Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


The Brain Fitness Program DVD (Michael Merzenich)

The most pop­u­lar ques­tion we got when we announced that PBS had a great spe­cial on Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram and Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty in Decem­ber was, when will the DVD be avail­able?

Well, final­ly here it comes. You can click on the image or the title to go over to PBS shop to learn more and buy it.

The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram DVD ($24.95, shipped by 02/01/08). “This pro­gram presents a work­out to help view­ers get their brains in bet­ter shape. The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram is based on neu­ro-plas­tic­i­ty, the abil­i­ty of the brain to change and adapt — even rewire itself. In the past two years, a team of sci­en­tists has devel­oped com­put­er-based stim­u­lus sets that dri­ve ben­e­fi­cial chem­i­cal, phys­i­cal and func­tion­al changes in the brain. Dr. Michael Merzenich of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia San Fran­cis­co and his col­leagues around the world have been lead­ing this effort; he brings the research find­ings, along with a sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly based set of brain exer­cis­es, to PBS view­ers in this inno­v­a­tive and life-alter­ing pro­gram. Peter Coy­ote nar­rates. ”

To pur­chase: click Here.

You can watch a 3‑minute trail­er: click here.


Note: How can any­one take care of his or her brain when every week brings a new bar­rage of arti­cles and stud­ies which seem to con­tra­dict each oth­er?

Do sup­ple­ments improve mem­o­ry? Do you need both phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise –or is one of them enough? Why is man­ag­ing stress so impor­tant to atten­tion and mem­o­ry? Which brain train­ing approach, if any, is worth one’s time and mon­ey?

SharpBrainsGuide_3DIf you have these ques­tions, check out this new book, The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness:

“Final­ly, an insight­ful and com­plete overview of the sci­ence, prod­ucts and trends to debunk old myths and help us all main­tain our brains in top shape. A must-read”
Glo­ria Cavanaugh, for­mer Pres­i­dent & CEO of the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging and found­ing Board mem­ber of the Nation­al Alliance for Care­giv­ing
Kudos for an excel­lent resource! This Sharp­Brains Guide is full of top notch infor­ma­tion, pro­vides prac­ti­cal tips and helps sep­a­rate hype from hope in the brain health are­na.”
Eliz­a­beth Edger­ly, Ph.D., Chief Pro­gram Offi­cer, Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion
“A mas­ter­ful guide to the brain train­ing rev­o­lu­tion. Promis­es to stim­u­late a much need­ed con­ver­sa­tion that will nudge soci­ety to build a new brain fit­ness cul­ture on sol­id, research-based, foun­da­tions.”
P. Murali Doraiswamy MD, Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try, Duke Uni­ver­si­ty and Co-author of The Alzheimer’s Action Plan

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22 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    Hel­lo, I want to buy the DVD of the actu­al Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram that aired, NOT a DVD of exer­cis­es. Is that DVD the show itself or just exer­cis­es?

  2. Alvaro says:

    Hel­lo Mary, yes, that’s what we are talk­ing about. You can buy the PBS pro­gram that aired: Sim­ply click on the DVD image above and you will be sent to the PBS online store page where you can buy it. Enjoy!

  3. Beky Townsend says:

    I am inter­est­ed in buy­ing a DVD of exer­cis­es. Where can I get that?

  4. Alvaro says:

    Hel­lo Beky,

    There are 2 dif­fer­ent things: a) a DVD that con­tains the TV pro­gram that aired in PBS, b) CD-Roms that con­tain the exer­cis­es men­tioned in that TV pro­gram, or oth­er ones. To our knowl­edge, there is no sci­ence-based “DVD of exer­cis­es”.

    Are you look­ing for com­put­er-based exer­cis­es for use in your PC?

  5. Beatrice says:

    Is the Brain Fit­ness HOme Primer going to be avail­able to the gen­er­al pub­lic as well, with­out hav­ing to make a dona­tion to a PBS sta­tion? I don’t mind mak­ing a dona­tion, but I’m already a mem­ber, and have lim­it­ed funds. $55 for a 20 page book­let (how big?? 4x6? 8x10?) sounds like a lot. For now I can’t afford the $365 either.

  6. Alvaro says:

    Hel­lo Beat­rice,

    If what you want is infor­ma­tion, let me sug­gest you sub­scribe to our month­ly newslet­ter and you will get 2 com­pli­men­ta­ry dig­i­tal doc­u­ments with over 80 pages of great con­tent…

  7. michael says:

    real­ly keen to find out ways to improve my brain fit­ness, i am look­ing for small things i can do dur­ing the day while walk­ing to class­es or play­ing golf?
    thanks the web­site is real­ly good

  8. Beatrice says:

    Alvaro, from what I can tell, the Home Primer allows you to do a test on your­self to get some sort of a rat­ing. I’m look­ing more for the test than infor­ma­tion (although I want that, too!)I am a sub­scriber to the newslet­ter already, and have had a lot of fun with the brain teasers.

