exec­u­tive Briefs pre­pared by lead­ing scientists

On top of those early-bird dis­counts, we offer an addi­tional 15% dis­count for Sharp­Brains read­ers who want Reg­u­lar Admis­sion. Dis­count code: sharp2010. You can reg­is­ter Here.

Agenda/ Speak­ers

Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 18th, 2010:

(Pre­lim­i­nary sched­ule, US Pacific Time)

8–9.15am. Cog­ni­tion & Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity: The New Health­care Frontier

  • Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, SharpBrains
  • David White­house, OptumHealth Behav­ioral Solutions
  • William Reich­man, Baycrest
  • P Murali Doraiswamy, Duke University

9.30-11am. Tools for Safer Dri­ving: The Oppor­tu­nity with Teenagers and Adults

  • Steven Aldrich, Posit Science
  • Shlomo Breznitz, CogniFit
  • Jerri Edwards, Uni­ver­sity of South Florida
  • Peter Chris­tian­son, Young Dri­vers of Canada

Noon-1.30pm. Baby Boomers and Beyond: Main­tain­ing Cog­ni­tive Vitality

Save the Date: SharpBrains Summit, Technology for Cognitive Health and Performance

We are very excited to announce the first Sharp­Brains Sum­mit, a vir­tual con­fer­ence to take place Jan­u­ary 18-20th, 2010.  Over 30 lead­ing speak­ers and a pro­fes­sional audi­ence will dis­cuss emerg­ing inno­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy for life­long cog­ni­tive health and per­for­mance. The Sum­mit will high­light the con­ver­gence of neu­rocog­ni­tive research, non-invasive tech­nol­ogy and health­care, dis­cuss emerg­ing best prac­tices, and help pre­dict how a grow­ing range of tools may pro­vide solu­tions to cog­ni­tive health and performance-related issues.

sharpbrains_summit_logo_webYou can see speak­ers and agenda by click­ing on Sharp­Brains Sum­mit. Please reg­is­ter if you are inter­ested in par­tic­i­pat­ing: Jan­u­ary 18-20th 2010 (Pacific Time).

  • Con­fer­ence: Jan­u­ary 18-19th. 9–10 pan­els to dis­cuss Mar­ket and Research Insights,  together with online discussions.
  • Expo Day: Jan­u­ary 20th. Prod­uct demos by Sponsors.

Con­firmed speak­ers and themes:

Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 18th, 2010:

Cog­ni­tion and Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity: The New Health­care Frontier

  • Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, CEO, SharpBrains
  • David White­house, Chief Med­ical Offi­cer, OptumHealth Behav­ioral Solutions
  • William Reich­man, Pres­i­dent, Baycrest
  • P Murali Doraiswamy, Bio­log­i­cal Psy­chi­a­try Divi­sion Head, Duke University

Tools for Safer Dri­ving: Teenagers and Older Adults

  • Steven Aldrich, CEO, Posit Science
  • Peter Chris­tian­son, Pres­i­dent of Young Dri­vers of Canada
  • Jerri Edwards, Assoc. Pro­fes­sor Uni­ver­sity of South Florida

Clin­i­cal Appli­ca­tions: Research­ing, Iden­ti­fy­ing, Treat­ing Cog­ni­tive Deficits

  • Keith Wesnes, Prac­tice Leader, United BioSource Corporation
  • Jonas Jendi, CEO, Cogmed
  • Michel Noir, Pres­i­dent, Sci­en­tific Brain Training
  • Elkhonon Gold­berg, Chief Sci­en­tific Advi­sor, SharpBrains

Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Enhancement via Pharmacology AND Neuropsychology, in The New Executive Brain

(Editor’s Note: given the grow­ing media atten­tion to three appar­ently sep­a­rate worlds –cog­ni­tive enhance­ment via drugs, brain fit­ness train­ing soft­ware, com­put­er­ized neu­rocog­ni­tive assessments-, I found it refresh­ing to see our co-founder Elkhonon Gold­berg intro­duce the topic of cog­notropic drugs with an inte­gra­tive per­spec­tive in the much updated new edi­tion of his clas­sic book, now titled The New Executive Brain - By Elkhonon Goldberg The New Exec­u­tive Brain: Frontal Lobes In A Com­plex World. Below goes an excerpt).

For many neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists, like myself, sci­ence is a labor of love, but see­ing patients is bread and but­ter. Tra­di­tion­ally, the clin­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion of neu­ropsy­chol­ogy has been mostly diag­nos­tic, with pre­cious lit­tle to offer patients by way of treat­ment. Neu­ropsy­chol­ogy is not the only clin­i­cal dis­ci­pline for years con­signed to help­less voyeurism. Every dis­ci­pline con­cerned with cog­ni­tion shares this hum­bling predica­ment. A psy­chi­a­trist treat­ing a schiz­o­phrenic patient or a depressed patient finds him– or her­self in a sim­i­lar posi­tion. There are ample phar­ma­co­log­i­cal tools to treat the patient’s psy­chosis or mood, but very few to treat the patient’s cog­ni­tion. Even though psy­chi­a­trists increas­ingly rec­og­nize that cog­ni­tive impair­ment is often more debil­i­tat­ing in their patients than psy­chosis or mood dis­or­der, tra­di­tion­ally, very lit­tle direct effort has been aimed at improv­ing cognition.

