Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: Live Well to 100 by Using Your Brain

Here you have the November edition of our monthly newsletter covering 107px-gray1197thumbnailcognitive health and brain fitness topics. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

Living Well to 100

100 is the new 65: Why do some people live, and well, to 100? Researchers are trying to find out, reports Meera Lee Sethi at Greater Good Magazine. They are discovering that genetic factors may account for only 20 to 30 percent of a person’s lifespan, while environmental and behavioral factors can dictate the other 70 to 80 percent.

Does coffee boost cognitive functions over time? Dr. Pascale Michelon weighs the evidence and reports good and bad news. The good news: long-term effects seem more positive than negative, so coffee leads to no clear harm. The bad news: there are no clear beneficial effects on general brain functions (implication for proponents of “smart pills”: don’t use coffee as the analogy).

10 Innovations for the Aging Society: In the Thanksgiving’s spirit, we want to thank 10 pioneers for emerging innovations that may help millions of people alive today to keep our brains in top shape perhaps till we are 100 or more. Many of those pioneers will participate in the inaugural SharpBrains Summit.

In Autopilot?

Train your autopilot….and how to turn it off: Madeleine Van Hecke, Ph.D shares an excerpt from The Brain Advantage, in which she encourages maintaining mental “autopilot” when it’s working well, yet shifting to more conscious deliberations when needed.

Scientia Pro Publica:  A good way to turn off autopilot is to enjoy some great science and nature blogging, courtesy of Scientia Pro Publica blog carnival. Additionally, you can enjoy reading some of the best neuroscience, psychology and medical blogging at the first ever combined Grand Rounds/ Encephalon edition.

Games for Health

Games for Health Research: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced more than $1.85 million in grants for research teams to study how digital games can improve players health. One of the grantees is UCSF’s Adam Gazzaley (who will be speaking at the SharpBrains Summit) to develop a driving game for cognitive fitness among younger and older adults.

Smart industry-research collaboration: Lumos Labs and researchers Susanne Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl announce a collaboration to make the original Dual N-Back working memory training program available online and use it for ongoing research.

News

Marian C. Diamond to open SharpBrains Summit: Kicking off our January 2010 SharpBrains Summit is Marian C. Diamond, one of the pioneers of neuroplasticity research since the 1960s. She will introduce us to the human brain, its anatomy and function, and implications of  neuroplasticity for brain health and performance at any age.

The SharpBrains Guide’s reviews and interviews: a collection of links to interviews and reviews of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness.

Network for Brain Fitness Innovation (members-only): Discussion on the future of computerized cognitive behavioral therapy; United BioSource acquires Cognitive Drug Research; innovative partnership between Navigenics and Posit Science; new research on brain impact of Tetris; how a drop in visual skills may precede Alzheimer’s Disease;  excellent report by the National Academies for the US Army available for free now.

Brain Teaser

Who will you believe, me or your own eyes? discover the 3 Winners of the 2009 Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest. Neuroscientists Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik, who help organize the contest, will give a fun demo on Magic and the Brain at SharpBrains Summit, to discuss the limits of human perception and cognition.

Enjoy the final month of 2009!

United BioSource Corporation Announces Acquisition of Cognitive Drug Research (computerized cognitive testing)

Press release: “Leader in cognition measurement integrates into UBC to maximize measurement precision of pivotal endpoints and ensure data integrity. United BioSource Corporation (UBC) today announced the acquisition of CDR”

Press release (09/10/09): Here

Analysis for members of SharpBrains Network for Brain Fitness Innovation: Here

For context, see our previous article titled Computerized Cognitive Assessments: opportunities and concerns, focused on the OptumHealth – BrainResource partnership and innovative work by the US Army.

Update: Preparing Society for the Cognitive Age, and Industry Webinar

Here you have the August edition of our monthly newsletter covering cognitive health and Brain Fitnessbrain fitness topics. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

Scientific publication Frontiers in Neuroscience recently published a special issue on Augmenting Cognition, and invited me to contribute with an article titled Preparing Society for the Cognitive Age. Groundbreaking brain research has occurred over the last 20 years. The opportunity to improve brain health and performance is immense, but we need to ensure the marketplace matures in a rational and sustainable manner, both through healthcare and non-healthcare channels. Click Here to read my article.

