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Trend: Growing interest in (and questions around) brain training centers for kids with special needs

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Par­ents pay thou­sands for ‘brain train­ing’ to help kids with ADHD and autism. But does it work? (NBC News):

…As the num­ber of chil­dren diag­nosed with ADHD and autism surges in the U.S., accord­ing to fed­er­al data, and as par­ents become exas­per­at­ed with treat­ments that don’t work or involve med­ica­tions that car­ry the risk of side effects, neu­rotech­nol­o­gy indus­try ana­lysts pre­dict the demand for pro­grams like these will only grow

Much of the growth in brain train­ing is in apps and games that peo­ple use at home or in school, said Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, CEO of Sharp­Brains, a research firm that tracks the neu­rotech­nol­o­gy indus­try. The glob­al mar­ket for direct-to-con­sumer tech­nol­o­gy grew from $475 mil­lion in 2012 to $1.9 bil­lion last year, Fer­nan­dez said.

Those num­bers don’t include fran­chis­es like Brain Bal­ance or Learn­ingRx, which Fer­nan­dez says are more dif­fi­cult to track finan­cial­ly. But these cen­ters are now in most major U.S. cities. Brain Bal­ance has 108 loca­tions and said it brought in $51.3 mil­lion last year. Learn­ingRx has 70 cen­ters in the U.S. as well as 85 cen­ters called Brain­Rx around the globe. The com­pa­ny declined to pro­vide rev­enue num­bers but says it hopes to add eight U.S. cen­ters and 20 inter­na­tion­al cen­ters next year…

Why do some fam­i­lies see ben­e­fits from brain train­ing pro­grams while oth­ers don’t?

Experts say there could be lots of rea­sons — all inter­ven­tions, includ­ing med­i­cine, affect chil­dren dif­fer­ent­ly. Also, par­ents spend­ing large sums of mon­ey can fuel the place­bo effect, the belief that a treat­ment is work­ing even if it’s not.

Chil­dren in the Brain Bal­ance pro­gram are doing reg­u­lar exer­cise and eat­ing bet­ter than they may have been before, which can lead to bet­ter sleep. Many spend less time watch­ing TV or star­ing at a phone. They’re get­ting lots of per­son­al atten­tion from Brain Balance’s coach­es. And they’re devel­op­ing and matur­ing.”

The News in Context:

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Technology

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About SharpBrains

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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