Now 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 more…] about Posit Science ranked #6 Holder of Pervasive Neurotech Intellectual Property*
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 more…] about Why Brain Training Helps Older Drivers
Here you have the September edition of our monthly newsletter covering cognitive health and 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.
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
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.
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 Quiz: Do You Have a Brain?: Dr. Pascale Michelon dares you to answer these 10 questions correctly to prove that you have a brain.
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:
- “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:
- “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.
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 that “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?
Yes. 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 more…] about AAA to deploy Brain Fitness Software DriveSharp to Assess and Train Older Driver’s Brains