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To reach your cognitive potential across the whole lifespan, augment healthy lifestyle with brain training

BrainFitnessTrajectoryCan You Get Smarter? (The New York Times):

A few years back, a joint study by BBC and Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty neu­ro­sci­en­tists put brain train­ing to the test…There was, how­ev­er a glim­mer of hope for sub­jects age 60 and above…Unlike the younger par­tic­i­pants, old­er sub­jects showed a sig­nif­i­cant improve­ment in ver­bal rea­son­ing Read the rest of this entry »

Innovative partnerships to improve lifelong brain health and customer/ patient satisfaction

Enjoy these great pre­sen­ta­tions, deliv­ered at the 2014 Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit and fea­tur­ing:

  • Bill Pren­ovitz, Glob­al Prod­uct and Ser­vice Man­age­ment at Philips Healthcare’s Aging-in-Place Pro­gram
  • Dr. Michael Wein­er, Lead Sci­en­tific Inves­ti­ga­tor of the Brain Health Reg­istry
  • Tom­my Sagroun, CEO of Cog­niFit
  • Chair: Rita Carter, Author, Broad­caster and BBC Con­trib­u­tor

SharpBrains Council Monthly Insights: How will we assess, enhance and repair cognition across the lifespan?

When you think of how the PC has altered the fab­ric of soci­ety, per­mit­ting instant access to infor­ma­tion and automat­ing process­es beyond our wildest dreams, it is instruc­tive to con­sid­er that much of this progress was dri­ven by Moore’s law. Halv­ing the size of semi­con­duc­tor every 18 months catal­ysed an expo­nen­tial accel­er­a­tion in per­for­mance.

Why is this sto­ry rel­e­vant to mod­ern neu­ro­science and the work­ings of the brain? Because trans­for­ma­tive tech­no­log­i­cal progress aris­es out of choice and the actions of indi­vid­u­als who see poten­tial for change, and we may well be on the verge of such progress. Read the rest of this entry »

Another victim of the BBC/Nature “brain training” experiment

Have you read the cov­er sto­ry of the New Sci­en­tist this week: Men­tal mus­cle: six ways to boost your brain?

The arti­cle, which includes good infor­ma­tion on brain food, the val­ue of med­i­ta­tion, etc., starts by say­ing that: “Brain train­ing doesn’t work, but there are lots of oth­er ways to give your grey mat­ter a quick boost.” Fur­ther in the arti­cle you can read “… brain train­ing soft­ware has now been con­signed to the shelf of tech­nolo­gies that failed to live up to expec­ta­tions.”

Such claims are based on the one study wide­ly pub­li­cized ear­li­er this year: the BBC “brain train­ing” exper­i­ment, pub­lished by Owen et al. (2010) in Nature.

What hap­pened to the sci­en­tif­ic rig­or asso­ci­at­ed with the New Sci­en­tist?

As expressed in one of our pre­vi­ous posts: “Once more, claims seem to go beyond the sci­ence back­ing them up … except that in this case it is the researchers, not the devel­op­ers, who are respon­si­ble.” (See BBC “Brain Train­ing” Exper­i­ment: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly).

Read our two pre­vi­ous posts to get to the heart of the BBC study and what it real­ly means. As Alvaro Fer­nan­dez and Dr. Zelin­s­ki explore the poten­tial sci­en­tif­ic flaws of the study, they both point out that there are very promis­ing pub­lished exam­ples of brain train­ing method­olo­gies that seem to work.

BBC “Brain Train­ing” Exper­i­ment: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Sci­en­tif­ic cri­tique of BBC/ Nature Brain Train­ing Exper­i­ment

Needed: funding for innovative research on slowing cognitive decline via cognitive training

I was real­ly inter­est­ed in the recent cri­tique of the BBC brain train­ing exper­i­ment by Dr. Eliz­a­beth Zelin­s­ki. I think Owens et al (2010) was a crit­i­cal piece of research which was not con­duct­ed in the right way and was focus­ing on the wrong sam­ple pop­u­la­tion.  I total­ly agree with the com­ments by Dr. Zelin­s­ki regard­ing the poten­tial for sam­ple bias and the use of some ques­tion­able cog­ni­tive mea­sures. How­ev­er, I would like to take this cri­tique fur­ther and ques­tion whether the study was val­ue for mon­ey when there are oth­er stud­ies which can­not achieve fund­ing but would, in my opin­ion, show the criticism/scepticism of the use-it-or-lose-it the­o­ry.

I think there is not enough crit­i­cism about the age of the sam­ple pop­u­la­tion used in Owens et al. (2010). We have con­clu­sive cog­ni­tive and neu­ro­log­i­cal evi­dence that cognitive/neurological plas­tic­i­ty exists in young adults. There is also ade­quate evi­dence that neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty is evi­dent in old­er adults. The crit­i­cal point which I want to make about the sam­ple pop­u­la­tion in Owens et al. study is that it did not tar­get the cor­rect sam­ple pop­u­la­tion, that is, old­er adults who are at risk of cognitive/neuronal atro­phy. It does not mat­ter if younger adults improve on brain train­ing tasks, or if skills picked up by younger adults from brain train­ing are not trans­ferred to oth­er cog­ni­tive domains, sim­ply because younger adults are good at these skills/cognitive func­tions. There­fore there is a pos­si­bil­i­ty that ceil­ing or scal­ing effects mask the true find­ings in Owens et al. (2010), as indi­cat­ed by Zelin­s­ki.

The recruit­ment of the sam­ple pop­u­la­tion is also very con­cern­ing and I do not feel that their con­trol group was appro­pri­ate. Read the rest of this entry »

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