Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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New Report Finds A Brain Health Revolution in the Making, Driven by Digital Technology and Neuroplasticity Research

2010MarketReportIn spite of the recent eco­nom­ic down­turn, rev­enues for dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to assess, enhance and treat cog­ni­tion, or dig­i­tal brain health and fit­ness tools, grew 35% in 2009. “The con­ver­gence of demo­graph­ic and pol­i­cy trends with cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science dis­cov­er­ies and tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion is giv­ing birth to a nascent mar­ket­place that can fun­da­men­tal­ly trans­form what brain health is, how it is mea­sured, and how it is done,” says Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, mem­ber of the World Eco­nom­ic Forum’s Coun­cil on the Aging Soci­ety and Edi­tor-in-Chief of the report. “This ground­break­ing report can help pio­neers shape the emerg­ing toolk­it to ben­e­fit an aging soci­ety that increas­ing­ly seeks new ways to enhance cog­ni­tive func­tion­al­i­ty and men­tal well­ness across the lifes­pan.”

As the brain is thrust into the cen­ter of the health­care ecosys­tem, inno­v­a­tive cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness appli­ca­tions will play an increas­ing­ly impor­tant role in defin­ing neu­ro­cen­tric health,” adds Jake Duna­gan, Research Direc­tor at the Insti­tute For The Future.

Report: Trans­form­ing Brain Health with Dig­i­tal Tools to Assess, Enhance and Treat Cog­ni­tion across the Lifes­pan: The State of the Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket 2010.

A major­i­ty among the 1,900+ deci­sion-mak­ers and ear­ly-adopters sur­veyed said they trust­ed the effec­tive­ness of non-inva­sive options above inva­sive options to enhance crit­i­cal brain func­tion­al­i­ty. Pro­fes­sion­al and intel­lec­tu­al chal­lenges were rat­ed very effec­tive by 61% of respon­dents, aer­o­bic exer­cise and read­ing books by 42%, med­i­ta­tion by 38%, com­put­er­ized brain train­ing by 26%, tak­ing pre­scrip­tion drugs by 13%, tak­ing sup­ple­ments by 12%, and self-med­icat­ing with drugs by 1%.

These are among the key find­ings of a 207-page mar­ket report released today by Sharp­Brains and pre­pared in col­lab­o­ra­tion with 24 lead­ing sci­en­tists and 10 inno­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions — the most com­pre­hen­sive such research study done to ana­lyze emerg­ing research, tech­nolo­gies and mar­ket­place.

We must do for brain health in the 21st cen­tu­ry what we large­ly accom­plished in car­dio­vas­cu­lar health in the past cen­tu­ry. It’s time to take sci­en­tif­ic insights out of the lab and to iden­ti­fy prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions, mak­ing the main­te­nance of good brain fit­ness a pub­lic health pri­or­i­ty,” indi­cates William Reich­man, MD, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Bay­crest.

Oth­er Report High­lights are: Read the rest of this entry »

Distracted in the Workplace? Meet Maggie Jackson’s Book (Part 2 of 2)

Today we con­tin­ue the con­ver­sa­tion with Mag­gie Jack­son, author of Dis­tract­ed: The Ero­sion of Atten­tion and the Com­ing Dark Age.

You can read part 1 here.

Q — In your Har­vard Man­age­ment Update inter­view, you said that “When what we pay atten­tion to is dri­ven by the last email we received, the triv­ial and the cru­cial occu­py the same plane.” As well, it seems to be that a prob­lem is our culture’s over-ide­al­iza­tion of “always on” and “road war­rior” habits, which dis­tract from the impor­tance of exec­u­tive func­tions such as pay­ing atten­tion to one’s envi­ron­ment, set­ting up goals and plans, exe­cut­ing on them, mea­sur­ing results, and inter­nal­iz­ing learn­ing. How can com­pa­nies bet­ter equip their employ­ees for future suc­cess? Can you offer some exam­ples of com­pa­nies who have pos­i­tive cul­tures that encour­age and reward employ­ees ful­ly put their frontal lobes into good use?

