Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


The Future of Cognitive Enhancement and Mental Health: Meet the Experts

Since 2006, as part of the research sup­port­ing The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness and Sharp­Brains’ mar­ket reports, we have inter­viewed dozens of leading-edge sci­en­tists and experts. Below are some of our favorite quotes and inter­views — you can read the full inter­view notes by click­ing on the links:

Con­ver­sa­tions in 2010

“…putting good evi­dence to work in prac­tice requires more than pub­lish­ing good research. I’d say that sci­en­tific evi­dence is directly rel­e­vant to per­haps 15% of clin­i­cal deci­sions…we require tech­nolo­gies that trans­late emer­gent knowl­edge into prac­tice.” - Dr. John Docherty, Adjunct Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try at Weill Med­ical Col­lege, and for­mer Branch Chief at NIMH.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“We should be think­ing about the brain through its whole life­time…We need to break the silos, to aggre­gate knowl­edge, to help advance our knowl­edge of the brain 50 years in 5 years.” — Patrick Dono­hue, founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Project.
Full Inter­view Notes.

Con­ver­sa­tions in 2009

My dream in all of this is to have stan­dard­ized and cred­i­ble tools to train the 5–6 main neu­rocog­ni­tive domains for cogni tive health and per­for­mance through life, cou­pled with the right assess­ments to iden­tify one’s indi­vid ual needs and mea sure progress” — Dr. Michael Merzenich, Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor at UCSF, and pio­neer in brain plas­tic­ity research.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“We have an oppor­tu­nity to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI cen­tury, sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with Car­diovascular Health in the XX, and tech­nol­ogy will play a cru­cial role.” — Dr. William E. Reich­man, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Bay­crest.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Growth only really comes at the point of resis­tance, but that is the moment that we tend to stop. Because it hurts…pushing our lim­its is a mus­cle that can be cul­ti­vated like any other–incrementally” — Joshua Wait­zkin, chess cham­pion and author of The Art of Learn­ing.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“The cor­re­la­tion between iden­ti­cal twins reared apart gives an over­es­ti­mate of her­i­tabil­ity because the envi­ron­ments of iden tical twins reared apart are often highly sim­i­lar. But the main con­tra­dic­tion of her­i­tabil­ity esti­mates lies in the fact that adop­tion pro­duces a huge effect on IQ” –Dr. Richard Nis­bett, Pro­fes­sor at Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan and author of Intel­li­gence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cul­tures Count.
Full Inter­view Notes.

For more, please visit our Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series.

Invitation to SharpBrains Summit — Technology for Cognitive Health and Performance

We are excited to invite you to the first vir­tual, global Sharp­Brains Sum­mit (Jan­u­ary 18-20th, 2010). The Sharp­Brains Sum­mit will fea­ture a sharpbrains_summit_logo_webdream team of over 25 speak­ers who are lead­ers in indus­try and research from 7 coun­tries, to dis­cuss emerg­ing research, tools and best prac­tices for cog­ni­tive health and per­for­mance. This inau­gural event will expose health and insur­ance providers, devel­op­ers, inno­va­tors at For­tune 500 com­pa­nies, investors and researchers, to the oppor­tu­ni­ties, part­ner­ships, trends, and stan­dards of the rapidly evolv­ing cog­ni­tive fit­ness field.

Reg­is­ter Today

Learn more and reg­is­ter Here today, at dis­counted early-bird rates, to receive these benefits:

  • Learn: Full access to all Con­fer­ence live ses­sions, and Down­load­able Record­ings and Handouts
  • See: lat­est tech­nolo­gies and prod­ucts dur­ing Expo Day
  • Con­nect and Dis­cuss: become a mem­ber of the Sharp­Brains Net­work for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion (members-only LinkedIn Group) through the end of 2010, access online chats dur­ing the sum­mit, meet other reg­is­trants in your city
  • Under­stand the Big Pic­ture: access 10 Research Exec­u­tive Briefs pre­pared by lead­ing scientists

On top of those early-bird dis­counts, we offer an addi­tional 15% dis­count for Sharp­Brains read­ers who want Reg­u­lar Admis­sion. Dis­count code: sharp2010. You can reg­is­ter Here.

Agenda/ Speak­ers

Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 18th, 2010:

(Pre­lim­i­nary sched­ule, US Pacific Time)

8–9.15am. Cog­ni­tion & Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity: The New Health­care Frontier

  • Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, SharpBrains
  • David White­house, OptumHealth Behav­ioral Solutions
  • William Reich­man, Baycrest
  • P Murali Doraiswamy, Duke University

9.30-11am. Tools for Safer Dri­ving: The Oppor­tu­nity with Teenagers and Adults

  • Steven Aldrich, Posit Science
  • Shlomo Breznitz, CogniFit
  • Jerri Edwards, Uni­ver­sity of South Florida
  • Peter Chris­tian­son, Young Dri­vers of Canada

Noon-1.30pm. Baby Boomers and Beyond: Main­tain­ing Cog­ni­tive Vitality

Save the Date: SharpBrains Summit, Technology for Cognitive Health and Performance

