Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Health Business Grows With Research and Demand

I wrote this arti­cle for the March/ April edi­tion of the pub­li­ca­tion Aging Today, pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging, and received per­mis­sion to repro­duce it here.


In recent years, most pro­fes­sion­als in aging have become aware of the grow­ing sci­en­tific evi­dence show­ing that human brains retain the abil­ity to gen­er­ate neu­rons and change over a life­time, dis­cov­er­ies that have bro­ken the sci­en­tific par­a­digm preva­lent dur­ing the 20th cen­tury. Fur­ther­more, neu­roimag­ing and cog­ni­tive train­ing stud­ies are show­ing how well-directed exer­cise presents peo­ple major oppor­tu­ni­ties for healthy brain aging.

How can peo­ple use emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies to keep their brains healthy and pro­duc­tive as long as pos­si­ble? An emerg­ing mar­ket for brain health– $225 mil­lion mar­ket in 2007, in the United States alone, of which con­sumers account for $80 million–is try­ing to address that ques­tion in a way that com­ple­ments other impor­tant more tra­di­tional pil­lars (and multi-billion indus­tries) of brain health, such as phys­i­cal exer­cise, bal­anced diet, stress man­age­ment (stress has been shown to actu­ally kill neu­rons and reduce the rate of cre­ation of new ones) and over­all men­tal stim­u­la­tion and life­long learning.


A series of impor­tant events took place in 2007, a sem­i­nal year for the brain health field, begin­ning in Jan­u­ary when many main­stream media pub­li­ca­tions, such as Time Mag­a­zine and CBS News, started to pub­lish major sto­ries on neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and brain exer­cise. This media cov­er­age fol­lowed the pub­li­ca­tion of the long-awaited results from national clin­i­cal tri­als show­ing that sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­ages of the par­tic­i­pants age 65 and older who trained for five weeks improved their mem­ory, rea­son­ing and information-processing speed. Find­ings from the Advanced Cog­ni­tive Train­ing for Inde­pen­dent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) Study appeared in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion (Dec. 20, 2006) and revealed that even after five years, par­tic­i­pants in the ACTIVE computer-based pro­gram showed less of a decline in information-processing skills than those in a con­trol group that received no cog­ni­tive training.

Read the rest of this entry »

Health, Medicine and Wellness blogs

First of all, thank you for com­ing to enjoy our 50 brain teasers…the reac­tion was over­whelm­ing. We will pre­pare more!

Sec­ond, quick links to excel­lent health-related blog carnivals:

Grand Rounds: the most com­pre­hen­sive one

Health Wonk Review: focused on pub­lic policy

Change of Shift: nursing-oriented

Med­i­cine 2.0: on how web 2.0 inter­acts with the med­ical field

Third, here you have a use­ful rank­ing of top 100 Health blogs. Our blog is #10, despite our niche focus on brain health and fitness!

Executive Functions and Google/ Microsoft Brain Teasers

Inter­est­ing arti­cle: Want a job at Google? Try these brain­teasers first (CNN)

Quote: “Seem­ingly ran­dom ques­tions like these have become com­mon­place in Sil­i­con Val­ley and other tech out­posts, where com­pa­nies aren’t as inter­ested in the cor­rect answer to a tough ques­tion as they are in how a prospec­tive employee might try to solve it. Since busi­nesses today have to be able to react quickly to shift­ing mar­ket dynam­ics, they want more than engi­neers with high IQs and good col­lege tran­scripts. They want peo­ple who can think on their feet.”

Com­ment: What are those com­pa­nies (Google, Microsoft, Ama­zon) after? Employ­ees with good Exec­u­tive Func­tions. You can try some of the fun teasers in the article:

1) How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?

  • About 500,000, assum­ing the bus is 50 balls high, 50 balls wide, and 200 balls long

2) You’re shrunk and trapped in a blender that will turn on in 60 sec­onds. What do you do?

Some options:

1. Use the mea­sure­ment marks to climb out

2. Try to unscrew the glass

3. Risk rid­ing out the air current

3) How much should you charge to wash all the win­dows in Seattle?

  • Assum­ing 10,000 city blocks, 600 win­dows per block, five min­utes per win­dow, and a rate of $20 per hour, about $10 million


PS: Enjoy these 50 brain teasers to test your cog­ni­tive abil­ity. Free, and fun for adults of any age!


Neuroscience, Grand Rounds, and more blog carnivals

This week we have enjoyed 3 great blog carnivals

And, of course, there are more on a vari­ety of topics:

Med­i­cine and web 2.0, Change of Shift, Edu­ca­tion, Read the rest of this entry »




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