  9. Jon says:

    nev­er trust a com­pa­ny that sells prod­ucts to give you a good test…more like­ly than not, you will end up need­ing the prod­uct they want to sell you! bet­ter ask your doc­tor, what test he rec­om­mends.

    actu­al­ly, sharp­brains should offer a test, i love the site.

  10. Brian Rose says:

    Why should we pay $25 for a repeat of a PBS pro­gram. That seems like a very large amount of mon­ey for a sim­ple copy. How about $10? The pro­gram will prob­a­bly be aired again in the near future because it was so pop­u­lar.

  11. Alvaro says:

    Michael: great ques­tion. While play­ing golf, prob­a­bly the best is to prac­tice stress man­age­ment tech­niques, breath­ing and visu­al­iza­tions, so that you don’t only exer­cise your brain but also per­haps improve your game! Try out the tec­nique quot­ed in the sec­ond arti­cle here (once you have a lit­tle prac­tice, you can do it with eyes open)

    While class­ing to class­es, you can do the same to ensure a great start of the day, or try some men­tal games like these

    Beat­rice, thanks for the clar­i­fi­ca­tion. Great to hear you are enjoy­ing our newslet­ter and teasers! I have to agree with Jon: you will be bet­ter off trust­ing the test put for­ward by an inde­pen­dent source, not some­one who wants to sell a prod­uct. Your doctor/ health provider can prob­a­bly point you to some good resources. We will write a post nest week about sev­er­al rat­ings avail­able for free online, so stay tuned.

    Jon, thank you for your sup­port!

    Bri­an: we cer­tain­ly don’t con­trol PBS pric­ing deci­sions… we hope you enjoy watch­ing it.

  12. Arlene says:

    I want to get com­put­er-based exer­cis­es for a brain fit­ness pro­gram. What is your pro­fes­sion­al opin­ion about the Brain Fit­ness Gym?
    And what about Mind­fit — which is con­sid­er­ably less expensive.(I notice some of their demo exer­cis­es are in your Brain Teasers sec­tion.) Are there oth­er options that are com­put­er based you rec­om­mend? Thanks!

  13. Alvaro says:

    Hel­lo Arlene, the Posit Sci­ence pro­gram is very nar­row: it is design to train audi­to­ry pro­cess­ing. If you need that, it’s the best.

    Mind­Fit may be a bet­ter starter point for wider train­ing. Oth­er options include and, both online, and more inex­pen­sive.

    They are all dif­fer­ent tools: it depends on what you want. For guid­ance, you can check our 10-Ques­tion Eval­u­a­tion Check­list

    and you can check this arti­cle in the Wall Street Jour­nal

  14. Eric says:

    Hi Arlene,
    I am Vice Pres­i­dent of Mar­ket­ing for for Posit Sci­ence. A cou­ple of points about our exer­cis­es:
    1. Our first prod­uct focus­es on the audi­to­ry sys­tems of the brain because so much of what we need to remem­ber and process in life is audi­to­ry. Our audi­to­ry prod­uct improves speed of pro­cess­ing and accu­ra­cy of the audi­to­ry sys­tem. Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple have used this prod­uct and report remem­ber­ing bet­ter, find­ing words more eas­i­ly, fol­low­ing con­ver­sa­tion more quick­ly and oth­er ben­e­fits.
    2. Newsweeks Sharon Beg­ley does a great job describ­ing why the focus on audi­to­ry mem­o­ry is so impor­tant in the arti­cle below. As you’ll read, our Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram is the only pro­gram on the mar­ket that improves your mem­o­ry — not just the trained tasks. The the improve­ments “gen­er­al­ize” to broad mea­sures of cog­ni­tion.
    3. The Posit Sci­ence pro­gram is the only one to have been shown effec­tive in pub­lished, peer-reviewed stud­ies. This is the sci­en­tif­ic “gold stan­dard” and the only way you can be cer­tain a prod­uct actu­al­ly works to improve cog­ni­tive func­tion. No oth­er prod­uct has under­gone this rig­or­ous clin­i­cal scruti­ny, includ­ing oth­ers ref­er­enced above.

    Best Regards,
    Eric Mann

  15. Alvaro says:

    Hel­lo Eric, thanks for stop­ping by. We rec­om­mend users check our 10-Ques­tion Eval­u­a­tion Check­list, because there is no research enough today to “pre­scribe” any spe­cif­ic inter­ven­tion for every­one. Each user must decide what may be the best tool for him or her.

    There are many impor­tant cog­ni­tive skills to take care of, so a very nar­row inter­ven­tion is not nec­es­sar­i­ly what every sin­gle per­son would ben­e­fit from, jus­ti­fy­ing time com­mit­ment and expense.

