Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Grand Rounds: Best of Health and Medical Blogging

Wel­come to a new edi­tion of Grand Rounds blog car­ni­val, the weekly edi­tion of what’s best in the health and med­ical blo­gos­phere. This week, twenty four blog­gers share data, insights, ques­tions, reflec­tions and more. Enjoy! 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 »

Cognitive News November-December 2008

Here you have sev­eral recent arti­cles and devel­op­ments wor­thy of attention:Brain Health News

1) Boom times for brain train­ing games (CNN)
2) Nav­i­gat­ing the brain fit­ness land­scape: do’s and don’ts (McKnight’s Long Term Care News)
3) USA Hockey and Intel­li­gym (press release)
4) Brain Fit­ness at New York Pub­lic Library (NYPL blog)
5) McDon­nell Foun­da­tion grant har­nesses cog­ni­tive sci­ence to improve stu­dent learn­ing (press release)
6) Health insur­ance firms offer­ing online cog­ni­tive ther­apy for insom­nia (Los Ange­les Times)
7) Head­Min­der Cog­ni­tive Sta­bil­ity Index: Com­put­er­ized Neu­rocog­ni­tive … (Press release)
8) THE AGE OF MASS INTELLIGENCE (Intel­li­gent Life)
9) Work­ing Later in Life May Facil­i­tate Neural Health (Cere­brum)
10) The Cool Fac­tor: Never Let Them See You Sweat (New York Times)

Links, selected quotes and com­men­tary: 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 »

Online Cognitive Therapy OKed by Health Insurance

My apolo­gies for not writ­ing in a few days…the Global Agenda Sum­mit in Dubai has required all my atten­tion — I will sum­ma­rize the great expe­ri­ence when I land back in San Fran­cisco tomor­row night.

The con­cepts of night and day do become chal­leng­ing when work­ing for a few days in a place with a 12-hour time dif­fer­ence with one’s home base. Sleep is indeed very impor­tant to main­tain top cog­ni­tive shape…which leads me to a fas­ci­nat­ing news announcement:

Health insur­ance firms offer­ing online cog­ni­tive ther­apy for insom­nia (Los Ange­les Times)

- “help­ing con­sumers get a good night’s sleep has become a pri­or­ity for most of the top-tier U.S. health insur­ance com­pa­nies, includ­ing Well­Point, Aetna, Cigna, Kaiser Per­ma­nente and sev­eral Blue Cross plans. Their new pro­grams don’t involve sleep­ing pills. Instead, insur­ers are advo­cat­ing the use of cog­ni­tive behav­ior ther­apy. Tra­di­tion­ally, the ther­apy has been done largely through face-to-face ses­sions, but many of the pro­grams are now avail­able online.”

- “And use of sleep­ing pills has sky­rock­eted. A study this year Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness for Baby Boomers

One of the best arti­cles so far on the grow­ing brain fit­ness mar­ket, by the Asso­ci­ated Press.

Click Here to check out story:

This is not just a Nintendo-fueled fad,” he says. “The brain fit­ness mar­ket passed a tip­ping point in 2007 thanks to the con­ver­gence of a very proac­tive boomer gen­er­a­tion hit­ting their 60s.”

Arti­cle: Here. Highly recommended.

Now, as you read it, please remem­ber the theme of our most recent newslet­ter: Emerg­ing Tools, Not Magic Pills.

And, for all new read­ers who are join­ing us given the extra cov­er­age (CNN, CBS, CHicago Tri­bune, dozens of other papers and web­sites), let me reprint now an arti­cle I wrote here in February:


A spate of recent news cov­er­age on brain fit­ness and “brain train­ing” reflects a grow­ing inter­est in nat­ural, non-drug-based inter­ven­tions to keep our brains sharp as we age. This inter­est is very timely, given the aging pop­u­la­tion, increas­ing Alzheimer’s rates, and soar­ing health care costs that place more empha­sis than ever on pre­ven­tion and chang­ing lifestyle.

Read the rest of this entry »

Every man can, if he so desires, sculpt his own brain

Santiago Ramon y CajalA Span­ish friend and neu­ro­sci­en­tist just reminded me of a great quote by San­ti­ago Ramon y Cajal (1852–1934): “todo hom­bre puede ser, si se lo pro­pone, escul­tor de su pro­pio cere­bro”.

Which means: “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculp­tor his own brain”.

Which really means: “Each of us can lit­er­ally refine the struc­ture and func­tion of our brains, the same way we can do so with the rest of our body mus­cles” (my 2 cents…).

Our daily thoughts and actions, learn­ings, med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­apy, the grow­ing num­ber of software-based pro­grams, and more, are “sculpt­ing” tools…no more no less than tools. Good for some goals and con­texts, like improv­ing con­cen­tra­tion and mem­ory, becom­ing “sharper”, help­ing pro­tect our minds from decline, or man­age stress better.

I just bought Cajal’s auto­bi­og­ra­phy, titled Rec­ol­lec­tions of My Life (thanks, Mind Hacks). Will be writ­ing about it in a month or so-I have too many books on the table now, and only one brain.

If you want to read some good neu­ro­science blog posts, you can find a nice col­lec­tion in the lat­est edi­tion of Encephalon, hosted by Dr Deb­o­rah Serani.

For gen­eral sci­ence ones, try Tan­gled Bank. For edu­ca­tion, enjoy The Edu­ca­tion Car­ni­val.

Finally, I will be host­ing the next edi­tion of Car­ni­val of the Cap­i­tal­ists (I don’t really love the name…but it is the old­est and best blog car­ni­val for busi­ness and eco­nom­ics). If you have some good posts, please sub­mit them here.

For some addi­tional thoughts on sculpt­ing brains, intel­li­gence, and becom­ing smarter, you can check this post.


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