Announcements

In May 2009 SharpBrains published The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009, the main industry report for leading organizations preparing their members, their clients, and their patients for the cognitive age. 150-pages long, the report includes a market survey with 2,000+ respondents, detailed analysis of 20+ vendors, research briefs written by 12 leading scientists and data and trends for 4 major customer segments.webinar

Below we share the full Executive Summary of the report and announce an exclusive webinar on September 29th to discuss the State of the Market in more depth with buyers of the report.

To order the report and access both the report and the webinar, you can click Here. (Only $975 -a 25% discount- using Discount Code Frontiers2009 before September 28th).

State of the Market

The brain fitness field holds exciting promise for the future while presenting clear opportunities and challenges today. The good news is that there are more tools available than ever before to assess and train a variety of cognitive skills. The bad news is that there are no magic pills and that consumers, while satisfied overall, seem confused by competing claims on how to reduce one’s “brain age.” We do see signs that this early-stage market can mature in a more rational, structured manner; but there is much work to be done. We estimate that the size of the U.S. brain fitness software (i.e., applications designed to assess or enhance cognitive abilities) market in 2008 was Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness/ Training Report Finds Market Growth, Potential, and Confusion

After many many months of mental stimulation, physical exercise and the certain need for stress management… we have just announced the release of the The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009 report, our second annual comprehensive market analysis of the US market for computerized cognitive assessment and training tools. In this report we estimate the size of the US brain fitness software market at $265M in 2008, up from $225M in 2007 (18% annual growth), and from $100m in 2005. Two segments fuelled the market growth from 2007 to 2008: consumers (grew from $80m to $95m) and healthcare & insurance providers (grew from $65m to $80m).

The 150-page report finds promising research and initiatives to drive significant growth, combined with increased consumer confusion given aggressive marketing claims and lack of education and standards. The report includes:
– The complete results of an exclusive January 2009 Survey with 2,000+ respondents
– A proprietary Market & Research Momentum Matrix to categorize 21 key vendors into four categories
– 10 Research Executive Briefs written by leading scientists at prominent research labs
– An analysis of the level of clinical validation per product and cognitive domain

Top 10 Highlights from the report:

1) Consumers, seniors, communities and insurance providers drove year on year sustained growth, from $225m in 2007 to $265m in 2008. Revenues may reach between $1 billion to $5 billion by 2015, depending on how important problems (Public Awareness, Navigating Claims, Research, Health Culture, Lack of Assessment) are addressed.

2) Increased interest and confusion: 61% of respondents Strongly Agree with the statement Addressing cognitive and brain health should be a healthcare priority. But, 65% Agree/Strongly Agree. I don’t really know what to expect from products making brain claims.

3) Investment in R&D seeds future growth: Landmark investments by insurance providers and government-funded research institutes testing new brain fitness applications planted new seeds for future growth.

4) Becoming standard in residential facilities: Over 700 residential facilities mostly Independent and Assisted Living facilities and CCRCs have installed computerized cognitive training programs.

5) Customer satisfaction: Consumers seem more satisfied with computer-based products than paper-based options. But, satisfaction differs by product. When asked I got real value for my money, results were as follows: Lumosity.com (65% Agree), Puzzle Books (60%), Posit Science (52%), Nintendo (51%) agreed. Posit Science (53% Agree) and Lumosity.com (51%) do better than Puzzle Books (39%) and Nintendo (38%) at I have seen the results I wanted.

6) Assessments: Increasing adoption of computer-based cognitive assessments to baseline and track cognitive functions over time in military, sports, and clinical contexts. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America now advocates for widespread cognitive screenings after 65-75.

7) Specific computerized cognitive training and videogames have been shown to improve brain functions, but the key questions are, Which ones, and Who needs what when?

