Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Study debunks 4 common myths about brain training and lifelong cognitive enhancement

If the media is your main source of infor­ma­tion about brain train­ing and cog­ni­tive enhance­ment, you will prob­a­bly believe the fol­low­ing:

1) All brain train­ing is the same…

2) …and it sim­ply does­n’t work.

3) Com­mer­cial brain train­ing pro­grams, espe­cial­ly, don’t work.

4) How could they work? Genet­ics is des­tiny, aging is a pre­de­ter­mined process…so by age 60 or 70 or 80, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

If you tracked and ana­lyzed the sci­en­tif­ic lit­er­a­ture around cog­ni­tive train­ing, cog­ni­tive ther­a­pies, biofeed­back, med­i­ta­tion, brain reserve and neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty in gen­er­al, you’d know those 4 beliefs are wrong. They are myths that pre­vent a more nuanced con­ver­sa­tion about brain-enhanc­ing lifestyles and about the emerg­ing brain train­ing and neu­rotech­nol­o­gy toolk­it.

Good news is, a just-pub­lished study should help debunk those myths–especially with regards to com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive training–and pro­vide a bet­ter Read the rest of this entry »

Witnessing an explosion of consumer-facing neurotechnologies to (potentially) harness lifelong neuroplasticity

Last week I shared some key sci­en­tif­ic, tech­no­log­i­cal and invest­ment trends rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing Brain Health, based on my par­tic­i­pa­tion at the 2016 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit, and promised a sec­ond arti­cle more focused on the tech­nol­o­gy side of things.

Here it is 🙂

Just a few weeks after the Sharp­Brains Sum­mit I also attend­ed CES 2017. While I enjoyed the myr­i­ad emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies –autonomous vehi­cles, robot­ics, drones, aug­ment­ed and vir­tu­al real­i­ty head­sets, voice acti­vat­ed every­thing– I was most­ly struck by a firm named Halo Neu­ro­science. They have a fas­ci­nat­ing wear­able prod­uct, Halo Sport, claim­ing to accel­er­ate gains in strength, explo­sive­ness, endurance, and mus­cle mem­o­ry, improv­ing the brain’s response to ath­let­ic train­ing. It uses tDCS (tran­scra­nial direct cur­rent stim­u­la­tion), essen­tial­ly prim­ing move­ment-relat­ed cir­cuits of the brain to become more recep­tive to stim­uli, help­ing the brain wire in the prac­tice for improved future response.

The cutting edge of applied neuroplasticity

Both con­fer­ences allowed me to see the cut­ting edge of Read the rest of this entry »

Ten Important Signals to help reinvent Brain Health in the Digital Age & serve the needs of an Aging Population


Dear sharp read­er,

It’s been a busy year.

To sum­ma­rize where we are, and to bet­ter pre­pare for the oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges in the year ahead, let’s step back for a minute.

Let’s take a look at the big pic­ture pre­sent­ed in the arti­cle Both Impor­tant and Urgent: Get­ting ready to serve the Cog­ni­tive & Brain Health needs of an Aging Pop­u­la­tion by an esteemed par­tic­i­pant in the 2016 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit held ear­li­er this month:

The urgency to devel­op inno­v­a­tive new tech­nolo­gies that will sup­port brain health is close­ly linked to the fact that a grow­ing pro­por­tion of the glob­al pop­u­la­tion is liv­ing longer than at any oth­er time in his­to­ry. As this pop­u­la­tion ages, the need to main­tain brain health and/or man­age declin­ing cog­ni­tive func­tion will have far-reach­ing impact both social­ly and eco­nom­i­cal­ly.” — David Stoller @ CC-ABHI.

Good news is, sci­en­tists, tech­nol­o­gists and entre­pre­neurs are work­ing hard on this world­wide, as evi­denced by the wealth of insights and ini­tia­tives dis­cussed by 200+ par­tic­i­pants in 15 coun­tries dur­ing the 2016 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit (Decem­ber 6–8th).

The list of insights and ini­tia­tives com­ing from the 3‑day event is too long to detail (I encour­age you to access the slid­edecks and record­ings here); let me just high­light Ten Impor­tant Sig­nals to help Rein­vent Brain Health in the Dig­i­tal Age we live in:

