Dear sharp reader,
It’s been a busy year.
To summarize where we are, and to better prepare for the opportunities and challenges in the year ahead, let’s step back for a minute.
Let’s take a look at the big picture presented in the article Both Important and Urgent: Getting ready to serve the Cognitive & Brain Health needs of an Aging Population by an esteemed participant in the 2016 SharpBrains Virtual Summit held earlier this month:
“The urgency to develop innovative new technologies that will support brain health is closely linked to the fact that a growing proportion of the global population is living longer than at any other time in history. As this population ages, the need to maintain brain health and/or manage declining cognitive function will have far-reaching impact both socially and economically.” — David Stoller @ CC-ABHI.
Good news is, scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs are working hard on this worldwide, as evidenced by the wealth of insights and initiatives discussed by 200+ participants in 15 countries during the 2016 SharpBrains Virtual Summit (December 6–8th).
The list of insights and initiatives coming from the 3‑day event is too long to detail (I encourage you to access the slidedecks and recordings here); let me just highlight Ten Important Signals to help Reinvent Brain Health in the Digital Age we live in:
- “Our health starts and ends with brain health,” as Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, Founder and Chief Director of the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas, reminded us.
- “There is too little wisdom in brain health (as practiced today),” cautioned Dr. Peter Whitehouse, Professor of Neurology at Case Western Reserve University.
- The American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN) announced a new Disruptive Technology Initiative focused on “assessment and/or intervention-prevention-improvement of cognitive functions, accessible to the entire population.”
- Both the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI) shared substantial funding programs to help start-ups access seed capital to develop and commercialize evidence-based digital brain health platforms.
- Venture investors see a burgeoning landscape and future of the mind training space.
- Many pioneers are working on ways to harness neuroplasticity for good, via cognitive assessments and therapies (BrainHQ, CogniFit, Akili, Click Therapeutics, Cogniciti, SBT Group) mindfulness apps (Claritas Mindsciences), EEG (Emotiv) and virtual reality (MindMaze).
- A growing number of pharma companies, from Merck to Janssen, are investing in digital therapeutics by developing tools, licensing them, even investing in start-ups in the space.
- “Clinically-guided” video capture of behavior can aid in diagnosis…behavior imaging, augmented by deep learning, will lead to real precision medicine, thanks to firms like Behavior Imaging Solutions, MyndYou, Pear Therapeutics, and more.
- Old and new players in education–Pearson, ETS, UC Berkeley, the Arrowsmith School– are developing digital and in-person programs to promote lifelong brain development.
- The Coaches and Psychologists of the Future–exemplified by the Institute of Coaching, The Synapse System, the new Watson Centre for Brain Health–are already augmenting their practices with latest brain & cognition findings and digital neurotechnologies.
As you can see, a lot is happening. And a lot more will happen in 2017.
On behalf of the SharpBrains team and community, Happy Holidays and Prosperous New Year!
PS1: If you are still looking for gifts…please consider giving a copy of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Optimize Brain Health and Performance, recommended by many during the Summit as a crucial book to help educate professionals and the wider public.
PS2: You can access all Summit slidedecks and recordings here (slidedecks are free; recordings require registration, and we highly recommend them for people with a professional interest in the area)