“Computer games could help in treating older people with depression who haven’t been helped by antidepressant drugs or other treatments for the disorder…In a study of 11 older patients, researchers found playing certain computer games was just as effective at reducing symptoms of depression as [Read more…] about To treat depression, we will likely combine neuroplasticity-based brain training games with antidepressants
The use of a variety of brain training interventions is growing in the area of mental health. Emerging evidence suggests that in the near future targeted brain training may even be used to prevent substance abuse. For example, training working memory may reduce substance abusers’ discounting of long-term rewards and punishments — such discounting is one of the reasons why people susceptible to addictions do not benefit from traditional informational/ educational approaches to drug prevention.
Let’s explore some expanding applications of brain training, and much more, in this latest edition of the monthly SharpBrains eNewsletter.
Brain Training and Mental Health
ADHD: Brain Training, Neurofeedback, Diet, and More: What can be done to fight ADHD and improve the lives of people suffering from it?
Neuroplasticity in the Brain of Children with Neurological Disorders: Brain training may be an option for children suffering from Tourette Syndrom to help reduce the symptoms.
Brain Training and Schizophrenia: Social cognitive training programs can boost schizophrenics’ skills social skills.
Rethinking the Classification of Mental Illness: How can we rethink the classification of psychopathology (via the new DSM‑5) to reflect our current understanding of the brain as a dynamic system?
Upcoming events: Cognitive Remediation in Psychiatry (June 10th, NYC), Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society (September 19–20, San Francisco).
Lifestyle for Brain Health
More Friends, Bigger Brain: The number of friends you have could be predicted by the size of our amygdala!
Exercise and Overweight Children: Aerobic exercise can boost overweight children executive functions.
The Brain Grows With Practice…: We know that when the brain masters a new skill, targeted brain areas/ circuits get enlarged. We now know that those areas and circuits eventually shrink back to normal, but performance gain can be maintained!
Food for Thought
What is Brain Fitness? What are Emerging Opportunities to Retool Brain Health? Here are the answers by seven 2011 SharpBrains Summit Speakers.
Navigate through the 30 most popular articles of last year in SharpBrains.com to learn more about the brain and how to maintain/ enhance brain functioning across the lifespan..
Can you listen to these laughs and distinguish whether it is a human or a computer laughing? Also, given how good laughing is…how about trying this to find out how much stressed you are? You may be surprised.
As announced by the NIMH a few months ago, schizophrenia can now be considered as a brain disorder. Research is focusing on the cognitive deficits as the main problem of the disorder, probably preceding and perhaps leading to the symptoms of hallucinations and delusions.
A recent article in the Psychiatric Times reviews the different cognitive remediation techniques used with people suffering from schizophrenia. This is of interest to anybody working on mental health. Indeed, as Sophia Vinogradov, Interim Vice Chair Psychiatry at UCSF will discuss during the SharpBrains Summit (next week!) schizophrenia is leading the way in understanding how to identify and address brain-based cognitive deficits associated with the disorder.
…most [Cognitive Remediation (CR) programs] are now computerized. Some programs use a mix of general educational software, but many train participants with specialized computer software designed to improve cognition.
Most CR programs aim to improve the cognitive domains usually associated with deficits in schizophrenia—for instance verbal and visual working memory, executive function, attention, and processing speed.
CR has been demonstrated to improve overall (global) cognition as well as specific domains, including attention, executive function, working memory, verbal learning and memory, processing speed, and affect recognition.
