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Six DARPA-funded research teams aim at revolutionizing noninvasive brain-machine interfaces

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DARPA Funds Ambi­tious Brain-Machine Inter­face Pro­gram (IEEE Spec­trum):

DARPA’s Next-Gen­er­a­tion Non­sur­gi­cal Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy (N3) pro­gram has award­ed fund­ing to six groups attempt­ing to build brain-machine inter­faces that match the per­for­mance of implant­ed elec­trodes but with no surgery what­so­ev­er. Read the rest of this entry »

Why we need to extend our mental lifespans to match our physical ones

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Beep!’ This is one of the most mad­den­ing com­put­er games I’ve ever played. I’m track­ing a flock of birds, and when I hit the right one, it explodes with a sat­is­fy­ing ‘phutt’. But as I get bet­ter at spot­ting them, the birds scat­ter ever more wild­ly across the screen, and I hear that unfor­giv­ing ‘beep’: you missed.

Frankly, I feel like giv­ing up. But many play­ers don’t dare. For this is Hawk­Eye, a brain-train­ing pro­gram that claims it can sharp­en my brain beyond sim­ply get­ting faster at mouse-click­ing. Tri­als have found that old­er peo­ple who play enough hours of this par­tic­u­lar kind of game have few­er car crash­es — and even, appar­ent­ly, a low­er risk of demen­tia …  Keep read­ing arti­cle Train your brain: How to keep your mind young over at Spec­ta­tor web­site.

Article in context:

Study finds promise in smell training to harness neuroplasticity and improve brain health in older adults

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An impaired sense of smell can sig­nal cog­ni­tive decline, but ‘smell train­ing’ could help (The Con­ver­sa­tion):

As we age, we often have prob­lems with our abil­i­ty to smell (called olfac­to­ry dys­func­tion). Old­er peo­ple might not be able to iden­ti­fy an odour or dif­fer­en­ti­ate one odour from anoth­er. In some cas­es they might not be able to detect an odour at all.

Odour iden­ti­fi­ca­tion dif­fi­cul­ties are com­mon in peo­ple with neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases, includ­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease Read the rest of this entry »

Edutainment meets brain development…for good and for bad

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In 1954, Walt Dis­ney was the first to envi­sion a new form of enter­tain­ment that meld­ed tra­di­tion­al fun and education—a form that he dubbed “edu­tain­ment.” By the lat­ter part of the 20th cen­tu­ry, this form had mor­phed into edu­ca­tion­al toys and games, a mul­ti-bil­lion-dol­lar indus­try that is pro­ject­ed to cap­ture a full 36 per­cent of the glob­al toy mar­ket share by 2022.

Nowhere is this trend more appar­ent than in the explo­sion of dig­i­tal apps: of the 2.2 mil­lion apps avail­able in the Apple Store, rough­ly 176,000—8.5 percent—are loose­ly des­ig­nat­ed as “ edu­ca­tion­al. ” Their growth con­tin­ues, with annu­al increas­es of 10 per­cent expect­ed through 2021. Whether called edu­tain­ment, edu­ca­tion­al toys, or the dig­i­tal learn­ing rev­o­lu­tion, this trend shares the implic­it phi­los­o­phy that mix­ing fun and learn­ing will offer a kind of “brain train­ing” that will enhance children’s think­ing and ampli­fy their learn­ing poten­tial.

But there are many ques­tions before us. What do man­u­fac­tur­ers and mar­keters mean when they des­ig­nate a prod­uct “edu­ca­tion­al?” Keep read­ing Brain Train­ing for Kids: Adding a Human Touch over at the Dana Foun­da­tion.

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