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Five Essential Guidelines to Improve Brain Health for All

Since 2010, the Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit has been bring­ing togeth­er neu­ro­sci­en­tists, entre­pre­neurs, and prac­ti­tion­ers with a mis­sion to improve men­tal health­care, brain per­for­mance and gen­er­al well-being.

As we get ready to host our next col­lec­tive brain­storm­ing next week, let us share some key themes from our last Sum­mit, since they helped shape the Agen­da for this one.

In 2017, the gathering’s tone was gen­er­al­ly optimistic–given the explo­sion of sci­en­tif­ic and tech­no­log­i­cal break­throughs, start-ups and investments–but impor­tant eth­i­cal con­cerns were also wide­ly dis­cussed.

1. The Need is Very Real, Very Large and Largely Unmet

Dr. Tom Insel, a well-known sci­en­tist turned pol­i­cy-mak­er turned entre­pre­neur, shared a deep dive into the land­scape of health­care inno­va­tion: We have seen $15 Bil­lion invest­ed in Health Tech since 2012, in over a thou­sand new com­pa­nies … yet men­tal health­care has not tru­ly evolved while brain and men­tal dis­or­ders remain among the costli­est con­di­tions in the US, with an annu­al bur­den esti­mat­ed at $200+ Bil­lion.

 

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Same thing regard­ing aging and brain health: the need is very real and very large, both in devel­oped and in emerg­ing coun­tries. At least there we see stronger signs of advo­cates and pol­i­cy­mak­ers begin­ning to take note. For exam­ple, Sarah Lenz Lock from AARP spoke about the need for improved dig­i­tal assess­ments that are evi­dence-based and per­son­al­ized, help­ing mil­lions of old­er adults self-mon­i­tor their brain health and delay cog­ni­tive and mem­o­ry prob­lems.

 

A num­ber of researchers shared pop­u­la­tion-lev­el ways to pro­mote life­long brain health. For exam­ple, Belén Guer­ra-Car­ril­lo at UC-Berke­ley dis­cussed how Big Data com­ing from new online and mobile plat­forms can inform pol­i­cy. Dr. David Bartrés-Faz from the Barcelona Brain Health Ini­tia­tive described how track­ing behaviors–that sus­tain neur­al func­tion­ing in advanced age—can help per­son­al­ize inter­ven­tions, and how they are mea­sur­ing lifestyle fac­tors in a large, 3,000-subject-strong, ran­dom­ized tri­al.

 

2. Solutions Start with Early Detection and Digital Phenotyping

A very inge­nious pre­sen­ta­tions came from Jan Samzelius of Neu­raMetrix, one of the win­ners of the Brain­no­va­tions Pitch Con­test. His team, with a back­ground in cyber­se­cu­ri­ty, dis­cov­ered a method of assess­ing typ­ing cadence which could enable ear­ly detec­tion of neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, from Alzheimer’s Dis­ease to Parkinson’s. The sys­tem can run silent­ly (yes, per­mis­sion and pri­va­cy will be issues to address) in the back­ground of a per­son­al com­put­er or smart­phone, inte­grat­ing hun­dreds of vari­ables in a per­sons’ key­board cadence and flag­ging unusu­al pat­terns.

Anoth­er great exam­ple came from Nan­cy Briefs of Dig­i­tal Cog­ni­tion Tech­nolo­gies, which has adapt­ed a tra­di­tion­al neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal test (the ‘Clock Draw­ing Task’) and com­bined it with machine learn­ing to pro­vide fast, afford­able, and scal­able detec­tion of cog­ni­tive changes.

Mind­strong Health has been at the fore­front of dig­i­tal phe­no­typ­ing. Dr. Tom Insel dis­cussed how ‘dig­i­tal exhaust’ –data tak­en from smart phones– can be used to pro­vide objec­tive, con­tin­u­ous, and proac­tive mark­ers of mood, cog­ni­tion, and behav­ior. The firm has found that vari­ables extract­ed through machine learn­ing are as good at pre­dict­ing cog­ni­tive func­tion as the test-retest reli­a­bil­i­ty of numer­ous cog­ni­tive tests, pre­sent­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty for scal­able and non­in­va­sive solu­tions to detect men­tal health dis­or­ders.  Fur­ther, the infor­ma­tion gained from these meth­ods could be used by clin­i­cians and patients not only to enable ear­ly inter­ven­tion but also to mon­i­tor progress over time, some­thing that is rarely done today.