A.  As I men­tioned above, we are work­ing and liv­ing in ways that under­mine our abil­i­ty to strate­gize, focus, reflect, inno­vate. Skim­ming, mul­ti­task­ing and speed all have a place in 21st-cen­tu­ry life. But we can’t let go of deep­er skills of focus and think­ing and relat­ing, or we’ll cre­ate a soci­ety of mis­un­der­stand­ing and shal­low think­ing.

To cre­ate work­places that fos­ter strate­gic think­ing, deep social con­nec­tion and inno­va­tion, we need to take three steps:

First, ques­tion the val­ues that ven­er­ate McThink­ing and under­mine atten­tion. Recent­ly, my morn­ing paper car­ried a front-page sto­ry about efforts in an age of impa­tience to cre­ate a quick-boot com­put­er. It’s ridicu­lous to ask peo­ple to wait a cou­ple of min­utes to start up their com­put­er, explained one tech exec­u­tive. The first hand up in the class­room, the hyper busi­ness-man or woman who can’t sit still, much less lis­ten  these are icons of suc­cess in Amer­i­can soci­ety. Still, many of us are begin­ning to ques­tion our ado­ra­tion of instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion and hyper-mobil­i­ty.

Sec­ond, we need to set the stage for focus indi­vid­u­al­ly and col­lec­tive­ly by rewrit­ing our cli­mate of dis­trac­tion and inat­ten­tion. To help, some com­pa­nies and busi­ness lead­ers are exper­i­ment­ing with white space the cre­ation of phys­i­cal spaces or times on the cal­en­dar for unin­ter­rupt­ed, unwired think­ing and Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Games and Training for Baby Boomers: News Round-Up

Round-up of recent news with a vari­ety of angles, from the effects of Brain Health Newsgam­ing to cog­ni­tive train­ing for dri­ving skills and brain fit­ness class­es.

Seniors use brain train­ing soft­ware to sharp­en their minds (Dal­las Morn­ing News)

- “All­state Insur­ance has invit­ed some pol­i­cy­hold­ers and oth­er old­er dri­vers to try InSight so researchers can eval­u­ate whether the soft­ware reduces acci­dents.”

- “Depend­ing on the results, the auto insur­er says it may expand the pilot project and offer pre­mi­um dis­counts to dri­vers who take the brain train­ing.”

- “Today, only one in sev­en licensed dri­vers is 65 or old­er. But by 2030, when the last of the boomers turn 65, the pro­por­tion will be one in four. ”

Brain games (Palo Alto Week­ly)

- “There is research that jus­ti­fies the belief that games can aid the brain’s health, accord­ing to Dr. Wal­ter Bortz II, a Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine asso­ciate pro­fes­sor and expert on longevi­ty and robust aging. Stud­ies show that stim­u­lat­ing the brain by learn­ing new tasks increas­es blood fac­tors in the brain that act like steroids, mak­ing it pos­si­ble for the brain to grow even in old age

- “Called “brain plas­tic­i­ty,” such growth is the foun­da­tion of brain-fit­ness soft­ware research.”

Brain Fit­ness Class­es Keep Seniors Men­tal­ly And Social­ly Active (Wash­ing­ton Post)

- “More options for exer­cis­ing the brain are on the way. Last year, the Ontario gov­ern­ment pledged about $8 mil­lion to devel­op a brain fit­ness cen­ter in Toron­to. In San Fran­cis­co, Jan Zivic, a for­mer exec­u­tive search con­sul­tant, opened a cen­ter, vibrant­Brains, that offers mem­o­ry improve­ment class­es and work­shops. Zivic was inspired by help she got from brain fit­ness games she played after being injured in an auto­mo­bile acci­dent.”

