Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Posit Science ranked #6 Holder of Pervasive Neurotech Intellectual Property*

posit science logoNow in its twelfth year, Posit Sci­ence con­tin­ues to offer cog­ni­tive train­ing soft­ware through its web-based prod­uct, Brain­HQ. Posit’s mis­sion is to help aging adults remain sharp by exer­cis­ing cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, staving off the nat­ur­al men­tal decline after the age of 50. In addi­tion to its Brain­HQ prod­uct line, Read the rest of this entry »

Why Brain Training Helps Older Drivers

A study just pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Geri­atric Soci­ety has been much pub­li­cized recent­ly (see for instance, this L.A. Times arti­cle). The study showed that a com­put­er-based brain train­ing pro­gram suc­ceed­ed in reduc­ing at-fault car crash­es for old­er dri­vers. The effects of the train­ing last­ed over 6 years.

This result made the news as one of the rare trans­fers of brain train­ing ben­e­fits to every­day life.  Why was this train­ing suc­cess­ful and not oth­ers? Prob­a­bly because brain train­ing needs to be spe­cif­ic and not gen­er­al. If you prac­tice play­ing base­ball you do not expect to get bet­ter at play­ing bas­ket­ball, right? The same is true of brain func­tions: If you train your lan­guage skills, do not expect to get bet­ter at mem­o­riz­ing num­bers. Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Retooling Use It or Lose It at New York Public Library

Here you have the Sep­tem­ber edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health Brain Fitnessand brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

In the cur­rent edi­tion of The Jour­nal on Active Aging, I dis­cuss why we need to Retool “Use it or lose it”, and why rou­tine, doing things inside our com­fort zones, is the most com­mon ene­my of the nov­el­ty, vari­ety and chal­lenge our brains need. You can read the full arti­cle for free Here.

Book Tour

We are glad to report that The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness con­tin­ues to obtain excel­lent endorse­ments:

This is the only book that I know of that seam­less­ly inte­grates lat­est infor­ma­tion about cog­ni­tive health across the lifes­pan. Very use­ful to any­one inter­est­ed in brain care.”

–Arthur Kramer, Ph. D., Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­o­gy at Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois

…we now have a rock sol­id primer on brain health that we can rec­om­mend with confidence…I found it par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive to start the book with a list of ten brain myths that need debunk­ing.”
–Michael C. Pat­ter­son, for­mer Man­ag­er NRTA/ Stay­ing Sharp at AARP

The offi­cial book tour starts this week, and includes New York Pub­lic Library!
09/08: Club One Fit­ness Cen­ter, Petaluma, CA
09/09: San Fran­cis­co State Uni­ver­si­ty OLLI
09/11: ASA Brain Health Day, Oak­land, CA
09/23: New York Pub­lic Library, Bronx Library Cen­ter
09/25: New York Pub­lic Library, Stephen Schwarz­man Build­ing
10/06, Smart­Sil­vers MIT North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Palo Alto, CA
10/14: UC-Berke­ley OLLI, CA

You can find all the details here. If you haven’t read the book yet, you can order it via Ama­zon Here (print book) or Here (Kin­dle edi­tion). Or ask your local book­store or library.

Brain Reserve

Edu­ca­tion AND Life­long Cog­ni­tive Activ­i­ties Delay Mem­o­ry Loss: Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon reports how a recent fol­low-up to the Bronx Aging Study, where 488 ini­tial­ly healthy adults have been tracked over 20 years, shows that every addi­tion­al cog­ni­tive “activ­i­ty day” (par­tic­i­pat­ing in one activ­i­ty for one day a week) helps delay for about two months the onset of rapid mem­o­ry loss as we grow old­er.
Need ideas for extra activ­i­ties?

Chang­ing our Minds…by Read­ing Fic­tion: What about get­ting a nov­el in your hands (or writ­ing one)? By imag­in­ing many pos­si­ble worlds, argues psy­chol­o­gist Kei­th Oat­ley, fic­tion gives us the sur­prise which can help expand our under­stand­ing of our­selves and the social world.

Sharp­Brains Fan Page in Face­book: What about par­tic­i­pat­ing in our new Fan Page at Face­book? You can not only receive lat­est updates but com­ment on your favorite arti­cles and teasers, and dis­cuss your own ideas and resources.