    Let me ask you

    1- how you you know what ben­e­fits Arlene has in mind? if she is look­ing to reduce like­li­hood of poten­tial­ly devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s symp­toms, for exam­ple, phys­i­cal exer­cise or a vari­ety of social­ly and men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties have more research sup­port than any spe­cif­ic com­put­er-based pro­gram

    2- how many stud­ies have been pub­lished as of today in peer-reviewed jour­nals sup­port­ing the valid­i­ty of your pro­gram

    3- what is the medi­an age for peo­ple in pub­lished stud­ies? what may be rel­e­vant for peo­ple in their 70s may not be the top pri­or­i­ty for peo­ple in their 40s or 50

    4- What is the use pro­to­col in pub­lished stud­ies? hours of train­ing per week?

    5- Does pub­lished research show far trans­fer into non-trained domains such as visu­al mem­o­ry and exec­u­tive func­tions?

    6- can you pro­vide an overview of all major cog­ni­tive skills and where audi­to­ry pro­cess­ing fits in

    7- Have you seen the pub­lished research back­ing oth­er pro­grams such as Cogmed, Space­Fortress, cog­ni­tive ther­a­py, biofeed­back? I find it sur­pris­ing that (despite the appar­ent great qual­i­ty of the IMPACT study, not pub­lished yet), you can make claims like the ones you make in your com­ment.

    Look­ing for­ward your response.

  16. Laura Fay says:

    Hel­lo Arlene,
    I am Chief Oper­at­ing Offi­cer with Hap­py Neu­ron, a provider of var­i­ous Brain Fit­ness pro­grams (men­tioned above)

    Alvaro makes a good point about choos­ing the pro­gram that is right for YOU. Sharp­brains 10-Ques­tion Eval­u­a­tion Check­list is a great way to eval­u­ate the most suit­able brain fit­ness pro­gram. To assist with that eval­u­a­tion, Hap­py Neu­ron has out­lined how our pro­gram stacks up against the check­list. You can read it here.

    Good luck with your research.


  17. Talya says:

    Is there any way to find a tran­script of the Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram DVD that aired on PBS?

  18. Alvaro says:

    Hel­lo Talya: I don’t know; you bet­ter con­tact PBS direct­ly.

    Please let us know what you find out.

  19. Roy Israely says:

    Hel­lo Arlene,
    I’m a psy­chol­o­gist at Cog­niFit, a leader in devel­op­ing brain fit­ness soft­ware.
    I have to agree with Alvaro’s answer: When try­ing to find a cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­gram, the most impor­tant thing is to make sure it fits YOU. Since most com­put­er­ized train­ing pro­grams last for sev­er­al months, it’s impor­tant that you will choose the pro­gram that will keep your moti­va­tion high, as well as will improve your cog­ni­tion. Although dif­fer­ent pro­grams offer dif­fer­ent things to the users, if a wide cog­ni­tive train­ing is what you are look­ing for, Mind­Fit could be the solu­tion for you, since it trains 14 major cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties that are cru­cial for a day to day func­tion­ing. In addi­tion, it is worth men­tion­ing that Mind­Fit offers an assess­ment phase before the begin­ning of the actu­al train­ing, which makes it pos­si­ble to cre­ate a self- suit­ed train­ing pro­gram that match­es the spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive needs for each user. You can find some more infor­ma­tion on our web­site: http://www.e‑ .
    Keep in mind that men­tal train­ing is not enough. In order to main­tain a healthy brain you’ll also need to engage in phys­i­cal activ­i­ty, prop­er nutri­tion and stress man­age­ment. You can find a good sum­ma­ry in the fol­low­ing link:

  20. Thomas (Doubting) says:

    The Posit Sci­ence pro­gram is the only one to have been shown effec­tive in pub­lished, peer-reviewed stud­ies. This is the sci­en­tif­ic “gold stan­dard” and the only way you can be cer­tain a prod­uct actu­al­ly works to improve cog­ni­tive func­tion. No oth­er prod­uct has under­gone this rig­or­ous clin­i­cal scruti­ny, includ­ing oth­ers ref­er­enced above.”

    »This is far from the truth. Being pub­lished in a peer-reviewed jour­nal does not equal being “effec­tive.”

    No sin­gle study could legit­imize the claim for being “effec­tive.”

    List the ref­er­ences for the stud­ies and let us review the empir­i­cal evi­dence for our­selves. Please include the dou­ble-blind atten­tion con­trol ran­dom­ized study with 6 month fol­low up. Thanks.

  21. Mike Logan says:

    While I can appre­ci­ate the need for research, and use it as a guide, I like to try out tools like this to see what hap­pens. Then look to the research to see if there is any intu­itive “aha!” My expe­ri­ence will guide me as much as the research. I read some­where once that sta­tis­tics are tools used to try and make sense of incom­plete data. Or course, I am not mar­ket­ing to the uni­verse here. Mike Logan

  22. Alvaro says:

    Mike, beau­ti­ful point.

    Sci­en­tif­ic stud­ies are very valu­able to see what works, what may work, and what does NOT work.… there­by inform­ing pub­lic pol­i­cy, con­sumers and pro­fes­sion­als.

    Now, lab results needs not replace the judge­ment of healthy indi­vid­u­als mak­ing their own deci­sions with their own mon­ey.

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