Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Cognitive development across the lifespan (young minds’ edition)


Cognitive development (great article at Frontiers for Young Minds; a new publication “edited for kids, by kids”):

“…The distinction between fluid and crystallized intelligence is important because the two are influenced by different factors. While the former is more biologically determined and genetically predisposed, the latter is shaped more by experience. This is a little bit similar to what we know of sports Read the rest of this entry »

Challenge: Helping consumers separate brain training wheat from brain games chaff


Brain-Training Companies Get Advice From Some Academics, Criticism From Others (The Chronicle of Higher Education):

“…brain-game companies entice people to buy subscriptions to their online training programs, many of which promise to increase customers’ “neuroplasticity,” “fluid intelligence,” and working memory capacity. They even claim to help stave off the effects of aging.

Leading scientists have criticized those promises Read the rest of this entry »

Study finds n-back cognitive training can increase fluid intelligence (especially outside the USA)

workingmemoryImproving fluid intelligence with training on working memory: a meta-analysis (Psychonomic Bulletin & Review):

“…due to the broad interest in cognitive training, laboratories around the world are investigating the effects of training and transfer. In fact, the first study of n-back training on Gf (fluid intelligence) was conducted in Switzerland…and from our own experiences conducting research both internationally and in the U.S., we have anecdotally observed Read the rest of this entry »

Can You Make Yourself Smarter? Yes. Real question is, How?

A new article in The New York Times, Can You Make Yourself Smarter, provides a great overview of working memory and cognitive training:

– “We see attention and working memory as the cardiovascular function of the brain,” Jaeggi says.“If you train your attention and working memory, you increase your basic cognitive skills that help you for many different complex tasks.” Read the rest of this entry »

Education for Mental Fitness: “A Sharper Mind, Middle Age and Beyond”

Kudos to Patricia Cohen for one of the best articles I have read in The New York Times in a long time: A Sharper Mind, Middle Age and Beyond, by Patricia Cohen. These are a few quotes – please do read the article in full, it is worth it.

  • “Some people are much better than their peers at delaying age-related declines in memory and calculating speed. What researchers want to know is why. Why does your 70-year-old neighbor score half her age on a memory test, while you, at 40, have the memory of a senior citizen? Read the rest of this entry »

Transcript: Dr. Gary Small on Enhancing Memory and the Brain

Below you can find the full transcript of our engaging Q&A session today on mem­ory, mem­ory tech­niques and brain-healthy lifestyles with Dr. Gary  Small, Direc­tor of UCLA’s Mem­ory Clinic and Cen­ter on Aging, and author of The Mem­ory Bible. You can learn more about his book  Here, and learn more about upcoming Brain Fitness Q&A Sessions Here.

Perhaps one of the best questions and answers was:

Question: Gary, you’ve worked many years in this field. Let us in on the secret. What do YOU do you, personally, to promote your own brain fitness?
Answer: I try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic conditioning each day; try to minimize my stress by staying connected with family and friends; generally eat a brain healthy diet (fish, fruits, vegetables), and try to balance my online time with my offline time. Which reminds me, I think it is almost time for me to sign off line. Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness/ Training Report Finds Market Growth, Potential, and Confusion

After many many months of mental stimulation, physical exercise and the certain need for stress management… we have just announced the release of the The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009 report, our second annual comprehensive market analysis of the US market for computerized cognitive assessment and training tools. In this report we estimate the size of the US brain fitness software market at $265M in 2008, up from $225M in 2007 (18% annual growth), and from $100m in 2005. Two segments fuelled the market growth from 2007 to 2008: consumers (grew from $80m to $95m) and healthcare & insurance providers (grew from $65m to $80m).

The 150-page report finds promising research and initiatives to drive significant growth, combined with increased consumer confusion given aggressive marketing claims and lack of education and standards. The report includes:
– The complete results of an exclusive January 2009 Survey with 2,000+ respondents
– A proprietary Market & Research Momentum Matrix to categorize 21 key vendors into four categories
– 10 Research Executive Briefs written by leading scientists at prominent research labs
– An analysis of the level of clinical validation per product and cognitive domain

Top 10 Highlights from the report:

1) Consumers, seniors, communities and insurance providers drove year on year sustained growth, from $225m in 2007 to $265m in 2008. Revenues may reach between $1 billion to $5 billion by 2015, depending on how important problems (Public Awareness, Navigating Claims, Research, Health Culture, Lack of Assessment) are addressed.

