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Cognitive Health Track at Games for Health Conference: Full Schedule Announced!

Games for Health and Sharp­Brains have part­nered to bring you the first Cog­ni­tive Games for Health Conference - Cognitive Health TrackHealth Track in a Games for Health Con­fer­ence, June 11–12th in Boston. If you are inter­est­ed, in attend­ing the con­fer­ence, you can learn more and reg­is­ter Here.

To get a 15% off reg­is­tra­tion fees ($379), you can use dis­count code: sharp09, when you reg­is­ter Here.

Cog­ni­tive Health Track, Pow­ered by Sharp­Brains

Thurs­day, June 11th

10.20 (50m) Bird’s Eye View of Cog­ni­tive Health Inno­va­tion
Speaker(s): Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, Sharp­Brains

Sci­en­tif­ic, tech­no­log­i­cal and demo­graph­ic trends have con­verged to cre­ate a new $265m mar­ket in the US alone: seri­ous games, soft­ware and online appli­ca­tions that can help peo­ple of all ages assess and train cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. Alvaro Fer­nan­dez will pro­vide a Bird’s Eye View of the sci­ence, mar­ket seg­ments and trends, com­pet­i­tive land­scape, and main chal­lenges ahead, based on The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket 2009 report released in May, which includ­ed Research Exec­u­tive Briefs pre­pared by 12 lead­ing sci­en­tists and a sur­vey of 2,000+ deci­sion-mak­ers and ear­ly adopters.

61% of respon­dents to the sur­vey Strong­ly Agreed with the state­ment “Address­ing cog­ni­tive and brain health should be a health­care pri­or­i­ty.” But, 65% Agreed/Strongly Agreed with “I don’t real­ly know what to expect from prod­ucts mak­ing brain claims.” In this ses­sion, Alvaro will pub­licly unveil the new book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, To Keep Your Brain Sharp, co-authored by neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg and him­self, aimed at help­ing con­sumers and pro­fes­sion­als under­stand and nav­i­gate this grow­ing field.

11.20 (30m) The All­state-Posit Sci­ence Part­ner­ship: Cog­ni­tive Train­ing for Safer Dri­ving
Speaker(s): Tom War­den, All­state; Hen­ry Mah­ncke, Posit Sci­ence

Evi­dence-based cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams have been avail­able in retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties for sev­er­al years. Now, they are reach­ing a younger pop­u­la­tion includ­ing Boomers through inno­v­a­tive part­ner­ships, like insur­ers.

In Octo­ber 2008 auto insur­ance com­pa­ny All­state and brain fit­ness soft­ware devel­op­er Posit Sci­ence announced a research col­lab­o­ra­tion that could lead to “poten­tial­ly the next big break­through in auto­mo­bile safe­ty”. The pur­pose of this ses­sion is to review nov­el ways of get­ting the sci­ence of cog­ni­tive train­ing into the real world where it can help peo­ple. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from All­state and Posit Sci­ence will dis­cuss why these part­ner­ships work for insur­ers, devel­op­ers, and end users. They will also pro­vide a thor­ough review of the eval­u­a­tion process a major part­ner goes through when select­ing a cog­ni­tive train­ing com­pa­ny.

12.00 (30m) What Con­sumers Buy and Why
Speaker(s): Lind­say Gask­ins, Mar­bles: The Brain Store

Launched in Octo­ber 2008, Mar­bles: The Brain Store is a retail store that focus­es on prod­ucts designed to stim­u­late and strength­en the brain. Mar­bles cur­rent­ly has one store locat­ed in down­town Chica­go, and is plan­ning to open two more stores in Chica­go dur­ing the sum­mer. The Mar­bles col­lec­tion of over 250 prod­ucts includes soft­ware, games, books, and puz­zles that fall into the five cat­e­gories of crit­i­cal think­ing, mem­o­ry, word skills, visu­al per­cep­tion and coor­di­na­tion. Every day, the Mar­bles team is learn­ing first-hand what cus­tomers are look­ing for and iden­ti­fy­ing the best assort­ment of prod­ucts to meet their needs.

Lind­say Gask­ins, CEO of Mar­bles: The Brain Store, will share some of the con­sumer insights her team has iden­ti­fied while serv­ing near­ly 10,000 cus­tomers as well as tips on effec­tive strate­gies for devel­op­ers of soft­ware prod­ucts and videogames to con­nect with cus­tomers.

