Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain Games for the Weekend: One for each Cognitive Ability

When I give a presentation about brain health and fitness, there are always a few people who come tell me afterward that they do crossword puzzles everyday. They heard that mental exercise is good for the brain so they are pleased and proud to report that they do the best they can to maintain their brain functions. But are they really? What if I was a gym instructor? Would the same people tell me proudly that to keep their whole body in shape they do biceps movements everyday, and that’s all they do? I DO feel like I was this gym instructor when I hear the crossword puzzles claim! Solving crossword puzzles repetitively is not the best habit for two reasons. 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: (65% Agree), Puzzle Books (60%), Posit Science (52%), Nintendo (51%) agreed. Posit Science (53% Agree) and (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

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.

Your comments on cognitive training, Posit Science, Alzheimer’s Australia, gerontology, games

I have fallen behind on answering a few excellent recent comments -on cognitive training overall, Posit Science and Alzheimer’s Australia, gerontology and the brain, the value of videogames-, so let me address them here:

1) Nicks says (Brain Fitness Programs For Seniors Housing, Healthcare and Insurance Providers: Evaluation Checklist)

“This report is interesting and it addresses many very important questions that cognitive neuropsychologists, such as myself have. I feel that many of the products on the market now make claims which are generally unsubstantiated.

I find it concerning that many of these programmes have been marketed to target older adults in particular without making any specific statement on whether the activities are beneficial and have been supported with empirical research.

i have recently conducted a cognitive intervention study which used a large array of outcome measures which focus on Read the rest of this entry »

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