Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Mobile Brain Training, Scientific Learning, and More News

Some recent brain training and health news: Monkey memory

1) A Promising Debut for Computerized Therapies

2) Fitness protects brain in Alzheimer’s patients

3) Brain Fitness Program Classic comes to Mac

4) Posit Science gains ownership of Scientific Learning (NSDQ: SCIL) BrainConnection.

5) Brain training on your mobile

6) You must remember this: how the mind works

Here you have the links and my commentary for these news:

1) A Promising Debut for Computerized Therapies

– “Against this difficult background, researchers at Yale report a paradigm-shifting approach that closes the gap to cost-effective real-world delivery of an effective cognitive-behavioral therapy(CBT) program for substance dependence. Cleverly called computer-based training for cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT4CBT),this information age web-based program penetrates previously impregnable barriers to care delivery.”

Comment: fascinating recent clinical trial on the benefits of computer-based cognitive interventions, presented with a very insightful editorial on how these emerging tools can complement existing, face-to-face, approaches.

2) Fitness protects brain in Alzheimer’s patients

– “People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease who are more physically fit had less shrinkage in areas of the brain that are important for memory, researchers said on Sunday.”

– “Fitness and exercise have been shown to slow age-related changes in the brain in healthy people. The latest finding suggests people with early Alzheimer’s disease may still benefit.”

Comment: another study showing why, no matter our age or cognitive health, leading a sedentary life is bad for our brains.

3) Brain Fitness Program Classic comes to Mac

– “Posit Science has announced the release of Brain Fitness Program Classic for the Mac. It costs $395. System requirements call for Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later, 1GB hard disk space”

Comment: Mac users have now have access to this auditory processing training program. Given the median age of participants in the one published study that measured the benefits of this program (close to 70 years), I am not sure many Mac users will jump on it, but it certainly helps bridge the PC-Mac divide (to our knowledge this is the first science-based program offered for Macs).

4) Posit Science gains ownership of Scientific Learning (NSDQ: SCIL) BrainConnection.

Comment: we just received an email message saying so. It will be interesting to learn what price Posit Science had paid for this online property, one of the best marketing and strategic assets Scientific Learning (NSDQ: SCIL, developer of Fast ForWord) had developed over the years, and the rationale for having a potential competitor acquire it.

5) Brain training on your mobile

– “Students with mobile phones appear to have been sharpening their minds outside their studies after it was revealed that the most popular game downloaded onto mobile phones is ‘Brain Coach with Dr Kawashima’, according to the game’s creator Namco Bandai.”
– Masajo Okubo, managing director at Naco Bandai, said: “With Dr. Kawashima’s official approval, we are very proud to take this popular genre to the next level. Players are now presented a new and scientifically proven series of fun brain training challenges that actually help activate different parts of the brain.”

Comment: to talk about “mobile brain training” today is either an exercise in banality (basically, every single thing we do, every single thought we have, changes somehow the structure of our brains, so anything can be considered to be “brain training”) or misleading, given the dearth of specific research. Throughout the research undertaken to prepare our Market Report covering the whole brain fitness software category, including mobile applications, we didn’t come across a single mobile product with quality published evidence on how it can enhance cognitive functions. We can call them “games”, but not “brain training” or “brain fitness”, or say, as in the quote above, that they are “scientifically proven”. In fact, we gave Nintendo Brain Age a score of 1 out of 10 in clinical validation… and we do consider it more promising than the many other “game” copycats. Mobile platforms will be very important in the brain fitness market, but the medium will probably show value first for cognitive assessments, more than for real “brain training”. Meditation, cognitive therapy and computer-based cognitive training are, today, the only “brain training” mediums with emerging research showing cognitive value.

6) You must remember this: how the mind works

– “Amazon is full of brain workouts. Last year, British scientist Baroness Susan Greenfield launched a PC-based program of exercises – MindFit – whose online ‘personal coach’ evaluates your results and adjusts tasks depending on how badly you’ve done. It says it can boost memory recall by 14 per cent. I don’t know about that, but I did get noticeably better at predicting the course of a hot-air balloon sailing from one cloud to another.”

– “Our appetite for better brains is an obsession reflected in the worldwide expansion over the past decade of neuroscience studies. These come on the heels of neuroimaging techniques that have brought together the disciplines of psychology (mind) and neurobiology (matter) to produce a new breed of ‘cognitive’ neuroscientist who looks at behaviour in the context of wiring and chemicals”

Comment: fun and interesting article on what is going on in the UK market.

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