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2011 SharpBrains Summit Meeting Report: Retooling Brain Health for the 21st Century

After months of hard work by six participants @ 2011 SharpBrains Summit, we are honored to publish this Meeting Report to help generate a broader conversation on what we believe is one of the main opportunities and challenges of our times: How to Retool Brain Health for the 21st Century. This Meeting Report has been pre­pared by: Alvaro Fer­nan­dez (SharpBrains),  Luc P. Beaudoin (Simon Fraser University), Muki Hansteen-Izora (Intel Corporation), Mar­garet E. Mor­ris  (Intel Corporation), Joshua R. Stein­er­man (ProGevity Neuroscience), Peter J. White­house (Case Western Reserve University), and is fully accessible Here.

You will find many valuable recommendations, such as “repeated, fre­quent, assess­ment (of brain function) over time (i.e., mon­i­tor­ing) with the use of consumer-facing tech­nolo­gies is prefer­able to a sin­gle assess­ment“, and deep insights such as “But it was reported (that brain training can work) to be pos­si­ble when basic “con­di­tions for trans­fer” are met, such as proper iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of deficit in tar­get pop­u­la­tion and suf­fi­cient train­ing “dose” Sev­eral speak­ers con­fessed to be “shocked” by the strength of the neg­a­tive claims made by the “BBC brain train­ing” Nature paper in spite of the “home­o­pathic dos­ing” of the inter­ven­tion.” 


The 2011 Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit brought together more than 260 research, tech­nol­ogy and indus­try inno­va­tors in 17 coun­tries for 3 days to dis­cuss the rapidly evolv­ing devel­op­ments in sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and pol­icy rel­e­vant to brain health across the lifes­pan.  A num­ber of impor­tant themes emerged from the talks and dis­cus­sions, includ­ing poten­tial approaches to devel­op­ing a rich dig­i­tal toolkit to mon­i­tor and main­tain cog­ni­tive and emo­tional health, the need for inno­v­a­tive cross-sector part­ner­ships and the urgency of scal­ing up solu­tion to address grow­ing soci­etal needs.  Also dis­cussed were required sci­en­tific frame­works, mar­ket­ing stan­dards, analy­sis of latent con­sumer demands, and meth­ods to dis­sem­i­nate and dis­cuss timely infor­ma­tion and analy­sis – such as vir­tual con­fer­ences to bring together mul­ti­ple stake­hold­ers to enable cross-sector col­lab­o­ra­tion and fos­ter inno­va­tion. Global pri­or­i­ties such as opti­miz­ing cog­ni­tive and emo­tional health across the lifes­pan pro­vide a com­pelling rea­son to inno­vate about the process of inno­va­tion itself, pool­ing the efforts of hun­dreds of pio­neers across the tra­di­tional silos of geog­ra­phy, sec­tor and pro­fes­sion. Vir­tual con­fer­ences can enable  suc­cess­ful dis­trib­uted col­lab­o­ra­tion when they focus on appro­pri­ate use of the dig­i­tal medium, deliver a clear value propo­si­tion to par­tic­i­pants and pri­or­i­tize ease of tech­ni­cal access.


The major mes­sage from the 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit was the need to devote suf­fi­cient atten­tion and resources to pre­ven­tive and capacity-building brain health strate­gies across the lifes­pan, and that a new gen­er­a­tion of reli­able and inex­pen­sive assess­ment and mon­i­tor­ing strate­gies of cog­ni­tive and emo­tional health are essen­tial and attain­able com­po­nents of such strate­gies.  Edu­ca­tion, health care, med­ical, insur­ance and neu­rotech­nol­ogy mod­els will need to adapt to bet­ter serve soci­etal needs in this emerg­ing sce­nario. There is a need to reduce the tra­di­tional depen­dence on inva­sive drugs and devices dri­ven by disease-based mod­els. Par­tic­i­pants expressed opti­mism, with which we agree, about the poten­tial of rig­or­ous new research and inno­va­tion and a result­ing mar­ket­place founded on con­cepts of cog­ni­tive reserve and neuroplasticity.

To meet grow­ing demands, the process of inno­va­tion process must be accel­er­ated. Vir­tual inter­na­tional con­fer­ences greatly facil­i­tate knowl­edge shar­ing and net­work­ing in a way that is respon­sive to tight travel bud­gets and the rapid advances in tech­nol­ogy and science.  Vir­tual events can help to crit­i­cally eval­u­ate emerg­ing require­ments, research and prod­ucts. They can pro­mote the development of inter-personal rela­tion­ships that are impor­tant for apply­ing and advanc­ing knowl­edge and tech­nolo­gies beyond traditional silos. The suc­cess of these con­fer­ences is pred­i­cated on their orga­niz­ers under­stand­ing the par­tic­i­pants’ needs, espe­cially that of techni­cal simplicity.

–> To Read the Full Meeting Report, including Introduction, Summary of Main Take-Aways, Emerging Themes and Implications, and a Word about the Format, click HERE.

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