Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: Live Well to 100 by Using Your Brain

Here you have the November edition of our monthly newsletter covering 107px-gray1197thumbnailcognitive health and brain fitness topics. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

Living Well to 100

100 is the new 65: Why do some people live, and well, to 100? Researchers are trying to find out, reports Meera Lee Sethi at Greater Good Magazine. They are discovering that genetic factors may account for only 20 to 30 percent of a person’s lifespan, while environmental and behavioral factors can dictate the other 70 to 80 percent.

Does coffee boost cognitive functions over time? Dr. Pascale Michelon weighs the evidence and reports good and bad news. The good news: long-term effects seem more positive than negative, so coffee leads to no clear harm. The bad news: there are no clear beneficial effects on general brain functions (implication for proponents of “smart pills”: don’t use coffee as the analogy).

10 Innovations for the Aging Society: In the Thanksgiving’s spirit, we want to thank 10 pioneers for emerging innovations that may help millions of people alive today to keep our brains in top shape perhaps till we are 100 or more. Many of those pioneers will participate in the inaugural SharpBrains Summit.

In Autopilot?

Train your autopilot….and how to turn it off: Madeleine Van Hecke, Ph.D shares an excerpt from The Brain Advantage, in which she encourages maintaining mental “autopilot” when it’s working well, yet shifting to more conscious deliberations when needed.

Scientia Pro Publica:  A good way to turn off autopilot is to enjoy some great science and nature blogging, courtesy of Scientia Pro Publica blog carnival. Additionally, you can enjoy reading some of the best neuroscience, psychology and medical blogging at the first ever combined Grand Rounds/ Encephalon edition.

Games for Health

Games for Health Research: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced more than $1.85 million in grants for research teams to study how digital games can improve players health. One of the grantees is UCSF’s Adam Gazzaley (who will be speaking at the SharpBrains Summit) to develop a driving game for cognitive fitness among younger and older adults.

Smart industry-research collaboration: Lumos Labs and researchers Susanne Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl announce a collaboration to make the original Dual N-Back working memory training program available online and use it for ongoing research.

News

Marian C. Diamond to open SharpBrains Summit: Kicking off our January 2010 SharpBrains Summit is Marian C. Diamond, one of the pioneers of neuroplasticity research since the 1960s. She will introduce us to the human brain, its anatomy and function, and implications of  neuroplasticity for brain health and performance at any age.

The SharpBrains Guide’s reviews and interviews: a collection of links to interviews and reviews of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness.

Network for Brain Fitness Innovation (members-only): Discussion on the future of computerized cognitive behavioral therapy; United BioSource acquires Cognitive Drug Research; innovative partnership between Navigenics and Posit Science; new research on brain impact of Tetris; how a drop in visual skills may precede Alzheimer’s Disease;  excellent report by the National Academies for the US Army available for free now.

Brain Teaser

Who will you believe, me or your own eyes? discover the 3 Winners of the 2009 Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest. Neuroscientists Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik, who help organize the contest, will give a fun demo on Magic and the Brain at SharpBrains Summit, to discuss the limits of human perception and cognition.

Enjoy the final month of 2009!

Digital Games for Physical, Cognitive and Behavioral Health

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) just announced more than 200px-Dance_Dance_Revolution_Extreme_arcade_machine_left_side_stage$1.85 million in grants for research teams to study how digital games can improve players’ health behaviors and outcomes (both brain-based and behavioral).

The press release: Nine Leading Research Teams Selected to Study How Digital Games Improve Players’ Health

  • “Digital games are interactive and experiential, and so they can engage people in powerful ways to enhance learning and health behavior change, especially when they are designed on the basis of well-researched strategies,” said (UC Santa Barbara’s Dr. Debra) Lieberman.
  • “The pace of growth and innovation in digital games is incredible, and we see tremendous potential to design them to help people stay healthy or manage chronic conditions like diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. However, we need to know more about what works and what does not — and why,” said Paul Tarini, team director for RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio. “Health Games Research is a major investment to build a research base for this dynamic young field. Further, the insights and ideas that flow from this work will help us continue to expand our imagination of what is possible in this arena.”

All 9 studies sound interesting, 3 of them are closer to what we track:

  1. University of California, San Francisco (San Francisco, CA) A Video Game to Enhance Cognitive Health in Older Adults. As people age, they lose some of their ability to sustain their attention and to focus their attention on their main task while ignoring distractions. This study aims to improve these and other related cognitive skills by using a driving game in which Read the rest of this entry »

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Forum on the Future Impact of Neuroscience and Behavior Change

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation just announced a new initiative of their Pioneer portfolio:

“On November 11-12, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), working with the Monitor Institute, will welcome a small group of researchers, academics, physicians and industry leaders in the fields of neurotechnology, neurodevelopment and behavior change for a Forum on the Future Impact of Neuroscience and Behavior Change.

The question: what could neuroscience innovation mean for the future of health and health care?

This blog post contains the list of  participants (honored to be one) and an excellent contextual overview.

Foundation staff will blog and tweet the event (haven’t seen the hashtag yet); I will link to good materials and offer my own perspective focused on that “neurodevelopment” aspect and, overall, where/ how research and the real-world can “dance” with each other.

Learn more & Register

2016 SharpBrains Virtual Summit: Reinventing Brain Health in the Digital Age

About SharpBrains

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