The need for better education and standards

vBrain train­ing is now a house­hold expres­sion for many fam­i­lies, cour­tesy of Nin­ten­do. What is less vis­i­ble than Nintendo’s suc­cess is the grow­ing num­ber of sci­ence-based com­pa­nies that aim to train spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive skills. Posit Sci­ence has been get­ting increas­ing lev­els of atten­tion, includ­ing a PBS Spe­cial. Yet, con­sumers strug­gle to under­stand the poten­tial val­ue of this audi­to­ry pro­cess­ing inter­ven­tion as opposed to doing one more cross­word puz­zle, or buy­ing a Nin­ten­do game.

A new gen­er­a­tion of prod­ucts include those by Posit Sci­ence (Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram Clas­sic and Insight), Cog­niFit (Mind­Fit), Lumos Labs (,Scientific Brain Train­ing (, and oth­ers, that add options to ear­li­er attempts, such as those by MyBrain­Train­er and BrainBuilder.

There needs to be a com­mon tax­on­o­my, per­haps sim­i­lar to how food labels clar­i­fy the ingre­di­ents, to edu­cate con­sumers on what cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits those prod­ucts are aimed at and with what spe­cif­ic evidence.

We believe that over time con­sumers and health­care pro­fes­sion­als will become more sophis­ti­cat­ed in their shop­ping habits. They will eval­u­ate pro­grams using cri­te­ria sim­i­lar to the Sharp­Brains check­list pre­sent­ed in Chap­ter 4. They will also learn to make sure that the prod­uct they are con­sid­er­ing has been val­i­dat­ed via sol­id ran­dom­ized, con­trolled, stud­ies. Impor­tant­ly, brain train­ing users will also learn how to deter­mine what cog­ni­tive enhance­ments they need and which pro­gram may help deliv­er those.

Keep learn­ing by read­ing more arti­cles in the Resources sec­tion, and also please con­sid­er join­ing our free month­ly Brain Fit­ness eNewsletter

This new online resource is based on the con­tent from the book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness (May 2009, $19.95), by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg.

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