Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: 2009 Market Report Finds Growth, Promise and Confusion

Here you have the April edi­tion of our monthly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and Brain Fitnessbrain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

We are excited to release our 2009 mar­ket report The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket 2009. To be for­mally released on May 4th but avail­able now for our clients and read­ers, this report aims to inform decision-makers at health­care, insur­ance, research, pub­lic pol­icy, invest­ment and tech­nol­ogy orga­ni­za­tions about impor­tant devel­op­ments in the brain fit­ness and cog­ni­tive health space.

2009 Mar­ket Report

The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket 2009: This new 150-page report finds The State of the Brain Fitness/ Training Software Market 2009 reportsus­tained growth in the brain fit­ness soft­ware mar­ket (from $225m in 2007 to $265m in 2008) and promis­ing seeds for future growth, com­bined with increased con­fu­sion given aggres­sive mar­ket­ing claims and lack of edu­ca­tion and stan­dards. The report includes, for the first time, a Mar­ket & Research Momen­tum Matrix to cat­e­go­rize 21 key ven­dors, 10 Research Exec­u­tive Briefs writ­ten by 12 lead­ing sci­en­tists, and the com­plete results of our mar­ket sur­vey with 2,000+ respon­dents. You can learn more, and acquire the report, Here.

News and Resources

Cog­ni­tive Health News April Round-Up: New cog­ni­tive track at the Games for Health con­fer­ence, bilin­gual brains, poverty’s effect on the brain and work­ing mem­ory due to stress, dia­betes, neu­roen­hanc­ing drugs, Kellogg’s set­tle­ment with the FTC, neu­rocog­ni­tive test­ing in the mil­i­tary.

Nor­mal Aging vs. Alzheimer’s Dis­ease: Dr. Murali Doraiswamy shares his very insight­ful views on the key ques­tion, “How can we help the pub­lic at large to dis­tin­guish Alzheimer’s Dis­ease from nor­mal aging — so that an inter­est in early iden­ti­fi­ca­tion doesn’t trans­late into unneeded wor­ries?”, based on his recent book The Alzheimer’s Action Plan.

Upcom­ing Guide

The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: It seems every week brings a new bar­rage of arti­cles and stud­ies which often con­tra­dict what you read the month before: Does Gingko Biloba improve mem­ory? Can phys­i­cal exer­cise help you stay sharp as you age? Which brain fit­ness pro­gram”, if any, is worth your money? Why is man­ag­ing stress so impor­tant for mem­ory and the brain?. This new book (avail­able both in print and Kin­dle ver­sions) aims to answer those ques­tions –and more. We will send you an email announce­ment when the book is ready for pur­chase, in late May.

The Big Picture

Do Art Classes Boost Test Scores? Is there a “Mozart Effect?”: Some researchers sug­gest so; oth­ers are not con­vinced. Karin Evans, through our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greater Good Mag­a­zine, offers a very thought­ful review of the evi­dence. She also chal­lenges us by ask­ing, “Now, is this the right question?”

Improv­ing the world, and one’s brain, at the same time: The Gold­man Envi­ron­men­tal Prize recently rec­og­nized seven social entre­pre­neurs who are clearly help­ing improve the state of the world. Now, the “state of the world” does include their very own brains — as you may have seen in a recent study.

Brain Teasers

Brain plas­tic­ity and daily live: If you lived in Lon­don, and wanted to grow your hip­pocam­pus, which job would you choose?

Stim­u­late your Con­cen­tra­tion Skills: when one really wants to mem­o­rize a fact, it is cru­cial to pay atten­tion. Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon chal­lenges you to count a few sim­ple letters.

Have a great May

Cognitive Health and Development: April Round-Up

Round-up of April arti­cles and news on neu­ro­science, brain devel­op­ment and cog­ni­tive health:

Games for Health Con­fer­ences to host new Cog­ni­tive Health Track:

For the first time, a new Cog­ni­tive Health track –Pow­ered by Sharp­Brains– will cover eleven brain fit­ness and cog­ni­tive health top­ics dur­ing the 5th Annual Games for Health Con­fer­ence. The cur­rent price is $379, with a 15% dis­count if you use code “sharp09” (with­out quo­ta­tion) when you reg­is­ter Here. Details: June 11-12th at the Hyatt Har­bor­side Hotel in Boston, MA.

