Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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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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