Did you read The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, the great book on neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge? If so, you will have heard about the Arrowsmith School/ Program, which was also one of the Top Ten Finalists in 2010 Brain Fitness Innovation Awards. The following is an excerpt from Brain School: Stories of children with learning disabilities and attention disorders who changed their lives by improving their cognitive functioning (November 2010; $22), a new book from Eaton Arrowsmith School’s (EAS) founder and director, Howard Eaton. It tells the story of how children with learning disabilities (dyslexia, ADHD, etc.) can overcome educational obstacles by reorganizing their brains. An inspiring book about how cognitive programs can result in both academic and social success. [Read more…] about Using Brain Plasticity to help Children with Learning Disabilities
Dr. John Docherty is an Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the Weill Medical College, Cornell University, Director of Post Graduate Education there, and Chief Medical Officer of Brain Resource. Trained as a clinical research fellow in neuropsychopharmacology at NIMH, he later returned as Chief of the Psychosocial Treatments Research Branch, responsible for all federally supported psychosocial treatment research in mental health nationwide. He oversaw the landmark National Collaborative Study of the Treatment of Depression and served as a member and Chairman for over 10 years on the NIMH and then NIDA Treatment Research IRGs. Dr. Docherty has wide experience in successfully implementing innovation in both clinical operations and managed health care. He founded Northeast Psychiatric Associates in 1985. As National Medical Director for National Medical Enterprises, he oversaw medical control and quality improvement in 74 hospitals in 34 states. He was the Executive Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer for Merit Behavioral Care, which then covered 30 million people. In 1998, he founded Comprehensive NeuroScience (CNS). Its Care Management Technologies are currently implemented in 17 state Medicaid plans. Dr Docherty has received numerous honors and awards and has authored over 100 scientific publications.
(Editor’s note: this interview with Dr. John Docherty was originally published in SharpBrains’ market report Transforming Brain Health with Digital Tools to Assess, Enhance and Treat Cognition across the Lifespan, published in July 2010)
Alvaro Fernandez: Dr. Docherty, it is a pleasure to be with you today to discuss the main theme of SharpBrains’ 2010 market report – how the convergence of scientific findings and technology platforms and tools is reshaping how as a society and as individuals we will take care of cognition and mental wellness along the lifecourse, giving birth to the emerging digital brain health and fitness market. Can you first briefly discuss your career trajectory and your current role at Brain Resource?
Dr. John Docherty: Sure. The main theme of my work since the 1960s has remained the same, “How do we put knowledge into effective use to improve mental health?” Over the last century, medicine made tremendous progress in generating scientific and clinical knowledge. Basic research discovery science and clinical treatment development science have made great progress. Within Psychiatry there was standard setting advance in the 1960’s through the NIMH-VA cooperative studies to the methodology of assessing the efficacy of psychopharmacological drugs. This work established principles adopted for the study of medications in the other areas of medicine. The study of psychotherapy, however, lagged in development. In my role of Chief of the Psychosocial Treatments Branch of the NIMH , I helped contribute to the advance of that work by supporting the efforts of an extraordinary group of individuals led by Irene Waskow who carried out the TDCRP. This study established the methodologies that made possible the effective scientific study of the efficacy of psychotherapies. The evidence base and of such treatments as CBT, DBT, Motivational Enhancement Treatment and other evidence-based psychotherapies derives directly from this study and its seminal influence. This was a contribution to the science of Clinical Treatment Development research.
I would say that my major interest, however, has been in the next step, the science of knowledge transfer. There has been and remains a long and costly (in terms particularly of unnecessary suffering) lag between the development of new knowledge and its common and effective use in practice.
In order the help the field moved forward, I have worked for the last 20 years in the development and implementation of methods to effectively transfer knowledge into practice. [Read more…] about Technology as the missing link to enable a brain-based model of brain care: interview with Dr. John Docherty
In this January issue of our eNewsletter, we will first brief you on the enlightening demos that will take place on Wednesday, January 20th, as part of the SharpBrains Summit, and then present the 15 most stimulating SharpBrains articles of 2009.
If you want to see and discuss the latest programs and technologies for brain fitness, presented by Summit Sponsors, Wednesday January 20th is your day. Each demo will last 30 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A.
9am. Baycrest/ Cogniciti will introduce the new Memory@Work workshop, designed to teach what memory is, how lifestyle factors such as distraction and stress can affect memory, and how to enhance memory performance at work with the use of enabling strategies.
