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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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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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