Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Stimulating Minds, Stimulating Links

Just a quick note to announce a new Sil­ver Spon­sor of the Sharp­Brains Sum­mit, and link to a cou­ple stim­u­lat­ing online conversations.

iftf-logoThe Insti­tute For the Future is an inde­pen­dent, non­profit strate­gic research group with more than 40 years of fore­cast­ing expe­ri­ence. The core of our work is iden­ti­fy­ing emerg­ing trends and dis­con­ti­nu­ities that will trans­form global soci­ety and the global mar­ket­place. We pro­vide our mem­bers with insights into busi­ness strat­egy, design process, inno­va­tion, and social dilem­mas. Our research spans a broad ter­ri­tory of deeply trans­for­ma­tive trends, from health and health care to tech­nol­ogy, the work­place, and human iden­tity. The Insti­tute for the Future is located in Palo Alto, California.

I have been col­lab­o­rat­ing infor­mally with IFTF projects for a few years, and it is excit­ing to col­lab­o­rate on the upcom­ing Sum­mit and related work.

Now, two stim­u­lat­ing links:

1) Ency­clo­pe­dia Bri­tan­nica Blog is host­ing an online con­ver­sa­tion on Multi-tasking:

Mul­ti­task­ing” remem­ber when that was some­thing com­put­ers did? They were sup­posed to do it for our ben­e­fit, to make our lives eas­ier, but some­how it hasn’t quite worked out that way. With fast com­put­ers, the Inter­net, and smart phones in our pock­ets, today we’re always teth­ered to The Net­work, and some­times it seems we’re doing its bid­ding instead of it doing ours. There’s so much to do, it comes at us so fast, and it all has to be done now. The solu­tion: for­get what you were taught about doing one thing at a time and start doing sev­eral things at once. Call your office from the express­way. Bring that Black­berry to the meet­ing. Answer e-mails over din­ner. Multitask.

Of course, whether mul­ti­task­ing really is effi­cient is a mat­ter both of pub­lic debate and clin­i­cal research, and it’s just one of the ques­tions we plan to get into next week in a new forum on the sub­ject here at the Bri­tan­nica Blog.”

You can par­tic­i­pate Here.

2) For extra brain & mind read­ing, you can visit  yesterday’s Encephalon edi­tion at The Mouse Trap. Enjoy!

Brain Fitness/ Training Newsletter: January Edition

Brain exercise, brain exercisesAs we have been doing for the last 6 months, here you are have the Monthly Digest of our Most Pop­u­lar Blog Posts. You can con­sider it your monthly Brain Fitness/ Train­ing Newsletter.

(Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our blog RSS feed, or to our monthly newslet­ter at the top of this page if you want to receive this Monthly Digest by email).

Let me first intro­duce our new ros­ter of Expert Con­trib­u­tors, high­light­ing first an arti­cle by Duke University’s Dr. David Rabiner, a lead­ing author­ity on atten­tion deficits and author of the Atten­tion Research Update newslet­ter, on the “promis­ing, yet unproven” value of neu­ro­feed­back for atten­tion deficits: How Strong is the Research Sup­port for Neu­ro­feed­back.

Two other great arti­cles by our Expert Con­trib­u­tors this month:

Look­ing inside the Brain: cog­ni­tive sci­en­tist Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon intro­duces us to the world of neu­roimag­ing and build­ing men­tal reserves.

Med­i­ta­tion in Schools: thanks to our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greater Good Mag­a­zine, we offer an excel­lent arti­cle on the emerg­ing trend of schools using med­i­ta­tion to help stu­dents man­age anx­i­ety and stress.

The fol­low­ing Expert Con­trib­u­tors will be fea­tured in Feb­ru­ary, so make sure to visit our blog often:

- Wes Car­roll, Puz­zle Mas­ter for Ask a Sci­en­tist lec­ture series.

- Simon Evans, PhD., and Paul Burghardt, PhD., from Uni­ver­sity of Michigan’s Depart­ment of Psy­chi­a­try and the Mol­e­c­u­lar and Behav­ioral Neu­ro­science Institute.

- Gre­gory Kel­lett, mas­ters in Cog­ni­tive Neurology/Research Psy­chol­ogy from SFSU and researcher at UCSF.

- Joanne Jacobs, edu­ca­tion expert and blog­ger, will par­tic­i­pate in the “Sharp­Brains Author Speaks Series” to present her most recent book.

- Eric Jensen, well-known resource on brain research infor­ma­tion with impli­ca­tions for K12 education.

- Tom O’Brien, Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus in Math­e­mat­ics edu­ca­tion and author of prize-winning games.