2pm (70m) The Road Ahead: 5 Chal­lenges And Poten­tial Solu­tions for the Game-Based Cog­ni­tive Health field
Speaker(s): Tom War­den, All­state; Hen­ry Mah­ncke, Posit Sci­ence; Peter Chris­tian­son, Young Dri­vers of Cana­da; Evian Gor­don, Brain Resource; There­sa Cerul­li, Cerul­li & Asso­ciates

In a recent Sharp­Brains sur­vey, deci­sion-mak­ers and ear­ly adopters were asked, “What is the most impor­tant prob­lem you see in the brain fit­ness field and how do you think it can be solved?” Respon­dents iden­ti­fied the fol­low­ing pri­or­i­ties in rank order: Pub­lic aware­ness of the impor­tance of main­tain­ing cog­ni­tive health (39%), Nav­i­gat­ing Claims to sep­a­rate real­i­ty from hope from hype (21%), Research to under­stand what works for whom, and how dif­fer­ent inter­ven­tions may com­ple­ment each oth­er (15%), Health­care Cul­ture needs to bet­ter inte­grate cog­ni­tive health issues (14%), Need for Objec­tive Assess­ments (6%), oth­er (5%).

In this ses­sion, five lead­ing deci­sion-mak­ers and inno­va­tors with back­grounds in research, clin­i­cal prac­tice, insur­ance, dri­ving schools, cog­ni­tive train­ing and assess­ments, will iden­ti­fy the main chal­lenges as they see them and will pro­pose spe­cif­ic solu­tions to help build a sus­tain­able field that can sig­nif­i­cant­ly con­tribute to the cog­ni­tive health of peo­ple across the lifes­pan.

3.20 (50m) Emerg­ing Research and Inter­ven­tions for Atten­tion Deficits and Schiz­o­phre­nia
Speaker(s): There­sa Cerul­li, Cerul­li & Asso­ciates; Ann Mal­oney, Uni­ver­si­ty of Ver­mont

Grow­ing research empha­sizes the role that cog­ni­tive deficits play in a vari­ety of clin­i­cal con­di­tions and sug­gests ways how to ame­lio­rate those deficits. This opens the door to the use of evi­dence-based non­phar­ma­co­log­ic strate­gies to improve neu­rocog­ni­tion by clin­i­cal care providers, as seen through the lens­es of atten­tion deficits and schiz­o­phre­nia.

Dr. There­sa Cerul­li, Har­vard-trained psy­chi­a­trist, has been offer­ing Cogmed work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing in her prac­tice in Andover, MA, for two years now. She is a nation­al­ly rec­og­nized expert on ADHD and a fre­quent speak­er on the top­ic of atten­tion deficits and co-exist­ing behav­ioral health con­di­tions. Her vision is in com­bin­ing tra­di­tion­al med­i­cine with healthy liv­ing to pro­mote cog­ni­tive and emo­tion­al well being.

Dr. Ann Mal­oney will dis­cuss an ongo­ing pilot study fund­ed by NIH to exam­ine whether an inten­sive com­put­er­ized inter­ven­tion pro­vid­ed by Posit Sci­ence and tar­get­ed on improv­ing cen­tral audi­to­ry and visu­al pro­cess­ing and exec­u­tive func­tion­ing can be imple­ment­ed in youth with schiz­o­phre­nia spec­trum dis­or­ders. Neu­rocog­ni­tion (pri­ma­ry out­come mea­sure), glob­al func­tion­ing, psy­chi­atric symp­toms and Brain Derived Neu­rotroph­ic Fac­tor (BDNF) will be assessed pri­or to begin­ning the inter­ven­tions, at com­ple­tion of the inter­ven­tion (20 weeks) and 8 and 12 months fol­low­ing base­line.

4.30 (30m) Cog­ni­tive Rehab Means Get­ting Health Pro­fes­sion­als to Get Gamey
Speaker(s): Lau­ra Fay, Hap­py Neu­ron

While cog­ni­tive reme­di­a­tion and reha­bil­i­ta­tion ther­a­pies, in the form of inter­ac­tive online games, are being used to treat con­di­tions such as Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment (MCI), Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury (TBI), Stroke, Depres­sion and Schiz­o­phre­nia there are many issues involved with what’s need­ed to get prac­ti­tion­ers to inte­grate them into their prac­tice. This ses­sions cov­ers lessons learned about the nec­es­sary char­ac­ter­is­tics these games and pro­grams must have to be effec­tive and to win over prac­ti­tion­ers to use them as an inte­gral part of their treat­ment prac­tice. We’ll dis­cuss issues of data con­fi­den­tial­i­ty, dis­tance ther­a­py approach­es, learn­ing adap­ta­tions, and more.

