Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Training and Cognitive Health: September News

A round-up of inter­est­ed news dur­ing the month:Brain Health News

1) Train­ing Young Brains to Behave (New York Times)

2) Head Games (OpEd in New York Times)

3) Will Geron­tol­ogy rec­og­nize the Brain? (Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging event)

4) Brain func­tion gets a boost from walk­ing (Los Ange­les Times)

5) An idea whose time has (final­ly) come (McK­night’s Long Term Care News)

6) Train your brain (Finan­cial Times Ger­many)

7) Toman auge ejer­ci­cios que adies­tran la mente (Mile­nio, Mex­i­co)

8) Trois nou­vellestudes IDATE : Seri­ous Games (Pub­li-News, France)

Links and com­men­tary below.

1) Train­ing Young Brains to Behave (New York Times)

- “But just as biol­o­gy shapes behav­ior, so behav­ior can accel­er­ate biol­o­gy. And a small group of edu­ca­tion­al and cog­ni­tive sci­en­tists now say that men­tal exer­cis­es of a cer­tain kind can teach chil­dren to become more self-pos­sessed at ear­li­er ages, reduc­ing stress lev­els at home and improv­ing their expe­ri­ence in school. Researchers can test this abil­i­ty, which they call exec­u­tive func­tion, and they say it is more strong­ly asso­ci­at­ed with school suc­cess than I.Q.”

Com­ment: we are hap­py to see the grow­ing num­ber of arti­cles on the impor­tance of exec­u­tive func­tions and the role of schools in help­ing chil­dren “accel­er­ate biol­o­gy”. In the next cou­ple of weeks we will be pub­lish­ing a fas­ci­nat­ing inter­view with researcher Mike Pos­ner pre­cise­ly on this top­ic.

2) Head Games (OpEd in New York Times)

- “CHILDREN aged 5 to 18 suf­fer at least 96,000 sports-relat­ed con­cus­sions every year in the Unit­ed States, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion esti­mates. Even more trou­bling, as many as 20 per­cent of all high school foot­ball play­ers sus­tain con­cus­sions annu­al­ly, stud­ies show.”

- “The only way to know for sure whether a con­cus­sion victim’s brain has returned to nor­mal is to com­pare the results of neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal tests con­duct­ed before and after the injury. That requires prepar­ing ath­letes for the sea­son by putting them through base­line test­ing.”

Com­ment: Great OpEd, rais­ing aware­ness of a prob­lem with grow­ing impor­tance — not only in terms of sports con­cus­sions, but also car acci­dents, strokes, and a vari­ety of life-events that may pro­voke brain dam­age — and intro­duc­ing read­ers to the need for cog­ni­tive base­lines for spe­cif­ic indi­vid­u­als.

Now, we will prob­a­bly need to go fur­ther than the author of the OpEd sug­gests. There are sim­ply not enough neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists in the whole plan­et to test one-per­son at a time for 4‑hours each, and the cost of try­ing so would be astro­nom­i­cal.

The more real­is­tic route is to com­bine a) ful­ly-auto­mat­ed com­put­er-based assess­ments as a base­line, b) the involve­ment of a neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist when need­ed, prob­a­bly both to super­vise the whole assess­ment pro­gram for a sports team, for exam­ple, and then to super­vise the post-dam­age reha­bil­i­ta­tion process.

3) Will Geron­tol­ogy rec­og­nize the Brain? (Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging event)

A few weeks ago, dur­ing the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging’s Brain Health day, a par­tic­i­pant made a com­ment along the lines, “I just com­plet­ed my Mas­ters in Geron­tol­ogy at Uni­ver­si­ty XYZ. Despite my best efforts, I could not find a sin­gle brain-relat­ed class to attend as part of my stud­ies. Which is why I decid­ed to come to a con­fer­ence like this”.

Com­ment: Incred­i­ble that this hap­pens in 2008, a decade after the “Decade of the Brain”. Health­care and cog­ni­tive sci­ence seem to have inhab­it­ed dif­fer­ent uni­vers­es for too long. I hope we start to see more active cross-pol­li­na­tion between both fields. Geron­tol­ogy would be a great place to start, giv­en the grow­ing demand for pre­ven­tive pro­grams to con­tribute to the cog­ni­tive health of an aging pop­u­la­tion.

4) Brain func­tion gets a boost from walk­ing (Los Ange­les Times):

Com­ment: A cou­ple of recent stud­ies have rein­forced the life­long poten­tial for brain plas­tic­i­ty (the abil­i­ty of the brain to rewire itself through expe­ri­ence) and the impor­tance of phys­i­cal exer­cise for cog­ni­tive vital­i­ty. One study focused on 1) adults over 50 with mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment, the oth­er one on 2) stroke sur­vivors. The press release for the sec­ond study con­tains this quote:“This is great news for stroke sur­vivors because results clear­ly demon­strate that long-term stroke dam­age is not immutable and that with exer­cise it’s nev­er too late for the brain and body to recov­er,” says Daniel Han­ley, M.D., pro­fes­sor of neu­rol­o­gy at the Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine

Indeed, there is no rea­son why the process of phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive reha­bil­i­ta­tion (or “enhance­ment”) should ever stop, either as part of for­mal ther­a­py or as a lifestyle mod­i­fi­ca­tion.

5) An idea whose time has (final­ly) come (McK­night’s Long Term Care News):

Like many rev­o­lu­tions, long-term care’s recent embrace of tech­nol­o­gy-based brain fit­ness tools began qui­et­ly. Then it explod­ed.”

Com­ment: Indeed. We see more and more seniors hous­ing and long-term care oper­a­tors eval­u­ate options to help main­tain res­i­dents’ cog­ni­tive health.

And, now, in case you want to use your lan­guage skills, you may also enjoy these recent arti­cles:

6) Train your brain (Finan­cial Times Ger­many):

Ob Gehirn­train­ing etwas ntzt ist nicht bewiesen. Aber in den USA boomt der Markt, Her­steller kooperieren mit Krankenkassen und Senioren­heimen. In Deutsch­land fassen die Spiele ger­ade erst Fuf.”

7) Toman auge ejer­ci­cios que adies­tran la mente (Mile­nio, Mex­i­co):

La clave est en encon­trar activi­dades que estim­ulen ms nues­tra memo­ria.”

8) Trois nou­velles studes IDATE : Seri­ous Games (Pub­li-News, France):

A tra­vers une analyse dtaille des car­ac­tris­tiques, des usages et des diffrentes familles de seri­ous games, cette tude met en vidence les enjeux asso­cis aux phas­es de con­cep­tion, de devel­oppe­ment et de dif­fu­sion des diffrents types de seri­ous games.”

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2 Responses

  1. Dr. Donald Thibeault says:

    #3 above as it relates to geron­tol­ogy. Come vis­it MENTAL GYMNASTIC class­es in Oxnard, Camar­il­lo, and Thou­sand Oaks, Cal­for­nia. With more than 220 “stu­dents’ there is wide­spread inter­est.

  2. Don­ald, please see my answer to your com­ment here:

    Thank you

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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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