Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Digital health–with a brain twist–sees increased military adoption



Mobile mashup: The military’s proliferating mix of smartphones and tablets (Defense Systems):

“Smartphones and tablets are rapidly making their way into military operations, trimming costs and giving warfighters tightly focused capabilities. But these benefits raise a host of challenges, ranging from security and the need for ruggedization, to requirements for Read the rest of this entry »

Monitoring stress-related use of antipsychotic drugs in the military

fog brainWar on Drugs (OpEd at the NYT):

“LAST year, more active-duty soldiers committed suicide than died in battle… Worse, according to data not reported on until now, the military evidently responded to stress that afflicts soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan primarily by drugging soldiers on the front lines…The trouble is that we have no idea whether it’s effective — or safe — to use antipsychotic drugs on a continuing basis to treat war-related stress or to numb or sedate those affected by it…The medical, military and civilian population share an interest in knowing about patient-level prescription trends, medical indications for use, effectiveness of conventional as well as off-label treatments, and longitudinal follow-up of those soldiers receiving psychotropic drugs.”

Related article: Misuse & Abuse of ADHD Meds among college students

June Update: High-Quality Summer Brain Reading

Let’s explore some  high-quality new resources, announcements and studies in this June edi­tion of the monthly Sharp­Brains eNewslet­ter. The field is clearly on the move!

Portraits of the Mind: Several sharp brains (Rick, Karen, John, thanks!) strongly rec­om­mend the recent book  “Por­traits of the Mind: Visu­al­iz­ing the Brain from Antiq­uity to the 21st Cen­tury” (which includes the image on the left) as great read­ing and as a beau­ti­ful cof­fee table book.

Promoting Healthy, Meaningful Aging Through Social Involvement: The cur­rent issue of Cere­brum includes the excel­lent in-depth arti­cle on the value of volunteering program Experience Corps to promote healthy and meaningful aging through social involvement.

Working memory training can improve fluid intelligence: Finally, a powerful voice of common sense. A new scientific study con­cludes that “cog­ni­tive train­ing can be effec­tive and long-lasting, but there are lim­it­ing fac­tors that must be con­sid­ered to eval­u­ate the effects of this train­ing, one of which is indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences in train­ing per­for­mance. We pro­pose that future research should not inves­ti­gate whether cog­ni­tive train­ing works, but rather should deter­mine what train­ing reg­i­mens and what train­ing con­di­tions result in the best trans­fer effects, inves­ti­gate the under­ly­ing neural and cog­ni­tive mech­a­nisms, and finally, inves­ti­gate for whom cog­ni­tive train­ing is most useful.”

Lumos Labs raises $32.5m: Lumos Labs, the com­pany behind, has just raised the single largest amount of funding in the space.

Developing a Research Agenda for Serious Games: The recent trade book Com­puter Games and Instruc­tion brings together the lead­ing edge per­spec­tives of over a dozen sci­en­tists in the area of videogames and learn­ing, includ­ing this very insight­ful analy­sis by Harvard’s Chris Dede.

In the News: Brief arti­cles in the New York Times and a very pow­er­ful analy­sis in The New York Review of Books pro­vide use­ful clues about Brain Cal­is­then­ics, Bilin­gual Brains, and Debunk­ing Myths on Men­tal Ill­ness.

Emerging Military Applications: 2 recent announce­ments show, in a mil­i­tary con­text, innovative ways to enhance brain functioning and performance both to help “nor­mal” and “clin­i­cal” (post-TBI) pop­u­la­tions.

We hope you enjoyed this newslet­ter. Please do feel free to share this with friends and col­leagues via Face­book, Twit­ter and LinkedIn, and have a great weekend and month of July!

Brain Training to Enhance Performance, both post-Traumatic Brain Injury and for the workplace

A couple of very interesting recent announcements show (in a military context) how well-targeted brain training can complement and augment existing approaches, both to help “normal” and “clinical” populations, in ways that silo-based, rear-mirror thinking often misses: Read the rest of this entry »

News on physical, cognitive and emotional fitness

Brain Health NewsNice weekend reading material – recent news reiforcing emerging trends on physical, cognitive and emotional fitness, but with new twists.

Fit teens could be smarter teens

“Researchers from Sweden and USC examined data on 1.2 million Swedish men born between 1950 and 1976 who also enlisted for the country’s mandatory military service. They looked at the participants’ global intelligence scores as well as logical, visuospatial, verbal and technical scores. The greater the cardiovascular fitness, the higher the cognitive scores at age 18. The association between muscle strength and global intelligence, in contrast, was weak.”

UPMC Health Plan Offers Brain Fitness Software to Improve Health

“UPMC Health Plan announced today that it has signed an agreement to offer award-winning brain fitness software from Posit Science®, at no cost, to all UPMC for Life Medicare Advantage members. This brain training program is a new part of the UPMC Health Plan wellness services, which focus on both mind and body fitness.

The brain fitness software, known as the Insight(TM) Brain Fitness Program, is a suite of five game-like computer exercises that make brain training challenging and effective. The program engages the brain’s natural plasticity (the brain’s ability to rewire itself) to improve basic brain function.”

Brain-fitness industry grows as baby-boomers work to stay sharp.

“When we’re younger we’re learning quite intensively,” she said. “By middle age, we’re not learning intensively anymore and just using skills we’ve already mastered. That’s why it’s important to stretch your brain.”

Brain fitness games also have the potential to improve one’s emotional health, said Mark Baldwin, a psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal.

Baldwin has developed a number of computer games based on keeping a brain active physiologically, to improve it psychologically.

“It’s about practising or using games to train beneficial habits of thought, ” he said.

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