5.20 (30m) An Inno­v­a­tive Part­ner­ship to Help Patients with Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis with a Side Scrolling Videogame
Speaker(s): Robert Hone, Red Hill Stu­dios

Mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis is an unpre­dictable neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­ease that affects an esti­mat­ed 400,000 peo­ple in the Unit­ed States, with a new case diag­nosed each hour. Recent stud­ies have point­ed out that in addi­tion to phys­i­cal impair­ments, the dis­ease can also pro­duce sig­nif­i­cant cog­ni­tive chal­lenges. Cre­ative Direc­tor Robert Hone of Red Hill Stu­dios will report on their devel­op­ment of cog­ni­tive ther­a­py game specif­i­cal­ly designed to address cru­cial cog­ni­tive func­tions rel­e­vant to MS patients such as pro­cess­ing speed, work­ing mem­o­ry, atten­tion, and exec­u­tive function.The game will fea­ture a com­mon con­sumer game genre — the side scroller — to present a chal­leng­ing and engag­ing game expe­ri­ence. The project is spon­sored by Bay­er Health­Care Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals on behalf of the MS Tech­nol­o­gy Col­lab­o­ra­tive, a joint effort between Bay­er, Microsoft, and the Nation­al Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis Soci­ety.

Fri­day, June 12th

10.20 (40m) Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty-based Impli­ca­tions, Oppor­tu­ni­ties, and Chal­lenges, to Improve Cog­ni­tive Health across the Lifes­pan
Speaker(s): Daphne Bave­li­er, Uni­ver­si­ty of Rochester; Joshua Stein­er­man, Ein­stein-Mon­te­fiore, Murali Doraiswamy, Duke Uni­ver­si­ty

Inter­ac­tive media in the form of soft­ware and videogames can be seen as a vehi­cle to har­ness neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and ben­e­fit cog­ni­tive health across the lifes­pan. This field is still in its infan­cy, but emerg­ing evi­dence sug­gests that spe­cif­ic pop­u­la­tions may ben­e­fit from spe­cif­ic inter­ven­tions.

Three lead­ing researchers, from Duke Uni­ver­si­ty, Uni­ver­si­ty of Rochester, and Albert Ein­stein-Mon­te­fiore, will dis­cuss the oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges they see to ben­e­fit younger and old­er minds in both healthy and clin­i­cal envi­ron­ments.

11.10 (30m) A Ven­ture Cap­i­tal­ist’s View of the Healthy Games Oppor­tu­ni­ty
Speaker(s): Tim Chang, Nor­west Ven­ture Part­ners

The Healthy Games oppor­tu­ni­ty, as a prod­uct, des­ti­na­tion, net­work and com­mu­ni­ty, is grow­ing. This opens the door to pro­fes­sion­al ven­ture investors to part­ner with entre­pre­neurs to explore busi­ness mod­els that can ensure the sus­tain­abil­i­ty and long-term impact of healthy game devel­op­ers.

Ven­ture firms Nor­west Ven­ture Part­ners and First­Mark Cap­i­tal invest­ed $3m in Lumos Labs in June 2008, mak­ing it their first invest­ment in the healthy games cat­e­go­ry. Tim will out­line their busi­ness ratio­nale and eval­u­a­tion process, address­ing why Nor­west decid­ed to play in the space, why they select­ed Lumos Labs, and the oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges to build a sus­tain­able healthy games com­pa­ny.

11.50 (40) Reach­ing Users with a Mul­ti-Plat­form Strat­e­gy
Speaker(s): Vinay Gid­waney, MIT Media Lab & Ener­gy Inside; Kunal Sarkar, Lumos Labs

Keep­ing a healthy game user engaged through var­i­ous chan­nels (des­ti­na­tion web site, mobile, wid­gets and social media) can dri­ve new cus­tomer acqui­si­tion, deep­er engage­ment and a sus­tained rela­tion­ship with the user. The key to estab­lish­ing a suc­cess­ful mul­ti-chan­nel strat­e­gy lies in cus­tomiz­ing the expe­ri­ence for each chan­nel, while retain­ing a cohe­sive user expe­ri­ence across these chan­nels. Two pio­neers in cog­ni­tive and emo­tion­al health will share chal­lenges and lessons learned in launch­ing mul­ti-chan­nel con­tent strate­gies.

In the last 24 months, Lumos Labs has launched a des­ti­na­tion web­site ( in sev­er­al lan­guages, cre­at­ed cus­tom appli­ca­tions for social media net­works (such as Face­book, Yahoo Apps, iGoogle), and released sev­er­al appli­ca­tions on mul­ti­ple mobile plat­forms (iPhone, Black­ber­ry, etc.). Along the way, they have made mis­takes and learned from them. Kunal will share lessons learned around tech­nol­o­gy imple­men­ta­tion and dis­cuss some of the unique prod­uct oppor­tu­ni­ties offered by each chan­nel. He will also dis­cuss poten­tial pit­falls and some of the chal­lenges that they faced.