Med­ica­tion and Train­ing

Cog­ni­tive Enhance­ment via Phar­ma­col­o­gy AND Neu­ropsy­chol­o­gy: our co-founder Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg inte­grates three appar­ent­ly sep­a­rate worlds ‑cog­ni­tive enhance­ment via drugs, brain fit­ness train­ing soft­ware, com­put­er­ized neu­rocog­ni­tive assessments‑, in a much updat­ed new edi­tion of his book The Exec­u­tive Brain.

Com­par­ing Cog­ni­tive Train­ing & Med­ica­tion Treat­ment for ADHD: a recent study shows that work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing improves work­ing mem­o­ry more than stim­u­lant med­ica­tion treat­ment-and ben­e­fits per­sist longer. Does this mat­ter?, Does this mean train­ing is bet­ter than med­ica­tion for kids with atten­tion deficits?  Dr. David Rabin­er dis­sects the study search­ing for answers.

Inno­va­tion

AAA to deploy Dri­ve­Sharp: Peter Kissinger, CEO of the AAA Foun­da­tion, explains why the cur­rent sys­tem of dri­ver licens­ing is inad­e­quate and incon­sis­tent, why AAA is rec­om­mend­ing old­er dri­vers use a new cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­gram, and why he believes insur­ance com­pa­nies will soon start to offer brain train­ing to their mem­bers.

Sharp­Brains Net­work for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion: in order to help lead­ers of the brain fit­ness and cog­ni­tive health com­mu­ni­ty learn, con­nect and col­lab­o­rate, Sharp­Brains has cre­at­ed a vir­tu­al LinkedIn net­work for clients. The net­work will be for­mal­ly launched with a webi­nar on Sep­tem­ber 29th that will dis­cuss The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket in 2009. For orga­ni­za­tions that want to order the report, attend the webi­nar, and join the net­work, more infor­ma­tion is avail­able Here.

Brain Teas­er

Brain Quiz: Do You Have a Brain?: Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon dares you to answer these 10 ques­tions cor­rect­ly to prove that you have a brain.

Enjoy!

News: DriveSharp, Cognitive Health, Posit Science and CogniFit

Round-up of recent news on cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness:

1) Impres­sive coup by Posit Sci­ence: Wal­ter Moss­berg reviews Dri­ve­Sharp:

A Review of Dri­ve­Sharp (Wall Street Jour­nal)

- “My ver­dict is that it was easy to use, and it did indeed work on my abil­i­ty to rapid­ly recall the col­or and posi­tion of mul­ti­ple mov­ing objects and of objects on the periph­ery of my vision. It intel­li­gent­ly adjust­ed to my per­for­mance, and grad­u­al­ly pre­sent­ed me with tougher tasks.”

- “How­ev­er, two major caveats are in order. First, I am nei­ther a sci­en­tist nor a doc­tor, so I can’t vouch for the com­pa­ny’s claims about Dri­ve­Sharp’s ben­e­fits or even the under­ly­ing prob­lem it aims to alle­vi­ate. Sec­ond­ly, I was­n’t able to test Dri­ve­Sharp long enough to know if it actu­al­ly made me a bet­ter dri­ver.”

2) Now, is the poten­tial lim­it­ed to old­er dri­vers? not real­ly, as not­ed in this Seat­tle Times arti­cle:

Brain-fit­ness com­pa­nies apply­ing neu­ro­science to make safer dri­vers (Seat­tle Times)

- “Cog­niFit Pres­i­dent Shlo­mo Breznitz says pre­vi­ous ver­sions of this soft­ware have been in use by the largest dri­ving schools in the U.K. and Cana­da.”

- “The brains of new dri­vers have to acquire new skills that take time to devel­op,” he said. “Typ­i­cal­ly, they take about two years of dri­ving, as wit­nessed by acci­dent records all over the world. By active­ly train­ing these skills the time need­ed for the brain to achieve the same lev­el of exper­tise is short­ened. This short­ens the extreme­ly high risk peri­od of new dri­vers.”

