Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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2011 SharpBrains Summit Meeting Report: Retooling Brain Health for the 21st Century

After months of hard work by six par­tic­i­pants @ 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit, we are hon­ored to pub­lish this Meet­ing Report to help gen­er­ate a broader con­ver­sa­tion on what we believe is one of the main oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges of our times: How to Retool Brain Health for the 21st Cen­tury. This Meet­ing Report has been pre­pared by: Alvaro Fer­nan­dez (Sharp­Brains),  Luc P. Beau­doin (Simon Fraser Uni­ver­sity), Muki Hansteen-Izora (Intel Cor­po­ra­tion), Mar­garet E. Mor­ris  (Intel Cor­po­ra­tion), Joshua R. Stein­er­man (ProG­evity Neu­ro­science), Peter J. White­house (Case West­ern Reserve Uni­ver­sity), and is fully acces­si­ble Here.

You will find many valu­able rec­om­men­da­tions, such as “repeated, fre­quent, assess­ment (of brain func­tion) over time (i.e., mon­i­tor­ing) with the use of consumer-facing tech­nolo­gies is prefer­able to a sin­gle assess­ment”, and deep insights such as “But it was reported (that brain train­ing can work) to be pos­si­ble when basic “con­di­tions for trans­fer” are met, such as proper iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of deficit in tar­get pop­u­la­tion and suf­fi­cient train­ing “dose” Sev­eral speak­ers con­fessed to be “shocked” by the strength of the neg­a­tive claims made by the “BBC brain train­ing” Nature paper in spite of the “home­o­pathic dos­ing” of the inter­ven­tion.”  Read the rest of this entry »

The Business and Ethics of the Brain Fitness Boom — Part 3: The Real Need

Engag­ing peo­ple where they are in the life-course

Eighty per­cent of the 38,000 adults over age 50 who were respon­ders in the 2010 AARP Mem­ber Opin­ion Sur­vey indi­cated “stay­ing men­tally sharp” was their top ranked inter­est and con­cern (Dinger, 2010). What exactly does this phrase mean? And what role can tech­nol­ogy play in “stay­ing men­tally sharp”? Intel CEO Paul Otellini has said, “You have to start by think­ing about what peo­ple want to do… and work back­ward.” Read the rest of this entry »

Invitation for SharpBrains Summit Participants to Comment on Meeting Report and Join Council

Over 50 insight­ful and fun mem­bers of the world­wide Sharp­Brains com­mu­nity had the oppor­tu­nity to gather in DC, New York and San Fran­cisco last month in order to meet in per­son –often for the first time!- and to dis­cuss next steps to drive mean­ing­ful inno­va­tion in the brain health and fit­ness space.

It is our plea­sure to invite Sharp­Brains Sum­mit par­tic­i­pants to con­tribute to, and to learn from, this grow­ing net­work, by ask­ing them to please: Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Videogames or Meditation?; Internship Program @ SharpBrains

First of all, an announce­ment. We are start­ing a Vir­tual Intern­ship Pro­gram @ Sharp­Brains, allow­ing full-time under­grad and grad stu­dents and post­docs to lead 100-hour projects jointly defined by them­selves and by Sharp­Brains. Inter­ested can­di­dates should Con­tact Us indi­cat­ing a) a pre­lim­i­nary project pro­posal (200 words or less), and b) brief bio and qual­i­fi­ca­tions (200 words or less). Intern­ships don’t require travel and will be paid in-kind, with access to Sharp­Brains reports and con­fer­ence record­ings. Sharp­Brains will select a lim­ited num­ber of Interns based on fit between can­di­dates’ pro­posal and bio and Sharp­Brains mis­sion and activities.

Let’s now explore the lat­est edi­tion of the monthly Sharp­Brains eNewslet­ter, start­ing with a com­pre­hen­sive per­spec­tive on the edu­ca­tional value and lim­i­ta­tions of videogames, writ­ten by Mar­shall Wein­stein, a senior at Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity who will be a Sharp­Brains Intern dur­ing the Fall.

Tran­scen­den­tal Med­i­ta­tion and Work­ing Mem­ory Train­ing To Enhance Exec­u­tive Func­tions: Two very inter­est­ing new research studies…but please don’t miss the thought-provoking com­ments by reader Jay Kay.

Unlock­ing Dyslexia in Japan­ese: New clues emerge based on the obser­va­tion that some dyslex­ics have an eas­ier time with visual lan­guages like Japan­ese and Chinese.