Bilin­gual Babies Get Head Start — Before They Can Talk:

- “Unlike the mono­lin­gual group, the bilin­gual group was able to suc­cess­fully learn a new sound type and use it to pre­dict where each char­ac­ter would pop up…The bilin­gual babies’ skill applies to more than just switch­ing between lan­guages. Mehler likened this appar­ently enhanced cog­ni­tive abil­ity to a brain select­ing “the right tool for the right operation”—also called exec­u­tive function.”

- “In this basic process, the brain, ever flex­i­ble, nim­bly switches from one learned response to another as sit­u­a­tions change…Monolingual babies hone this abil­ity later in their young lives, Mehler suggests.”

Study shows how kids’ stress hurts mem­ory:

Now, research is pro­vid­ing what could be cru­cial clues to explain how child­hood poverty trans­lates into dim­mer chances of suc­cess: Read the rest of this entry »

Brain/ Cognitive Enhancement with drugs… and cereal?

Sev­eral recent arti­cles and news:

Brain Gain: the under­ground world of “neu­roen­hanc­ing” drugs (The New Yorker)

- “Alex remains enthu­si­as­tic about Adder­all, but he also has a slightly jaun­diced cri­tique of it. “It only works as a cog­ni­tive enhancer inso­far as you are ded­i­cated to accom­plish­ing the task at hand,” he said. “The num­ber of times I’ve taken Adder­all late at night and decided that, rather than start­ing my paper, hey, I’ll orga­nize my entire music library! I’ve seen peo­ple obses­sively clean­ing their rooms on it.” Alex thought that gen­er­ally the drug helped him to bear down on his work, but it also tended to pro­duce writ­ing with a char­ac­ter­is­tic flaw. “Often, I’ve looked back at papers I’ve writ­ten on Adder­all, and they’re ver­bose. They’re bela­bor­ing a point, try­ing to cre­ate this air­tight argu­ment, when if you just got to your point in a more direct man­ner it would be stronger. But with Adder­all I’d pro­duce two pages on some­thing that could be said in a cou­ple of sen­tences.” Nev­er­the­less, his Adderall-assisted papers usu­ally earned him at least a B. They got the job done. As Alex put it, “Pro­duc­tiv­ity is a good thing.”

Eschew Enhance­ment: Memory-boosting drugs should not be made avail­able to the gen­eral pub­lic (Tech­nol­ogy Review)

- “Who might use them? Stu­dents will be tempted, as might play­ers of any game involv­ing count­ing or remem­ber­ing (chess, bridge, and even poker and black­jack). Cer­tain pro­fes­sion­als might desire a boost in atten­tion or memory”

- “But these poten­tially pow­er­ful med­i­cines should not be made avail­able to every­one, for two rea­sons. The first is safety. The last sev­eral years have pro­vided many exam­ples of side effects, some life-threatening…The sec­ond rea­son is that we still know rel­a­tively lit­tle about learn­ing and mem­ory and how they are inte­grated to make judg­ments and decisions.”

Kel­logg Set­tles with FTC over Health Claims on Cereal (Promo Magazine)

- “The FTC said that Kel­logg pro­moted the cereal as “clin­i­cally shown to improve kids’ atten­tive­ness by nearly 20%,” when in fact the study referred to in the ads showed dif­fer­ent results.”

- “The study found that only about half the chil­dren who ate Frosted Mini-Wheats for break­fast showed any improve­ment in atten­tive­ness, and only about one in nine improved by 20% or more, the FTC said.”

Brain shock: The new Gulf War syn­drome (New Scientist)

- “The US army also screens for symp­toms of mTBI when sol­diers return from a tour of duty, and again three months later. The army is also car­ry­ing out neu­rocog­ni­tive tests on recruits before they are sent into com­bat so that doc­tors can check for dete­ri­o­ra­tion in later tests.”

- “When it comes to com­bat trauma, unpick­ing the phys­i­cal from the psy­cho­log­i­cal is bound to be highly com­plex. As Barth says, per­haps the great­est dan­ger could be in try­ing to sim­plify the pic­ture too much. “I rec­om­mend that we get com­fort­able with the com­plex­ity,” he says, “and treat it as a challenge.”

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