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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