Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


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!

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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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