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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 »

Mindfulness and Meditation in Schools: Mindful Kids, Peaceful Schools

Mind­ful Kids, Peace­ful Schools

With eyes closed and deep breaths, stu­dents are learn­ing a new method to reduce anx­i­ety, con­flict, and atten­tion dis­or­ders. But don’t call it meditation.

— By Jill Suttie

At Toluca Lake ele­men­tary school in Los Ange­les, a cyclone fence encloses the asphalt black­top, which is teem­ing with kids. It’s recess time and the kids, who are mostly mindfulness exercises for teenagersLatino, are play­ing tag, yelling, throw­ing balls, and jump­ing rope. When the bell rings, they reluc­tantly stop and head back to their class­rooms except for Daniel Murphy’s sec­ond grade class.

Murphy’s stu­dents file into the school audi­to­rium, each car­ry­ing a round blue pil­low dec­o­rated with white stars. They enter gig­gling and chat­ting, but soon they are seated in a cir­cle on their cush­ions, eyes closed, quiet and con­cen­trat­ing. Two teach­ers give the chil­dren instruc­tions on how to pay atten­tion to their breath­ing, telling them to notice the rise and fall of their bel­lies and chests, the pas­sage of air in and out of their noses. Though the room is chilly the heat­ing sys­tem broke down ear­lier that day the chil­dren appear com­fort­able, many with Read the rest of this entry »

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