Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Nintendo BrainAge, Lumosity, Happy Neuron, MyBrainTrainer…

A collection of recent announcement in the “brain games” or “brain training games” space:

The Wii sets new generational standards for the videogame industry

  • “The ageing of the Japanese population compelled gamemaker Nintendo to widen its audience. Now, the Wii is leading the industry standards. But hardcore gamers are still too important to be neglected.”

Strain your brain the smart way

  • “George Harrison, Nintendo’s senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications, has said that more than half of the company’s marketing for Wii is aimed at adults. And the system has been presented at conventions for the aging “gray gamer” population.” and talks about sudoku, Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, and more.

SBT Announces the Acquisition of Quixit

The new Mental Game: sport psychology, coaches, get ready!

One of the many Sharp Brains around, who is up to date of everything related to brain health and fitness (yes, Jeanne, that’s you! thanks for being such a great bureau chief!) has sent us a very interesting press note on how brain fitness and training can be applied in the sports performance world. I haven’t been able to track down the research behind the specific programs mentioned in the article, but the theoretical rationale makes sense based on similar programs we are familiar with: you can see below a summary of our interview with Prof. Daniel Gopher, scientific mind behind computer-based cognitive simulations for military pilots and for basketball players.

The note Sports Vision Training Takes Athletes to New Frontiers explains how

  • “Specialty sports vision facilities are helping athletes train skills that many believed were “untrainable”; skills like anticipation, field vision, timing, sport intelligence, game tempo, reaction speed, focus and concentration.”
  • “What has everyone all worked up is the knowledge that they can actually train athletic skills that many believed were “untrainable.” We’re talking about intangibles like anticipation, field vision, timing, sport intelligence, game tempo, reaction speed, focus and concentration. “One of the worst mistakes an athlete can make is to believe that you’re either born with or without these kinds of skills, and that they’re consequently not trainable, says Brian Stammer, editor of SportsVision Magazine. “If you want to be the best athlete you can be, you must do exercises to condition and sharpen your sensory system, including visual, auditory and brain-processing speed.
  • This is the link to the magazine they mention: SportsVision Magazine

And here is the summary of my (AF) interview with Prof. Daniel Gopher (DG) on Cognitive Simulations and cognitive training:

  • “AF: …Can you summarize your research findings across all these examples and fields, and how you see the field evolving?
  • DG: In short, I’d summarize by saying that
  • Cognitive performance can be substantially improved with proper training. Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness news.

A couple of good recent articles:

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Brain Games will give adults all the challenge they can handle

Baltimore Sun, MD. Mar 22, 2007.The reporter provides a great survey of products. The only parts I find missing are:

1) what specific cognitive skill/s is/are being trained by each product? if we understand that the brain has a variety of structural and functional areas, it becomes evident that different programs may be training different “mental muscles”.

2) How does each program enable the user measure progress in an objective way? I’d say this is the main difference between “games” and brain fitness programs. If you have a wildly different brain age everytime you try…that so-called brain age is not very credible.

Does brain exercise fight dementia?
Minneapolis Star Tribune (subscription), MN. Mar 18, 2007.As the article mentions, no program can claim to “prevent Alzheimer’s”. And I haven’t seen Posit Science (or us) claim such a thing, or imply it. But what can be claimed is meaningful: Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Programs, “Brain Gyms”…Explained

SharpBrains Vision
Thanks to MindHacks for the link to a good Washington Post article, “Pumping Neurons”.

A couple of quotes:

Recent research shows that the brain remains plastic, or basically trainable, throughout life. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2002, significant percentages of the 2,802 participants age 65 and older who trained for five weeks for about 2 1/2 hours per week improved their memory, reasoning and information-processing speed.

When we learn, we create physical changes inside our heads. By practicing a skill, we repeatedly stimulate the same area of the brain, which strengthens existing neural connections and creates new ones. Over time, we can become more cognitively efficient, using fewer neurons to do the same job. And the more often we fire up certain mental circuits, the easier it is to get them going again.

Read the rest of this entry »

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