Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: From smart homes to smart people – where digital health meets brain fitness

Who said, “So for me the most exciting takeaway from this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show)  isn’t the smart car or the smart home, it’s the smart person…” You can find the answer, and many insights on brain health innovation, by reading Sharp­Brains’ January 2013 eNewslet­ter. Enjoy!

Note: We’ll host a 90- minute webinar on Wednesday, February 6th, to discuss the main analysis and forecasts from SharpBrains’ new market report “The Dig­i­tal Brain Health Mar­ket 2012–2020: Web-based, mobile and biometrics-based tech­nol­ogy to assess, mon­i­tor and enhance cog­ni­tion and brain functioning,” and to connect them with main take aways from CES 2013 and the just finished World Economic Forum.

–> To learn how to access the webinar and the report,  click HERE

Why Scientific Literacy and Learning Enhance Brain Function and Neural Health

Often in discussing health related findings with non-scientists, I’ve found that scientific literacy in the general population tends to be inadequate for evaluating scientific claims. A surprising number of people are reluctant to study science despite the potential to benefit from the vast amount of useful knowledge being accumulated by scientists. Neil DeGrasse Tyson discussed a similar issue with the New York Daily News several years ago (A Cry to Pass the Science Test, 2006). In a time when scientific information is constantly reshaping our understanding Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Health News: Top Articles and Resources in March

There’s such a flood of very significant research studies, educational resources and articles related to brain health, it’s hard to keep track – even for us!

Let me introduce and quote some of the top Brain Health Studies, Articles and Resources published in March:

1) Cognitive Decline Begins In Late 20s, Study Suggests (Science Daily)

– “These patterns suggest that some types of mental flexibility decrease relatively early in adulthood, but that how much knowledge one has, and the effectiveness of integrating it with one’s abilities, may increase throughout all of adulthood if there are no pathological diseases,” Salthouse said.

– However, Salthouse points out that there is a great deal of variance from person to person

2) Cerebrum 2009: Emerging Ideas in Brain Science – new book by the Dana Foundation that “explores the cutting edge of brain research and its implications in our everyday lives, in language understandable to the general reader.”

A couple of excellent chapters of direct relevance to everyone’s brain health are:
– Chapter 4: A Road Paved by Reason, by Elizabeth Norton Lasley

– Chapter 10: Neural Health: Is It Facilitated by Work Force Participation?, by Denise Park, Ph.D

3) Staying Sharp DVD Program: “Dr. Jordan Grafman, chief of the Cognitive Neuroscience Section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke outside of Washington, DC, and a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, is your guide as we cover what to expect from the aging brain and what we can do to ‘stay sharp.’

For a free DVD of this program you can contact stayingsharp@dana.org. (they say free in their website, I don’t know if that includes shipping & handling)

4) Drivers to be tested on cognitive ability starting at age 75 (Japan Times)

The outline of a cognitive test that drivers aged 75 or over will be required to take from June when renewing their licenses was released Thursday…The test is intended to reduce the number of traffic accidents involving elderly drivers by measuring their cognitive level.

5) Physical Fitness Improves Spatial Memory, Increases Size Of Brain Structure (Science Daily)

– “Now researchers have found that elderly adults who are more physically fit tend to have bigger hippocampi and better spatial memory than those who are less fit.”

6) Brain Trainers: A Workout for the Mind (Scientific American Mind)

“I recently tried out eight of the latest brain fitness programs, training with each for a week. The programs ranged widely in focus, quality and how fun they were to use. “Like physical exercise equipment, a brain exercise program doesn’t do you any good if you don’t use it, says Andrew J. Carle, director of the Program in Assisted Living/Senior Housing Administration at George Mason University. And people tend not to use boring equipment. “I remember when NordicTrack was the biggest thing out there. Everyone ran out and bought one, and 90 percent of them ended up as a clothes rack in the back of your bedroom.

The reporter used: Posit Science’s Brain Fitness Program Classic, HappyNeuron, Nintendo BrainAge, CogniFit’s MindFit/ CogniFit Personal Coach, Lumosity, MyBrainTrainer, BrainTwister, Cogmed Working Memory Training.

7) The Latest in Mental Health: Working Out at the ‘Brain Gym’ (Wall Street Journal)

– “Marshall Kahn, an 82-year-old family doctor in Fullerton, Calif., says he got such a boost from brain exercises he started doing at a “Nifty after Fifty” club that he decided to start seeing patients again part-time. “Doing all the mental exercise,” he says, “I realized I’ve still got it.”

8) Debate Over Drugs For ADHD Reignites (Washington Post)

– “New data from a large federal study have reignited a debate over the effectiveness of long-term drug treatment of children with hyperactivity or attention-deficit disorder, and have drawn accusations that some members of the research team have sought to play down evidence that medications do little good beyond 24 months.”

– “The study also indicated that long-term use of the drugs can stunt children’s growth.”

8) Adaptive training leads to sustained enhancement of poor working memory in children (Developmental Science)

Abstract: Working memory plays a crucial role in supporting learning, with poor progress in reading and mathematics characterizing children with low memory skills. This study investigated whether these problems can be overcome by a training program designed to boost working memory. Children with low working memory skills were assessed on measures of working memory, IQ and academic attainment before and after training on either adaptive or non-adaptive versions of the program. Adaptive training that taxed working memory to its limits was associated with substantial and sustained gains in working memory, with age-appropriate levels achieved by the majority of children. Mathematical ability also improved significantly 6 months following adaptive training. These findings indicate that common impairments in working memory and associated learning difficulties may be overcome with this behavioral treatment.

9) Brain cortex thinning linked to inherited depression (Los Angeles Times)

– “On average, people with a family history of depression appear to have brains that are 28% thinner in the right cortex — the outermost layer of the brain — than those with no known family history of the disease. That cortical thinning, said the researchers, is on a scale similar to that seen in patients with Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia.”

Cognitive News November-December 2008

Here you have several recent articles and developments worthy of attention:Brain Health News

1) Boom times for brain training games (CNN)
2) Navigating the brain fitness landscape: do’s and don’ts (McKnight’s Long Term Care News)
3) USA Hockey and Intelligym (press release)
4) Brain Fitness at New York Public Library (NYPL blog)
5) McDonnell Foundation grant harnesses cognitive science to improve student learning (press release)
6) Health insurance firms offering online cognitive therapy for insomnia (Los Angeles Times)
7) HeadMinder Cognitive Stability Index: Computerized Neurocognitive … (Press release)
8) THE AGE OF MASS INTELLIGENCE (Intelligent Life)
9) Working Later in Life May Facilitate Neural Health (Cerebrum)
10) The Cool Factor: Never Let Them See You Sweat (New York Times)

Links, selected quotes and commentary: Read the rest of this entry »

Work (and Juggle) for Cognitive Health

Spectacular article by Dr. Denise Park in this month’s Cerebrum:

Working Later in Life May Facilitate Neural Health

– “Carmi Schooler at the National Institutes of Health, using a technique that allowed him to assess causal relationships, found that adults who performed intellectually challenging jobs across their life span showed more cognitive flexibility in late adulthood than those who performed less demanding jobs.”
– “Perhaps the most compelling evidence regarding the impact of novel experiences on brain volume and function comes from a study at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Adults with a mean age of 59 spent three months learning to juggle three balls. Although only about half the participants were able to achieve competence in this complex skill, those who succeeded had increased volume in a mediotemporal area of the visual cortex as well as the nucleus accumbens and the hippocampus, suggesting that sustained novel experience can increase the sizes of neural structures. Notably, the changes in the nucleus accumbens and hippocampus were Read the rest of this entry »

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