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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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