Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Alzheimer’s Disease: Treatment Directions

Last year, Jeffrey Gonce, a Psychology teacher at Red Land High School (West Shore School District, PA) asked his students to “complete a project describing a recent brain (or genetic) study that affects behavior.” The students could opt to post their articles online, and Jeffrey was kind enough to send us a link to read the results. We enjoyed reading them all, and published in our blog this beautiful essay, titled “Tis better to give than receive”, written by Alexandra, which  was subsequently included in a number of neuroscience an psychology blogs. Earlier this year we highlighted this piece on Musical training as mental exercise for cognitive performance, written by Megan.

This quarter, Jeffrey also sent us his students’ essays, and we are going to recognize and publish this great essay by high school student Kristin H.


Alzheimer’s Disease

— By Kristin H.

Alzheimer’s is a disease which causes people, generally of an older age, to lose memory and forget how to accomplish simple tasks. Dementia is the disease which Alzheimer’s is a part and about four million Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1999, a number which is expected to grow (Altman 8-9). Dementia is an unspecific brain disease commonly associated with memory loss and another serious brain dysfunction. Dementia is an incurable disease (“Dementia”). A new drug treatment that replaces the enzyme missing in an Alzheimer’s brain may be able to cure Alzheimer’s disease in it’s late stages (Coghlan).

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Report: The State of the Brain Fitness/ Training Software Market 2008

After many months of work (and we hope many new neurons and stronger synapses in our brains), we have just released our inaugural report on the emerging Brain Fitness Software Market, Brain Fitness Software the first to define the brain fitness and training software market and analyze the size and trends of its four customer segments. We estimate the size of the US brain fitness software market at $225M in2007, up from $100m in 2005 (50% CAGR). The two segments that fueled the market growth: consumers (grew from $5m to $80m, 300% CAGR) and healthcare & insurance providers (grew from $36m to $65m, 35% CAGR).

Highlights from The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2008 report include:

1) 2007 was a seminal year for the US Brain Fitness software market, which reached $225 million in revenues – up from an estimated $100 million in 2005.

2) Over 20 companies are offering tools to assess and train cognitive skills to four customer segments: consumers; healthcare and insurance providers; K12 school systems; and Fortune 1000 companies, the military, and sports teams.

3) The Nintendo Brain Age/ Brain Training phenomenon has driven much of the growth. The consumer segment grew from a few million in 2005 to an estimated $80 million in 2007.

4) There is major confusion in the market, so education will be key. Users and buyers need help to navigate the maze of products and claims.

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Carnival of Education #159: Briefing the Next US President on 35 Issues

Dear Mr or Mrs Next US President,

Thank you for stopping during recess for a quick study sessiMeditation School Studentson. 35 educators have collaborated to present this Carnival of Education as a useful lesson plan for you and your education policy team on what our real concerns and suggestions are.

In case this is your first visit to our SharpBrains blog, let me first of all point out some useful resources to stay sane during the rest of the campaign: selected Brain Teasers, a list of 21 great Brain Books, over a dozen interviews with leading scientists on learning and brain-based topics, and more.

Without further ado, let’s proceed to the issues raised. We hope they provide, at the very least, good mental stimulation for you and your advisors.

Education as a System

The First Step Is Failure

Joanne Jacobs, educator, blogger and author of Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the Charter School That Beat the Odds, participates today in our Author Speaks Series with an excellent article on how “Schools won’t improve until administrators and teachers can admit the problems, analyze what’s going wrong and try new strategies. Students won’t improve if they think they’re “special” just the way they are.” Enjoy, and feel free to add your comment to engage in a stimulating conversation.Our School: Joanne Jacobs

The First Step Is Failure
By Joanne Jacobs

When self-esteem became an education watchword in 1986, I thought it was a harmless fad. I was wrong: It wasn’t harmless. Many teachers were persuaded that students should be pumped up with praise, regardless of their performance. Schools lowered expectations so students couldn’t fail. Everyone got an “I Am Special” sticker. Till the standards and accountability movement kicked in, students often were judged by how they felt about learning not by whether they’d actually learned something.

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Are Schools (Cognitively) Nutritive for Children’s Complex Thinking?

Today we host a very stimulating essay on the importance of problem-solving and encouraging complex game-playing for children’s complete “cognitive nutrition”. Enjoy!


Children’s Complex Thinking

— By Tom O’Brien and Christine Wallach

Pop over to your neighborhood school and visit some classrooms. Is what’s happening cognitively nutritive? That is, does it satisfy present needs and provide nourishment for the future health and development of children’s thinking?

Or is it punitive, with little concern for present nourishment and future health and development?

The Genevan psychologist and researcher Hermina Sinclair said, Read the rest of this entry »

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