- Adrian Preda, M.D., Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try and Human Behav­ior at the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

- Joshua Stein­er­man, M.D., Post­doc­toral Clin­i­cal Fel­low in the Depart­ment of Neu­rol­ogy at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity Med­ical Center.

Brain Fit­ness and Sharp­Brains in the News

Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Trends (Jan­u­ary 3rd): Sci­en­tific Learn­ing Corp. (cog­ni­tive train­ing for chil­dren with dislexia and read­ing dif­fi­cul­ties) acquires Solil­o­quy Learn­ing, and Paris-based Sci­en­tific Brain Train­ing acquires Tech­no­me­dia, a Cana­dian provider of cor­po­rate training.

More News on the Field (Jan­u­ary 14th): Posit Sci­ence (audi­tory pro­cess­ing train­ing) acquires Visual Aware­ness, Inc (visual pro­cess­ing train­ing for dri­ving skills, used in ACTIVE tri­als). Cogmed announces work­ing mem­ory train­ing for adults. Nature Neu­ro­science brings great resources on the clas­sic Lon­don Taxi Dri­vers study. The 2008 Mind & Life Sum­mer Research Insti­tute starts accept­ing appli­ca­tions by researchers inter­ested in study­ing the effects of med­i­ta­tion on the brain.

Sharp­Brains Fea­tured in Newsweek & Fox Busi­ness Net­work (Jan­u­ary 19th): sev­eral great arti­cles on the emerg­ing brain fitness/ train­ing field. New Sci­en­tist (subscription-only) pro­vides a broad pic­ture of the research. Newsweek kindly invites read­ers to “check out SharpBrains.com, which pro­motes science-based cog­ni­tive train­ing”. Fox Busi­ness Net­work includes our mar­ket esti­mates of $225 mil­lion for the whole brain fit­ness soft­ware field in 2007 in the US. The New York Times has a great arti­cle on the value of music training.

Is Your Brain Ready To Drink Cheap Wine?: Prof. Baba Shiv, one of our advi­sors, pub­lished a fas­ci­nat­ing paper on the power of our beliefs to influ­ence brain acti­va­tion, and on how mar­ket­ing can influ­ence those beliefs.

Sharpen Your Brain to Improve Per­for­mance, Lower Stress (sub­scrip­tion required): Nicholas Genes from Med­scape inter­views me on the back­ground behind cog­ni­tive fit­ness and SharpBrains.com.

Health and Wellness

It is Not Only Cars That Deserve Good Main­te­nance: If we can all agree on the impor­tance of main­tain­ing our cars that get us around town, what about main­tain­ing our brains sit­ting behind the wheel?.

Grand Rounds: Brief­ing the Next US Pres­i­dent on 40 Health Issues: we hosted an open let­ter to the “Next US Pres­i­dent”, gath­er­ing the ques­tions and impres­sions of 40 health and med­ical blog­gers. We will do the same on Edu­ca­tion issues on Feb­ru­ary 20th-see below.

Cog­ni­tive Train­ing Clin­i­cal Trial: Seek­ing Older Adults:  Neu­ro­sci­en­tists at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity Med­ical Cen­ter asked for help in recruit­ing vol­un­teers for an excit­ing clin­i­cal trial. If you are based in New York City, and between the ages of 60 and 75, please con­sider join­ing this study.

10 Brain Fit­ness New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions: prob­a­bly a bit late…but con­tains poten­tial New Years Res­o­lu­tions with the three prin­ci­ples of brain fit­ness in mind — nov­elty, vari­ety and challenge.

Edu­ca­tion

Inter­view with Robert Syl­wester on The Ado­les­cent Brain: Dr. Robert Syl­wester is an edu­ca­tor of edu­ca­tors, hav­ing received mul­ti­ple awards dur­ing his long career as a mas­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tor of the impli­ca­tions of brain sci­ence research for edu­ca­tion and learn­ing. Enjoy this interview.

Don’t Out­source Your Brain: nei­ther to other peo­ple… nor to your GPS sys­tem. Funny, true story.

Feb­ru­ary 20th Blog Car­ni­val of edu­ca­tion: we will host this edi­tion and present it as an open let­ter to the “Next US Pres­i­dent”, gath­er­ing the ques­tions and impres­sions of a num­ber of edu­ca­tion bloggers.

Resources

20 Brain Plas­tic­ity Books: we just changed a few things in our site, includ­ing prepar­ing a more solid Resources sec­tion. Please take a look at the nav­i­ga­tion bar at the top, includ­ing an expanded Books page.

