Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


2010 Winners Podium

Please join us in con­grat­u­lat­ing the Win­ners of the 2010 Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion Awards.

Grand Prize Win­ner

USA HockeyUSA Hock­ey, Inc., is the Nation­al Gov­ern­ing Body of the sport of ice hock­ey in the Unit­ed States. With a mem­ber­ship of near­ly 600,000 play­ers, coach­es, offi­cials and vol­un­teers that span all 50 states, USA Hock­ey seeks to pro­mote the growth of hock­ey and pro­vide the best pos­si­ble expe­ri­ence for all par­tic­i­pants by encour­ag­ing, devel­op­ing, advanc­ing and admin­is­ter­ing the sport.

Project Scope: The Nation­al Team Devel­op­ment Pro­gram (NTDP), a USA Hock­ey body, is a full-time devel­op­ment pro­gram aimed at prepar­ing under-18 stu­dent-ath­letes for par­tic­i­pa­tion on US Nation­al Teams. Its efforts focus both on high-cal­iber par­tic­i­pa­tion on the ice and indi­vid­ual skill devel­op­ment. The pro­gram is com­posed of two squads: the US Nation­al Under-18 and Under-17 Teams.

Dur­ing the past hock­ey sea­son, the NTDP imple­ment­ed a cog­ni­tive train­ing sys­tem designed to help hock­ey play­ers devel­op per­cep­tion and deci­sion-mak­ing skills called The Hock­ey Intel­li­Gym. Designed to enhance ‘Hock­ey Sense’—or the way play­ers gath­er infor­ma­tion from their sur­round­ings, make and exe­cute decisions—The Hock­ey Intel­li­Gym train­ing sys­tem uti­lizes a soft­ware-based train­ing envi­ron­ment with cus­tomized algo­rithms that adjust train­ing pro­grams to indi­vid­ual play­ers accord­ing to abil­i­ty and progress. Play­ers engaged in a twice-a-week cog­ni­tive train­ing reg­i­men that became an inte­gral part of their over­all train­ing pro­gram dur­ing which time cog­ni­tive sci­en­tists mon­i­tored play­ers’ per­for­mance and pro­vid­ed coach­ing staff with analy­ses and progress reports. Among sta­tis­ti­cal fig­ures mea­sured, the most notable was the win ratio of teams involved, as Intel­li­Gym trained team won more games.

The Intel­li­Gym pro­gram took more than two years and $2 mil­lion to put togeth­er with the col­lab­o­ra­tion of Applied Cog­ni­tive Engi­neer­ing (ACE) and was enabled by a grant from the BIRD Foun­da­tion who sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly reviewed the plan and finan­cial­ly sup­port­ed it.

Project Leader: Scott Mon­aghan, Direc­tor of Oper­a­tions, USA Hock­ey Nation­al Team Devel­op­ment Pro­gram

Select­ed com­ments by Judg­ing Pan­el: Excel­lent team approach between spe­cial­ist, coach and play­er. Great con­cept and need, and  insights/model could apply very broad­ly to skill devel­op­ment. The adap­ta­tion of cog­ni­tive train­ing to this par­tic­u­lar sports domain is clever and can be gen­er­al­ized to a wide range of oth­er activ­i­ties. I was impressed with the USA Hock­ey Nation­al Team Devel­op­ment Pro­gram and their Hock­ey Intel­li­gym. To develop/adapt such a pro­gram and clear­ly demon­strate it’s impact on real-life per­for­mance, is fan­tas­tic. There is also a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to expand this to even more ath­letes and sports and to every­day life.

Sil­ver Prize Win­ners

AllstateAll­state (NYSE: ALL) is the nation’s largest pub­licly held per­son­al lines insur­er. All­state is rein­vent­ing pro­tec­tion and retire­ment to help indi­vid­u­als in approx­i­mate­ly 17 mil­lion house­holds pro­tect what they have today and bet­ter pre­pare for tomor­row.

Project Scope: All­state embarked on a jour­ney with Posit Sci­ence Cor­po­ra­tion to eval­u­ate the inter­est in and effec­tive­ness of Posit Science’s software—leveraging tech­nol­o­gy shown in Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health fund­ed stud­ies to improve visu­al pro­cess­ing skills impor­tant for safe driving—to test a soft­ware pro­gram (Insight) in Penn­syl­va­nia. Select­ed dri­vers, 50 years and old­er, were invit­ed to help val­i­date the impact cog­ni­tive train­ing has on dri­ving safe­ty.