10am. CogniFit will demo CogniFit Personal Coach and CogniFit Senior Driver, two online programs designed to assess and main cognitive functions for healthy living and safe driving, respectively.
11am. Posit Science will demo InSight, a software-based cognitive training package designed to sharpen brain’s visual system. This is the program being tested by Allstate for safer driving.
Noon. Happy Neuron will introduce HAPPYneuron PRO, a new platform for professionals for the effective delivery and management of cognitive remediation and rehabilitation programs in a patient centric manner.
1pm. SharpBrains will help navigate this growing field by discussing The State of the Brain Fitness Software 2009 report and The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness consumer guide, and summarizing key Summit take-aways.
Learn more and register HERE. Please remember that registration closes on January 17th.
We want to thank our most recent sponsor, the Arrowsmith Program, a comprehensive suite of cognitive programs for students with learning disabilities available in public and private schools in Canada and the U.S. More information here.
And now, let’s review the (in our view) 15 most stimulating articles of 2009.
The Big Picture
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.
Learning about Learning: an Interview with Joshua Waitzkin: Scott Barry Kaufman interviews â€œchild prodigyâ€ Joshua Waitzkin on The Art of Learning.
Debunking 10 Brain Health Myths: Does your brain have a â€œBrain Ageâ€? Is a Magic Pill to prevent memory problems right around the corner?Â Check out the facts to debunk 10 common myths.
Why is working memory relevant to reading and mathematics: A recent large UK study identified 1 in 10 students as having working memory difficulties. Dr. Tracy Alloway elaborates why this matters.
Change Your Environment, Change Yourself: Dr. Brett Steenbarger explains why new environmentsÂ â€œforce us to exit our routines and actively master unfamiliar challenges.â€
Retooling Use it or lose it: Alvaro Fernandez discusses why routine, doing things inside our comfort zones, is the most common enemy of the novelty, variety and challenge our brains need.
Does cognitive training work? (For Whom? For What?): Dr. Pascale Michelon, dissects a couple of recent press releases and the underlying studies to clarifying what they mean â€“ and what they donâ€™t mean.
New Study Supports Neurofeedback Treatment for ADHD: Dr. David Rabiner reports the promising findings from the first well-designed controlled trial on the effect of neurofeedback treatment for ADHD.
Do Art Classes Boost Test Scores? Is there a â€œMozart Effect?â€: Some researchers suggest so; others are not convinced. Karin Evans offers aÂ thoughtful review of the evidence and asks, â€œNow, is this the right question?â€
Does coffee boost cognitive functions over time? Dr. Pascale Michelon reports good news (long-term effects seem more positive than negative, so coffee leads to no clear harm) and bad ones (no clear beneficial effects on general brain functions).
Brain fitness heads towards its tipping point: How do you know when something is moving towards a Gladwellian tipping point? When insurance companies and policy makers pay attention, Dr. Gerard Finnemore reports.
Visual Representation of the State of the Market 2009: Paul Van Slembrouck beautifully presents the main findings of our 150-page market report, The State of the Brain Fitness Market 2009.
Michael Merzenich on brain fitness: neuroscientist Michael Merzenich discusses neuroplasticity, technology, safe driving, mental health, and the need for standards, automated assessments and â€œpersonal brain trainersâ€.
Stimulate your Concentration Skills: when one really wants to memorize a fact, it is crucial to pay attention. Dr. Pascale Michelon challenges you to count a few simple letters.
Finally, an article that may inspire some New Year Resolutions. In Yes, You Can Build Willpower, Daniel Goleman discusses how the brain makes about 10,000 new cells every day, how they migrate to where they are needed, and how each cell can make around 10,000 connections to other brain cells. Implication? Meditate, mindfully, and build positive habits.
Wishing you a Happy and Productive 2010, and looking forward to meeting many of you (200 so far) at the inaugural SharpBrains Summit!