Ener­gy Inside is in the ear­ly stages of invent­ing a nov­el men­tal health deliv­ery sys­tem to help peo­ple cope more effec­tive­ly, be more resilient and achieve greater emo­tion­al well-being. Through inter­ac­tive social media, com­mon­sense rea­son­ing psy­chol­o­gy and a learn­ing rec­om­men­da­tion engine, Ener­gy Inside will deliv­er micro-inter­ven­tions (pep) that are intend­ed to shift mind­set when a per­son needs it most. The goal is to lever­age exist­ing net­works to spread, liv­ing where peo­ple expe­ri­ence their con­nect­ed life as opposed to being a des­ti­na­tion web prop­er­ty. Ener­gy Inside uses a social inter­ac­tion mod­el to inter­face with the user and oper­ates with­in mul­ti­ple com­mu­ni­ca­tion medi­ums (web and mobile, SMS, email, instant mes­sag­ing).

1.30 (30) An Analy­sis of Game Design Issues in Brain Games
Speaker(s): Bri­an Winn, Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty

Games to exer­cise the brain have emerged as a spe­cial­ized seri­ous games mar­ket seg­ment, in the form of indi­vid­ual games and com­pa­nies spe­cial­iz­ing a coor­di­nat­ed suite of good-for-you cog­ni­tive work­outs. Neu­ro­science research address­es the ques­tion of whether play­ing games can improve cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing. Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty’s brain game design research looks at whether today’s brain games are good games. MSU fac­ul­ty and stu­dents have ana­lyzed a ran­dom sam­ple of indi­vid­ual and brain fit­ness com­pa­ny brain games. The research char­ac­ter­iz­ing brain game design along the lines of graph­ics and sound, premise, rules, con­flict, chal­lenge, char­ac­ter, feed­back, nav­i­ga­tion, and sto­ry as well as which forms of fun and spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive func­tions are tar­get­ed.

2.10 (30) Inno­v­a­tive Approach­es to Sci­en­tif­ic Val­i­da­tion
Speaker(s): Michael Scan­lon, Lumos Labs

Val­i­da­tion is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of bring­ing a cog­ni­tive train­ing prod­uct to mar­ket. How­ev­er, it can also be a chal­lenge to exe­cute giv­en the com­plex­i­ties of run­ning clin­i­cal tri­als. Lumos Labs devel­oped its online cog­ni­tive train­ing appli­ca­tion,, to be a research-friend­ly plat­form for sci­en­tif­ic explo­ration. The goal was to facil­i­tate col­lab­o­ra­tive work by aca­d­e­m­ic and med­ical researchers, and enable rapid inno­va­tion of cog­ni­tive train­ing tools by mak­ing test­ing and sci­en­tif­ic inves­ti­ga­tion more effi­cient. Third-par­ty research is inher­ent­ly more con­vinc­ing than inter­nal­ly con­duct­ed stud­ies because it removes any per­ceived con­flict of inter­est. It is also imprac­ti­cal to con­duct a large num­ber of stud­ies with lim­it­ed finan­cial and human resources. In less than two years from the com­mer­cial launch of Lumos­i­ty, more than 10 aca­d­e­m­ic researchers are now con­duct­ing exper­i­ments to eval­u­ate out­comes of train­ing with the online pro­gram. What aspects of the plat­form make it appeal­ing to researchers? How can one posi­tion a healthy game prod­uct to be uti­lized by inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tors? How can this plat­form be lever­aged for your own research? This ses­sion will dis­cuss both the com­mer­cial and research per­spec­tives with lessons learned in the imple­men­ta­tion of the Lumos­i­ty plat­form for research. Chal­lenges and lim­i­ta­tions of this approach will also be dis­cussed.

2.50 (30) Wrap­ping Up: What We Have Learned, What is Next
Speaker(s): Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, Sharp­Brains

As evi­denced dur­ing the whole track, there is already a very active cog­ni­tive health videogames indus­try and field of research. Games for Health and Sharp­Brains part­nered to cre­ate a 2‑day con­ver­sa­tion with researchers, thought-lead­ers and indus­try pio­neers and help ensure the sus­tain­abil­i­ty of using “seri­ous games” to mea­sure and improve cog­ni­tive health.

What have we learned dur­ing this 2‑day con­ver­sa­tion? What are some of the pri­or­i­ties and chal­lenges for the next 12 months for the field at large, and for every­one involved? How can we have a bet­ter track next year? What can we do to stay in touch and col­lab­o­rate? This inter­ac­tive ses­sion will help us sum­ma­rize the key high­lights from the whole track, iden­ti­fy emerg­ing assump­tions, themes, and pri­or­i­ties, and dis­cuss col­lab­o­ra­tive next steps.

To get a 15% off reg­is­tra­tion fees ($379), you can use dis­count code: sharp09, when you reg­is­ter Here

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