Building cognitive reserve helps delay memory and thinking decline regardless of genetic or childhood markers

Wel­come to a new edi­tion of Sharp­Brains’ e‑newsletter, fea­tur­ing time­ly brain news and a few fun brain teasers to test your per­cep­tu­al and cog­ni­tive skills.

#1. Study: Build­ing cog­ni­tive reserve helps delay mem­o­ry and think­ing decline regard­less of genet­ic or child­hood markers

While our child­hood can influ­ence our mem­o­ry and think­ing skills lat­er in life, this research under­lines the mes­sage that it’s nev­er too late to take action to sup­port cog­ni­tive health.” — Dr Sara Imari­sio, Head of Strate­gic Ini­tia­tives at Alzheimer’s Research UK

#2. Ful­ly-auto­mat­ed analy­sis of voice recordings–from neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal tests–found to help dif­fer­en­ti­ate nor­mal cog­ni­tion from demen­tia and mild cog­ni­tive impairment

As the researchers point out, “The pro­posed approach offers a ful­ly auto­mat­ed iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of MCI and demen­tia based on a record­ed neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal test, pro­vid­ing an oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op a remote screen­ing tool that could be adapt­ed eas­i­ly to any language”

#3. Debunk­ing the “chem­i­cal imbal­ance” the­o­ry yet not throw­ing out the anti­de­pres­sant baby with the bathwater

Depres­sion is usu­al­ly man­aged effec­tive­ly with anti­de­pres­sants or by talk­ing treat­ments, such as cog­ni­tive behav­iour ther­a­py, despite an incom­plete under­stand­ing of the con­di­tion and how these treat­ments work. We can­not know if treat­ments address the under­ly­ing prob­lem because we haven’t yet iden­ti­fied what that is. To imply that SSRI anti­de­pres­sants may not be worth­while is to mis­un­der­stand an evi­dence base that says the very opposite.”

#4. Q&A with researcher Robb Rut­ledge on men­tal health, expec­ta­tions, deci­sion-mak­ing and hol­i­day planning

Recent events have a big­ger impact on hap­pi­ness than ear­li­er events, so it can be a good strat­e­gy to save a cou­ple things that have a chance of a big pos­i­tive sur­prise for the last few days of your trip. It could be a nov­el expe­ri­ence that a lot of peo­ple like but you’re not sure what to expect … It prob­a­bly isn’t anoth­er muse­um. Just make sure it’s not some­thing that could get rained out”

#5. How much should you trust Bet­ter­Help, Talk­space, Cere­bral and oth­er men­tal health start-ups tout­ed by celebrities?

Many U.S. adults aren’t able to find help because of a short­age of ther­a­pists. Near­ly 40% are strug­gling with men­tal health or sub­stance abuse issues, accord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention.
So mil­lions of peo­ple are turn­ing to online companies…”

#6. Dig­i­tal men­tal health inter­ven­tion by the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion (WHO) found to low­er anx­i­ety and depres­sion, with improve­ments main­tained at 3?month follow-up

As acknowl­edged “The main lim­i­ta­tion of the cur­rent tri­al is the high dropout rate”, but con­text is key: “Most dis­placed peo­ple with men­tal dis­or­ders in low- and mid­dle-income coun­tries do not receive effec­tive care, and their access to care has dete­ri­o­rat­ed dur­ing the Coro­n­avirus Dis­ease 2019 (COVID-19) pan­dem­ic”. — Inno­va­tion does­n’t need to be per­fect, just better/ cheaper/ more acces­si­ble than alternatives.

#7. Dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics pio­neer Akili Inter­ac­tive Labs goes pub­lic, rais­ing $150M+; trades down 49% first day

Quite dif­fi­cult mar­ket envi­ron­ment for an impor­tant evi­dence-based inno­va­tion — good news is they raised enough funds to test approach in the real world over the next 12–24 months. Let’s see!

#8. Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (AI) meets Cog­ni­tive Behav­ioral Ther­a­py (CBT): Wysa rais­es $20M to scale up men­tal health chatbot

Typ­i­cal­ly, access to a men­tal health ser­vice is gat­ed. It is restrict­ed by some kind of diag­no­sis — say­ing only if you are severe enough you will be able to get to speak to a ther­a­pist because obvi­ous­ly ther­a­py is expen­sive and somebody’s got to pay for it” … the app offers “ear­ly engage­ment and a safe space where peo­ple can come in and anony­mous­ly just talk about what’s both­er­ing them.”

Final­ly, here are three quick brain teas­er games to test your per­cep­tu­al and cog­ni­tive skills. Wish­ing you and yours a healthy and stim­u­lat­ing month of September!

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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