PBS Brain Fit­ness DVD: the PBS shop is already sell­ing DVDs of its great Decem­ber spe­cial on Brain Fit­ness and Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity.

Brain Teasers

Mon­keys and Brain Games: did you read about the recent exper­i­ment where young chimps dis­played amaz­ing visual work­ing mem­ory capa­bil­ity, beat­ing humans? you can release your com­pet­i­tive juices here.

Brain Exer­cises for the Week­end: Har­riet Vines, Ph.D., an expe­ri­enced author and retired col­lege pro­fes­sor, sends us a few fun brain exer­cises to train our atten­tion and work­ing memory.

Events and Speak­ing Engage­ments (more details in our Speak­ing page)

» Feb. 2th: I will lead a Work­shop on Brain Fit­ness: The Sci­ence and Prac­tice, spon­sored by San Jose State University’s Osher Life­long Learn­ing Institute.

» Feb. 7th: will speak on “Sharp­en­ing Minds through Com­put­er­ized Cog­ni­tive and Emo­tional Train­ing Pro­grams,” at the Learn­ing & The Brain Con­fer­ence.

» Feb. 12th: will speak on The Emerg­ing Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket: Build­ing Bet­ter Brains: spon­sored by The MIT Club of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging, The Busi­ness Forum on Aging and Smart­Sil­vers, we will cover how “Sci­en­tific, tech­no­log­i­cal and demo­graphic trends have con­verged to cre­ate an excit­ing new mar­ket in brain fit­ness, where soft­ware and online appli­ca­tions can assess and train cog­ni­tive abilities.”

» March 4th: I will be a pan­elist on how to Use Your Head-The Future of Mind Hacks, at O’Reilly Emerg­ing Tech­nol­ogy Conference.

» March 27th, 2008: will present an Overview of Cog­ni­tive Train­ing Research and Pro­grams, at the NCOA/ ASA Aging in Amer­ica Con­fer­ence.

David Pescovitz, Research Direc­tor, Insti­tute for the Future, says “Alvaro Fer­nan­dez syn­the­sizes and trans­lates the lat­est neu­ro­science into provoca­tive, com­pelling, and enter­tain­ing sto­ries of men­tal fit­ness and the future of the brain.” Please con­tact us, sim­ply respond­ing to this email, if your orga­ni­za­tion is inter­ested in learn­ing more about Brain and Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness and this emerg­ing field.

All feed­back and con­tri­bu­tions are wel­come, too. Please leave your com­ments below.

Cognitive Fitness, The Future of Work, and Concept Maps

Some weeks ago we explained how use­ful Con­cept Maps can be to quickly visu­al­ize the key ideas in a field, and their relationships.

Let me show you this fan­tas­tic exam­ple. A few weeks ago I was inter­viewed by David Pescovitz of the Insti­tute for the Future (blog) to dis­cuss The Future of Work and Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness trends. They had an artist who drew the graph below IN REAL TIME, AS WE SPOKE. Very impressive.

Please open the full image by click­ing on it, and spend a few min­utes read­ing around, top-down, left-to right.

You will learn much about what the future may bring (will Human Resources staff become “Cog­ni­tive Resources Man­agers”?), and also how to dis­play com­plex infor­ma­tion in beau­ti­ful visual form.

 

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

 

Kudos to the Insti­tute for the Future, an inde­pen­dent non­profit research group,  for a fas­ci­nat­ing event on The Future of Work.

Credit for the Map: Anthony Weeks, from Grove Con­sul­tants.

(Dear RSS read­ers: I’d really appre­ci­ate if you could Digg this post. You can find the Digg but­ton if you visit this post in our blog. Thanks!)

Everyone a Changemaker”, Ashoka and Google

What an event yes­ter­day night. My wife and I were for­tu­nate to visit the Google Cam­pus and attend the Sixth Annual North Amer­i­can Fel­low­ship Induc­tion Pro­gram of Ashoka: Inno­va­tors for the Pub­lic, a social ven­ture fund where we have been involved for a num­ber of years, and thanks to which (thanks Michele!) my wife and I met in the first place.

18 new Ashoka Fellows/ social entre­pre­neurs were elected, and after a fun cock­tail recep­tion the cer­e­mony began. Sergei Brin (Google Co-founder), Sheryl Sand­berg (who helped launch Google Foun­da­tion and google.org), Salar Kaman­gar (the mind behind AdWords) gave intro­duc­tory remarks. Salar explained how he first heard of Ashoka (through the book How to Change the World, by David Born­stein) and how he saw tremen­dous sim­i­lar­i­ties between Ashoka and Google: both Read the rest of this entry »

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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 health and well­ness appli­ca­tions of brain science.
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