Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


The Benefits of a One-Time Cognitive Training Program Do Last but Wane Over Time

Do you remem­ber the IMPACT study pub­lished in 2009? It was a ran­dom­ized clin­i­cal trial with healthy older adults that com­pared a computer-based cog­ni­tive pro­gram that trains audi­tory pro­cess­ing (Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram, Posit Sci­ence) with edu­ca­tional video pro­grams (con­trol group). Peo­ple who used the pro­gram improved in the trained tasks, which was not that sur­pris­ing, but there was also a clear ben­e­fit in audi­tory mem­ory, which wasn’t directly trained.

A 2011 paper reports the 3-month follow-up results of the IMPACT study. The 487 par­tic­i­pants in the orig­i­nal study were 65 and older. Train­ing was 1 hour a day, 4 to 5 days a week, for a total of 40 hours in 8 to 10 weeks. There was no con­tact with the researchers between the ini­tial train­ing study and the follow-up study.

The results showed that 3 months after the ini­tial train­ing most of the improve­ment observed in the train­ing group was still present, although not as strongly. Read the rest of this entry »

Posit Science Program Classic and InSight: Alzheimer’s Australia

Brain-fitness plan can improve mem­ory (Syd­ney Morn­ing Her­ald), reports on the recent endorse­ment of Posit Science’s pro­grams (Posit Sci­ence Pro­gram Clas­sic, focused on audi­tory pro­cess­ing train­ing, and Posit Sci­ence Cor­tex with InSight, on visual pro­cess­ing). Quotes: Read the rest of this entry »

Posit Science, Nintendo Brain Age, and Brain Training Topics

A few col­leagues referred me over the week­end to a very nice arti­cle at busi­ness pub­li­ca­tion Port­fo­lio.

While the arti­cle does an excel­lent job at intro­duc­ing the reader to the con­cept and promise of com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive assess­ments, it also con­tributes to the mythol­ogy of “Brain Age”. MRI scan neuroimaging

Let’s first take a look at the arti­cle How Smart Are You: The busi­ness of assess­ing cog­ni­tion and mem­ory is mov­ing from test­ing brain-impaired patients to assess­ing healthy peo­ples’ brains online.

A cou­ple of quotes:

- “Cog­ni­tive Drug Research is one a hand­ful of busi­nesses, most of them out­side of the U.S., that work with phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies to test how new drugs for every­thing from nico­tine addic­tion to Alzheimer’s dis­ease affect the mind’s abil­ity to remem­ber things, make deci­sions, and ana­lyze information.”

- “Cog­ni­tive tests have been around for a cen­tury as exam­i­na­tions taken with paper and pen­cil. In the 1970s and ‘80s the tests shifted to com­put­ers, Cog­ni­tive Drug Research founder Keith Wesnes says.

So far, so good. In fact, one of the key high­lights from the mar­ket report we released in March was that “Large-scale, fully-automated cog­ni­tive assess­ments are being used in a grow­ing num­ber of clin­i­cal tri­als. This opens the way for the devel­op­ment of inex­pen­sive consumer-facing, base­line cog­ni­tive assess­ments.” And we pro­filed a few lead­ing com­pa­nies in the space: Brain Resource Com­pany, Cog­ni­tive Drug Research, CNS Vital Signs and CogState.

Now, the arti­cle is accom­pa­nied by a 5–7 minute quick test that promises to give us our “Brain Age”. And this doesn’t come from Nin­tendo, but from Cog­ni­tive Drug Research, a respected science-based company.

You can check it out Read the rest of this entry »

Nintendo BrainAge, Lumosity, Happy Neuron, MyBrainTrainer…

A col­lec­tion of recent announce­ment in the “brain games” or “brain train­ing games” space:

The Wii sets new gen­er­a­tional stan­dards for the videogame industry

  • “The age­ing of the Japan­ese pop­u­la­tion com­pelled gamemaker Nin­tendo to widen its audi­ence. Now, the Wii is lead­ing the indus­try stan­dards. But hard­core gamers are still too impor­tant to be neglected.”

Strain your brain the smart way

  • George Har­ri­son, Nintendo’s senior vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing and cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions, has said that more than half of the company’s mar­ket­ing for Wii is aimed at adults. And the sys­tem has been pre­sented at con­ven­tions for the aging “gray gamer” pop­u­la­tion.” and talks about sudoku, Brain Age, Big Brain Acad­emy, and more.

SBT Announces the Acqui­si­tion of Quixit

Neurogenesis and How Learning Saves Your Neurons

Jon Barron’s blog high­lighted this recent press release from The Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science.

For decades, it was believed that the adult brain did not pro­duce new neu­rons after birth. But that notion has been dis­pelled by research in the last ten years. It became clear by the mid– to late-1990’s that the brain does, in fact, pro­duce new neu­rons through­out the lifespan.

This phe­nom­e­non, known as neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, occurs in most species, includ­ing humans, but the degree to which it occurs and the extent to which it occurs is still a mat­ter of some con­tro­versy, says Tracey Shors, PhD, at Rut­gers University.

How­ever, there is no ques­tion that neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis occurs in the hip­pocam­pus, a brain region involved in aspects of learn­ing and mem­ory. Thou­sands of new cells are pro­duced there each day, although many die with weeks of their birth.” Shors’ recent stud­ies have shown a cor­re­la­tion in ani­mal mod­els between learn­ing and cell sur­vival in the hippocampus.

Read the rest of this entry »

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