Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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The ultimate in transfer from brain training to real-world outcomes: Reducing the risk of at-fault accidents by almost 50%

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Can you train your brain to dri­ve longer into your gold­en years? (CTV News):

For the elder­ly, the loss of a driver’s licence could mean the end of inde­pen­dence and the begin­ning of a decline in health, with far-reach­ing con­se­quences in their dai­ly lives…New assis­tive dri­ving tech­nolo­gies seem like an obvi­ous solu­tion in the years to come, but buy­ing new vehi­cles can be too expen­sive; while options like going for adult dri­ving lessons can be too great a blow to some seniors’ pride. Now, sci­en­tists claim that there’s anoth­er option avail­able to help old­er dri­vers main­tain their abil­i­ties on the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Checklist to Evaluate Brain Training and Brain Health Claims

SharpBrains ChecklistTo assist those look­ing for ideas, prod­ucts and ser­vices in the brain training/ health area, either as hol­i­day gifts or New Year Res­o­lu­tions, let us share this resource: Sharp­Brains’ Check­list to eval­u­ate Brain Train­ing and Brain Health claims, includ­ing Ten Ques­tions to Choose the Right Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram— and a brief expla­na­tion of why each ques­tion is impor­tant.

10-Question Checklist to Assess Products Making Brain Fitness & Training Claims

To help con­sumers and pro­fes­sion­als nav­i­gate through the grow­ing num­ber of pro­grams mak­ing “brain fit­ness” or “brain train­ing” claims, we have pub­lished this Sharp­Brains SharpBrains ChecklistCheck­list:

10 Ques­tions to Choose the Right Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram — and a brief expla­na­tion of why each ques­tion is impor­tant:

* 1. Are there sci­en­tists, ide­al­ly neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists, and a sci­en­tif­ic advi­so­ry board behind the pro­gram?

Neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists spe­cial­ize in mea­sur­ing and under­stand­ing human cog­ni­tion and brain struc­ture and func­tion.

* 2. Are there pub­lished, peer-reviewed sci­en­tif­ic papers in PubMed writ­ten by those sci­en­tists? How many?

PubMed is a ser­vice of the U.S. Nation­al Library of Med­i­cine that includes mil­lions of cita­tions sci­ence jour­nals. If a sci­en­tist has not pub­lished a paper that appears in that data­base, he or she can­not make sci­en­tif­ic claims.

* 3. What are the spe­cif­ic ben­e­fits claimed for using this pro­gram? What spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive skill is the pro­gram train­ing?

Some pro­grams present the ben­e­fits in such a neb­u­lous way that it is impos­si­ble to tell if they will have any results or not…“brain train­ing” itself is a lim­it­ed ben­e­fit, because activ­i­ties like gar­den­ing or learn­ing a new lan­guage pro­vide “brain train­ing too”…you need to see some­thing more spe­cif­ic, like what cog­ni­tive or emo­tion­al skill that pro­gram is aimed at.
* 4. Does the pro­gram tell me what part of my brain or which cog­ni­tive skill I am exer­cis­ing, and is there an inde­pen­dent assess­ment to mea­sure my progress?

The ques­tion is whether the improve­ment expe­ri­enced in the pro­gram will trans­fer into real life. For that to hap­pen we need assess­ments that are dis­tinct from the exer­cis­es them­selves. Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Programs For Seniors Housing, Healthcare and Insurance Providers: Evaluation Checklist

Dur­ing the research phase before the pub­li­ca­tion of the spe­cial report Brain Fit­ness Cen­ters in Seniors Hous­ing — A Field in the Mak­ing, pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Seniors Hous­ing Asso­ci­a­tion (ASHA), we real­ized that there were equal amounts of inter­est and con­fu­sion among exec­u­tives and pro­fes­sion­als think­ing about adding com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive exer­cise prod­ucts to their mix of health & well­ness activ­i­ties, so we includ­ed the Eval­u­a­tion Check­list that fol­lows.

The real-life expe­ri­ences at lead­ing orga­ni­za­tions such as Senior Star Liv­ing, Bel­mont Vil­lage Senior Liv­ing, Erick­son Retire­ment Com­mu­ni­ties and oth­ers were instru­men­tal in the devel­op­ment of the Check­list. We hope it is use­ful.

Brain Fit­ness Pro­grams For Seniors Hous­ing, Health­care and Insur­ance Providers: Eval­u­a­tion Check­list

Over the next sev­er­al years, it is like­ly that many seniors hous­ing oper­a­tors will begin to care­ful­ly eval­u­ate a grow­ing num­ber of options to include “brain fit­ness cen­ters” in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Some options will require pur­chas­ing a device, such as Nin­ten­do prod­ucts, or the Dakim touch-screen sys­tem. Oth­ers will require installing soft­ware in PCs in exist­ing or new com­put­er labs, such as Posit Sci­ence, Cogmed or Cog­niFit’s pro­grams. Oth­ers will be ful­ly avail­able online, such as those offered by Lumos Labs, Hap­py Neu­ron and My Vig­or­ous Mind. And still oth­ers may be tech­nol­o­gy-free, promis­ing engag­ing com­bi­na­tions of inter­ac­tive, group-based, activ­i­ties with pen-and-paper exer­cis­es.

Cre­at­ing a sol­id busi­ness case will help com­mu­ni­ties nav­i­gate through this grow­ing array of options. We sug­gest com­mu­ni­ties con­sid­er this Sharp­Brains Check­list for Brain Fit­ness Cen­ters:

1. Ear­ly Users: Who among our res­i­dents is ready and will­ing to do the pro­gram? How are they react­ing to the pilot test­ing of the pro­gram?

2. Cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits: What are the spe­cif­ic ben­e­fits claimed for using this pro­gram? Under what sce­nario of use (how many hours/week, how many weeks)? What spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive skill(s) does the pro­gram train? How will we mea­sure progress? Read the rest of this entry »

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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