Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: Invest in Brain Health to Drive Health, Innovation and Prosperity

Time for Sharp­Brains’ July 2012 eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing in this occa­sion an in-depth arti­cle on why and how to Invest in Brain Health to Dri­ve Inno­va­tion and Pros­per­i­ty, by Veroni­ka Litin­s­ki.

Fea­tured Per­spec­tives:

New Research and Resources:

Sharp­Brains News:

Have a great month of August!

New Study Supports Neurofeedback Treatment for ADHD

Neu­ro­feed­back — also known as EEG Biofeed­back — is an approach for treat­ing ADHD in which indi­vid­u­als are pro­vid­ed real-time feed­back on their brain­wave pat­terns and taught to alter their typ­i­cal EEG pat­tern to one that is con­sis­tent with a focused, atten­tive state. This is typ­i­cal­ly done by col­lect­ing EEG data from indi­vid­u­als as they focus on stim­uli pre­sent­ed on a com­put­er screen. Their abil­i­ty to con­trol the stim­uli, for exam­ple, keep­ing the smile on a smi­ley face, is con­tin­gent on main­tain­ing the par­tic­u­lar EEG state being trained. Accord­ing to neu­ro­feed­back pro­po­nents, learn­ing how to do this dur­ing train­ing gen­er­al­izes to real world sit­u­a­tions and this results in improved atten­tion and reduced hyperactive/impulsive behav­ior.

Neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD has been con­tro­ver­sial in the field for many years and remains so today. Although a num­ber of pub­lished stud­ies have report­ed pos­i­tive results many promi­nent ADHD researchers believe that prob­lems with the design of these stud­ies pre­clude con­clud­ing that neu­ro­feed­back is an effec­tive treat­ment. These lim­i­ta­tions have includ­ed the absence of ran­dom assign­ment, the lack of appro­pri­ate con­trol groups, raters who are not ‘blind’ to children’s treat­ment sta­tus, and small sam­ples. For addi­tion­al back­ground, you can find a recent review I wrote on exist­ing research sup­port for neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment of ADHD — along with links to exten­sive reviews of sev­er­al recent­ly pub­lished stud­ies -: How Strong is the Research Sup­port for Neu­ro­feed­back in Atten­tion Deficits?

- Results from a New Study of Neu­ro­feed­back -

Recent­ly, a study of neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD was pub­lished that address­es sev­er­al lim­i­ta­tions that have under­mined pri­or research [Gevensleben, et al., (2009). Is neu­ro­feed­back an effi­ca­cious treat­ment for ADHD? A ran­dom­ized con­trolled clin­i­cal tri­al. Jour­nal of Child Psy­chol­o­gy and Psy­chi­a­try.]

The study was con­duct­ed in Ger­many and began with 102 chil­dren aged 8 to 12. All had been care­ful­ly diag­nosed with ADHD and approx­i­mate­ly over 90% had nev­er received med­ica­tion treat­ment. About 80% were boys. Chil­dren were ran­dom­ly assigned to Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Does Cognitive Training Work?

Here you have the Feb­ru­ary edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Brain FitnessNewslet­ter by email, sim­ply by sub­mit­ting your email at the top of this page.

Cog­ni­tive train­ing (or struc­tured men­tal exer­cise) def­i­nite­ly seems to work — as long as we define prop­er­ly what “work” means, don’t expect mag­ic cures, and help nav­i­gate options. Please keep read­ing…

Inter­view: Bay­crest

Inter­view with Baycrest’s CEO Dr. William Reich­man: Dis­cussing the recent Cen­tre for Brain Fit­ness at Bay­crest, Dr. Reich­man sug­gests that “we have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI cen­tu­ry, sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Health in the XXth, and tech­nol­o­gy will play a cru­cial role.” A major obsta­cle? We need a con­sen­sus on “wide­ly accept­ed stan­dards for out­come mea­sures”.

Does It Work?

