About the Summit

In Jan­u­ary of 2010 Sharp­Brains suc­cess­ful­ly orga­nized the inau­gur­al vir­tu­al, glob­al Sharp­Brains Sum­mit on Tech­nol­o­gy for Cog­ni­tive Health and Per­for­mance (Jan­u­ary 18–20th, 2010). The Sum­mit fea­tured a dream team of over 40 speak­ers who are lead­ers in indus­try and research to dis­cuss emerg­ing research, tools and best prac­tices for cog­ni­tive health and per­for­mance, and gath­ered over 250 par­tic­i­pants in 16 countries.

This is what some of the par­tic­i­pants said:
— “Splen­did line-up of speak­ers.” — Jake Duna­gan, Research Direc­tor at the Insti­tute For The Future, USA.
— “Uni­ver­sal kudos from our team. Agen­da worked out extra­or­di­nar­i­ly well.” — Ken Kosik, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of CFIT, USA.
— “One of the best con­fer­ences I have ever attend­ed in 4 decades of research & inno­va­tion life.” — Ron Baeck­er, Lab Direc­tor at Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, Canada.
— “Excel­lent con­tent and out­stand­ing admin­is­tra­tion.” — Dan­ny Dankn­er, CEO Applied Cog­ni­tive Engi­neer­ing, Israel.
— “An incred­i­bly stim­u­lat­ing con­fer­ence, with a per­fect bal­ance of sci­ence and appli­ca­tion.” — David Tal, Own­er, A.G.E. Mat­ters Clin­ic, Canada.

Below are a few select­ed Tran­script Excerpts from the first ses­sion “Cog­ni­tion & Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty: The New Health & Well­ness Fron­tier”.

Mar­i­an Dia­mond, UC-Berkeley:

marian_diamond“I have cho­sen for my short intro­duc­tion to our Sum­mit meet­ing to review our research from 1960 to 2009 pro­vid­ing us with infor­ma­tion to main­tain a healthy brain…Number one, diet. Num­ber two, exer­cise. Num­ber three, chal­lenge. Num­ber four, new­ness. Num­ber five, love.”

Third, chal­lenge. Peo­ple fre­quent­ly do the same lev­el of cross­word puz­zles to stim­u­late their brains year after year. They do not chal­lenge their brains with more dif­fi­cult lev­els of puz­zles. In our research, we showed that if we chal­lenged the rats to reach their food cups by hav­ing to climb over many obstruc­tions, their brains increased more than those of rats who could walk unhin­dered to their food cups. Chal­lenge increased brain size.”

Four. New­ness. If we keep the same objects for the rats to explore in the enriched cages for sev­er­al con­sec­u­tive days, the cere­bral cor­tex appeared not to show a response to the enriched con­di­tion. The brain had increased ini­tial­ly but with lack of con­tin­ued stim­u­la­tion, had lost the ben­e­fit of the input. We found it nec­es­sary to change the objects every few days to pro­vide new stim­uli to increase cor­ti­cal dimen­sions. So new­ness is impor­tant to devel­op larg­er brains.” To keep reading…

Tom War­den, Allstate:

tom_pic.thumbnail“… we see the oppor­tu­ni­ty that cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­vides as just the next evo­lu­tion of things that we can advo­cate and get behind that ulti­mate­ly make for a bet­ter dri­ving expe­ri­ence, a safer dri­ving expe­ri­ence for peo­ple. Not only for our insureds, but to help the roads be safer for everyone.”

Increas­ing­ly, obvi­ous­ly with the baby boom sort of age wave mov­ing through its lat­er years, the safe­ty of senior dri­vers will become a larg­er and larg­er prob­lem that soci­ety and com­pa­nies that insure them will have to face…Then in doing that research we found Posit Sci­ence, who is lever­ag­ing the use­ful field of view tech­nol­o­gy devel­oped by Kar­lene Ball…so what we did is to attempt to repli­cate the results that were observed in the lab­o­ra­to­ry envi­ron­ment where old­er dri­vers who have com­plet­ed a good amount of train­ing, 10 hours or more of train­ing, had shown that the risk of crash could be reduced by up to about 50%.”

…I believe 8% of the folks that we offered the soft­ware to took the soft­ware and installed it and about half of those folks actu­al­ly trained a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of hours. And this was done through a direct mail cam­paign so we didn’t have a lot of inte­grat­ed mar­ket­ing of the cam­paign, so we were pret­ty hap­py with the num­bers.” To keep reading…

David White­house, OptumHealth Behav­ioral Solutions:

whitehouse_large-150x150Man­aged care has not always been on the fore­front of inno­va­tion and it has been, for us, a chal­lenge and an excite­ment to think about how best to incor­po­rate the lat­est find­ings in neu­ro­science. If I was to give you the major areas that we think are impor­tant, one is the impor­tance of neu­ro­science capa­bilit­ties to improve triage, the sec­ond is the impor­tance that this has on increas­ing access to much bet­ter func­tion­al assess­ments and its rela­tion­ship to safe­ty. The third is in the area of clin­i­cal deci­sion sup­port and the fourth is in brain health.”

