Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Lumos Labs raises $32.5m: Largest Cognitive/ Brain Fitness Investment so far

Lumos Labs, the com­pany behind lumosity.com, has raised $32.5 mil­lion dol­lars in a Series C round from Menlo Ven­tures, First­Mark Cap­i­tal, Har­ri­son Metal and Nor­west Ven­ture Partners.

In our 2010 mar­ket report Lumos Labs came up as one of the cat­e­gory Lead­ers given its mar­ket and research momen­tum (not easy for a startup to get clear momen­tum in either of those dimen­sions, much less in both of them), so our con­grat­u­la­tions to them for now adding such invest­ment trac­tion. 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 »

Top 10 Cognitive Fitness Events of 2008 (Webinar)

We have just announced an upcom­ing webi­nar to pro­vide a mar­ket update:  Top 10 Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness Events of 2008 — A Mar­ket Update.

cognitive fitness When: Thurs­day Decem­ber 11th, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm Pacific Time. The same webi­nar will be repeated on Thurs­day Decem­ber 18th, from 9:00 to 10:00 pm Pacific Time.

The Top 10 Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness Events that will be dis­cussed include:

1) Feb­ru­ary: Dakim secures a $10.6m invest­ment from Galen Part­ners. Jack LaLanne becomes spokesper­son.
2) April: The Gov­ern­ment of Ontario, Canada, invests $10m in Bay­crest to develop and com­mer­cial­ize cog­ni­tive fit­ness tech­nolo­gies.
3) April: Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan researchers reveal in the Pro­ceed­ings of the National Acad­emy of Sci­ences how com­put­er­ized work­ing mem­ory train­ing can gen­er­al­ize and improve fluid intel­li­gence in healthy adults.
4) May: Humana unveils Games for Health ini­tia­tives, not renew­ing its agree­ment with Posit Sci­ence.
5) June: The US Army launches a new pol­icy requir­ing cog­ni­tive screen­ings of all sol­diers before deploy­ment (in order to Read the rest of this entry »

The Cognitive Health and Fitness Market On The Move

As you have prob­a­bly seen, the Cog­ni­tive Health and Brain Fit­ness field is rapidly evolv­ing, so let me high­light some of the main recent devel­op­ments affect­ing the field:

1) Pub­lic pol­icy ini­tia­tives:
– The Gov­ern­ment of Ontario, Canada, announced a $10m invest­ment in Bay­crest Research Cen­ter to help develop and com­mer­cial­ize brain fit­ness tech­nolo­gies. This $10m invest­ment was matched with an addi­tional $10m by local investors.
– In the US, The Paul Well­stone and Pete Domenici Men­tal Health Par­ity and Addic­tion Equity Act of 2008 was signed into law, included in the recently-approved eco­nomic bailout bill. The pas­sage of this law has sig­nif­i­cant impli­ca­tions for health­care providers and tech­nol­ogy ven­dors alike.

2) Com­put­er­ized Cog­ni­tive Assess­ments Used by the US Mil­i­tary:
The US Army launched a new pol­icy requir­ing cog­ni­tive screen­ings of all sol­diers before deploy­ment (in order to bet­ter diag­nose poten­tial prob­lems such as PTSD and TBI upon return). ANAM was the selected com­put­er­ized bat­tery of tests.

3) Ven­ture & Angel Fundrais­ing for Cog­ni­tive Train­ing com­pa­nies:
A num­ber of devel­op­ers have raised money. Cog­niFit received $5m (from Milk Cap­i­tal), Lumos Labs $3m (First­Mark Cap­i­tal –pre­vi­ously called Pequot Ventures-, Nor­west Ven­ture Part­ners), Sci­en­tific Brain Train­ing $1.5m (issued shares), Viv­ity Labs $1m (undis­closed angel investors), This is, of course, on top of the Feb­ru­ary $10.6 invest­ment in Dakim (Galen Part­ners) that we already included in our mar­ket report.

4) Major Ini­tia­tives by Insur­ance Com­pa­nies:
– All­state launched a large-scale research project to mea­sure impact of Posit Sci­ence InSight (visual pro­cess­ing train­ing) on dri­ver safety for adults over 50.
– OptumHealth announced a 3-year, $18m agree­ment with Brain Resource to offer web-based cog­ni­tive assess­ments as part of clin­i­cians’ deci­sion sup­port sys­tems.
– Humana decided not to renew its agree­ment with Posit Sci­ence to offer Posit’s audi­tory pro­cess­ing train­ing pro­gram to Medicare members.

5) New Research:
– In a sig­nif­i­cant new study, a team from the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan pub­lished a high-quality paper in the Pro­ceed­ings of the National Acad­emy of Sci­ences show­ing how com­put­er­ized work­ing mem­ory train­ing can gen­er­al­ize and improve fluid intel­li­gence (one of the domains that tends to decline with age).
– Learn­ing and Teach­ing Scot­land released an inter­nal study show­ing how Nin­tendo Brain Train­ing can help children’s math and con­cen­tra­tion skills. The study gained sig­nif­i­cant media atten­tion, despite the fact it hasn’t been pub­lished in a respected journal.

Note: This is an excerpt from the 6-Month Mar­ket Update we will  release later this month, cov­er­ing the many impor­tant devel­op­ments that have occurred since we launched the inau­gural Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket Report in March this year. This spe­cial report will be avail­able exclu­sively for our Pre­mium Research Spon­sors.

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