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Top 30 Highlights from the 2013 SharpBrains Virtual Summit: The latest on Brain Research, Health and Innovation

2013 SharpBrains SummitOver 30 speak­ers and 170 reg­is­tered par­tic­i­pants dis­cussed the lat­est on brain research, health and inno­va­tion at the fourth annu­al Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit, held in Sep­tem­ber 2013. Here are some of the fas­ci­nat­ing high­lights* that can help iden­ti­fy emerg­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and pre­pare for sig­nif­i­cant changes like­ly to occur in the next 3–5 years.

What surprised/ impressed us the most (in brack­ets, the Speak­er who prompt­ed the high­light):

  1. How the Human Brain Project is build­ing a com­pre­hen­sive brain sim­u­la­tion web por­tal for hun­dreds of neu­ro­sci­en­tists to find prin­ci­ples that can not only opti­mize brain health but also com­put­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and IT net­works. (Sean Hill)
  2. How dif­fer­ent Brain Health will look in 2020. i.e. we may well see a “self-admin­is­tered annu­al brain health check-up” (Alvaro Fer­nan­dez) build­ing on cur­rent tablet-based cog­ni­tive base­line tests. (Joan Sev­er­son)
  3. Two bil­lion peo­ple world­wide suf­fer from brain based health and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty chal­lenges, and many could ben­e­fit from evi­dence-based inter­ven­tions deliv­ered over the web via computers/ mobile. (Alvaro Fer­nan­dez)
  4. The increas­ing role pos­i­tive psy­chol­o­gy is play­ing in lead­er­ship and well­ness ini­tia­tives of large orga­ni­za­tions. Many com­pa­nies are using med­i­ta­tion pro­grams at work, help­ing place the human brain at the cen­ter of the human resources equa­tion. (Hyong Un)
  5. How health providers can expand focus to include emo­tion­al and cog­ni­tive health. Kaiser Permanente’s sim­ple and pow­er­ful posters are beau­ti­ful and inspir­ing. (Alexan­dra More­house)
  6. It takes 17 years to trans­late scientific/ med­ical dis­cov­er­ies into health prac­tice — far too long giv­en cur­rent needs. New mod­els of dis­cov­ery and trans­la­tion, based on shar­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tion, can help close gap. (Misha Pavel)
  7. Big Data can pro­vide the large lon­gi­tu­di­nal data­bas­es to uncov­er rela­tion­ships between vari­ables to bet­ter tar­get research efforts. For exam­ple, there’s sig­nif­i­cant vari­abil­i­ty of cog­ni­tive per­for­mance across var­i­ous dimen­sions (e.g. time of day, amount of sleep, alco­hol con­sump­tion etc.) as detect­ed by analy­sis of large com­pi­la­tions of data in Lumosity’s plat­form. (Daniel Stern­berg)