Does ADHD med­ica­tion treat­ment in child­hood increase adult employ­ment?: A very insight­ful com­men­tary by Dr. David Rabiner.

Boomers’ Abil­ity to Make Finan­cial Deci­sions Often Declines With Age: A new report by Cana­dian bank BMO illus­trates the need for inno­v­a­tive brain fit­ness inter­ven­tions focused on main­tain­ing tar­geted cog­ni­tive func­tion­al­ity. What the report presents as inex­orable decline, it is not.

Alzheimer’s Dis­ease Aware­ness, Test­ing and Pre­ven­tion:  New data rein­forc­e the need to pay­ seri­ous atten­tion to lifestyle-based and non-invasive cog­ni­tive and emo­tional health inter­ven­tions, and the need to per­son­al­ize interventions.

Think­ing glob­ally to improve men­tal health: The National Insti­tutes of Health and the Global Alliance for Chronic Dis­eases announce a Grand Chal­lenges in Global Men­tal Health Ini­tia­tive. We will keep you posted on this.

Have a great month of August and, as always, feel free to share this enewslet­ter with friends and col­leagues… and with poten­tial can­di­dates for the new Vir­tual Intern­ship Pro­gram @ SharpBrains!

Alzheimer’s Disease: New Survey and Research Study on Awareness, Testing and Prevention

Very inter­est­ing new data rein­forc­ing two main themes we have been ana­lyz­ing for a while:
1) We bet­ter start pay­ing seri­ous atten­tion (and R&D dol­lars) to lifestyle-based and non-invasive cog­ni­tive and emo­tional health inter­ven­tions, which are mostly ignored in favor of inva­sive, drug-based options
2) Inter­ven­tions will need to be per­son­al­ized. The study below ana­lyzes data at the coun­try level, but the same logic applies to the indi­vid­ual level

Many fear Alzheimer’s, want to be tested: sur­vey (Reuters):

- “The tele­phone sur­vey of 2,678 adults aged 18 and older in the United States, France, Ger­many, Spain and Poland was con­ducted by researchers at the Har­vard School of Pub­lic Health and Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Heath News: January

Below you have a col­lec­tion of recent news and announcements:

1) Brain Fit­ness Com­ing to Senior Exer­cise Classes (press release):

- “The Amer­i­can Senior Fit­ness Asso­ci­a­tion (SFA) has announced a new brain fit­ness train­ing pro­gram designed for exer­cise pro­fes­sion­als. Brain Fit­ness for Older Adults teaches senior fit­ness instruc­tors and per­sonal train­ers how to incor­po­rate effec­tive cog­ni­tive fit­ness into phys­i­cal activ­ity pro­grams, offer­ing seniors the oppor­tu­nity to boost both phys­i­cal and men­tal fit­ness simultaneously.”

Com­ment: a very timely ini­tia­tive, given the inter­est we see in brain fit­ness edu­ca­tion and ini­tia­tives, and the ben­e­fits of both phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise on brain health. It makes a lot of sense to enhance pub­lic aware­ness through train-the-trainer ini­tia­tives. What remains unclear in this SFA pro­gram is what is the direct evi­dence for some­thing that is billed as a “brain fit­ness train­ing pro­gram” and seems to advo­cate one par­tic­u­lar set of exer­cises and move­ments for their train­ers and train­ers’ clients. It is one thing to claim a prod­uct pro­vides good infor­ma­tion & is edu­ca­tional (like a book, or this blog, or classes on the brain & brain health) and another one to claim that it is a “brain fit­ness train­ing pro­gram”, for which we should ask Read the rest of this entry »

The importance of Context for Cognitive/ Emotional Health

For­tu­nately, our field has moved beyond par­ti­san, and some­times polit­i­cal, pref­er­ence and now asks, What treat­ment is most effec­tive for which patients in what con­text?” — Ray­mon A. Levy and J. Stu­art Ablon, clin­i­cal direc­tor and direc­tor of the psy­chother­apy research pro­gram in the depart­ment of psy­chi­a­try at Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hospital.

Yesterday’s New York Times Book Review included some Let­ters to the Edi­tor that were even bet­ter that the orig­i­nal book review of Amer­i­can Ther­apy.

We are see­ing a grow­ing num­ber of research-based tools and tech­niques (includ­ing cog­ni­tive ther­apy, reviewed in the arti­cle) to mea­sure and help main­tain cog­ni­tive and emo­tional health, both technology-based and technology-free. Now, none of them is a gen­eral solu­tion (in the same way that no sin­gle drug is best for every­one and every­thing), so the ques­tion posed above couldn’t be more relevant.

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