Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


FAQ about SharpBrains Council for Brain Fitness Innovation

We have received many good questions about the new SharpBrains Council for Brain Fitness Innovation – below you have some answers.

Question: We are based in Asia/ Australia/ Europe. Will time differences prevent us from participating in monthly briefings and benefiting from the Council?

Answer: We will do our best to facilitate a truly global community and exchange. Please consider that…

  1. we will schedule monthly briefings at 2 separate times, one at 9am US Pacific Time, the other at 4pm US Pacific Time, both covering the same topic (but perhaps with different guest speakers). And briefings will be recorded.
  2. most activities and resources are asynchronous anyway. Our market intelligence reports and other materials are available via this members-only online community 24/7, same as online discussion forums, focused groups to track/ discuss specific topics, the ability to ask questions to and connect with other members…

Question: Will something change regarding blog and monthly newsletter, which are great free resources?

Answer: We plan to  maintain those free resources, focusing on content of a general interest for everyone with a brain. The Council’s purpose is to create a new valuable in-depth resource and community for professionals and organizations active with brain fitness initiatives, so we can all learn and share during the year, and help the field mature. That will include Read the rest of this entry »

Distracted in the Workplace? Meet Maggie Jackson’s Book (Part 2 of 2)

Today we continue the conversation with Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age.

You can read part 1 here.

Q – In your Harvard Management Update interview, you said that “When what we pay attention to is driven by the last email we received, the trivial and the crucial occupy the same plane.” As well, it seems to be that a problem is our culture’s over-idealization of “always on” and “road warrior” habits, which distract from the importance of executive functions such as paying attention to one’s environment, setting up goals and plans, executing on them, measuring results, and internalizing learning. How can companies better equip their employees for future success? Can you offer some examples of companies who have positive cultures that encourage and reward employees fully put their frontal lobes into good use?

A.  As I mentioned above, we are working and living in ways that undermine our ability to strategize, focus, reflect, innovate. Skimming, multitasking and speed all have a place in 21st-century life. But we can’t let go of deeper skills of focus and thinking and relating, or we’ll create a society of misunderstanding and shallow thinking.

To create workplaces that foster strategic thinking, deep social connection and innovation, we need to take three steps:

First, question the values that venerate McThinking and undermine attention. Recently, my morning paper carried a front-page story about efforts in an age of impatience to create a quick-boot computer. It’s ridiculous to ask people to wait a couple of minutes to start up their computer, explained one tech executive. The first hand up in the classroom, the hyper business-man or woman who can’t sit still, much less listen  these are icons of success in American society. Still, many of us are beginning to question our adoration of instant gratification and hyper-mobility.

Second, we need to set the stage for focus individually and collectively by rewriting our climate of distraction and inattention. To help, some companies and business leaders are experimenting with white space the creation of physical spaces or times on the calendar for uninterrupted, unwired thinking and Read the rest of this entry »

Improving Driving Skills and Brain Functioning- Interview with ACTIVE’s Jerri Edwards

Jerri Edwards- Active trialToday we are fortunate to interview Dr. Jerri Edwards, an Associate Professor at University of South Florida’s School of Aging Studies and Co-Investigator of the influencial ACTIVE study. Dr. Edwards was trained by Dr. Karlene K. Ball, and her research is aimed toward discovering how cognitive abilities can be maintained and even enhanced with advancing age.

Main focus of research

Alvaro Fernandez: Please explain to our readers your main research areas

Jerri Edwards: I am particularly interested in how cognitive interventions may help older adults to avoid or at least delay functional difficulties and thereby maintain their independence longer. Much of my work has focused on the functional ability of driving including assessing driving fitness among older adults and remediation of cognitive decline that results in driving difficulties.

Some research questions that interest me include, how can we maintain healthier lives longer? How can training improve cognitive abilities, both to improve those abilities and also to slow-down, or delay, cognitive decline? The specific cognitive ability that I have studied the most is processing speed, which is one of the cognitive skills that decline early on as we age.

ACTIVE results

Can you explain what cognitive processing speed is, and why it is relevant to our daily lives?

Processing speed is mental quickness. Just like a computer with a 486 processor can do a lot of the same things as a computer with a Pentium 4 processor, but it takes much longer, our minds tend to slow down with age as compared to when we were younger. We can do the same tasks, but it takes more time. Quick speed of processing is important for Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Software Trends

Some very interesting brain fitness software market news:

1) Scientific Learning To Buy Out Soliloquy

– “Scientific Learning Corp. has announced that it will acquire Soliloquy Learning from JTT Holdings. Both Scientific Learning and Soliloquy provide technology solutions for education. The acquisition will cost SLC about $11 million and is expected to be completed this month.”

– “Scientific Learning is the developer of Fast ForWord, a family of reading intervention tools targeted toward students who are characterized as struggling learners and designed to develop the required “neurocognitive skills” for reading and learning in general. Soliloquy is also a reading intervention developer.”

Comment: this acquisition consolidates Scientific Learning (NSDQ: SCIL) as the leading company in the education segment of the brain fitness market. It will be interesting to track what research gets done on the neural and cognitive effects of Soliloquy, since Scientific Learning’s Fast Forword is backed by extensive literature.

2) Technomedia Partners With SBT to Accelerate Its International Expansion

– “Technomedia, a Canadian provider of talent management and human capital development solutions, announced its partnership with the SBT (Scientific Brain Training) group, a European provider of training and evaluation of cognitive functions.” Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive Fitness, The Future of Work, and Concept Maps

Some weeks ago we explained how useful Concept Maps can be to quickly visualize the key ideas in a field, and their relationships.

Let me show you this fantastic example. A few weeks ago I was interviewed by David Pescovitz of the Institute for the Future (blog) to discuss The Future of Work and Cognitive Fitness trends. They had an artist who drew the graph below IN REAL TIME, AS WE SPOKE. Very impressive.

Please open the full image by clicking on it, and spend a few minutes reading around, top-down, left-to right.

You will learn much about what the future may bring (will Human Resources staff become “Cognitive Resources Managers”?), and also how to display complex information in beautiful visual form.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Kudos to the Institute for the Future, an independent nonprofit research group,  for a fascinating event on The Future of Work.

Credit for the Map: Anthony Weeks, from Grove Consultants.

(Dear RSS readers: I’d really appreciate if you could Digg this post. You can find the Digg button if you visit this post in our blog. Thanks!)

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