We are very excited to announce the first Sharp­Brains Sum­mit, a vir­tual con­fer­ence to take place Jan­u­ary 18-20th, 2010.  Over 30 lead­ing speak­ers and a pro­fes­sional audi­ence will dis­cuss emerg­ing inno­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy for life­long cog­ni­tive health and per­for­mance. The Sum­mit will high­light the con­ver­gence of neu­rocog­ni­tive research, non-invasive tech­nol­ogy and health­care, dis­cuss emerg­ing best prac­tices, and help pre­dict how a grow­ing range of tools may pro­vide solu­tions to cog­ni­tive health and performance-related issues.

sharpbrains_summit_logo_webYou can see speak­ers and agenda by click­ing on Sharp­Brains Sum­mit. Please reg­is­ter if you are inter­ested in par­tic­i­pat­ing: Jan­u­ary 18-20th 2010 (Pacific Time).

  • Con­fer­ence: Jan­u­ary 18-19th. 9–10 pan­els to dis­cuss Mar­ket and Research Insights,  together with online discussions.
  • Expo Day: Jan­u­ary 20th. Prod­uct demos by Sponsors.

Con­firmed speak­ers and themes:

Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 18th, 2010:

Cog­ni­tion and Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity: The New Health­care Frontier

  • Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, CEO, SharpBrains
  • David White­house, Chief Med­ical Offi­cer, OptumHealth Behav­ioral Solutions
  • William Reich­man, Pres­i­dent, Baycrest
  • P Murali Doraiswamy, Bio­log­i­cal Psy­chi­a­try Divi­sion Head, Duke University

Tools for Safer Dri­ving: Teenagers and Older Adults

  • Steven Aldrich, CEO, Posit Science
  • Peter Chris­tian­son, Pres­i­dent of Young Dri­vers of Canada
  • Jerri Edwards, Assoc. Pro­fes­sor Uni­ver­sity of South Florida

Clin­i­cal Appli­ca­tions: Research­ing, Iden­ti­fy­ing, Treat­ing Cog­ni­tive Deficits

  • Keith Wesnes, Prac­tice Leader, United BioSource Corporation
  • Jonas Jendi, CEO, Cogmed
  • Michel Noir, Pres­i­dent, Sci­en­tific Brain Training
  • Elkhonon Gold­berg, Chief Sci­en­tific Advi­sor, SharpBrains

Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Does Cognitive Training Work?

Here you have the Feb­ru­ary edi­tion of our monthly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Brain FitnessNewslet­ter by email, sim­ply by sub­mit­ting your email at the top of this page.

Cog­ni­tive train­ing (or struc­tured men­tal exer­cise) def­i­nitely seems to work — as long as we define prop­erly what “work” means, don’t expect magic cures, and help nav­i­gate options. Please keep reading…

Inter­view: Bay­crest

Inter­view with Baycrest’s CEO Dr. William Reich­man: Dis­cussing the recent Cen­tre for Brain Fit­ness at Bay­crest, Dr. Reich­man sug­gests that “we have an oppor­tu­nity to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI cen­tury, sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Health in the XXth, and tech­nol­ogy will play a cru­cial role.” A major obsta­cle? We need a con­sen­sus on “widely accepted stan­dards for out­come measures”.

Does It Work?

Does cog­ni­tive train­ing work? (For Whom? For What?): The grow­ing field of cog­ni­tive train­ing (one of the tools for brain fit­ness) can appear very con­fus­ing as the media keeps report­ing con­tra­dic­tory claims. These claims are often based on press releases, with­out a deeper under­stand­ing of the sci­en­tific evi­dence. Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon, Sharp­Brains’ Research Man­ager for Edu­ca­tional Ini­tia­tives, ana­lyzes a cou­ple of recent stud­ies, clar­i­fy­ing what they mean — and what they don’t mean.

It Works, and It Doesn’t Work: the IMPACT study (a major, multi-site study on the Posit Sci­ence audi­tory pro­gram) will be pub­lished at the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Geri­atrics Soci­ety in April. Results sup­port that cog­ni­tive train­ing works — but doesn’t sup­port the grandiose “brain age” claims we see too often.

Cog­ni­tive Train­ing can Influ­ence Brain Bio­chem­istry: Dr. David Rabiner dis­cusses a recent sci­en­tific study that “shows that brain bio­chem­istry can be mod­i­fied by expe­ri­ence”, and that com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive train­ing (Cogmed work­ing mem­ory train­ing) can pro­vide that experience.

The Big Picture

Mak­ing Healthy Choices — Pri­mare Care and Pre­ven­tion: a panel at the recent World Eco­nomic Forum explored why “New mar­kets and indus­tries are aris­ing sil­ver indus­tries such as finan­cial ser­vices, health, hous­ing and hos­pi­tal­ity geared to senior cit­i­zens. Longevity needs to be linked to health includ­ing cog­ni­tive health and lifestyle choices play a major role in health.”

