Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Debunking 10 Cognitive Health and Fitness Myths

As part of the research behind the book The SharpBrains Guide for Brain Fitness we interviewed dozens of leading cognitive health and fitness scientists and experts worldwide to learn about their research and thoughts, and have a number of take-aways to report.

What Santiago Ramon y Cajal can we clearly say today that we couldn’t have said only 10 years ago? That what neuroscience pioneer Santiago Ramon y Cajal claimed in the XX century, “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor his own brain”, may well become reality in the XXI.

And transform Education, Health, Training, and Gaming in the process, since Read the rest of this entry »

Top 30 Brain Health and Fitness Articles of 2008

Here brain teasers job interview you have SharpBrains’ 30 most popular articles, ranked by the number of people who have read each article in 2008.

Please note that, since the first article already includes most of our most popular brain teasers, we have excluded teasers from the rest of the ranking. (If those 50 are not enough for you, you can also try these brain teasers).

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1. Top 50 Brain Teasers and Games to Test your Brain
It is always good to stimulate our minds and to learn a bit about how our brains work. Here you have a selection of the 50 Brain Teasers that people have enjoyed the most.
2. The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Brains
Let’s review some good lifestyle options we can follow to maintain, and improve, our vibrant brains. My favorite: don’t outsource your brain (even to us).
3. Why do You Turn Down the Radio When You’re Lost?
You’re driving through suburbia one evening looking for the street where you’re supposed to have dinner at a friend’s new house. You slow down to a crawl, turn down the radio, stop talking, and stare at every sign. Why is that? Neither the radio nor talking affects your vision. Or do they?
4. Brain Plasticity: How learning changes your brain
You may have heard that the brain is plastic. As you know the brain is not made of plastic! Neuroplasticity or brain plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to CHANGE throughout life.
5. Top 10 Brain Training Future Trends
In an emerging market like brain fitness training, it is difficult to make precise projections. But, we can observe a number of trends that executives, consumers, public policy makers, and the media should watch closely in the coming years, as brain fitness and training becomes mainstream, new tools appear, and an ecosystem grows around it.

Read the rest of this entry »

CogniFit (MindFit, DriveFit) raises USD 5 million

From the website of the investing venture capital firm, Milk Capital:

Milk Capital invests USD 5 million in CogniFit

-July 31st, 2008. “Milk Capital invest USD 5M in Cognifit, a company specialized in cognitive and brain software The solutions developed by CogniFit are designed to be applied to a large number of fields, such as healthcare, driving, education, sport and many others. The field of applications is almost unlimited as it is only restricted by the capacities of the brain.”

-“Since its establishment in 1999, as a start-up in the Ofer Group’s Incubator, Naiot, CogniFit attracted 4.2M$. The company has grown significantly and today, its software is distributed in a large number of countries, from the United States through France to New Zealand, and has been translated into ten languages. This 5M$ investment of MILK CAPITAL should drive the development of CogniFit all the more than the company intends to conquer new markets by means of new products and applications all over the world.”

Previous post on one of CogniFit’s products, DriveFit: DriveFit; Brain Fitness Program for Driving.

Other recent venture rounds in the brain fitness software space:

– February 2008: Dakim raises $10,6 million
– June 2008: Lumos Labs (Lumosity) raises $3 millions

I spoke at the MIT Club of Northern California in February to provide an overview of the fascinating landscape. The write-up: Brain Training Games: Context, Trends, Questions.

For in-depth information on the whole category -size, customer segments, player landscape, clinical validation, trends- you may enjoy our Market Report.

Cognitive Fitness and Brain Improvement: 10 Debunked Myths

Over the last year we have interviewed a number of leading brain health and fitness scientists and practitioners worldwide to learn about their research and thoughts, and have news to report.

What can we say today that we couldn’t have said only 10 years ago? That what neuroscience pioneer Santiago Ramon ySantiago Ramon y Cajal Cajal claimed in the XX century, “Every man can, if he so desires, become the sculptor his own brain“, may well become reality in the XXI. And influence Education, Health, Training, and Gaming in the process.

We have only scratched the surface of what science-based structured cognitive (i.e., mental) exercise can do for brain health and productivity. We are now witnessing the birth of a new industry that crosses traditional sector boundaries and that may help us understand, assess and train our brains, harnessing the growing research about neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons), neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to rewire itself through experience), cognitive training and emotional regulation.

Let’s now debunk 10 myths, still too prevalent, that may prevent us from seeing the full potential of this emerging field:

Myth 1: It’s all in our genes.

Reality: A big component of our lifelong brain health and development depends on what we do with our brains. Our own actions, not only our genes, influence our lives to a large extent. Genes predispose us, not determine our fates.

“Individuals who lead mentally stimulating lives, through education, occupation and leisure activities, have reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Studies suggest that they have 35-40% less risk of manifesting the disease” – Dr. Yaakov Stern, Division Leader of the Cognitive Neuroscience Division of the Sergievsky Center at Columbia University.

Myth 2: The field of Cognitive/ Brain Fitness is too new to be credible.

Reality: The field rests on solid foundations dating back more decades — what is new is the number and range of tools that are now starting to be available for healthy individuals.

“Rigorous and targeted cognitive training has been used in clinical practice for many years. Exercising our brains systematically is as important as exercising our bodies.” – Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, neuropsychologist, Frontal Lobes fMRIclinical professor of neurology at New York University School of Medicine, and disciple of Alexander Luria.

“Today, thanks to fMRI and other neuroimaging techniques, we are starting to understand the impact our actions can have on specific parts of the brain.” – Dr. Judith Beck, Director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research.

Myth 3: Medication is and will remain the only evidence-based intervention for a number of brain-related problems.

Reality: Cognitive training programs are starting to Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Teasers and Games for the Brain: Test your Brain

Frontal LobesIt is always good to stimulate our minds and to learn a bit about how our brains work. Here you have a selection of the 50 Brain Teasers that people have enjoyed the most in our blog and speaking engagements.

Fun experiments on how our brains work

1. Do you think you know the colors?: try the Stroop Test.

2. Can you count?: Basketball attention experiment (Interactive).

3. Who is this?: A very important little guy (Interactive).

4. How is this possible?.

5. Take the Senses Challenge (Interactive).

6. Are there more brain connections or leaves in the Amazon?.

AttentionTwo In One Task

7. How are your divided attention skills? check out “Inside and Outside” (Interactive, from MindFit).

8. Can you walk and chew gum at the same time? try “Two in One” (Interactive, from MindFit)

9. Count the Fs in this sentence.

10. What do you see? can you alternate between 2 views?.

MemoryPicasso Task

11. Easy one…draw the face of a penny, please. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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