Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Gaming and Neuroscience: Opportunities and Challenges

A cou­ple weeks ago I attended the Enter­tain­ment Soft­ware and Cog­ni­tive Neu­rother­a­peu­tics Con­fer­ence, ESCoNS, at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia San Fran­cisco. The speak­ers’ talks were insight­ful, sur­pris­ing, and inspir­ing in many regards. The pur­pose of this meet­ing was to bring together great minds in a vari­ety of fields from neu­ro­science to game design and to come up with some ideas how to make game based cog­ni­tive train­ing a real­ity as an effec­tive ther­apy for many of today’s most chal­leng­ing dis­or­ders and deficits. Many of the sci­en­tists also thought that game based ther­a­pies for cog­ni­tive deficits could be used as enhance­ment tools for healthy indi­vid­u­als as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Full Recordings Available Now: 2011 SharpBrains Summit

We are pleased to announce that full record­ings for all pre­sen­ta­tions deliv­ered dur­ing the 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit: Retool­ing Brain Health for the 21st Cen­tury (March 30 — April 1, 2011) are now avail­able both to Sum­mit Par­tic­i­pants and to non-Participants.

You can Learn More Here and Access 40+ Talks and 20+ hours of up-to-date infor­ma­tion and analy­sis of brain sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and inno­va­tion, deliv­ered by noth­ing short of a world-class faculty.

–> Reg­is­tered Sum­mit Par­tic­i­pants can access all Ses­sion Record­ings by click­ing on the ses­sion titles in the Agenda page and using the same User­name and Pass­word they used to par­tic­i­pate in the Summit.

–> Didn’t Reg­is­ter to Par­tic­i­pate in the 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit but want to access all Ses­sion Record­ings (20+ hours, 40+ speak­ers) Now? You can secure your log-in here.

We hope the infor­ma­tion and analy­sis pro­vided by these 40+ world-class speak­ers address­ing this 3-day agenda pro­vide excel­lent value to you: Read the rest of this entry »

Learning with Video Games: A Revolution in Education and Training?

In recent years, we have wit­nessed the begin­nings of a rev­o­lu­tion in edu­ca­tion.  Tech­nol­ogy has fun­da­men­tally altered the way we do many things in daily life, but it is just start­ing to make head­way in chang­ing the way we teach.  Just as tele­vi­sion shows like Sesame Street enhanced the pas­sive learn­ing of infor­ma­tion for kids by teach­ing in a fun for­mat, elec­tronic games offer to greatly enhance the way kids and adults are taught by actively engag­ing them in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

Intel Corporation and Lumos Labs Become Gold Sponsors of 2011 SharpBrains Summit

We are pleased to make eleven impor­tant announce­ments about the upcom­ing 2011 Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit…eleven addi­tional rea­sons to con­sider reg­is­ter­ing and join­ing our event and com­mu­nity next week.

  1. Intel Cor­po­ra­tion, the “Spon­sors of Tomor­row™”, and Lumos Labs have become Sum­mit Gold Sponsors.
  2. Sharp­Brains will issue a Cer­tifi­cate of Atten­dance to par­tic­i­pants (20 hours of con­tin­u­ing education).
  3. Jamie Wil­son shares 20 rea­sons why vir­tual con­fer­ences are the future.
  4. NIH/ NIA Pro­gram Chief Molly Wag­ster will dis­cuss the new NIH Tool­box for Assess­ment of Neu­ro­log­i­cal and Behav­ioral Function.
  5. Yaakov Stern (Colum­bia), David Darby (CogState), Keith Wesnes (United BioSource) and Jef­frey Kaye (Orcat­ech) will explore The Role of Cog­ni­tive Health Mon­i­tor­ing Systems.
  6. Alvaro Fer­nan­dez (Sharp­Brains) and Muki Hansteen-Izora (Intel Cor­po­ra­tion) will ana­lyze The State of Inno­va­tion and Emerg­ing Marketplace.
  7. You can still Reg­is­ter and obtain a com­pli­men­tary copy of Sharp­Brains’ mar­ket report The State of the Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket 2010 (which includes mar­ket data, ven­dor analy­sis, inno­va­tion case stud­ies, research briefs, and more.)
  8. Michael Merzenich (UCSF), Alvaro Pascual-Leone (Har­vard), Wal­ter Green­leaf (Vir­tu­ally­Bet­ter) and Kate Sul­li­van (Wal­ter Reed) will dis­cuss how Inno­va­tion gets From Lab to Marketplace.
  9. Lumos Labs, Brain Resource, Cogmed, Bay­crest, Cog­niFit, and Posit Sci­ence will present their lat­est tools and solu­tions dur­ing Expo Day.
  10. A total of 19 excel­lent Sum­mit Part­ners help us expand Summit’s reach and influence.
  11. We are plan­ning April/ May social gath­er­ings for Sum­mit par­tic­i­pants in 5 cities: San Fran­cisco, Los Ange­les, Wash­ing­ton DC, NYC, and Toronto, and will help facil­i­tate gath­er­ings in any city/ region with at least 10 Sum­mit participants.

Please visit the 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit web­site to Learn More and Reg­is­ter.