2) Increased interest and confusion: 61% of respondents Strongly Agree with the statement Addressing cognitive and brain health should be a healthcare priority. But, 65% Agree/Strongly Agree. I don’t really know what to expect from products making brain claims.

3) Investment in R&D seeds future growth: Landmark investments by insurance providers and government-funded research institutes testing new brain fitness applications planted new seeds for future growth.

4) Becoming standard in residential facilities: Over 700 residential facilities mostly Independent and Assisted Living facilities and CCRCs have installed computerized cognitive training programs.

5) Customer satisfaction: Consumers seem more satisfied with computer-based products than paper-based options. But, satisfaction differs by product. When asked I got real value for my money, results were as follows: (65% Agree), Puzzle Books (60%), Posit Science (52%), Nintendo (51%) agreed. Posit Science (53% Agree) and (51%) do better than Puzzle Books (39%) and Nintendo (38%) at I have seen the results I wanted.

6) Assessments: Increasing adoption of computer-based cognitive assessments to baseline and track cognitive functions over time in military, sports, and clinical contexts. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America now advocates for widespread cognitive screenings after 65-75.

7) Specific computerized cognitive training and videogames have been shown to improve brain functions, but the key questions are, Which ones, and Who needs what when?

8) Aggressive marketing claims are creating confusion and skepticism, resulting in a distracting controversy between two misleading extremes: (a) buying product XYZ can rejuvenate your brain Y years or (b) those products don’t work; just do one more crossword puzzle. The upcoming book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness aims to help consumers navigate these claims.

9) Developers can be classified into four groups, based on a proprietary Market and Research Momentum Matrix: SharpBrains finds 4 Leaders, 8 High Potentials, 3 Crosswords 2.0, and 6 Wait & See companies.

10) Increased differentiation: Leading companies are better defining their value proposition and distribution channels to reach specific segments such as retirement communities, schools, or healthcare providers.

Leading researchers prepared 10 Research Executive Briefs:
– Dr. Joshua Steinerman (Einstein-Monteore): Neuroprotection via cognitive activities
– Dr. Jerri Edwards (South Florida): Assessments of driving fitness
– Dr. Susanne Jaeggi and Dr. Martin Buschkuehl (Bern, Michigan): Working memory training and  intelligence
– Dr. Torkel Klingberg (Karolinska): Working memory training, dopamine, and math
– Dr. Liz Zelinski (UC Davis): Auditory processing training
– Dr. David Vance (UAB): Speed-of-processing training
– Dr. Jerri Edwards (South Florida): Cognitive training for healthy aging
– Dr. Daphne Bavelier & Dr. Shawn Green (Rochester): Action videogames and attentional skills
– Dr. Arthur Kramer (Illinois): Strategy videogames and executive functions
– Dr. Yaakov Stern (Columbia): The cognitive reserve and neuroimaging
– Dr. David Rabiner (Duke): Objective assessments for ADHD

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
Chapter 1. Bird-Eye View of the Growing Field
Chapter 2. Market Survey on Beliefs, Attitudes, Purchase Habits
Chapter 3. The Emerging Competitive Landscape
Chapter 4. The Science for Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health
Chapter 5. Consumers  Adopting Crosswords 2.0?
Chapter 6: Healthcare and Insurance Providers – A Culture of Cognitive Health
Chapter 7: K12 School Systems- Ready for Change?
Chapter 8: Military, Sports Teams, Companies,  Brain-Performance Link
Chapter 9: Future Directions‚ Projections and Bottlenecks

Companies profiled include: Advanced Brain Technologies, Applied Cognitive Engineering, Brain Center America, Brain Resource, CNS Vital Signs, Cogmed, Cogstate, CogniFit, Cognitive Drug Research, Dakim, Houghton Mifflin, Learning Enhancement Corporation, LearningRx, Lumos Labs, Marbles: The Brain Store, Nintendo, NovaVision, Posit Science, Scientific Brain Training, Scientific Learning, TransAnalytics, vibrantBrains, Vigorous Mind, Vivity Labs.

More on the report by clicking on The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking applied brain science. Explore our most popular resources HERE.

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