Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

The Benefits of a One-Time Cognitive Training Program Do Last but Wane Over Time

Do you remem­ber the IMPACT study pub­lished in 2009? It was a ran­dom­ized clin­i­cal tri­al with healthy old­er adults that com­pared a com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive pro­gram that trains audi­tory pro­cess­ing (Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram, Posit Sci­ence) with edu­ca­tion­al video pro­grams (con­trol group). Peo­ple who used the pro­gram improved in the trained tasks, which was not that sur­pris­ing, but there was also a clear ben­e­fit in audi­tory mem­ory, which wasn’t direct­ly trained.

A 2011 paper reports the 3-month fol­low-up results of the IMPACT study. The 487 par­tic­i­pants in the orig­i­nal study were 65 and old­er. Train­ing was 1 hour a day, 4 to 5 days a week, for a total of 40 hours in 8 to 10 weeks. There was no con­tact with the researchers between the ini­tial train­ing study and the fol­low-up study.

The results showed that 3 months after the ini­tial train­ing most of the improve­ment observed in the train­ing group was still present, although not as strong­ly. Read the rest of this entry »

Scientific critique of BBC/ Nature Brain Training Experiment

logo-bbcThere has been quite a bit of com­ment about the Owen et al study in Nature avail­able online on April 20, 2010. A quick syn­op­sis of the study is that the BBC show Bang Goes the The­o­ry worked with the study authors to pro­vide a test of the hypoth­e­sis that com­mer­cial­ly avail­able brain train­ing pro­grams trans­fer to gen­er­al cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties. The con­clu­sion was that, despite improve­ments on the trained tasks, “no evi­dence was found for trans­fer effects to untrained tasks, even when those tasks were cog­ni­tive­ly close­ly relat­ed.”

The exper­i­ment

The study was con­duct­ed through the show’s web site. Of 52,617 par­tic­i­pants who reg­is­tered, approx­i­mate­ly 20% (11,430) com­plet­ed full par­tic­i­pa­tion in the study, which con­sist­ed of two bench­mark­ing assess­ments 6 weeks apart with vari­ants of neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal tests and at least two train­ing ses­sions. Peo­ple were ran­dom­ly assigned to one of three groups that were asked to train for about 10 min a day three times a week for the 6-week peri­od, though they could train either more or less fre­quent­ly. One of the two exper­i­men­tal groups was a “brain train­ing” group that com­plet­ed tasks includ­ing sim­ple arith­metic, find­ing miss­ing pieces, match­ing sym­bols to a tar­get, order­ing rotat­ing num­bers by numer­i­cal val­ue, updat­ing, and mem­o­ry for items. Most of the train­ing ses­sions were 90 sec each; the rotat­ing num­bers tasks was 3 min. These activ­i­ties are sim­i­lar to those used in “edu­tain­ment” pro­grams that can be played online or with a hand­held device. The oth­er exper­i­men­tal group was trained on rea­son­ing tasks that involved iden­ti­fy­ing rel­a­tive weights of objects based on a visu­al “see­saw”, select­ing the “odd” item in a con­cept for­ma­tion type task, a task involv­ing think­ing through the effects of one action on cur­rent and future states, and three plan­ning tasks includ­ing draw­ing a con­tin­u­ous line around a grid while ascer­tain­ing that the line will not hin­der lat­er moves, a ver­sion of the Tow­er of Hanoi task, and a tile slid­ing game. The con­trol group spent time answer­ing ques­tions about obscure facts and orga­niz­ing them chrono­log­i­cal­ly based on any avail­able online resource. Results indi­cat­ed that the two exper­i­men­tal groups per­formed bet­ter than the con­trol group on only one out­come test of gram­mat­i­cal rea­son­ing; there were no dif­fer­ences between either exper­i­men­tal group and the con­trols on the remain­ing test. The exper­i­men­tal groups had improved on the trained tasks but not on the trans­fer tasks.