  1. Our health starts and ends with brain health,” as Dr. San­dra Bond Chap­man, Founder and Chief Direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Brain­Health at The Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Dal­las, remind­ed us.
  2. There is too lit­tle wis­dom in brain health (as prac­ticed today),” cau­tioned Dr. Peter White­house, Pro­fes­sor of Neu­rol­o­gy at Case West­ern Reserve Uni­ver­si­ty.
  3. The Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Clin­i­cal Neu­ropsy­chol­o­gy (AACN) announced a new Dis­rup­tive Tech­nol­o­gy Ini­tia­tive focused on “assess­ment and/or inter­ven­tion-pre­ven­tion-improve­ment of cog­ni­tive func­tions, acces­si­ble to the entire pop­u­la­tion.”
  4. Both the Nation­al Insti­tute of Men­tal Health (NIMH) and the Cana­di­an Cen­tre for Aging and Brain Health Inno­va­tion (CC-ABHI) shared sub­stan­tial fund­ing pro­grams to help start-ups access seed cap­i­tal to devel­op and com­mer­cial­ize evi­dence-based dig­i­tal brain health plat­forms.
  5. Ven­ture investors see a bur­geon­ing land­scape and future of the mind train­ing space.
  6. Many pio­neers are work­ing on ways to har­ness neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty for good, via cog­ni­tive assess­ments and ther­a­pies (Brain­HQ, Cog­niFit, Akili, Click Ther­a­peu­tics, Cog­nic­i­ti, SBT Group) mind­ful­ness apps (Clar­i­tas Mind­sciences), EEG (Emo­tiv) and vir­tu­al real­i­ty (Mind­Maze).
  7. A grow­ing num­ber of phar­ma com­pa­nies, from Mer­ck to Janssen, are invest­ing in dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics by devel­op­ing tools, licens­ing them, even invest­ing in start-ups in the space.
  8. Clin­i­cal­ly-guid­ed” video cap­ture of behav­ior can aid in diag­no­sis…behav­ior imag­ing, aug­ment­ed by deep learn­ing, will lead to real pre­ci­sion med­i­cine, thanks to firms like Behav­ior Imag­ing Solu­tionsMyn­dY­ouPear Ther­a­peu­tics, and more.
  9. Old and new play­ers in edu­ca­tionPear­son, ETS, UC Berke­ley, the Arrow­smith School– are devel­op­ing dig­i­tal and in-per­son pro­grams to pro­mote life­long brain devel­op­ment.
  10. The Coach­es and Psy­chol­o­gists of the Future–exem­pli­fied by the Insti­tute of Coach­ing, The Synapse Sys­tem, the new Wat­son Cen­tre for Brain Health–are already aug­ment­ing their prac­tices with lat­est brain & cog­ni­tion find­ings and dig­i­tal neu­rotech­nolo­gies.

As you can see, a lot is hap­pen­ing. And a lot more will hap­pen in 2017.

I’d like to thank all Sum­mit Speak­ers and Spon­sors–we could­n’t do it with­out you– and also every sharp read­er for your con­tin­ued atten­tion and sup­port.

On behalf of the Sharp­Brains team and com­mu­ni­ty, Hap­py Hol­i­days and Pros­per­ous New Year!


PS1: If you are still look­ing for gifts…please con­sid­er giv­ing a copy of The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: How to Opti­mize Brain Health and Per­for­mance, rec­om­mend­ed by many dur­ing the Sum­mit as a cru­cial book to help edu­cate pro­fes­sion­als and the wider pub­lic.

PS2: You can access all Sum­mit slid­edecks and record­ings here (slid­edecks are free; record­ings require reg­is­tra­tion, and we high­ly rec­om­mend them for peo­ple with a pro­fes­sion­al inter­est in the area)

September update: Revolutions in neurotechnology will soon influence every aspect of human life

headspaceTime for Sharp­Brains’ Sep­tem­ber e‑newsletter, wrap­ping up this month’s key brain-relat­ed news.

Our brain is at the core of every­thing we do, from the every-day deci­sions we make to the epic emo­tions we feel when we fall in love. And neurotechnologies–especially those that, being dig­i­tal, are emi­nently scal­able, and that, being non-inva­sive, pose few if any neg­a­tive side-effects–are poised to become ubiq­ui­tous, per­va­sive…Keep read­ing the Pre­lim­i­nary Agen­da of the 2015 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit (Novem­ber 17–19th), which fea­tures 32 con­firmed, stel­lar speak­ers so far!

Innovation news:

Research news:

Food for thought:


Final­ly, a reminder to Save Your Spot for 2015 Sharp­Brains Vir­tual Sum­mit (Novem­ber 17–19th) —  10% dis­count code: sharp2015

Have a great month of Octo­ber!

The Sharp­Brains Team

Retooling cognitive rehabilitation for patients with traumatic brain injury

Our col­league Kate Sul­li­van, who led a superb Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit work­shop on How to Set Up a Brain Fit­ness Cen­ter to Enhance Cog­ni­tive Retrain­ing and Reha­bil­i­ta­tion, based on her expe­ri­ence at Wal­ter Reed Nation­al Mil­i­tary Med­ical Cen­ter, just alert­ed us of a new study pre­pared by her team: Out­comes from a Pilot Study using Com­put­er-Based Reha­bil­i­ta­tive Tools in a Mil­i­tary Pop­u­la­tion (Stud­ies in Health Tech­nol­o­gy and Infor­mat­ics). Read the rest of this entry »

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