Speakers at SharpBrains Summit

  1. How a young woman decid­ed to “fix” her own brain and in the process helped not only her­self but devel­oped a fun­da­men­tal new approach to spe­cial edu­ca­tion. (Bar­bara Arrow­smith)
  2. The cur­rent frame­works for brain health diag­no­sis and care are based on insuf­fi­cient evi­dence and on phar­ma­co­log­i­cal inter­ven­tions that sel­dom work. (Robert Bilder)
  3. Non-inva­sive brain train­ing pro­grams prob­a­bly won’t require FDA approval because the FDA is most­ly con­cerned with safe­ty, rather than effi­ca­cy. (Robert Bilder)
  4. The break­down of how much time/effort is required to prac­tice dif­fer­ent types of meditation/relaxation exer­cis­es, and why Kir­tan Kriya med­i­ta­tion may be more effi­cient and scal­able than oth­er forms of med­i­ta­tion as a pub­lic brain health mea­sure for Alzheimer’s Dis­ease pre­ven­tion. (Dhar­ma Singh Khal­sa)
  5. How bio­met­rics can help enter into a med­i­ta­tive state more quick­ly and deeply. (Deb­o­rah Roz­man)
  6. The range of brain health tools and empha­sis on per­son­al­ized care at the new Brain Gym at UCLA and the Brain Fit­ness Cen­ter at Wal­ter Reed Nation­al Mil­i­tary Med­ical Cen­ter. (Robert Bilder; Kate Sul­li­van)
  7. The frank and direct dis­cus­sion about chal­lenges faced by the Apol­lo Brain Data Exchange Por­tal to encour­age shar­ing of detailed research results. Since the major­i­ty of brain and health research is fund­ed by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, it should be in the pub­lic domain as soon pos­si­ble. (Gen­er­al Peter Chiarel­li)
  8. The cre­ative project to con­nect thou­sands of people’s brain activ­i­ty to illu­mi­nate Nia­gara Falls and oth­er land­mark pub­lic spaces in Cana­da. (Ariel Garten)
  9. Why Dis­cov­ery Com­mu­ni­ca­tions chose to make a sig­nif­i­cant and unprece­dent­ed invest­ment in Lumos Labs. (Dan Fox)
  10. How Posit Sci­ence is nego­ti­at­ing win-win part­ner­ships with non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions like AAA, AARP, PBS. (Jeff Zim­man)
  11. How peo­ple can devel­op new habits to rewire the brain and build resiliency. (Evian Gor­don)
  12. Why do we spend more time, mon­ey and effort on the body parts we see in the mir­ror (hair, face, teeth, nails, etc…) rather than the body parts which we can’t see but are more impor­tant in terms of health and qual­i­ty of life (heart, brain, etc..) ? (Alvaro Fer­nan­dez)
  13. How The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (April 2013; 284 pages) builds on prac­ti­cal­ly all of the themes treat­ed dur­ing the sum­mit, and helps put the brain “in the mir­ror” (Alvaro Fer­nan­dez)
  14. The lion’s share of brain health fund­ing is going to phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal inter­ven­tions, even if that is not where the cur­rent evi­dence points to. (Dhar­ma Sing Khal­sa)
  15. How much EEG-based appli­ca­tions have evolved over the last few years, includ­ing the role they played help­ing the US archery team ( Stan­ley Yang) and how attrac­tive they are becom­ing to con­sumers. (Ariel Garten)
  16. How we can apply behav­ioral eco­nom­ics to improve health-relat­ed deci­sion-mak­ing in smart and sim­ple ways. (Josh Wright)
  17. How to use Kick­starter or IndieGogo to crowd­fund inno­v­a­tive brain fit­ness prod­ucts such as the new Emo­tiv Insight EEG head­set. (Tan Le)
  18. How to com­bine phys­i­cal ther­a­py and cog­ni­tive train­ing to dri­ve pos­i­tive neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty. (Bruce Wexler)
  19. Using Nin­ten­do games to intro­duce peo­ple to cog­ni­tive train­ing and then migrate them to “seri­ous” home-based pro­grams. (Kate Sul­li­van)
  20. How sev­er­al Asian coun­tries are sup­port­ing inno­va­tion bet­ter than the US thanks to more clear reg­u­la­to­ry frame­works and direct sup­port for main­stream edu­ca­tion­al appli­ca­tions of EEG. (Stan­ley Yang)
  21. If increas­ing­ly the real val­ue is in the aggre­gat­ed data and intel­li­gance rather than the brain assess­ments or train­ing per se, what does that mean in terms of pro­tect­ing and shar­ing that data? (sev­er­al speak­ers)
  22. Gait and oth­er motor coor­di­na­tion func­tions can be used as bio­mark­ers of cog­ni­tive health (Misha Pavel). What is the role of tem­po­ral pro­cess­ing in cog­ni­tive capac­i­ty? (Kevin McGrew)
  23. Self-care is a huge gap in brain health care. Providers, researchers and gov­ern­ment agen­cies focus too much on how pro­fes­sion­als can cure ill­ness, rather than on what all adults can do to pre­vent them and improve their own qual­i­ty of life. (Eliz­a­beth Zelin­s­ki)

Which of these high­lights seem more sur­pris­ing or rel­e­vant to you?

*Thanks to Sum­mit Par­tic­i­pants Nikhil Sri­ra­man„ Steve Zanon, Deb­o­rah Zamin, Matthew Bar­rett, Nel­son Calderon, Ellen Somers, Susan Dia­mond and Julian Sevil­lano, for shar­ing some of their key impres­sions.

Summit RecordingsImpor­tant Note: All 15 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit ses­sions were record­ed, and 15+ hours of record­ings are avail­able now. Learn Here How to Access Them, so you can under­stand those 30 high­lights in much more depth, and dis­cov­er many more.

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