Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: A brain-friendly lifestyle is the best approach to delay cognitive decline and dementia

While the hip­pocam­pus tends to shrink with age, which con­tributes to cog­ni­tive decline, a recent study shows that this is not always the case (see all those blue lines), sug­gest­ing it can be pos­si­ble to main­tain hip­pocam­pus vol­ume and cog­ni­tive func­tion into our lat­er years.

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Time to wrap-up anoth­er stim­u­lat­ing month with Sharp­Brains’ e‑newsletter, fea­tur­ing this time a range of promis­ing news for every­one with a (human) brain 🙂

New tech for brain health:

New brain and mind research:

New thinking to shape education and healthcare:

Finally, a few riddles to tease your brain:

 

Have a great Thanks­giv­ing and Decem­ber,

The Sharp­Brains Team

To delay dementia, try challenging (vs. routine) brain stimulation…up to a point

brain__skeletonBrain games that could pay off in retire­ment (Mar­ket­Watch):

Cog­ni­tive aging is the biggest health cri­sis in our coun­try,” said Denise C. Park…the mon­e­tary cost of demen­tia in the U.S. tops $157 bil­lion annu­al­ly, accord­ing to esti­mates by the Rand Corp.—and that num­ber could more than Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive stimulation is beneficial, even after diagnosis of Alzheimer’s

An inter­est­ing arti­cle in Nature Reviews last month reviewed sev­er­al stud­ies show­ing that cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tion can be ben­e­fi­cial even for indi­vid­u­als already diag­nosed with Alzheimer’s Dis­ease (Buschert et al., 2010).

The arti­cle shows that patients with mild-to-mod­er­ate demen­tia can ben­e­fit from a range of cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions: from train­ing of par­tial­ly spared cog­ni­tive func­tions to train­ing on activ­i­ties of dai­ly liv­ing. Results sug­gest that such inter­ven­tions can improve glob­al cog­ni­tion, abil­i­ties of dai­ly liv­ing and qual­i­ty of life in these patients.

Patients with mod­er­ate-to-severe demen­tia seem to ben­e­fit from gen­er­al engage­ment in activ­i­ties that enhance cog­ni­tive and social func­tion­ing in a non-spe­cif­ic man­ner.

In gen­er­al, for patients diag­nosed with Alzheimer’s Dis­ease, the reviewed stud­ies sug­gest that pro­grams focus­ing on glob­al cog­ni­tive stim­u­la­tion are more effec­tive than pro­grams that train spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive func­tions.

The oppo­site seems true for peo­ple diag­nosed with Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment (MCI). As you may remem­ber, MCI diag­no­sis is made upon objec­tive mem­o­ry deficits that do not inter­fere with activ­i­ties of dai­ly liv­ing. 5 to 10% of peo­ple with MCI devel­op demen­tia with­in 1 year after being diag­nosed.

It is inter­est­ing to see that the type of cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tion one may ben­e­fit from changes over the years, depend­ing on one’s cog­ni­tive sta­tus. This shows once again that there is no gen­er­al mag­ic pill in terms of brain fit­ness: Some inter­ven­tions or pro­grams work because they meet the needs of some spe­cif­ic indi­vid­u­als. No pro­gram can work for every­body.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Brain Fitness/ Training Market: An Executive Summary

Over the next weeks we are going to be shar­ing the Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry of our mar­ket report The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket 2008 with mem­bers and clients of sev­er­al part­ner orga­ni­za­tions (the British Colum­bia Seniors Liv­ing Asso­ci­a­tion, where I will be speak­ing this Thurs­day, Neu­rotech Reports, where I will speak on Octo­ber 24th, and the Health 2.0 con­fer­ence, where we are spon­sor­ing a pan­el on gam­ing for health), so it is only fair that we first share it with our own read­ers.

Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry

A spate of recent glob­al news cov­er­age on brain fit­ness and brain train­ing reflects a grow­ing inter­est in nat­ur­al, non drug-based inter­ven­tions to keep our brains sharp as we age. This inter­est is very time­ly, giv­en an aging pop­u­la­tion, increas­ing preva­lence of Alzheimer’s rates, and soar­ing health care costs in the US that place more empha­sis than ever on pre­ven­tion and lifestyle changes.

US brain fit­ness mar­ket: sig­nif­i­cant and grow­ing

We esti­mate the size of the US brain fit­ness mar­ket was $225m in 2007 – more than dou­ble what it was in 2005. Where­as K12 school sys­tems were the largest buy­ers in 2005, con­sumers were respon­si­ble for most of the growth from 2005 to 2007. We esti­mate that the con­sumer seg­ment grew from a few mil­lion in 2005 to $80m in 2007, and fore­see sig­nif­i­cant mar­ket growth dri­ven not only by con­sumers but also by health­care and insur­ance providers.

Mar­ket dynam­ics

As we speak to diverse audi­ences about this emerg­ing field around the coun­try we are fre­quent­ly asked the fol­low­ing ques­tions:

- Why are we talk­ing about the brain fit­ness field at all?

Over the past decade, teams backed by neu­ro­sci­en­tists around the world Read the rest of this entry »

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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