Does cog­ni­tive train­ing work? (For Whom? For What?): The grow­ing field of cog­ni­tive train­ing (one of the tools for brain fit­ness) can appear very con­fus­ing as the media keeps report­ing con­tra­dic­to­ry claims. These claims are often based on press releas­es, with­out a deep­er under­stand­ing of the sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence. Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon, Sharp­Brains’ Research Man­ag­er for Edu­ca­tion­al Ini­tia­tives, ana­lyzes a cou­ple of recent stud­ies, clar­i­fy­ing what they mean — and what they don’t mean.

It Works, and It Doesn’t Work: the IMPACT study (a major, mul­ti-site study on the Posit Sci­ence audi­to­ry pro­gram) will be pub­lished at the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Geri­atrics Soci­ety in April. Results sup­port that cog­ni­tive train­ing works — but doesn’t sup­port the grandiose “brain age” claims we see too often.

Cog­ni­tive Train­ing can Influ­ence Brain Bio­chem­istry: Dr. David Rabin­er dis­cuss­es a recent sci­en­tif­ic study that “shows that brain bio­chem­istry can be mod­i­fied by expe­ri­ence”, and that com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive train­ing (Cogmed work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing) can pro­vide that expe­ri­ence.

The Big Pic­ture

Mak­ing Healthy Choic­es — Pri­mare Care and Pre­ven­tion: a pan­el at the recent World Eco­nom­ic Forum explored why “New mar­kets and indus­tries are aris­ing sil­ver indus­tries such as finan­cial ser­vices, health, hous­ing and hos­pi­tal­i­ty geared to senior cit­i­zens. Longevi­ty needs to be linked to health includ­ing cog­ni­tive health and lifestyle choic­es play a major role in health.”

Enrich your envi­ron­ment now and ben­e­fit your future off­spring: Dr. Robert Syl­west­er reports that “all sorts of long held-beliefs about our brain and cog­ni­tion are being re- exam­ined by cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tists” because of fas­ci­nat­ing stud­ies such as the one he reviews (with mice): “The study’s find­ings seemed to sug­gest that acquired char­ac­ter­is­tics can be genet­i­cal­ly transmitted…long-term ben­e­fits accrue from a stim­u­lat­ing ear­ly envi­ron­ment that encour­ages curios­i­ty and explo­ration.”

Man­ag­ing Emo­tions

From Dis­tress to De-Stress: help­ing anx­ious, wor­ried kids: In a detailed 2-part arti­cle, (Part 1, Part 2), Dr. Jerome Schultz pro­vides great tips on how to help chil­dren learn to self-reg­u­late emo­tions, adding that “Teach­ers, occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pists, phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion teach­ers and par­ents need to actu­al­ly teach chil­dren (of all ages) how to get them­selves into a phys­i­cal state of being relaxed. This doesn’t hap­pen auto­mat­i­cal­ly. If it did, there wouldn’t be so many adult yoga class­es!”

Lie to Me, Paul Ekman and Biofeed­back: You may have watched the new series Lie To Me, with Tim Roth, based on the work of Paul Ekman. The intro­duc­tion to the sec­ond episode shows why what are called “lie detec­tors” are noth­ing but biofeed­back sys­tems that mea­sure phys­i­o­log­i­cal anx­i­ety.

News

Brain Games for Baby Boomers: round-up of oth­er recent news, cov­er­ing the effects of gam­ing, cog­ni­tive train­ing for dri­ving skills, and brain fit­ness class­es.

Neu­rocog­ni­tive assess­ments and sports con­cus­sions: a new study and a new resource to under­stand and address the 1.6 to 3.8 mil­lion cas­es of sports-relat­ed con­cus­sions that occur annu­al­ly in the Unit­ed States.

Brain Teas­er

How will you, your orga­ni­za­tion, your neigh­bors, par­tic­i­pate in Brain Aware­ness Week, March 16th-22nd, orga­nized by the Dana Foun­da­tion with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of thou­sands of out­reach part­ners, includ­ing Sharp­Brains? You can find event ideas, excel­lent resources (yes, includ­ing puz­zles), and a cal­en­dar of events, Here.