3. And continue with Lifestyle and Digital Health/ Medicine interventions

The upcom­ing ‘dig­i­tal cav­al­ry,’ as described by Dr. Oliv­er Har­ri­son from Tele­fon­i­ca Inno­va­tion, will be high­ly com­ple­men­tary to the ear­ly detec­tion and dig­i­tal phe­no­typ­ing ini­tia­tives out­lined above.

For exam­ple, Dr. Eddie Mar­tuc­ci of Akili Inter­ac­tive Labs shared find­ings from a recent­ly-pub­lished ran­dom­ized con­trolled tri­al (RCT) sup­port­ing the use of ‘pre­scrip­tion’ video games to tar­get symp­toms of atten­tion deficit hyper­ac­tiv­i­ty dis­or­der (ADHD), while rep­re­sen­ta­tives at Click Ther­a­peu­tics, Sin­cro­lab, and Myn­dY­ou out­lined a new wave of per­son­al­ized cog­ni­tive training/ ther­a­py pro­grams. Going fur­ther, researchers at Neu­roscape and UCSF pre­sent­ed vir­tu­al and aug­ment­ed real­i­ty plat­forms for mul­ti­modal bio-sens­ing, adap­tive eval­u­a­tion and brain-body train­ing, which could well help upgrade brain health­care and cog­ni­tive rehab in the near term.

 

 

Some of the ideas dis­cussed were sim­ple yet high­ly inspired. Dr. Albert Kwon and col­leagues at Aug­men­tX craft­ed an aug­ment­ed real­i­ty adap­ta­tion of mir­ror box ther­a­py to poten­tial­ly pro­vide home-based treat­ment for stroke vic­tims. Emma Yang, the youngest Speak­er being just 13-years old, unveiled Time­less — a dig­i­tal app using arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence to help per­sons with Alzheimer’s Dis­ease to remem­ber events, stay con­nect­ed, and engage with friends and fam­i­ly.

4. Open issues: data security, privacy, equity

While explor­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ties, Sum­mit par­tic­i­pants also detailed the con­cerns over data secu­ri­ty, pri­va­cy, equi­ty, and ethics.

Dr. Simone Schurle at ETH Zurich sur­veyed bio­med­ical sys­tems for neu­ro-mon­i­tor­ing and inter­ven­tion and issued a pow­er­ful call for respon­si­ble devel­op­ment: new plat­forms and devices can pro­duce great good in health care, but also have the capac­i­ty for mis­use and harm.

 

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Dr. Álvaro Pas­cual-Leone at Har­vard Med­ical School dis­cussed state-of-the-art neu­ro­mod­u­la­tion, which offers a sig­nif­i­cant and large­ly untapped oppor­tu­ni­ty, while Dr. Anna Wexler from Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia high­light­ed real-world issues expe­ri­enced by home-based users and cham­pi­oned the need for bet­ter eco­log­i­cal research and cus­tomer pro­tec­tion, giv­en the onrush of ‘do-it-your­self’ home devices and loose­ly reg­u­lat­ed prod­ucts.

Mul­ti­ple speak­ers dis­cussed major con­cerns regard­ing pri­va­cy and per­son­al auton­o­my raised by big data plat­forms, and poten­tials way for­ward.

5. The Time to Engage is Now

Giv­en every­thing dis­cussed above, now is the prime moment for change­mak­ers, investors, clin­i­cians and allied health­care pro­fes­sion­als to engage with the dig­i­tal brain health rev­o­lu­tion in ways that can ben­e­fit all.

Sig­nif­i­cant advances are com­ing, have come, and will con­tin­ue to come. Researchers, inno­va­tors and prac­ti­tion­ers should work togeth­er to direct the flow of the upcom­ing ‘dig­i­tal cav­al­ry’ and shape the Future of Brain Health – togeth­er we can bet­ter rec­og­nize needs, pro­vide feed­back on imple­men­ta­tion, and make sure that those who suf­fer receive actu­al ben­e­fits.

At the same time, we have a respon­si­bil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy and pre­empt eth­i­cal con­cerns and to guide respon­si­ble devel­op­ment and appro­pri­ate use. If users and pro­fes­sion­als pull back from these advances out of pro­pri­ety con­cerns, turf war, or feel­ings of threat, a great oppor­tu­ni­ty will be lost. Our brain/ men­tal health care prob­lems will only get worse, not bet­ter.