The project was a “proof of con­cept” for what may turn out to be a sig­nif­i­cant effort by All­state to pre­vent injuries and save lives, enable old­er peo­ple to main­tain their inde­pen­dence longer and pro­vide peace of mind to adult chil­dren faced with dif­fi­cult deci­sions as par­ents age. The most impor­tant reduc­tion was in insured loss­es and result­ing injuries, trau­ma and dis­rup­tion to the lives of those involved in auto col­li­sions. After observ­ing the acci­dent behav­ior of those who com­plet­ed the Posit pro­gram, rel­a­tive to a well select­ed con­trol group, All­state saw a mea­sur­able decline that was sta­tis­ti­cal­ly valid.

Project Leader: Tom War­den, Assis­tant Vice Pres­i­dent, All­state Research and Plan­ning Cen­ter

Select­ed com­ments by Judg­ing Pan­el: The poten­tial impact of this pro­gram is sec­ond to none. I was impressed with All­state’s project and their results that showed that the Posit Sci­ence soft­ware pos­i­tive­ly impact­ed the acci­dent records of those com­plet­ing the pro­gram. All­state should be com­mend­ed for try­ing some­thing new and dif­fer­ent and for cre­at­ing such an ini­tia­tive. Pret­ty soon I can imag­ine brain fit­ness dis­counts along­side safe dri­ver and oth­er dis­counts.

images (1)Nation­wide, based in Colum­bus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diver­si­fied insur­ance and finan­cial ser­vices orga­ni­za­tions in the U.S. and is rat­ed A+ by A.M. Best. The com­pa­ny pro­vides a full range of per­son­al­ized insur­ance and finan­cial ser­vices, includ­ing includ­ing auto and life insur­ance, pen­sions, health and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty ser­vices, and more.

Project Scope: Nation­wide Mutu­al Insur­ance worked with ben­e­fits provider OptumHealth and their part­ner Brain Resource to add a Web based brain train­ing tool (MyBrain­So­lu­tions) to help employ­ees enhance pos­i­tiv­i­ty, emo­tion­al resilience and deal with oth­ers more effec­tive­ly — all key ele­ments to pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. More than 500 employ­ees enrolled in the company’s ‘Healthy Hol­i­day Chal­lenge’ dur­ing the first week. The results of the new resource led to more pos­i­tive behav­ior changes and greater pro­duc­tiv­i­ty among the work­force.

As part of the MyBrain­So­lu­tions launch, asso­ciates were asked to reg­is­ter, take a base­line brain assess­ment, accu­mu­late a tar­get num­ber of points dur­ing a 30-day peri­od and then take a sec­ond brain assess­ment. The com­pa­ny found that aspects of pos­i­tiv­i­ty, emo­tion­al resilience and social skills improved in the short 6‑week ini­tia­tive and saw small changes in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty were notice­able as well. 87% of those par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gram indi­cat­ed they were plan­ning to take addi­tion­al steps to improve health after par­tic­i­pat­ing while 33.5% wouldn’t have accessed oth­er resources to address health and well­be­ing if it weren’t for the ini­tia­tive.

Project Leader: Kath­leen Herath, AVP Health & Pro­duc­tiv­i­ty

Select­ed com­ments by Judg­ing Pan­el: Har­vard Busi­ness Review esti­mat­ed a cou­ple years ago that $150B is lost annu­al­ly as a result of lost employ­ee pro­duc­ti­ity. Giv­en all of the life events and tran­si­tions that indi­vid­u­als expe­ri­ence each year that can dis­tract, this pro­vides a fea­si­ble and attrac­tive lever for employ­ees to take advan­tage of. Employ­ers of the future that can imple­ment inno­v­a­tive mod­els such as these to adapt to the chang­ing needs of employ­ees, enhance employ­ee pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, and help to rede­fine what work means by infus­ing the pro­fes­sion­al with the per­son­al will win, and have as a reward loy­al employ­ees, a hap­py cul­ture, and an over­all high­er per­form­ing work­force. The pos­i­tive self-report mea­sures were impres­sive as well as the improve­ments in such a short peri­od of time. Seems to have poten­tial for replic­a­bil­i­ty with scal­able, low-cost pro­grams. In prin­ci­ple this approach could have large soci­etal ben­e­fits. Imple­ment­ing cog­ni­tive train­ing in a work place is nov­el and taps into the desire to opti­mize pro­fes­sion­al func­tion­ing as well as stave off decline.  The emo­tion­al and self-reg­u­la­tion train­ing is extreme­ly impor­tant in the work­place set­ting.

Search in our Archives

Follow us and Engage via…

RSS Feed

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.

Watch All Recordings Now (40+ Speakers, 12+ Hours)