A neu­rol­o­gist treat­ing a patient recov­er­ing from the effects of head injury does not fare much bet­ter. There are ade­quate means to con­trol the patient’s seizures but not his or her cog­ni­tive changes, despite the fact that cog­ni­tive impair­ment is usu­ally far more debil­i­tat­ing than an occa­sional seizure. Soci­ety has been so pre­oc­cu­pied with sav­ing lives, treat­ing hal­lu­ci­na­tions, con­trol­ling seizures, and lift­ing depres­sion that cog­ni­tion (mem­ory, atten­tion, plan­ning, prob­lem solv­ing) has been largely ignored. Granted, var­i­ous neu­rolep­tics, anti­con­vul­sants, anti­de­pres­sants, seda­tives, and stim­u­lants do have an effect on cog­ni­tion, but it is an ancil­lary effect of a drug designed to treat some­thing else.

Alzheimer’s dis­ease and other demen­tias have been society’s wake-up call. Here, in the most afflu­ent coun­try in the most afflu­ent of times, human minds were suc­cumb­ing to decay before human bod­ies, a sharp chal­lenge to the tacit pop­u­lar belief that the “body is frail but soul is for­ever.” This pro­vided an impe­tus for the devel­op­ment of an entirely new class of drugs, which can be termed famil­ially as “cog­notropic.” Their pri­mary and explicit pur­pose is to improve cognition.

Since med­ical and pub­lic pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with demen­tia focuses on mem­ory, most of the phar­ma­co­log­i­cal efforts have been directed at improv­ing mem­ory. At the time of this writ­ing, a hand­ful of drugs known as “Alzheimer’s drugs” or “mem­ory enhancers” have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA). In real­ity, both des­ig­na­tions are some­what mis­lead­ing. The drugs in ques­tion are Read the rest of this entry »

Free Brain Fitness Webinar

Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg and I, co-authors of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, will cover the main high­lights from our new book and address the ques­tions sub­mit­ted by read­ers.
When: Tues­day July 21st, 10am Pacific Time; 1pm East­ern Time.

How to Reg­is­ter: Click HERE for more infor­ma­tion and to Reg­is­ter.
Title: The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness:
18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp

Book descrip­tion: While most of us have heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” very few under­stand what “it” means, or how to prop­erly “use it” in order to main­tain brain func­tion and fit­ness. The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness is an invalu­able guide that helps read­ers nav­i­gate grow­ing brain research and iden­tify the lifestyle fac­tors and prod­ucts that con­tribute to brain fit­ness. By gath­er­ing insights from eigh­teen of the world’s top sci­en­tists and offer­ing tools and detailed descrip­tions of over twenty prod­ucts, this book is an essen­tial guide to the field of brain fit­ness, neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and cog­ni­tive health.

An acces­si­ble and thought-provoking read, The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness edu­cates life­long learn­ers and pro­fes­sion­als in health­care, edu­ca­tion, busi­ness, etc., on emerg­ing trends and fore­casts of what the future will hold.

To order book via Amazon.com:

- Print book ($24.95): click Here
– Kin­dle ver­sion ($9.99): click Here

Debunking 10 Brain Training/ Cognitive Health Myths

Think about this: How can any­one take care of his or her brain when every week brings a new bar­rage of arti­cles and stud­ies which seem to con­tra­dict each other?

Do sup­ple­ments improve mem­ory? Do you need both phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise or is one of them enough? Which brain train­ing approach, if any, is worth one’s time and money?

We tried to address these ques­tions, and many oth­ers, in our recent book, The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­nessSharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness. The Book (182 pages, $24.95), that we pre­sented at Games for Health Con­fer­ence last week. The book is the result of over two years of exten­sive research includ­ing more than a hun­dred inter­views with sci­en­tists, pro­fes­sion­als and con­sumers, and a deep review of the sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture, led by neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist Elkhonon Gold­berg and myself with the help of cog­ni­tive sci­en­tist Pas­cale Mich­e­lon. As we wrote in the Intro­duc­tion, what we wanted to do first of all was to debunks these 10 myths on brain health and brain training:

Myth 1. Genes deter­mine the fate of our brains.
Facts: Life­long neu­ro­plas­tic­ity allows our lifestyles and actions to play a mean­ing­ful role in how our brains phys­i­cally evolve, espe­cially given longer life expectancy.

Myth 2. Aging means auto­matic decline.
Facts: There is noth­ing inher­ently fixed in the pre­cise tra­jec­tory of how brain func­tions evolve as we age.

Myth 3. Med­ica­tion is the main hope for cog­ni­tive enhance­ment.
Facts: Non-invasive inter­ven­tions can have com­pa­ra­ble and more durable effects, side effect-free.