3) Chal­lenge — do peo­ple under­stand what we are talk­ing about? not always, as report­ed in this great spe­cial issue of The Geron­tol­o­gist:

GSA — Pop­u­la­tion Seg­ments Dif­fer on Per­cep­tions of Cog­ni­tive Health

- “All demo­graph­ic groups stud­ied believed that cog­ni­tive health is influ­enced by phys­i­cal, men­tal, and social activ­i­ty; how­ev­er, they dif­fered in opin­ions of the ben­e­fits of spe­cif­ic activ­i­ties, nutri­tion, and genet­ics. The respon­dents also indi­cat­ed that that media mes­sages about cog­ni­tive health are lim­it­ed and con­fus­ing. Fur­ther­more, many agreed that health mes­sages that incor­po­rate spe­cif­ic com­mu­ni­ty val­ues and are deliv­ered with­in pre-exist­ing social groups by com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers may be par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive.”
— “Fund­ing for the spe­cial issue, titled “Pro­mot­ing Cog­ni­tive Health in Diverse Pop­u­la­tions of Old­er Adults: Atti­tudes, Per­cep­tions, Behav­iors, and their Impli­ca­tions for Com­mu­ni­ty-Based Inter­ven­tions,” was pro­vid­ed by the CDC’s Healthy Aging Pro­gram.”

All in all, very rel­e­vant data points that sug­gest the field is quick­ly approach­ing main­stream.

AAA to deploy Brain Fitness Software DriveSharp to Assess and Train Older Driver’s Brains

The AAA Foun­da­tion for Traf­fic Safe­ty just start­ed to rec­om­mend a new dri­ver safe­ty pro­gram called Dri­ve­Sharp (see AAA and Posit Release Pro­gram to Improve Dri­vers’ Minds), devel­oped by Posit Sci­ence. Dri­ve­Sharp is a com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive assess­ment and train­ing tool based on Kar­lene Bal­l’s research on old­er adults’ cog­ni­tive fit­ness and dri­ving.

In the press release for the agree­ment, Peter Kissinger, dri­ver safe­ty research and pol­i­cy vet­er­an and CEO of the AAA Foun­da­tion, says thatPeter Kissinger AAA Foundation “Part of mak­ing our nation’s roads safer is help­ing mature dri­vers who wish to stay active — a quick­ly grow­ing pop­u­la­tion — main­tain or improve their dri­ving safe­ty.”

We have Peter Kissinger with us to dis­cuss the con­text for this inno­v­a­tive ini­tia­tive.

Peter, I appre­ci­ate your time. In order to set the con­text, would you intro­duce the role and pri­or­i­ties of the AAA Foun­da­tion?

Sure. All your read­ers will know that AAA is the main dri­ver asso­ci­a­tion in North Amer­i­ca, with over 50 mil­lion mem­bers. The AAA Foun­da­tion is focused on the research and pol­i­cy required to improve dri­ver safe­ty and has 4 strate­gic pri­or­i­ties:
— Intro­duce a cul­ture of traf­fic safe­ty. It is an out­rage that there is a dri­ving-relat­ed death every 13 min­utes in the US, and yet, we seem to accept this as sta­tus quo
— Improve road safe­ty, espe­cial­ly on rur­al roads, where almost 60% of the deaths occur,
— Improve safe­ty among teens, one of the high­est risk groups
— Improve safe­ty among seniors, anoth­er high-risk group.

In terms of dri­ver-cen­tered inter­ven­tions, are your pri­or­i­ties are teenage and old­er dri­vers?

driver fatality rateYes. You have prob­a­bly seen the U‑shaped risk curve (Edi­tor note: see fig­ure at left) that shows how acci­dent risks are very high among teenagers, then decrease and remain sta­ble until our 60s, and then increase again.

We have pro­mot­ed ini­tia­tives such as Dri­verZED (see www.driverzed.org) to help teenagers bet­ter iden­ti­fy and man­age the typ­i­cal sources of risk, so they advance faster through the learn­ing curve. For old­er dri­vers we focus on how to bal­ance the priv­i­lege of dri­ving with the right of mobil­i­ty — we know that los­ing dri­ving inde­pen­dence can bring a vari­ety of neg­a­tive con­se­quences for the indi­vid­ual.

Giv­en aging pop­u­la­tion trends, it is clear we need to intro­duce bet­ter sys­tems to bal­ance those two goals you just out­lined ‑safe­ty and mobil­i­ty. Do you think as a soci­ety we are pre­pared?

I don’t think we are, and I am pes­simistic that we will be in the short term. This is a very impor­tant prob­lem: offi­cial esti­mates say that the pro­por­tion of all dri­vers who are over 65 years of age will grow from 15% today to 25% in 2025.

Let me give you some back­ground: two years ago we put togeth­er a work­shop to iden­ti­fy the state of the research and the state of the prac­tice of dri­ver safe­ty among Read the rest of this entry »

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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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