Have a great month of March!

Neurofeedback/ Quantitative EEG for ADHD diagnosis

Like all psy­chi­atric dis­or­ders, ADHD is diag­nosed based on the pres­ence of par­tic­u­lar behav­ioral symp­toms that are judged to cause sig­nif­i­cant impair­ment in an individual’s func­tion­ing, and not on the results of a spe­cif­ic test. In fact, recent­ly pub­lished ADHD eval­u­a­tion guide­lines from the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Pedi­atrics (AAP) explic­it­ly state that no par­tic­u­lar diag­nos­tic test should be rou­tine­ly used when eval­u­at­ing a child for ADHD.

While most ADHD experts would agree that no sin­gle test could or should be used in iso­la­tion to diag­nose ADHD, there are sev­er­al impor­tant rea­sons why the avail­abil­i­ty of an accu­rate objec­tive test would be use­ful.

First, many chil­dren do not receive a care­ful and com­pre­hen­sive assess­ment for ADHD but are instead diag­nosed with based on eval­u­a­tion pro­ce­dures that are far from opti­mal.

Sec­ond, although AAP guide­lines indi­cate that spe­cif­ic diag­nos­tic tests should not be rou­tine­ly used, many par­ents are con­cerned about the lack of objec­tive pro­ce­dures in their child’s eval­u­a­tion. In fact, many fam­i­lies do not pur­sue treat­ment for ADHD because the the absence of objec­tive eval­u­a­tion pro­ce­dures leads them to ques­tion the diag­no­sis. You can read a review of an inter­est­ing study on this issue at www.helpforadd.com/2006/january.htm

For these rea­sons an accu­rate and objec­tive diag­nos­tic test for ADHD could be of val­ue in many clin­i­cal sit­u­a­tions. Two impor­tant con­di­tions would have to be met for such a test to be use­ful.

First, it would have to be high­ly sen­si­tive to Read the rest of this entry »

Promising Cognitive Training Studies for ADHD

As not­ed in our Mar­ket Report, we expect the field of cog­ni­tive train­ing (or “brain fit­ness”) soft­ware to grow in a vari­ety of edu­ca­tion and health-relat­ed areas over the next years. One of the most promis­ing areas in our view: help­ing chil­dren and adults with atten­tion deficits improve brain func­tion to reduce ADHD symp­toms.

I am glad to present this in-depth dis­cus­sion on the results of two recent high-qual­i­ty sci­en­tif­ic stud­ies. Let me start with Dr. Rabiner’s con­clu­sion:

Results from these two cog­ni­tive train­ing stud­ies high­light that cog­ni­tive train­ing inter­ven­tions may pro­vide an impor­tant com­ple­ment to tra­di­tion­al med­ica­tion treat­ment and behav­ior ther­a­py. Both stud­ies includ­ed appro­pri­ate con­trol groups, employed ran­dom assign­ment, and had out­come mea­sures pro­vid­ed by indi­vid­u­als who were “blind” to which con­di­tion chil­dren were assigned to. They are thus well-designed stud­ies from which sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly sound con­clu­sions can be drawn. They add to the grow­ing research base that inten­sive prac­tice and train­ing focused of key cog­ni­tive skills can have pos­i­tive effects that extend beyond the train­ing sit­u­a­tion itself.”

With­out futher ado…enjoy the arti­cle!

- Alvaro

——————

Two New Cog­ni­tive Train­ing Stud­ies for ADHD Yield Promis­ing Find­ings

– By Dr. David Rabin­er

Although med­ica­tion treat­ment is effec­tive for many chil­dren with ADHD, there remains an impor­tant need to explore and devel­op inter­ven­tions that can com­ple­ment or even sub­sti­tute for med­ica­tion. This is true for a vari­ety of rea­sons includ­ing:

Read the rest of this entry »

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