Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: Meet 10 Innovation Awards Finalists, and New Resource

We are pleased to announce that, out of the 40 great entries sub­mit­ted, the 10 Final­ists to the 2010 Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion Awards mov­ing to the next round are (ordered by approx­i­mate age of end user pop­u­la­tion, from younger to old­er):

  • Arrow­smith School,
  • USA AlvaroFer_finalfile_180310Hock­ey,
  • Nation­wide Mutu­al Insur­ance,
  • Uni­ver­si­ty Behav­ioral HealthCare/ Uni­ver­si­ty of Med­i­cine & Den­tistry of New Jer­sey,
  • All­state,
  • AAA Foun­da­tion for Traf­fic Safe­ty,
  • Saint Luke’s Brain and Stroke Insti­tute,
  • Oak­land Uni­fied School Dis­trict,
  • Men­tal Health Asso­ci­a­tion of Rock­land Coun­ty,
  • SCAN Health Plan.

Win­ners will be announced dur­ing the State of Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion Webi­nar on May 24th, noon-1pm Pacif­ic Time. Reg­is­tra­tion is now open ($25), and includes exec­u­tive sum­ma­ry of Sharp­Brains’ 2010 mar­ket report and access to pri­vate LinkedIn net­work. Learn More Here.

News & Analy­sis

BBC “Brain Train­ing” Exper­i­ment: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly: You prob­a­bly saw the hun­dreds of media arti­cles titled “brain train­ing doesn’t work”, based on a BBC exper­i­ment. Once more, claims seem to go beyond the sci­ence back­ing them up … except that in this case it is the researchers, not the devel­op­ers, who are respon­si­ble.

Alzheimer’s Dis­ease Pre­ven­tion or Cog­ni­tive Enhance­ment: an inde­pen­dent expert pan­el just released yes­ter­day a thought­ful report on the state of the sci­ence for pre­ven­tion of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease. Before peo­ple get scared away by “there is noth­ing that works”, every­one should under­stand that this is true but dif­fer­ent from “there is noth­ing we can do to reduce the prob­a­bil­i­ty from devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s symp­toms” or “there is noth­ing we can do today to enhance our cog­ni­tive func­tions today and tomor­row”.

New Resource

We have cre­at­ed a new sec­tion in SharpBrains.com to con­tribute to the ongo­ing con­ver­sa­tion on cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness, based on last year’s book by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg.  Main sec­tions are:

Debunk­ing 10 Brain Myths: The goal of this resource is to help you make informed deci­sions about brain health and cog­ni­tive fit­ness, based on lat­est sci­en­tif­ic find­ings. First of all, let’s debunk some com­mon myths.

1. Brain Fit­ness Fun­da­men­tals: The brain is com­posed of a num­ber of spe­cial­ized regions serv­ing dis­tinct func­tions. Our life and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty depend on a vari­ety of brain func­tions, not just one, and there is noth­ing inher­ent­ly fixed in the tra­jec­to­ry of how brain func­tions evolve as we age.

2. The 4 Pil­lars of Brain Main­te­nance: Thanks to life­long neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis, our lifestyles and actions play a mean­ing­ful role in how our brains phys­i­cal­ly change. There is no “mag­ic pill”, but the need for a mul­ti-pronged approach.

3. Men­tal Exer­cise vs. Men­tal Activ­i­ty: Men­tal exer­cise (or “brain train­ing”) goes beyond men­tal activ­i­ty in gen­er­al. Men­tal exer­cise is the struc­tured use of exer­cis­es or tech­niques aimed at improv­ing spe­cif­ic brain func­tions, and can be deliv­ered in a num­ber of ways: med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­a­py, cog­ni­tive train­ing, biofeed­back.

4. Mak­ing Informed Brain Train­ing Deci­sions: The state of the research does not allow for strong “pre­scrip­tions” of spe­cif­ic prod­ucts for every­one and every­thing: here we offer infor­ma­tion to nav­i­gate claims and make bet­ter informed deci­sions.

5. Brain Fit­ness through the Lifes­pan: The same way there are many rea­sons to exer­cise our bod­ies, there are many rea­sons to exer­cise our brains. Here we review a few cur­rent and future appli­ca­tions of men­tal exer­cise through the lifes­pan, includ­ing edu­ca­tion, cor­po­rate well­ness, retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties, clin­i­cal con­di­tions, and more.

6. Ready for the Future?: We believe that more and more  life­long learn­ers will look for inno­v­a­tive ways to inte­grate brain fit­ness to their every­day activ­i­ties, and more pro­fes­sion­als will iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties to offer new ser­vices and pro­grams. Here we dis­cuss main trends.

7. Open­ing the Debate: Pro­cess­ing new infor­ma­tion is a stim­u­lat­ing intel­lec­tu­al exer­cise, and dis­cussing insights and open ques­tions with a group of peo­ple can be even more stim­u­lat­ing. Here we offer ques­tions for book clubs and invite you to con­tin­ue the con­ver­sa­tion via Face­book, Twit­ter, and LinkedIn.

Have a great month of May. And please say Hel­lo to the new neu­rons in your brain that weren’t up there when you woke up this morn­ing.

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