Top 14 Brain Fitness News in 2014: Research, Assessments and Training

BrainFitnessTrajectoryUnless you live in a cave, you are well aware of all the grow­ing inter­est in–and con­tro­ver­sies around–the top­ics of brain fit­ness and brain training.

A lit­tle per­spec­tive may help sep­a­rate the sig­nal from the noise. Take a minute to think about the ear­ly years of the phys­i­cal fit­ness move­ment. It took decades of con­flict­ing research and con­fus­ing media cov­er­age to final­ly spread the idea that dai­ly life activ­i­ties are far from suf­fi­cient to keep us phys­i­cal­ly fit. And, at the same time, to devel­op the exer­cise pro­to­cols, the val­i­dat­ed assess­ments, the pro­fes­sion­al stan­dards and bod­ies, and the over­all infra­struc­ture to sup­port the emerg­ing “being fit” aspi­ra­tion. From those hum­ble begin­nings, health club mem­ber­ships in 2013 amount­ed to $20+ bil­lion dol­lars in annu­al revenues…in the US alone.

As shown in the image below (from The Sharp­Brains Guide), and same as with phys­i­cal fit­ness, main­tain­ing if not enhanc­ing brain fit­ness requires a holis­tic approach which includes men­tal nov­el­ty, vari­ety and tar­get­ed chal­lenge. Our rou­tine-dri­ven dai­ly men­tal activ­i­ties are not enough. One can achieve this in mul­ti­ple ways: learn­ing and prac­tic­ing a new lan­guage, mas­ter­ing med­i­ta­tion, rotat­ing through com­plex pro­fes­sion­al assign­ments, vol­un­teer­ing to run a hik­ing or cycling club…and, also, under­stand­ing, nav­i­gat­ing and using the emerg­ing tech­nol­o­gy-enabled brain fit­ness toolk­it at our disposal.


83% of sur­veyed ear­ly-adopters agree that “adults of all ages should take charge of their own brain fit­ness, with­out wait­ing for their doc­tors to tell them to” and say that they “would per­son­ally take a brief assess­ment every year as an annu­al men­tal check-up.” Not a big sur­prise, then, to wit­ness the sig­nif­i­cant growth of web-based, mobile and bio­met­rics-based solu­tions to assess and enhance brain func­tion. Of note, the key ques­tion many peo­ple are ask­ing is not “Do brain health assess­ments and brain train­ing pro­grams have per­fect sci­ence behind them” but “Do they have bet­ter sci­ence than most com­mon alternatives–solving cross­word puz­zle a mil­lion and one, tak­ing “brain sup­ple­ments,” doing noth­ing at all until depres­sion or demen­tia hits home?” And the answer to this ques­tion is a resound­ing yes.

Here are some of the most impor­tant brain fit­ness news in 2014, cov­er­ing research, assess­ment and train­ing trends. They hint at the dri­vers fuel­ing growth and shap­ing up the emerg­ing land­scape. Hope­ful­ly, in rel­a­tive­ly short notice, we will all ben­e­fit from a brain fitness/ brain train­ing field as proven and valu­able as the phys­i­cal fit­ness field is today.

  1. Jan­u­aryRoset­ta Stone com­pletes acqui­si­tion of Fit Brains cre­ator Viv­i­ty Labs, enter­ing fast-grow­ing brain-train­ing market
  2. MarchAARP to fea­ture a new “Stay­ing Sharp” mem­ber­ship dur­ing QVC debut
  3. AprilGround­break­ing online reg­istry at UCSF to dri­ve brain dis­ease research
  4. MayBay­crest mem­ory experts launch ‘ther­mome­ter’ for the mind
  5. JuneFeed­ing the brain’s curios­i­ty helps delay Alzheimer’s, study says
  6. AugustInter­aX­on teams up with Reebok & Gaiam to bring bio­met­rics-based med­i­ta­tion to the masses
  7. Sep­tem­ber: The Lifestyle Med­i­cine course at Har­vard Exten­sion School adopts The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fitness
  8. Octo­berThync gets $13 mil­lion to send elec­tric cur­rents to your brain
  9. Octo­berBrain-train­ing com­pa­nies get advice from some aca­d­e­mics, crit­i­cism from others
  10. Octo­berAnthro­Tron­ix receives FDA clear­ance for brain health assess­ment tool
  11. Octo­ber200+ experts in 16 coun­tries gath­er around a vir­tu­al table to dis­cuss and shape brain health innovation
  12. Novem­ber: Fron­tiers in Human Neu­ro­science com­pletes research series on Effects of game and game-like train­ing on neu­rocog­ni­tive plasticity
  13. Decem­berApple names brain train­ing apps “Best of 2014? in 20+ countries
  14. Yes­ter­day: Decem­ber 17th127 sci­en­tists chal­lenge the pur­port­ed brain train­ing “con­sen­sus” released by the Stan­ford Cen­ter for Longevity

As you can see, there’s much going on, and much to look for in the near future.

Have a great 2015!

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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