Sci­en­tif­ic con­cerns

Although some news reports sug­gest that these find­ings are defin­i­tive, there are a num­ber of con­cerns, many of which have to do with whether the find­ings have been over­gen­er­al­ized to all forms of brain train­ing because only a few tests were used. Sec­ond, there have been ques­tions raised about the amount of time allo­cat­ed to train­ing and the issue of test­ing in the home envi­ron­ment. The study report­ed Read the rest of this entry »

Invitation to SharpBrains Summit — Technology for Cognitive Health and Performance

We are excit­ed to invite you to the first vir­tu­al, glob­al Sharp­Brains Sum­mit (Jan­u­ary 18–20th, 2010). The Sharp­Brains Sum­mit will fea­ture a sharpbrains_summit_logo_webdream team of over 25 speak­ers who are lead­ers in indus­try and research from 7 coun­tries, to dis­cuss emerg­ing research, tools and best prac­tices for cog­ni­tive health and per­for­mance. This inau­gur­al event will expose health and insur­ance providers, devel­op­ers, inno­va­tors at For­tune 500 com­pa­nies, investors and researchers, to the oppor­tu­ni­ties, part­ner­ships, trends, and stan­dards of the rapid­ly evolv­ing cog­ni­tive fit­ness field.

Reg­is­ter Today

Learn more and reg­is­ter Here today, at dis­count­ed ear­ly-bird rates, to receive these ben­e­fits:

  • Learn: Full access to all Con­fer­ence live ses­sions, and Down­load­able Record­ings and Hand­outs
  • See: lat­est tech­nolo­gies and prod­ucts dur­ing Expo Day
  • Con­nect and Dis­cuss: become a mem­ber of the Sharp­Brains Net­work for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion (mem­bers-only LinkedIn Group) through the end of 2010, access online chats dur­ing the sum­mit, meet oth­er reg­is­trants in your city
  • Under­stand the Big Pic­ture: access 10 Research Exec­u­tive Briefs pre­pared by lead­ing sci­en­tists

On top of those ear­ly-bird dis­counts, we offer an addi­tion­al 15% dis­count for Sharp­Brains read­ers who want Reg­u­lar Admis­sion. Dis­count code: sharp2010. You can reg­is­ter Here.

Agenda/ Speak­ers

Monday, January 18th, 2010:

(Pre­lim­i­nary sched­ule, US Pacif­ic Time)

8–9.15am. Cog­ni­tion & Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty: The New Health­care Fron­tier

  • Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, Sharp­Brains
  • David White­house, OptumHealth Behav­ioral Solu­tions
  • William Reich­man, Bay­crest
  • P Murali Doraiswamy, Duke Uni­ver­si­ty

9.30–11am. Tools for Safer Dri­ving: The Oppor­tu­ni­ty with Teenagers and Adults

  • Steven Aldrich, Posit Sci­ence
  • Shlo­mo Breznitz, Cog­niFit
  • Jer­ri Edwards, Uni­ver­si­ty of South Flori­da
  • Peter Chris­tian­son, Young Dri­vers of Cana­da

Noon-1.30pm. Baby Boomers and Beyond: Main­tain­ing Cog­ni­tive Vital­i­ty

Save the Date: SharpBrains Summit, Technology for Cognitive Health and Performance

We are very excit­ed to announce the first Sharp­Brains Sum­mit, a vir­tu­al con­fer­ence to take place Jan­u­ary 18–20th, 2010.  Over 30 lead­ing speak­ers and a pro­fes­sion­al audi­ence will dis­cuss emerg­ing inno­va­tion and tech­nol­o­gy for life­long cog­ni­tive health and per­for­mance. The Sum­mit will high­light the con­ver­gence of neu­rocog­ni­tive research, non-inva­sive tech­nol­o­gy and health­care, dis­cuss emerg­ing best prac­tices, and help pre­dict how a grow­ing range of tools may pro­vide solu­tions to cog­ni­tive health and per­for­mance-relat­ed issues.

sharpbrains_summit_logo_webYou can see speak­ers and agen­da by click­ing on Sharp­Brains Sum­mit. Please reg­is­ter if you are inter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing: Jan­u­ary 18–20th 2010 (Pacif­ic Time).

