Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Brain Fitness and SharpBrains.com in the Press

Fitness TrainerGrow­ing media atten­tion on the brain fit­ness field. At least on the “Healthy Aging” seg­ment (I pre­dict the media with catch up soon with devel­op­ments in oth­er areas, from cog­ni­tive train­ing for kids and adults with ADD/ ADHD to stroke and TBI reha­bil­i­ta­tion, to peak per­for­mance for cor­po­rate train­ing).

First, a superb arti­cle by Leslie Walk­er at the Wash­ing­ton Post: Cross-Train­ing Your Brain to Main­tain Its Strength

Quotes:  “A grow­ing body of research sug­gests that men­tal activ­i­ty in mid­dle age and ear­li­er can help lat­er in life. As a result, Web sites such as HappyNeuron.com are spring­ing up to offer online games to peo­ple of all ages, while blogs like SharpBrains.com pro­vide com­men­tary on the fledg­ling indus­try.” (Note: we can also pro­vide com­men­tary on the com­men­tary!)

Peo­ple who engage in very chal­leng­ing tasks — not just in work but dur­ing leisure activ­i­ties such as read­ing, cross­word puz­zles, bridge, chess and trav­el — tend to slow down their men­tal aging process very sig­nif­i­cant­ly,” says Breznitz, who is also a mem­ber of Israel’s leg­is­la­ture and has devel­oped a brain-train­ing pro­gram called Mind­Fit.”

Also con­tribut­ing to the brain work­out boom are state-of-the-art imag­ing tech­niques that have allowed sci­en­tists to val­i­date a the­o­ry devel­oped decades ago. By tak­ing detailed pic­tures of brain neu­rons, sci­en­tists watch parts of the brain that had seemed dor­mant light up and assume new respon­si­bil­i­ties in response to stim­uli. The­o­ret­i­cal­ly, this means brain decay can be halt­ed or even reversed.”

The brain is con­stant­ly rewiring and recal­i­brat­ing itself in response to what you do,” says Hen­ry Mah­ncke, whComputer Classroomo holds a PhD in neu­ro­science and is vice pres­i­dent of Posit Sci­ence, the San Fran­cis­co devel­op­er of the Brain Fit­ness soft­ware. “It remakes itself into a more effi­cient oper­a­tion to do the things you ask it to do.”

Com­ments: the arti­cle touch­es many key points. I espe­cial­ly enjoy the quote “To be effec­tive, sci­en­tists say men­tal activ­i­ty must become pro­gres­sive­ly more chal­leng­ing. Oth­er­wise, the brain adjusts and learns to per­form repet­i­tive tasks with less effort”, a key mes­sage I make often in my lec­tures to explain why well-designed pro­grams can be more effec­tive than doing cross­word puz­zle num­ber 512,789. The arti­cle also relates how many retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties and senior cen­ters and indi­vid­u­als are try­ing out the new brain fit­ness pro­grams com­ing to mar­ket, and shows some healthy skep­ti­cism on the state of the research. Now, this is an invi­ta­tion to the reporter to inter­view neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg to get the full pic­ture of the sci­ence behind the field, since these pro­grams haven’t appeared in a vac­u­um. Our 10-Ques­tion Eval­u­a­tion Check­list can pro­vide use­ful guid­ance to any­one con­sid­er­ing a pro­gram.

Boomers use online brain games to stave off demen­tia (Account­ing­Web)

Quotes: “The Inter­net offers a pletho­ra of brain games for those who don’t sub­scribe to a dai­ly news­pa­per or don’t want to pur­chase games. AARP, for exam­ple, offers plen­ty of free games on its site. More games appear at SharpBrains.com, includ­ing a page that con­tains the Top Ten Neu­ro­science Brain­teasers, and you can sign up to have the Col­lege Board e‑mail you the SAT ques­tion of the day.”

The gen­er­a­tion that refus­es to age is not going to sit back and wait for Alzheimer’s Dis­ease and oth­er signs of demen­tia to take hold. Instead, savvy Baby Boomers are expand­ing their minds (no, not the way they did in the 60s) with the aid of the com­put­er, puz­zles, and games. A brain health move­ment is sweep­ing the nation, and 60+-year-olds are rid­ing the crest of the wave.”

Com­ments: we don’t mind at all being quot­ed in the same para­graph as the AARP and the Col­lege Board. It shows the breadth of the brain fit­ness move­ment and, who knows, maybe we will grow so big one day…

Some oth­er news pieces, more gam­ing ori­ent­ed, at The Con­sumerist, Conde Nast Tech Observ­er and MyGamer, based on my 11 Neu­ro­science Inter­views.

It is fas­ci­nat­ing to par­tic­i­pate and see in real-time how the Health and Gam­ing mar­kets are find­ing a clear point of con­ver­gence. Brain fit­ness is becom­ing one of the most promis­ing real-world appli­ca­tions of the Seri­ous Games. In Key Health Indus­try Orga­ni­za­tions Join Seri­ous Games Com­mu­ni­ty, Eliane says

One of our goals with the Games for Health Project was to see key health indus­try orga­ni­za­tions, such as Humana, join the com­mu­ni­ty and make their con­sid­er­able knowl­edge, lead­er­ship, and part­ner­ing resources avail­able, said Ben Sawyer. “More impor­tant­ly, Humana has expressed its ded­i­ca­tion to under­stand­ing the indus­try and get­ting it done.

Inter­est­ing times.

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About SharpBrains

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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