Enrich your envi­ron­ment now and ben­e­fit your future off­spring: Dr. Robert Syl­wester reports that “all sorts of long held-beliefs about our brain and cog­ni­tion are being re– exam­ined by cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tists” because of fas­ci­nat­ing stud­ies such as the one he reviews (with mice): “The study’s find­ings seemed to sug­gest that acquired char­ac­ter­is­tics can be genet­i­cally transmitted…long-term ben­e­fits accrue from a stim­u­lat­ing early envi­ron­ment that encour­ages curios­ity and exploration.”

Man­ag­ing Emotions

From Dis­tress to De-Stress: help­ing anx­ious, wor­ried kids: In a detailed 2-part arti­cle, (Part 1, Part 2), Dr. Jerome Schultz pro­vides great tips on how to help chil­dren learn to self-regulate emo­tions, adding that “Teach­ers, occu­pa­tional ther­a­pists, phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion teach­ers and par­ents need to actu­ally teach chil­dren (of all ages) how to get them­selves into a phys­i­cal state of being relaxed. This doesn’t hap­pen auto­mat­i­cally. If it did, there wouldn’t be so many adult yoga classes!”

Lie to Me, Paul Ekman and Biofeed­back: You may have watched the new series Lie To Me, with Tim Roth, based on the work of Paul Ekman. The intro­duc­tion to the sec­ond episode shows why what are called “lie detec­tors” are noth­ing but biofeed­back sys­tems that mea­sure phys­i­o­log­i­cal anxiety.


Brain Games for Baby Boomers: round-up of other recent news, cov­er­ing the effects of gam­ing, cog­ni­tive train­ing for dri­ving skills, and brain fit­ness classes.

Neu­rocog­ni­tive assess­ments and sports con­cus­sions: a new study and a new resource to under­stand and address the 1.6 to 3.8 mil­lion cases of sports-related con­cus­sions that occur annu­ally in the United States.

Brain Teaser

How will you, your orga­ni­za­tion, your neigh­bors, par­tic­i­pate in Brain Aware­ness Week, March 16th-22nd, orga­nized by the Dana Foun­da­tion with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of thou­sands of out­reach part­ners, includ­ing Sharp­Brains? You can find event ideas, excel­lent resources (yes, includ­ing puz­zles), and a cal­en­dar of events, Here.

Have a great month of March!

Centre for Brain Fitness at Baycrest: Interview with Dr. William Reichman

In April 2008, Bay­crest, a lead­ing research insti­tute focused on aging and brain func­tion, received $10-million from the Ontario Gov­ern­ment to cre­ate a ground­break­ing Cen­tre for Brain Fit­ness. Its stated goal was to “develop and com­mer­cial­ize a range of prod­ucts designed to improve the brain health of aging Ontar­i­ans and oth­ers around the world”.

Our gov­ern­ment is proud to sup­port Bay­crest and its invalu­able work, which is already lead­ing to the dis­cov­ery of impor­tant new tools and approaches to treat­ing brain dis­eases asso­ci­ated with aging,” said Min­is­ter of Research and Inno­va­tion, John Wilkinson.

We have Baycrest’s CEO with us today, to explore why Ontario and Bay­crest chose to Bill Reichman Baycrestbecome pio­neers in this area, and dis­cuss some of the main oppor­tu­ni­ties, and chal­lenges. Dr. William E. Reich­man is Pres­i­dent and CEO of Bay­crest. Dr. Reich­man, an internationally-known expert in geri­atric men­tal health and demen­tia, is also Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try on the Fac­ulty of Med­i­cine at the Uni­ver­sity of Toronto.

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez: Bill, thank you for your time. Let me start by ask­ing, given that you just spoke at the recent Con­sumer Elec­tronic Show, what do you make of the grow­ing brain fit­ness field?

Bill Reich­man: it looks like a clas­sic exam­ple of a very promis­ing but still early stage field – a lot of oppor­tu­nity and enthu­si­asm, but also a lot of prod­uct claims that are not backed by solid research. Think about the phys­i­cal fit­ness anal­ogy: even today, after decades of progress, you still see peo­ple buy­ing research-based prod­ucts such as tread­mills but also all types of ran­dom machines they see on TV and have not been sub­ject to any val­i­da­tion. Sim­i­larly, con­sumers today do not know what to make of grow­ing brain fit­ness claims. As another speaker pointed out, for the indus­try to ful­fill its promise, it will need to be care­ful with research and claims, not to end up like the nutraceu­ti­cals category.

By the way, let me rec­og­nize that the work you are doing with Sharp­Brains reports and your web­site is very impor­tant to offer qual­ity information.

Thank you. Let’s step back for a moment. Tak­ing a, say, 10 years view, what is the main oppor­tu­nity that technology-based brain fit­ness can offer to society?

First of all, let me say that I think we have an oppor­tu­nity to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI cen­tury, sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Health in the XX, and tech­nol­ogy will play a cru­cial role.

Given the rapid advances we are wit­ness­ing today in the research and tech­nol­ogy are­nas, I feel con­fi­dent in say­ing that in less than 10 years we will have both valid and reli­able assess­ments of cog­ni­tive func­tions, that will be used both by Read the rest of this entry »




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