 

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Let’s, togeth­er, explore and dis­cuss how to use every avail­able tool in the toolk­it to address the very real and very unmet needs of 7+ bil­lion peo­ple in the 21st Cen­tu­ry.

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez is the CEO & Edi­tor-in-Chief of Sharp­Brains, and Bran­don Frank is a PhD can­di­date at Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty with a con­cen­tra­tion in Neu­ropsy­chol­o­gy.

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Learn More & Register:

2019 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit: The Future of Brain Health (May 7–9th)

 

Washington Wizards to test virtual reality system to better monitor players’ fatigue

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Wash­ing­ton Wiz­ards Part­ner With Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy Com­pa­ny To Assess Play­er Fatigue (Forbes):

Pro­fes­sion­al sports teams are always look­ing for an edge, as games are often won or lost by one quick deci­sion or one regret­ful error. As the sports world become recep­tive to tech­nolo­gies more preva­lent in oth­er sec­tors, the new knowl­edge gained can enhance that desired edge in ways that would be near­ly unrec­og­niz­able to a pro­fes­sion­al ath­lete a gen­er­a­tion ago.

One area of con­tin­ued inter­est for ath­let­ic train­ing is Read the rest of this entry »

Thank you, Sponsors @ 2017 SharpBrains Virtual Summit, for helping shape Brain Health & Enhancement in the Digital Age!

Thank you very much, great Sum­mit Spon­sors, for sup­port­ing the 2017 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit tak­ing place next week (Dec. 5–7th) and gath­er­ing 50+ Speak­ers and 200+ par­tic­i­pants work­ing on ways to enhance brain health and per­for­mance in the dig­i­tal age!

Gold Sponsors

AARP is a non­prof­it, non­par­ti­san, social wel­fare orga­ni­za­tion with a mem­ber­ship of near­ly 38 mil­lion that helps peo­ple turn their goals and dreams into real pos­si­bil­i­ties, strength­ens com­mu­ni­ties and fights for the issues that mat­ter most to fam­i­lies. Its Glob­al Coun­cil on Brain Health (GCBH), found­ed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Age UK, is an inde­pen­dent col­lab­o­ra­tive cre­at­ed to pro­vide trust­ed infor­ma­tion on how to main­tain and improve brain health.brain

VieLight has a mis­sion to engi­neer and com­mer­cial­ize non-inva­sive devices based on pho­to­bio­mod­u­la­tion that are safe and effec­tive, easy to use and afford­able – all to tru­ly help improve one’s qual­i­ty of life. It focus­es on devel­op­ing new-gen­er­a­tion home-use brain stim­u­la­tion devices that are enjoy­ing a grow­ing rep­u­ta­tion to be help­ful for men­tal acu­ity in var­i­ous pre­sen­ta­tions. Its prod­ucts are used by both prac­ti­tion­ers and con­sumers all over the world.

Silver Sponsors

arpf

The Alzheimer’s Research and Pre­ven­tion Foun­da­tion(ARPF) has a mis­sion to empow­er peo­ple to build healthy brains and reduce the inci­dence of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease by con­duct­ing clin­i­cal research and pro­vid­ing edu­ca­tion­al and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment out­reach. For 20 years, the ARPF has been on the lead­ing edge by research­ing, advo­cat­ing, and edu­cat­ing for an inte­gra­tive approach to pre­vent­ing mem­o­ry loss and Alzheimer’s.

Arrowsmith Program

The Arrow­smith Pro­gram, avail­able in 80+ schools in the US, Cana­da, Aus­tralia and New Zealand, is a com­pre­hen­sive suite of cog­ni­tive pro­grams for stu­dents with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties to train key brain func­tions involved in learn­ing.

Ban­ner Health, based in Phoenix, Ari­zona, is one of the largest non­prof­it health sys­tems in the USA, employ­ing more than 50,000 staff mem­bers in 29 hos­pi­tals and oth­er set­tings rang­ing from home care and long-term care, to lab­o­ra­to­ries and reha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices.

EMOTIV is a bioin­for­mat­ics com­pa­ny advanc­ing under­stand­ing of the human brain using elec­troen­cephalog­ra­phy (EEG) with a mis­sion to empow­er indi­vid­u­als and accel­er­ate brain research glob­al­ly.

