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Brain Fitness Program 2.0, MindFit, and much more on Brain Training

Let’s quick­ly review 4 recent arti­cles in both “Times” news­pa­pers: the New York Times and the UK-based Times, on brain fit­ness and a cou­ple of programs. 

1) Cal­is­then­ics for the Old­er Mind, on the Home Com­put­er: good overview of one of the grow­ing areas for cog­ni­tive train­ing, “healthy aging”.emWave for Stress Management

  • Quotes:
  • - “In the past year, some half-dozen pro­grams, with names like Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram 2.0, Mind­Fit and Brain Age2, have aimed at aging con­sumers eager to keep their men­tal edge.
  • - “The sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence for those com­mer­cial prod­ucts is still very weak,” said Tim­o­thy A. Salt­house, pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia…
  • - Recent research in neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty — the brain’s abil­i­ty to change in response to infor­ma­tion and new activ­i­ties — shows that brain cells and new path­ways con­tin­ue to devel­op through­out life…there is lit­tle evi­dence that such pro­grams offer tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits over learn­ing Span­ish or tak­ing up the tango… 
  • - The results per­suad­ed Marc Agronin, a geri­atric psy­chi­a­trist, to adopt Mind­Fit as part of the new “brain gym” at the Mia­mi Jew­ish Home and Hos­pi­tal for the Aged, where he is direc­tor of men­tal health ser­vices. “For an ear­ly study, the data is real­ly promis­ing for indi­vid­u­als with mild mem­o­ry changes,” he said. “I do want to see more data, but I’m not wait­ing for that.”
  • - Com­ments:  True, when some man­u­fac­tur­ers make claims that their pro­grams are “sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly-proven” to do things such as “reju­ve­nate your brain” 10, 20, 30 years…they are stretch­ing sci­ence in ways that may harm not only their own rep­u­ta­tion but the over­all cred­i­bil­i­ty of the cog­ni­tive train­ing field. Hav­ing said that, some of the men­tioned pro­grams like Posit Sci­ence (focused on train­ing audi­to­ry processing) and Mind­Fit (focused on assess­ing and train­ing 14 dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive skills) have pre­lim­i­nary data that they train and help improve spe­cif­ic skills in ways that it is dif­fi­cult to believe that learn­ing Span­ish or tan­go will do (and can some­one please show me how learn­ing either can cost $149?). They are not the panacea, but a great com­ple­ment to a mix of “healthy brain” habits that include good nutri­tion, phys­i­cal exer­cise, stress man­age­ment and life­long learning/ men­tal stimulation. And, from the data avail­able today, both of those pro­grams work bet­ter in their respec­tive areas than Nin­ten­do Brain Age or Dakim, which to the best of our knowl­edge have not con­duct­ed clin­i­cal tri­als.
  • - If you want to learn more: check out our pro­gram Eval­u­a­tion Check­list.

2) Top sci­en­tist backs work­out for the brain: announce­ment that a respect­ed UK neu­ro­sci­en­tist is endors­ing one of those pro­grams, MindFit. The MindFit™ Comprehensive Brain Workout

  • - Quotes: “Baroness Susan Green­field, the neu­ro­sci­en­tist, is to launch an exer­cise pro­gramme for the brain that she claims is proven to reverse the men­tal decline asso­ci­at­ed with ageing…Greenfield, who is also direc­tor of the Roy­al Insti­tu­tion, main­tains that Britain’s baby-boomers are dis­cov­er­ing that con­cen­trat­ing on phys­i­cal fit­ness is no longer suf­fi­cient prepa­ra­tion for old age…“What con­cerns me is pre­serv­ing the brain too,” she said. “There is now good sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence to show that exer­cis­ing the brain can slow, delay and pro­tect against age-relat­ed decline.”..Greenfield will launch Mind­Fit, a PC-based soft­ware pro­gram, at the House of Lords next month, for the “wor­ried but well” — peo­ple in their mid­dle years who are healthy and want to stay that way.
  • - Com­ments: Mind­Fit can be a great entry point for peo­ple who want a quite com­pre­hen­sive soft­ware-based brain fit­ness pro­gram. We are impressed to see that some­one of Green­field­’s rep­u­ta­tion is now endors­ing it. Now, remem­ber, what tool ‑if any- may be help­ful for each per­son depends on one’s con­text and priorities. 
  • - If you want to learn more: check some of Mind­Fit Demos

3) Mind Over Mat­ter, With a Machine’s Help: great arti­cle on a start-up called Omneu­ron that com­bines cog­ni­tive ther­a­py with fMRI (an advanced neu­roimag­ing tech­nique that enables movie-like visu­al feed­back on what areas of the brain are fmri.jpgget­ting acti­vat­ed-like the image on the right). 

  • - Quotes: “Omneu­ron… uses fMRI to teach peo­ple how to play with their own heads…Using a vari­ety of men­tal tech­niques — for instance, imag­in­ing that a painful area is being flood­ed with sooth­ing chem­i­cals — most peo­ple can, with a lit­tle con­cen­tra­tion, make the flame wax or wane…Doctors and drug-abuse experts are par­tic­u­lar­ly excit­ed about the idea of treat­ing addic­tion using fMRI”
  • - Com­ments: fMRI can be a great new source of feed­back to sup­port peo­ple learn­ing new skills, and aug­ment more mature tech­nolo­gies such as biofeed­back. Now, what “treats” peo­ple is not real­ly fMRI itself, but the cog­ni­tive “men­tal tech­nique” described as “for instance, imag­in­ing that a painful area is being flood­ed with sooth­ing chem­i­cals” that we all can use to over­come pain and chal­lenges in our dai­ly life and does­n’t require mul­ti-mil­lion dol­lar machines (which may be help­ful for peo­ple with spe­cif­ic med­ical con­di­tions).
  • - If you want to learn more: an exam­ple of a men­tal tech­nique we can all use 

4) Stop Mak­ing Sense: David Brooks reviews a new polit­i­cal book and plugs-in very well Dama­sio’s research on deci­sion-mak­ing and emotions.  

  • - Quotes: “The core prob­lem with Westen’s book is that he doesn’t real­ly make use of what we know about emo­tion. He builds on the work of Anto­nio Dama­sio, with­out apply­ing Damasio’s con­cep­tion of how emo­tion emerges from and con­tributes to rea­son. In this more sophis­ti­cat­ed view, emo­tions are pro­duced by learn­ing. As we go through life, we learn what cause leads to what effect. When, lat­er on, we face sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions, the emo­tions high­light pos­si­ble out­comes, draw­ing us toward some actions and steer­ing us away from oth­ers. In oth­er words, emo­tions part­ner with ratio­nal­i­ty. It’s not nec­es­sary to dumb things down to appeal to emo­tions. It’s not nec­es­sary to under­stand some secret lan­guage that will key cer­tain neu­ro-emo­tion­al fir­ings. The best way to win votes — and this will be a shock­er — is to offer peo­ple an accu­rate view of the world and a set of poli­cies that seem like­ly to pro­duce good results.”
  • - Com­ments: no com­ments.
  • - If you want to learn more: some high­lights on Dama­sio’s research.

Spe­cial Offer: For a lim­it­ed time, you can receive a com­pli­men­ta­ry copy of our Brain Fit­ness 101 e‑Guide: Answers to your Top 25 Ques­tions, writ­ten by Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg and Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, by sub­scrib­ing to our month­ly newslet­ter. You can sub­scribe Here.

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  1. praveen reddy ambati says:

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  2. praveen reddy ambati says:

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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