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With pharma exiting Alzheimer’s research, new hope (and urgency) seen in the combination of brain training and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)

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What does the future hold for the war on Alzheimer’s? (The Globe and Mail):

After spend­ing huge sums on clin­i­cal trails in recent years, the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try has failed to find a drug that can halt the mind-rob­bing dis­ease. And this month, Pfiz­er announced it is end­ing its Alzheimer’s research, although oth­er com­pa­nies haven’t thrown in the tow­el yet. But oth­er pre­ven­tion mea­sures are being explored.

Sev­er­al Toron­to hos­pi­tals are involved in an ambi­tious $10-mil­lion, five-year study to deter­mine whether a com­bi­na­tion of cog­ni­tive reme­di­a­tion – men­tal exer­cis­es – plus elec­tri­cal stim­u­la­tion of the brain can delay Read the rest of this entry »

Researchers stress need for neurotechnologies to protect the mental dimension of individuals and groups, especially mental privacy and integrity

Image: Ars Elec­tron­i­ca | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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From Health­care to War­fare: How to Reg­u­late Brain Tech­nol­o­gy (Uni­ver­si­ty of Basel press release):

The term “dual-use” refers to tech­nol­o­gy that can be used for both ben­e­fi­cial (i.e., med­ical) and harm­ful (i.e., mil­i­tary of ter­ror­is­tic) aims. Until recent­ly, most dual-use tech­nol­o­gy emerged espe­cial­ly in virol­o­gy and bac­te­ri­ol­o­gy. In the last years, how­ev­er, mil­i­tary-fund­ed research has entered the domain of neu­ro­science and neu­rotech­nol­o­gy.

This has result­ed in a rapid growth in brain tech­nol­o­gy pro­to­types aimed at Read the rest of this entry »

Important insights on the growing home use of tDCS brain stimulation: older-than-expected users, positive self-reported results for treatment of depression but negative for self-enhancement, and a couple areas of concern (severe burns, frequency)

Dr. Brent Williams is wear­ing a home­made tDCS device while his wife Madge is sport­ing a com­mer­cial mod­el. Pho­to by Kevin Liles/kevindliles.com

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At the 2017 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit last month, researcher and sci­ence writer Dr. Anna Wexler dis­cussed some fas­ci­nat­ing insights from her sur­vey of 339 home (or “do-it-your­self”) users of tDCS (tran­scra­nial direct cur­rent stim­u­la­tion) devices.

The sur­vey results have just been pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Cog­ni­tive Enhance­ment (details below), and pro­vide a use­ful win­dow into who pur­chas­es tDCS devices and why, how they use them and what results they see. Read the rest of this entry »

On the value and the limits of cognitive screening, as seen in President Trump’s examination

Exam­ple clocks, cour­tesy of William Souil­lard-Man­dar et al (2015)

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In the News:

Why you may be mis­un­der­stand­ing the men­tal test that Trump passed with fly­ing col­ors (The Wash­ing­ton Post):

On its sur­face, the Mon­tre­al Cog­ni­tive Assess­ment (MoCA) test seems pret­ty easy. Can you draw a three-dimen­sion­al cube? Can you iden­ti­fy these var­i­ous ani­mals? Can you draw a clock? Can you repeat back the phrase, “The cat always hid under the couch when dogs were in the room”?…The point is not that the test is easy. The point is that an inabil­i­ty to com­plete aspects of the test reveals dif­fer­ent types of men­tal decline. Read the rest of this entry »

Eight Tips To Understand and Remember What You Read — Especially As You Read Nonfiction

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Despite Insta­gram, YouTube, Face­book, Twit­ter, and tele­vi­sion, (or per­haps pre­cise­ly because of all of them) tra­di­tion­al read­ing is still an impor­tant skill. Whether it is mag­a­zines, pro­fes­sion­al man­u­als or fas­ci­nat­ing books, peo­ple still need to read, now and in years ahead. And much of it is non­fic­tion mate­r­i­al, where it’s impor­tant to real­ly under­stand and then remem­ber what you are read­ing.

An unfor­tu­nate rea­son why many peo­ple don’t read much these days is that they don’t read well. Read­ing, for them, is slow, hard work and they don’t remem­ber as much as they should. They often have to read some­thing sev­er­al times before they under­stand and remem­ber what they read.

Why? You would think that every­one learns how to read well at school. Schools do try, but I work with mid­dle-school teach­ers and they tell me that many stu­dents are 2–3 years behind grade lev­el in read­ing pro­fi­cien­cy. Some of the blame can be placed on fads for teach­ing read­ing, such as phon­ics and “whole lan­guage,” which some­times are pro­mot­ed in shal­low ways that don’t respect the need for both approach­es. And much of the blame can be laid at the feet of par­ents who set poor exam­ples and, of course, on the young­sters who are too dis­tract­ed by social media and tele­vi­sion to learn how to read well.

Now the good news. For any­one who missed out on good read­ing skills, it is not too late to improve now. I sum­ma­rize below what I think it takes to read with good speed and com­pre­hen­sion. Read the rest of this entry »

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