Myth 4. We will soon have a Magic Pill or Gen­eral Solu­tion to solve all our cog­ni­tive chal­lenges.
Facts: A multi-pronged approach is rec­om­mended, cen­tered around nutri­tion, stress man­age­ment, and both phys­i­cal and men­tal exercise.

Myth 5. There is only one “Use It or Lose it”.
Facts: The brain is com­posed of a num­ber of spe­cial­ized units. Our life and pro­duc­tiv­ity depend on a vari­ety of brain func­tions, not just one.

Myth 6. All brain activ­i­ties or exer­cises are equal.
Facts: Var­ied and tar­geted exer­cises are the nec­es­sary ingre­di­ents in brain train­ing so that a wide range of brain func­tions can be stimulated.

Myth 7. There is only one way to train your brain.
Facts: Brain func­tions can be impacted in a num­ber of ways: through med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­apy, cog­ni­tive training.

Myth 8. We all have some­thing called “Brain Age”.
Facts: Brain age is a fic­tion. No two indi­vid­u­als have the same brain or expres­sion of brain functions.

Myth 9. That “brain age”‚ can be reversed by 10, 20, 30 years.
Facts: Brain train­ing can improve spe­cific brain func­tions, but, with research avail­able today, can­not be said to roll back one “brain age”‚ by a num­ber of years.

Myth 10. All human brains need the same brain train­ing.
Facts: As in phys­i­cal fit­ness, users must ask them­selves: What func­tions do I need to improve on? In what time­frame? What is my budget?

Do you have other myths in mind you would like  us to address?

We have started to receive great feed­back from the health­care com­mu­nity, such as this email from a neu­ro­sur­geon in Texas:

I really like the book, it is com­pre­hen­sive with­out being too tech­ni­cal. I have rec­om­mended it to sev­eral patients. There are some other books that I expected would be greeted with enthu­si­asm, but were too com­plex for most of my patients. I think this book is right in the sweet spot”.

A short, sweet, enter­tain­ing read of a com­plex topic, with timely (writ­ten in 1/09) reviews of 21 top tech­nol­ogy prod­ucts, as well as informed and expert pre­dic­tions of where this bur­geon­ing brain-fitness field is headed. More impor­tantly, after you read it, you’ll have a good, detailed sense of where you, per­son­ally, can act to improve your own couch-potato brain — and how to keep it fit and flex­i­ble your whole life. The Sharp­Brains Guide To Brain Fit­ness reminds of us all why books (and not just googling a topic) can be well worth your time and money. Two Stetho­scopes Up — check it out. life.”

And this great book review by an Internist Physi­cian and Robert Wood John­son Foun­da­tion Fel­low, titled Is Your Brain A Couch Potato?:

Doc Gur­ley, book review for SFGate.com (06/08/09)

The bookThe Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (avail­able via Amazon.com Here, review copies avail­able upon request).

Descrip­tion: While most of us have heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” very few under­stand what it means, or how to prop­erly ‚“use it”‚¬ in order to main­tain brain func­tion and fit­ness. The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness is an invalu­able guide that helps read­ers nav­i­gate grow­ing brain research and iden­tify the lifestyle fac­tors and prod­ucts that con­tribute to brain health and fit­ness. By gath­er­ing insights from eigh­teen of the world’s top sci­en­tists and offer­ing tools and detailed descrip­tions of over twenty prod­ucts, this book is an essen­tial guide to the field of brain fit­ness, neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and cog­ni­tive health. An acces­si­ble and thought-provoking read, The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness edu­cates life­long learn­ers and pro­fes­sion­als in health­care, edu­ca­tion, busi­ness, etc., on emerg­ing trends and fore­casts of what the future will hold.

Prod­ucts Reviewed (we reviewed sci­en­tific stud­ies pub­lished before Jan­u­ary 2009, when the man­u­script text was closed):

– Over­all brain main­te­nance: Brain Age series (Nin­tendo), Brain­Ware Safari (Learn­ing Enhance­ment Cor­po­ra­tion), FitBrains.com (Viv­ity Labs), Happy-Neuron.com (Sci­en­tific Brain Train­ing), Lumosity.com (Lumos Labs), Mind­Fit (Cog­niFit), (m)Power (Dakim)

– Tar­geted brain work­out: Clas­sic and InSight (Posit Sci­ence), Work­ing Mem­ory Train­ing JM and RM (Cogmed), Dri­ve­Fit (Cog­niFit), Earo­bics (Houghton Mif­flin), Fast For­Word (Sci­en­tific Learn­ing), Intel­li­Gym (Applied Cog­ni­tive Engi­neer­ing), Vision Rest­pra­tion Ther­apy (NovaVision)

– Emo­tional self-regulation: emWave PC and Per­sonal Stress Reliever (Heart­Math), Jour­ney to the Wild Divine (Wild Divine), RES­PeR­ATE (Inter­Cure), StressEraser (Helicor)

Learn about the 2014 SharpBrains Summit in 2 minutes

Watch Larry King’s interview

» Click HERE in the USA, or HERE else­where (opens 28-min program)

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