Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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10 Predictions on How Digital Platforms will Transform Brain Health in 2013

Just a quick note: we’ll host a webi­nar on Jan­u­ary 30th to dis­cuss key mar­ket pre­dic­tions based on “The Dig­i­tal Brain Health Mar­ket 2012–2020: Web-based, mobile and biometrics-based tech­nol­ogy to assess, mon­i­tor and enhance cog­ni­tion and brain func­tion­ing”, our new mar­ket report.

Here are 10 pre­dic­tions, many of which will likely be real­ized before the end of 2013: Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Functioning Impacts Health, Life. Better Monitoring Emerges as Critical

New Research Links Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment (MCI) to Increased Iso­la­tion and Risk of Death (AAIC press release):

- “Two stud­ies pre­sented today at the Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion Inter­na­tional Con­fer­ence® 2012 (AAIC® 2012) in Van­cou­ver pro­vide evi­dence of con­nec­tions between mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment (MCI) and neg­a­tive health out­comes – increased iso­la­tion and death.” Read the rest of this entry »

Diagnosing early Alzheimer’s and Mild Cognitive Impairment: Emerging Challenges and Implications

Blurry line in diag­nos­ing early Alzheimer’s: study (Reuters):

  • The revised def­i­n­i­tion of a brain con­di­tion called mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment means that many peo­ple now con­sid­ered to have mild or early Alzheimer’s dis­ease could eas­ily be given that diag­no­sis instead, sug­gests a new study.” Read the rest of this entry »

Update: The Future of Preventive Brain Medicine

Time for Sharp­Brains’ Jan­u­ary 2012 eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing in this occa­sion mul­ti­ple thought-provoking per­spec­tives on how emerg­ing neu­ro­science can and should make us rethink pre­vail­ing prac­tices in edu­ca­tion, healthy aging and pre­ven­tive medicine.

 

Fea­tured Perspectives:

New Research: 

Resources:

 

Finally, you may want to read our answers to the many excel­lent ques­tions we received about the upcom­ing Online Course: How to Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach in 2012. 80 indi­vid­u­als have reg­is­tered so far, rep­re­sent­ing a fas­ci­nat­ing diver­sity of back­grounds: health and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als, edu­ca­tors, busi­ness exec­u­tives, traders, con­sul­tants, coaches, soft­ware engi­neers, ther­a­pists,  and more. Please remem­ber that early-bird rates end on Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 31st!

Have a great month of February.

Study: Cognitive Training in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

We just came across a new sci­en­tific study on the value and lim­i­ta­tions of cog­ni­tive train­ing in Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment (MCI), based on a pro­gram of cog­ni­tive exer­cises pro­vided by Lumos Labs (devel­op­ers of lumosity.com).

Study: Com­put­erised Cog­ni­tive Train­ing for Older Per­sons With Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment: A Pilot Study Using a Ran­domised Con­trolled Trial Design (Brain Impair­ment): Read the rest of this entry »

Study: Cognitive Markers or Biomarkers to manage Cognitive Health across the Lifespan?

Pre­dict­ing Alzheimer’s Dis­ease More Accu­rate Through Cog­ni­tive Changes Than Bio­mark­ers (Med­ical News):

  • Mea­sur­ing people’s changes in cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties is a bet­ter pre­dic­tor of Alzheimer’s dis­ease than changes in bio­mark­ers, researchers from the Ben­ito Menni Com­plex Assis­ten­cial en Salut Men­tal, Barcelona, Spain, reported in Archives of Gen­eral Psy­chi­a­try, a JAMA journal.”
  • The inves­ti­ga­tors used a range of tests to assess Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Merzenich on Brain Training, Assessments, and Personal Brain Trainers

Dr. Michael Merzenich Dr. Michael Merzenich, Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor at UCSF, is a lead­ing pio­neer in brain plas­tic­ity research. In the late 1980s, Dr. Merzenich was on the team that invented the cochlear implant. In 1996, he was the found­ing CEO of Sci­en­tific Learn­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (Nas­daq: SCIL), and in 2004 became co-founder and Chief Sci­en­tific Offi­cer of Posit Sci­ence. He was elected to the National Acad­emy of Sci­ences in 1999 and to the Insti­tute of Med­i­cine this year. He retired as Fran­cis A. Sooy Pro­fes­sor and Co-Director of the Keck Cen­ter for Inte­gra­tive Neu­ro­science at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at San Fran­cisco in 2007. You may have learned about his work in one of PBS TV spe­cials, mul­ti­ple media appear­ances, or neuroplasticity-related books.

(Alvaro Fer­nan­dez) Dear Michael, thank you very much for agree­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the inau­gural Sharp­Brains Sum­mit in Jan­u­ary, and for your time today. sharpbrains_summit_logo_webIn order to con­tex­tu­al­ize the Summit’s main themes, I would like to focus this inter­view on the likely big-picture impli­ca­tions dur­ing the next 5 years of your work and that of other neu­ro­plas­tic­ity research and indus­try pioneers.