8) Aggressive marketing claims are creating confusion and skepticism, resulting in a distracting controversy between two misleading extremes: (a) buying product XYZ can rejuvenate your brain Y years or (b) those products don’t work; just do one more crossword puzzle. The upcoming book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness aims to help consumers navigate these claims.

9) Developers can be classified into four groups, based on a proprietary Market and Research Momentum Matrix: SharpBrains finds 4 Leaders, 8 High Potentials, 3 Crosswords 2.0, and 6 Wait & See companies.

10) Increased differentiation: Leading companies are better defining their value proposition and distribution channels to reach specific segments such as retirement communities, schools, or healthcare providers.

Leading researchers prepared 10 Research Executive Briefs:
– Dr. Joshua Steinerman (Einstein-Monteore): Neuroprotection via cognitive activities
– Dr. Jerri Edwards (South Florida): Assessments of driving fitness
– Dr. Susanne Jaeggi and Dr. Martin Buschkuehl (Bern, Michigan): Working memory training and  intelligence
– Dr. Torkel Klingberg (Karolinska): Working memory training, dopamine, and math
– Dr. Liz Zelinski (UC Davis): Auditory processing training
– Dr. David Vance (UAB): Speed-of-processing training
– Dr. Jerri Edwards (South Florida): Cognitive training for healthy aging
– Dr. Daphne Bavelier & Dr. Shawn Green (Rochester): Action videogames and attentional skills
– Dr. Arthur Kramer (Illinois): Strategy videogames and executive functions
– Dr. Yaakov Stern (Columbia): The cognitive reserve and neuroimaging
– Dr. David Rabiner (Duke): Objective assessments for ADHD

Table of Contents

Editorial
Executive Summary
Chapter 1. Bird-Eye View of the Growing Field
Chapter 2. Market Survey on Beliefs, Attitudes, Purchase Habits
Chapter 3. The Emerging Competitive Landscape
Chapter 4. The Science for Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health
Chapter 5. Consumers  Adopting Crosswords 2.0?
Chapter 6: Healthcare and Insurance Providers – A Culture of Cognitive Health
Chapter 7: K12 School Systems- Ready for Change?
Chapter 8: Military, Sports Teams, Companies,  Brain-Performance Link
Chapter 9: Future Directions‚ Projections and Bottlenecks

Companies profiled include: Advanced Brain Technologies, Applied Cognitive Engineering, Brain Center America, Brain Resource, CNS Vital Signs, Cogmed, Cogstate, CogniFit, Cognitive Drug Research, Dakim, Houghton Mifflin, Learning Enhancement Corporation, LearningRx, Lumos Labs, Marbles: The Brain Store, Nintendo, NovaVision, Posit Science, Scientific Brain Training, Scientific Learning, TransAnalytics, vibrantBrains, Vigorous Mind, Vivity Labs.

More on the report by clicking on The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009.

Cognitive Assessments: HeadMinder, ANAM, and more

Just saw a very interesting press release regarding computer-based neurocognitive assessments – a critical part of the brain fitness puzzle. How long will it take before consumers can have access to a reliable and credible annual “mental check-up”/ cognitive baseline?

HeadMinder Cognitive Stability Index: Computerized Neurocognitive … (Press release)

– “The HeadMinder web-based Cognitive Stability Index (CSI) has proven more useful for blast-concussion detection than the ANAM computerized test battery the DoD currently employs. The CSI provides an immediate solution to clear the backlog of 400,000 IED-exposed service members in less than two years.”

– “The CSI is a 30-minute, Internet-based, computerized test that provides automated, objective measures of attention, memory, response speed, and processing speed for initial evaluation of cognitive functioning. The CSI produces standardized reports that enable triage and decision-making appropriate to a user’s qualifications – from medic to neuropsychologist to neurologist and other treatment team members.”

We covered this emerging type of assessments in the article Computerized Cognitive Assessments: opportunities and concerns

– “In fact, one of the Read the rest of this entry »

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