The 15 Clear­est Ben­e­fits of Gam­ing (Edge Mag­a­zine)

-“But Fer­nan­dez warns that the gamer gen­er­a­tion isn’t auto­mat­i­cal­ly guar­an­teed to have bet­ter cog­ni­tive health than their grand­par­ents. Cog­ni­tive fit­ness (hav­ing the men­tal abil­i­ties required to thrive in cog­ni­tive­ly more com­plex envi­ron­ments) seems to depend on four major pil­lars: nutri­tion, phys­i­cal exer­cise, stress man­age­ment and men­tal exer­cise. All these fac­tors have phys­i­cal effects on our brains (for exam­ple, phys­i­cal exer­cise con­tributes to the cre­ation of new neu­rons, while stress and anx­i­ety pre­vents and/or reduces the cre­ation of new neu­rons). The bad news is that we have grow­ing obe­si­ty rates and anx­i­ety among young peo­ple. So, games are great for men­tal exer­cise, but we shouldn’t for­get the oth­er ingre­di­ents for cog­ni­tive fit­ness.

- “Fer­nan­dez mus­es, Indeed fun can be seen as a goal in itself . The prob­lem is that we con­fuse gam­ing as a vehi­cle with gam­ing as con­tent. Gam­ing as vehi­cle is arguably great it allows for inter­ac­tiv­i­ty, engage­ment. Gam­ing as con­tent, well, it depends. It is not the same to play a bloody shoot­er game as it is to Tetris or Rise of Nations, so the field should do a bet­ter job at explain­ing to main­stream soci­ety the diver­si­ty of games and dis­pel some myths.

More Brain Fit­ness and Cog­ni­tive Health News

Cognitive Heath News: January

Below you have a col­lec­tion of recent news and announce­ments:

1) Brain Fit­ness Com­ing to Senior Exer­cise Class­es (press release):

- “The Amer­i­can Senior Fit­ness Asso­ci­a­tion (SFA) has announced a new brain fit­ness train­ing pro­gram designed for exer­cise pro­fes­sion­als. Brain Fit­ness for Old­er Adults teach­es senior fit­ness instruc­tors and per­son­al train­ers how to incor­po­rate effec­tive cog­ni­tive fit­ness into phys­i­cal activ­i­ty pro­grams, offer­ing seniors the oppor­tu­ni­ty to boost both phys­i­cal and men­tal fit­ness simul­ta­ne­ous­ly.”

Com­ment: a very time­ly ini­tia­tive, giv­en the inter­est we see in brain fit­ness edu­ca­tion and ini­tia­tives, and the ben­e­fits of both phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise on brain health. It makes a lot of sense to enhance pub­lic aware­ness through train-the-train­er ini­tia­tives. What remains unclear in this SFA pro­gram is what is the direct evi­dence for some­thing that is billed as a “brain fit­ness train­ing pro­gram” and seems to advo­cate one par­tic­u­lar set of exer­cis­es and move­ments for their train­ers and train­ers’ clients. It is one thing to claim a prod­uct pro­vides good infor­ma­tion & is edu­ca­tion­al (like a book, or this blog, or class­es on the brain & brain health) and anoth­er one to claim that it is a “brain fit­ness train­ing pro­gram”, for which we should ask Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Training Games @ CNN

Crisp CNN arti­cle:

Boom times for brain train­ing games

Includ­ing my final quote “[Brain fit­ness] is not just some fad. The mar­ket is much deep­er than Nin­ten­do.”

The “brain fit­ness cen­ter” financed by Ontario is Bay­crest. Com­pa­nies men­tioned: Mind­fit, Posit Sci­ence, Nin­ten­do, All­state, Brain­Builder, MyBrain­Train­er.

The reporter and I also dis­cussed in depth the need for bet­ter con­sumer edu­ca­tion and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, so peo­ple can make informed deci­sions, and for cog­ni­tive assess­ments to serve as inde­pen­dent base­line, help iden­ti­fy pri­or­i­ties and mea­sure results. Please note that our mar­ket esti­mates do include rev­enues of com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive assess­ments, today most­ly used in clin­i­cal tri­als, and with­in the mil­i­tary and sports teams.

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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