Thank you for invit­ing me. I believe the Sharp­Brains Sum­mit will be very use­ful and stim­u­lat­ing, you are gath­er­ing an impres­sive group together. I am look­ing for­ward to January.

Neuroplasticity-based Tools: The New Health & Well­ness Frontier

There are many dif­fer­ent technology-free approaches to har­ness­ing –enabling, dri­ving– neu­ro­plas­tic­ity. What is the unique value that tech­nol­ogy brings to the cog­ni­tive health table?

It’s all about effi­ciency, scal­a­bil­ity, per­son­al­iza­tion, and assured effec­tive­ness. Tech­nol­ogy sup­ports the imple­men­ta­tion of near-optimally-efficient brain-training strate­gies. Through the Inter­net, it enables the low-cost dis­tri­b­u­tion of these new tools, any­where out in the world. Tech­nol­ogy also enables the per­son­al­iza­tion of brain health train­ing, by pro­vid­ing sim­ple ways to mea­sure and address indi­vid­ual needs in each person’s brain-health train­ing expe­ri­ence. It enables assess­ments of your abil­i­ties that can affirm that your own brain health issues have been effec­tively addressed.

Of course sub­stan­tial gains could also be achieved by orga­niz­ing your every­day activ­i­ties that grow your neu­ro­log­i­cal abil­i­ties and sus­tain your brain health. Still, if the ordi­nary cit­i­zen is to have any real chance of main­tain­ing their brain fit­ness, they’re going to have to spend con­sid­er­able time at the brain gym!

One espe­cially impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion of tech­nol­ogy is the scal­a­bil­ity that it pro­vides for deliv­er­ing brain fit­ness help out into the world. Think about how effi­cient the drug deliv­ery sys­tem is today. Doc­tors pre­scribe drugs, insur­ance cov­ers them, and there is a drug store in every neigh­bor­hood in almost every city in the world so that every patient has access to them. Once neuroplasticity-based tools and out­comes and stan­dard­ized, we can envi­sion a sim­i­lar sce­nario. And we don’t need all those drug stores, because we have the Internet!

Hav­ing said this, there are obvi­ous obsta­cles. One main one, in my mind, is the lack of under­stand­ing of what these new tools can do. Cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams, for exam­ple, seem counter-intuitive to con­sumers and many pro­fes­sion­als “ why would one try to improve speed-of-processing if all one cares about is œmem­ory? A sec­ond obvi­ous prob­lem is to get indi­vid­u­als to buy into the effort required to really change their brains for the bet­ter. That buy-in has been achieved for many indi­vid­u­als as it applies to their phys­i­cal health, but we haven’t got­ten that far yet in edu­cat­ing the aver­age older per­son that brain fit­ness train­ing is an equally effort­ful business!

Tools for Safer Dri­ving: Teens and Adults

Safe dri­ving seems to be one area where the ben­e­fits are more intu­itive, which may explain the sig­nif­i­cant traction.

Yes, we see great poten­tial and inter­est among insur­ers for improv­ing dri­ving safety, both for seniors and teens. Appro­pri­ate cog­ni­tive train­ing can lower at-fault acci­dent rates. You can mea­sure clear ben­e­fits in rel­a­tively short time frames, so it won’t take long for insur­ers to see an eco­nomic ratio­nale to not only offer pro­grams at low cost or for free but to incen­tivize dri­vers to com­plete them. All­state, AAA, State Farm and other insur­ers are begin­ning to real­ize this poten­tial. It is impor­tant to note that typ­i­cal acci­dents among teens and seniors are dif­fer­ent, so that train­ing method­olo­gies will need to be dif­fer­ent for dif­fer­ent high-risk populations.

Yet, most dri­ving safety ini­tia­tives today still focus on edu­cat­ing dri­vers, rather that train­ing them neu­ro­log­i­cally. We mea­sure vision, for exam­ple, but com­pletely ignore atten­tional con­trol abil­i­ties, or a driver’s use­ful field of view. I expect this to change sig­nif­i­cantly over the next few years.

Long-term care and health insur­ance com­pa­nies will ulti­mately see sim­i­lar ben­e­fits, and we believe that they will fol­low a sim­i­lar course of action to reduce gen­eral med­ical and neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease– (Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment and Alzheimer’s– and Parkinsons-) related costs. In fact, many senior liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties are among the pio­neers in this field.

Boomers & Beyond: Main­tain­ing Cog­ni­tive Vitality

Main­stream media is cov­er­ing this emerg­ing cat­e­gory with thou­sands of sto­ries. But most cov­er­age seems still focused on does it work? more than “how do we define It”, what does work mean? or work for whom, and for what? Can you sum­ma­rize what recent research suggests?

We have seen clear pat­terns in the appli­ca­tion of our train­ing pro­grams, some pub­lished (like IMPACT), some unpub­lished, some with healthy adults, and some with peo­ple with mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment or early Alzheimers Dis­ease (AD). What we see in every case: Read the rest of this entry »

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