Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Since more than 50% of people worldwide can’t access appropriate mental health treatments, let’s welcome (and test) mobile health apps

mobilehealthMental Health: There’s an App for That (Nature):

“Type ‘depression’ into the Apple App Store and a list of at least a hundred programs will pop up on the screen. There are apps that diagnose depression (Depression Test), track moods (Optimism) and help people to “think more positive” Read the rest of this entry »

For college students, mental health screening kiosks offer ‘Check-Up from the Neck Up’

kiosk mental health


A ‘Check-Up from the Neck Up’ — Mental Health Screening Kiosks at Drexel (Drexel Now):

“During their time in college, most students learn the importance of looking out for their own health.

However, some miss the connection that their mental well-being is just as important as keeping a regular exercise regimen or eating the right diet Read the rest of this entry »

General Chiarelli: “We have a totally dysfunctional research system (for brain and mental health)”

Peter Chiarelli

General Chiarelli’s Brain Crusade (Politico):

“Soon after Peter Chiarelli became vice chief of staff of the Army in 2008, a subordinate showed him a bar graph depicting the number of soldiers determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be at least 30 percent disabled. The tallest column was on the far left. Read the rest of this entry »

Accelerating brain health research via online registries

InternetSan Francisco-based online ‘brain registry’ seeks volunteers to transform research (San Jose Mercury News):

“By volunteering — repeatedly over time — participants join a pool of research subjects in the new Brain Health Registry, opened Tuesday, for studies on brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other neurological ailments. Read the rest of this entry »

PTSD: Can we Disrupt the Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories?

8% of Americans suffer from PTSD and this rate increases up to 15% as far as veterans are concerned. PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that occurs after seeing or experiencing a traumatic event. People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of the event. They may experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled.

This article from the Dana Foundation asks a very interesting question:

Can we disrupt the reconsolidation of traumatic memories that contribute to PTSD and bring relief to patients suffering from this disorder?

This complete and stimulating read tells us how memories are formed and consolidated. The authors discuss the different techniques used or under research that can help PTSD patients. Since available therapies have success rates of only 60%, this is a pressing topic these days. The ethical question of whether it is okay to look for solutions to erase memories is also raised.

Related article: Can Brain Fitness Innovation Enhance Cognitive Rehab?

Ten Reflections on Cognitive Health and Assessments

Let me summarize ten highlights and reflections from stimulating discussions on cognitive health and assessments I have had this month so far.

January 8-9th: Symposium on Co-Adaptive Learning: Adaptive Technology for the Aging (details Here), organized by the Arizona State University’s Center for Adaptive Neural Systems:

1. Cognitive health is a critical factor in overall healthcare, but is often approached in a fragmented, non-systematic way. Most speakers in the symposium did mention how cognitive health issues interact with their specific areas of focus (aging, Parkinson’s Disease, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s…) but there was a lack of a common framework and taxonomy to define the problem and identify solutions and interventions to measure and help maintain cognitive health across the lifespan.

2. For example, Parkinson’s Disease. Did you know (I didn’t) that a significant percentage of Parkinson’s patients have well-identified cognitive impairments, mostly in their executive functions but also perceptual problems?

3. We truly need a Culture of Cognitive Health, as Randal Koene pointed out.

4. May online cognitive games serve as ongoing, real-time assessment of cognitive function? Misha Pavel thought so. He also added we may well see “cognitive exercise coaches” sometime in the horizon.

5. Skip Rizzo presented how virtual reality can help address Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and even to administer innovative cognitive assessments.

6. My presentation, titled The Emerging Cognitive Fitness Market: Status, Trends and Challenges, is available Here

7. January 22nd: Consumer Reports organized a health summit titled Read the rest of this entry »

The Future of Computer-assisted Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article yesterday, titled To Be Young and Anxiety-Free, focused on the value of cognitive behavioral therapy to help children with high levels of anxiety learn how too cope better and prevent the snowball scenario, when that anxiety grows and spirals out of control resulting in depression and similar

– “…new research showing that treating kids for anxiety when they are young may help prevent the development of more serious mental illnesses, including depression and more debilitating anxiety disorders.”

– “Of course, most kids have fears without having a full-blown anxiety disorder. And some anxiety is healthy: It makes sense, for example, to be a little nervous before a big test. Doctors and psychologists do caution that the increased focus on childhood anxiety could lead to an overdiagnosis of the problem. What makes anxiety a true illness is when it interferes with normal functioning or causes serious emotional and physical distress.”

– “But the use of antidepressants in children has come under fire because Read the rest of this entry »

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