Also, please fol­low us via Twit­ter and spread the word about the Sum­mit using hash­tag #svs11

We look for­ward to “meet­ing” many of you next week! Please remem­ber you can enter dis­count code sharp2011 in order to get 15% off reg­is­tra­tion fees.

The Future of Cognitive Enhancement and Mental Health: Meet the Experts

Since 2006, as part of the research sup­port­ing The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness and Sharp­Brains’ mar­ket reports, we have inter­viewed dozens of leading-edge sci­en­tists and experts. Below are some of our favorite quotes and inter­views — you can read the full inter­view notes by click­ing on the links:

Con­ver­sa­tions in 2010

“…putting good evi­dence to work in prac­tice requires more than pub­lish­ing good research. I’d say that sci­en­tific evi­dence is directly rel­e­vant to per­haps 15% of clin­i­cal deci­sions…we require tech­nolo­gies that trans­late emer­gent knowl­edge into prac­tice.” - Dr. John Docherty, Adjunct Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try at Weill Med­ical Col­lege, and for­mer Branch Chief at NIMH.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“We should be think­ing about the brain through its whole life­time…We need to break the silos, to aggre­gate knowl­edge, to help advance our knowl­edge of the brain 50 years in 5 years.” — Patrick Dono­hue, founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Project.
Full Inter­view Notes.

Con­ver­sa­tions in 2009

My dream in all of this is to have stan­dard­ized and cred­i­ble tools to train the 5–6 main neu­rocog­ni­tive domains for cogni tive health and per­for­mance through life, cou­pled with the right assess­ments to iden­tify one’s indi­vid ual needs and mea sure progress” — Dr. Michael Merzenich, Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor at UCSF, and pio­neer in brain plas­tic­ity research.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“We have an oppor­tu­nity to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI cen­tury, sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with Car­diovascular Health in the XX, and tech­nol­ogy will play a cru­cial role.” — Dr. William E. Reich­man, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Bay­crest.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Growth only really comes at the point of resis­tance, but that is the moment that we tend to stop. Because it hurts…pushing our lim­its is a mus­cle that can be cul­ti­vated like any other–incrementally” — Joshua Wait­zkin, chess cham­pion and author of The Art of Learn­ing.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“The cor­re­la­tion between iden­ti­cal twins reared apart gives an over­es­ti­mate of her­i­tabil­ity because the envi­ron­ments of iden tical twins reared apart are often highly sim­i­lar. But the main con­tra­dic­tion of her­i­tabil­ity esti­mates lies in the fact that adop­tion pro­duces a huge effect on IQ” –Dr. Richard Nis­bett, Pro­fes­sor at Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan and author of Intel­li­gence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cul­tures Count.
Full Inter­view Notes.

For more, please visit our Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series.

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 »

Invitation to SharpBrains Summit — Technology for Cognitive Health and Performance

We are excited to invite you to the first vir­tual, global Sharp­Brains Sum­mit (Jan­u­ary 18-20th, 2010). The Sharp­Brains Sum­mit will fea­ture a sharpbrains_summit_logo_webdream team of over 25 speak­ers who are lead­ers in indus­try and research from 7 coun­tries, to dis­cuss emerg­ing research, tools and best prac­tices for cog­ni­tive health and per­for­mance. This inau­gural event will expose health and insur­ance providers, devel­op­ers, inno­va­tors at For­tune 500 com­pa­nies, investors and researchers, to the oppor­tu­ni­ties, part­ner­ships, trends, and stan­dards of the rapidly evolv­ing cog­ni­tive fit­ness field.

Reg­is­ter Today

Learn more and reg­is­ter Here today, at dis­counted early-bird rates, to receive these benefits:

  • Learn: Full access to all Con­fer­ence live ses­sions, and Down­load­able Record­ings and Handouts
  • See: lat­est tech­nolo­gies and prod­ucts dur­ing Expo Day
  • Con­nect and Dis­cuss: become a mem­ber of the Sharp­Brains Net­work for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion (members-only LinkedIn Group) through the end of 2010, access online chats dur­ing the sum­mit, meet other reg­is­trants in your city
  • Under­stand the Big Pic­ture: access 10 Research Exec­u­tive Briefs pre­pared by lead­ing scientists

On top of those early-bird dis­counts, we offer an addi­tional 15% dis­count for Sharp­Brains read­ers who want Reg­u­lar Admis­sion. Dis­count code: sharp2010. You can reg­is­ter Here.

Agenda/ Speak­ers

Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 18th, 2010:

(Pre­lim­i­nary sched­ule, US Pacific Time)

8–9.15am. Cog­ni­tion & Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity: The New Health­care Frontier

  • Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, SharpBrains
  • David White­house, OptumHealth Behav­ioral Solutions
  • William Reich­man, Baycrest
  • P Murali Doraiswamy, Duke University

9.30-11am. Tools for Safer Dri­ving: The Oppor­tu­nity with Teenagers and Adults

  • Steven Aldrich, Posit Science
  • Shlomo Breznitz, CogniFit
  • Jerri Edwards, Uni­ver­sity of South Florida
  • Peter Chris­tian­son, Young Dri­vers of Canada

Noon-1.30pm. Baby Boomers and Beyond: Main­tain­ing Cog­ni­tive Vitality


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