  • Con­fer­ence: Jan­u­ary 18–19th. 9–10 pan­els to dis­cuss Mar­ket and Research Insights,  togeth­er with online dis­cus­sions.
  • Expo Day: Jan­u­ary 20th. Prod­uct demos by Spon­sors.

Con­firmed speak­ers and themes:

Monday, January 18th, 2010:

Cog­ni­tion and Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty: The New Health­care Fron­tier

  • Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, CEO, Sharp­Brains
  • David White­house, Chief Med­ical Offi­cer, OptumHealth Behav­ioral Solu­tions
  • William Reich­man, Pres­i­dent, Bay­crest
  • P Murali Doraiswamy, Bio­log­i­cal Psy­chi­a­try Divi­sion Head, Duke Uni­ver­si­ty

Tools for Safer Dri­ving: Teenagers and Old­er Adults

  • Steven Aldrich, CEO, Posit Sci­ence
  • Peter Chris­tian­son, Pres­i­dent of Young Dri­vers of Cana­da
  • Jer­ri Edwards, Assoc. Pro­fes­sor Uni­ver­si­ty of South Flori­da

Clin­i­cal Appli­ca­tions: Research­ing, Iden­ti­fy­ing, Treat­ing Cog­ni­tive Deficits

  • Kei­th Wesnes, Prac­tice Leader, Unit­ed BioSource Cor­po­ra­tion
  • Jonas Jen­di, CEO, Cogmed
  • Michel Noir, Pres­i­dent, Sci­en­tif­ic Brain Train­ing
  • Elkhonon Gold­berg, Chief Sci­en­tif­ic Advi­sor, Sharp­Brains

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Newsletter: December Edition

Brain exercise, brain exercisesI hope you are hav­ing a joy­ful hol­i­day sea­son, and wish you a Hap­py and Pros­per­ous 2008. The Brain Fit­ness field has made a great deal of progress in 2007, and we are look­ing for­ward the New Year.

Here you are have the Month­ly Digest of our Most Pop­u­lar Blog Posts. You can con­sid­er it your month­ly Brain Fitness/ Exer­cise Newslet­ter.

(Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our blog RSS feed, or to our month­ly newslet­ter at the top of this page if you want to receive this month­ly Digest by email).

Let me first of all intro­duce you to our new “Author Speaks Series”, where we will give lead­ing sci­en­tists and experts a forum to present their new brain-relat­ed books. We are hon­ored to kick­start the series with Lar­ry McCleary, for­mer act­ing Chief of Pedi­atric Neu­ro­surgery at Den­ver Children’s Hos­pi­tal. You can read Here his arti­cle on how to keep a brain-friend­ly lifestyle. This series will com­ple­ment our ongo­ing Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series.

Brain Fit­ness in the News

Brain Fit­ness @ PBS: PBS fea­tured a fan­tas­tic spe­cial pro­gram on neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty and brain fit­ness dur­ing the month of Decem­ber. Before you ask: as of today, the DVD of the pro­gram is still not avail­able in PBS online shop. We expect to see it there in 2–3 weeks. We will keep you informed.

The Huff­in­g­ton Post start­ed fea­tur­ing a col­umn writ­ten by me: you may enjoy tak­ing a look at Alvaro Fer­nan­dez — Liv­ing on The Huff­in­g­ton Post.

Jog­ging our Brains for Brain Vital­i­ty, Healthy Aging-and Intel­li­gence!: a roundup of sev­er­al great recent arti­cles on mem­o­ry, aging, IQ and cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties such as self-con­trol.