Lumosity

Lumos­i­ty was found­ed to help peo­ple keep their brains chal­lenged thanks to a sim­ple online tool allow­ing any­one to train core cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. From neu­ro­science to visu­al art, they com­bine diverse dis­ci­plines to cre­ate engag­ing brain train­ing pro­grams and, through the Human Cog­ni­tion Project, they col­lab­o­rate with over 100 lead­ing researchers, clin­i­cians and teach­ers from insti­tu­tions around the world.

Mind­Maze has devel­oped a break­through plat­form to build intu­itive human machine inter­faces com­bin­ing vir­tu­al real­i­ty (VR), com­put­er graph­ics, brain imag­ing & neu­ro­science, enabling excit­ing new appli­ca­tions in gam­ing, brain machine con­trol, and health­care.

Dur­ing Expo Day–Thursday, Decem­ber 7th–selected Sum­mit Spon­sors and Part­ners will show­case their most promis­ing brain health & enhance­ment ini­tia­tives and solu­tions. All times below reflect US Pacif­ic Time.

8.30–9am. Adam Gaz­za­ley, UCSF Pro­fes­sor of Neu­rol­o­gy, will present Neu­roscape.

9–9.30am. Dr. Wal­ter Green­leaf, Med­ical VR/ AR Expert at Stan­ford Vir­tu­al Human Inter­ac­tion Lab, will pro­vide an overview of health appli­ca­tions of vir­tu­al & aug­ment­ed real­i­ty (VR/AR).

9.30–10am. Dr. Lew Lim, Founder & CEO of Vielight, will dis­cuss pho­to­bio­mod­u­la­tion as a new way to enhance brain func­tion.

10.30–11am. Dr. Bob Schafer, Direc­tor of Research at Lumos Labs, will present their expand­ing vision for brain train­ing, includ­ing mind­ful­ness.

11am-Noon. Lunch break

Noon-12.30pm. Dr. Chris Walling, Chair­man of the Edu­ca­tion­al Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee at
The Alzheimer’s Research and Pre­ven­tion Foun­da­tion (ARPF), will present the new Brain Longevi­ty Ther­a­py Train­ing.

12.30–1pm. Dr. Leanne Young, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Brain Per­for­mance Insti­tute at UT-Dal­las Cen­ter for Brain­Health will present the new 62,000-square-foot Brain Per­for­mance Insti­tute.

1–1.30pm. Deb­bie Gilmore, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of The Arrow­smith Pro­gram, will present plans to bet­ter equip 100+ schools help­ing stu­dents with spe­cial needs.

1.30–2pm. Dr. Ran­dal Koene, Lead Sci­en­tist at Ker­nel, will dis­cuss future direc­tions of neu­ro­engin­ner­ing and human com­put­er inter­faces.

 

Look­ing for­ward to a great vir­tu­al sum­mit!

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Learn more & Reserve your Spot HERE

(10%-off pro­mo code for Sharp­Brains read­ers: sharp2017)

Explore new ways to measure Brain Health & Performance @ 2017 SharpBrains Virtual Summit (December 5–7th)

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Kick­start­ed with a keynote by scientist/ pol­i­cy-mak­er/ entre­pre­neur Dr. Tom Insel,  the 2017 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit (Decem­ber 5–7th) will host a Brainnova­tions Pitch Con­test to dis­cuss the lat­est tech­nolo­gies for Brain Health & Enhance­ment. 12 select­ed star­tups will get to pitch their inno­v­a­tive approach and solu­tions to our dis­tin­guished Judges –our very own “Sharp Tank”– and to all Sum­mit par­tic­i­pants. Read the rest of this entry »

Are you familiar with these research findings and technologies revolutionizing Brain & Mental Health?

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Try adding 3 and 8 in your head.

That was easy. Now, try­ing adding 33 and 88. That was prob­a­bly more dif­fi­cult. Final­ly, try adding 333 and 888.

Time for Sharp­Brains’ Octo­ber e-newslet­ter, this time dis­cussing a range of research find­ings and tech­nolo­gies rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing brain and men­tal health.

New thinking about cognition, brain and mind:

Emerging toolkit for brain health & enhancement:

News about the 2017 SharpBrains Virtual Summit (December 5–7th):

And finally, a couple of fun brain teasers to start the week of the right foot:

 

Have a great month of Novem­ber!

The Sharp­Brains Team

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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