First and fore­most, why is it that in every oth­er organ we have objec­tive data of the organ itself doing its work under var­i­ous loads to help us when we need to make deci­sions about its health and dis­ease state and how best to sup­port it and intervene.”

Much of this has exist­ed in neu­ro­science. Neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal test­ing, genet­ic tests, func­tion­al MRI. But in day to day lives of peo­ple, these were not eas­i­ly acces­si­ble and were often fre­quent­ly expen­sive. The solu­tion to this for us has been a devel­op­ing rela­tion­ship with a com­pa­ny in Aus­tralia called Brain Resource who have devel­oped what is now the largest stan­dard­ized inte­grat­ed neu­ro­science data­base in the world on the human brain.”

As we know, it is 17 years from the bench to clin­i­cal prac­tice, and we also know that 50% of guide­lines are obso­lete with­in 6 years. For any clin­i­cian there­fore to keep up to their knowl­edge base on the lev­el of sci­ence that is now com­ing out and inform­ing clin­i­cal deci­sion mak­ing is almost impos­si­ble with­out com­put­er­ized sup­port.” To keep reading…

William Reich­man, Baycrest:

meet_bill_DrWilliamEReichman_-150x150…there’s an imper­a­tive now for those of us in the field of aging to focus more I believe on pre­ven­tion, well­ness, and cer­tain­ly that sci­ence which will help us to best under­stand how to mod­i­fy chron­ic ill­ness risk fac­tors through­out the entire prac­tice of aging, through­out our entire life span.”

This is cer­tain­ly true not only for phys­i­cal health but it is true for brain health. I often say, and this was allud­ed to in the ear­li­er speak­ers that we must do for brain health in the 21st cen­tu­ry what we large­ly accom­plished in car­dio­vas­cu­lar health in the past century…that includes an increased focus not only on ter­tiary pre­ven­tion, but on pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary prevention.”

…at Bay­crest in the last cou­ple of years, we rec­og­nized that it’s now time to take the sci­en­tif­ic insights out of the lab­o­ra­to­ry and to iden­ti­fy prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions for this science…approximately a year and a half ago the Ontario gov­ern­ment made a deci­sion to invest $10 mil­lion in Canada’s first cen­tre for brain fit­ness to be housed at Bay­crest at the Rot­man Research Institute.”

Here in Cana­da I think that we’ve been able to make a com­pelling case main­tain­ing good brain fit­ness needs to be a nation­al pri­or­i­ty for this coun­try and we have been engaged in dis­cus­sions with the gov­ern­ment, both fed­er­al­ly and provin­cial­ly, that brain health pro­grams real­ly need to begin in child­hood.” To keep reading…

P Murali Doraiswamy, Duke University:

murali-150x150Vir­tu­al­ly in all of the dis­eases that I work with, whether it be depres­sion, whether it be Alzheimer’s, whether it be ADHD, there are sig­nif­i­cant lim­i­ta­tions to the cur­rent treat­ment modal­i­ties and peo­ple real­ly want to be free of med­ica­tion if pos­si­ble so non-phar­ma­co­log­ic inter­ven­tions such as exer­cise, cog­ni­tive train­ing, dietary inter­ven­tion. I think there’s just a huge need for those kinds of interventions.”

… it’s real­ly essen­tial for the field before they real­ly go to the next lev­el to make sure that they occu­py a space in people’s minds that asso­ciates them with cred­i­ble sci­ence-based claims because you don’t want to walk into a gro­cery store or into a gas sta­tion and see a brain game claim­ing that they’re a neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty brain game or a bot­tle of water that’s claim­ing it’s a cog­ni­tive reserve enhancer because then I think you’re going to destroy the whole field key.”

So I think it’s essen­tial for acad­e­mia, for indus­try, for think tanks, for even the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment agen­cies such as per­haps Eng­land, US, Cana­da, to come togeth­er and form a set of guide­lines that can real­ly guide the prop­er devel­op­ment of a lot of these prod­ucts and by prod­ucts I’m talk­ing about two types of prod­ucts. One is cog­ni­tive screen­ing instru­ments and the sec­ond is inter­ven­tion prod­ucts to either improve sort of nor­mal func­tion­ing or to increase resilience to stress or three, to pre­vent disease.”

(answer­ing to audi­ence ques­tion, “when do you believe that cog­ni­tive screen­ing may become a pret­ty rou­tine part of stan­dard med­ical care”) I think it’s long overdue…the brain is the most impor­tant organ. To keep reading…

About Sharp­Brains: Sharp­Brains is a mar­ket research firm and think tank devot­ed to help­ing orga­ni­za­tions, pro­fes­sion­als and con­sumers nav­i­gate the brain fit­ness and cog­ni­tive health field. In 2009, the firm released its flag­ship report The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket 2009, for deci­sion-mak­ers, and the con­sumer guide The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, for every­one with a brain. Sharp­Brains mis­sion is to pro­vide inde­pen­dent, research-based, infor­ma­tion and guid­ance to nav­i­gate the grow­ing cog­ni­tive and brain fit­ness market.

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