Health & Well­ness

Brain Train­ing: No Mag­ic Bul­let, Yet Use­ful Tool. Inter­view with Eliz­a­beth Zelin­s­ki: Dr. Zelin­s­ki, lead­ing researcher of the IMPACT study, shares fas­ci­nat­ing insights. For exam­ple: “…cog­ni­tive enhance­ment requires the engage­ment in a vari­ety of activ­i­ties, those activ­i­ties must be nov­el, adap­tive and chal­leng­ing-which is why com­put­er-based pro­grams can be help­ful. But even at a more basic lev­el, what mat­ters is being engaged with life, con­tin­u­al­ly exposed to stim­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties, always try­ing to get out of our com­fort zones, doing our best at what­ev­er we are doing. A major typ­i­cal mis­con­cep­tion is that there is only one gen­er­al intel­li­gence to care about. In real­i­ty, we have many dif­fer­ent cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties, such as atten­tion, mem­o­ry, lan­guage, rea­son­ing, and more, so it makes sense to have dif­fer­ent pro­grams designed to train and improve each of them.”

How to Eval­u­ate and Choose a Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram: To help you nav­i­gate the grow­ing num­ber of com­put­er-based pro­grams and games, we pub­lished this 10-Ques­tion Check­list, based on dozens of inter­views with sci­en­tists, experts and con­sumers.

Trav­el and Engage­ment as Good Brain Exer­cise: As we’ve seen, nov­el­ty, vari­ety and chal­lenge are the key guide­lines for “brain exer­cise” that help build new neur­al con­nec­tions, force one to be mind­ful and pay atten­tion, improve abil­i­ties such as pat­tern-recog­ni­tion, and gen­er­al­ly con­tribute to life­long brain health. In this post we fea­ture the brain build­ing / mind expand­ing expe­ri­ence of a Sharp­Brains friend work­ing in Namib­ia.

Alzheimer’s Pre­ven­tion and Diag­nos­tic Tests: analy­sis of sev­er­al recent arti­cles on emerg­ing research behind Alzheimer’s diag­nos­tic and pre­ven­tion.

Cor­po­rate Well­ness and Train­ing

Cog­ni­tive Reserve and Intel­lec­tu­al­ly Demand­ing Jobs: a recent study shows how “Intel­lec­tu­al­ly demand­ing work was asso­ci­at­ed with greater ben­e­fit to cog­ni­tive per­for­mance in lat­er life inde­pen­dent of relat­ed fac­tors like edu­ca­tion and intel­li­gence.”

Cog­ni­tive Health and Baby Boomers- 6 Points to Keep in Mind: based upon an excel­lent McK­in­sey report titled Serv­ing Aging Baby Boomers, we dis­cuss a vari­ety a news arti­cles, includ­ing inter­est­ing num­bers, some bad news, and some good news.

Life­long Learn­ing Is Chang­ing My Brain: Andreas, the neu­ro­science PhD stu­dent who spent last sum­mer work­ing with Sharp­Brains, writes some reflec­tions on his expe­ri­ence and on how sci­en­tists and busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als can learn from each oth­er.

Brain Teasers

Trav­el­er IQ Game: Check out this stim­u­lat­ing online game…

Events

Learn­ing & The Brain Con­fer­ence, Feb­ru­ary 5–7 2008, San Fran­cis­co: Sign up now for this great con­fer­ence for edu­ca­tors who want to learn about the lat­est brain research find­ings and impli­ca­tions. I will be speak­ing at the con­fer­ence giv­ing an overview of inno­v­a­tive cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams. The orga­niz­ers are offer­ing a Spe­cial Dis­count for Sharp­Brains read­ers until Jan­u­ary 25th 2008, so click here if inter­est­ed.

If we don’t talk beforehand…Happy New Year!

———————

You can also enjoy our pre­vi­ous edi­tions of our Brain Fit­ness Newslet­ter:

- Novem­ber Edi­tion

- Octo­ber Edi­tion

- Sep­tem­ber Edi­tion

- August Edi­tion

- July Edi­tion

All Slidedecks & Recordings Available — click image below

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm and think tank tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.