Yesterday I had the chance to chat with Yaakov Stern, leading Cognitive Reserve researcher at Columbia University, and then with a group of 25 lifelong learners in Arizona who attended a brain fitness class (hello, Robert and friends!) based on our consumer guide The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness. On reflection, I found both conversations to be very stimulating for the same reason: they were forward-looking, focused not so much on status quo but on how emerging research, technology and trends may impact our society and lives in years to come. Let’s continue the conversation. Let me share the 10 main trends that we analyzed/ forecasted in our book, and then ask you, sharp readers, to add your own 2 cents to the discussion. [Read more…] about Top 10 Brain Training Trends — Putting our Cognitive Reserve to Work
In an emerging, dynamic, high growth market, like brain training, it is difficult to make precise projections. But, we can observe a number of trends that executives, consumers, public policy makers, and the media should watch closely in the coming years, as brain fitness and training becomes mainstream, new tools appear, and an ecosystem grows around it.
1. We predict an increased emphasis on brain maintenance in locations ranging from retirement communities to gyms. As a computer-savvy baby boomer population looks for ways to stay mentally fit, brain fitness, or brain training, is becoming part of their vocabulary and concern.
2. Physical and mental exercise will be better integrated. Physical exercise has been shown to increase the rate of neurogenesis, whereas mental exercise helps ensure the survival of any newly created neurons. Today both activities usually take place in very different settings: the former, in health clubs, the later, in universities. We predict that the borders between them will become more diffuse. Expect new programs such as brain fitness podcasts that allow us to train working memory as we jog or exercise bikes with built-in brain games.
3. Watch for a [Read more…] about Brain Training Top 10 Future Trends
A spate of recent 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 the aging population, increasing Alzheimer’s rates, and soaring health care costs that place more emphasis than ever on prevention and changing lifestyle.
This past Tuesday, the MIT Club of Northern California, the American Society on Aging, and SmartSilvers sponsored an event on The Emerging Brain Fitness Software Market: Building Better Brains to explore the realities and myths of this growing field. The panel was moderated by Zack Lynch, Executive Director of the Neurotechnology Industry Organization, and composed of a venture capitalist and 3 CEOs of program developers in the field. Before the panel, I had the chance to present an overview of the state of the Brain Fitness Software Market based on our upcoming report to be released on March 4th.
Why are we talking about this field at all? Well, for one, an increasing number of companies are achieving significant commercial success in packaging “brain exercise”. An example is the line of Nintendo games, such as Brain Age and Brain Training, that have shipped over 15 million units worldwide despite limited scientific support, since 2005. What is less visible is that a number of companies and scientists are [Read more…] about Brain Training Games: Context, Trends, Questions
That is the goal of Stanford University Media X: to foster deep collaborations between industry and academia, as highlighted in Business Week’s recent article The Virtual Meeting Room. The 5th Annual Media X Conference on Research, Collaboration, Innovation and Productivity served its purpose well for the last couple of days: very fun and insightful presentations by Stanford researchers (and a few external experts) and a great list of participants to get to know.
No doubt, a great source of mental stimulation for all of us. Charles House, Media X’s Executive Director, framed the dialogue as an effort to generate the right questions and then engage the best minds in answering them.
Some of (my) main take-aways
- “The world does not come to us as neat disciplinary problems, but as complex interdisciplinary challenges” (great quote by Dean John Hennessy)
- Personal Robotics is poised to explode soon-and software will be key (predicted by Paul Saffo)
- An inconvenient truth: Al Gore had to be convinced to bring his presentation into a movie, since he was very attached to each and every of his X hundred slides. We are happy it happened!
- Neuroscientists know what patterns in the brain indicate certain intentions-and are starting to use technologies to help immobilized patients communicate with external devices based merely on their thoughts
- We need to learn to embrace change- a lot of it is coming!
Now, some key points from several presentations (there were more than these, but I couldn’t attend all). I encourage you to visit the website of each presenter if you are interested in learning more about that topic.
a. Paul Saffo on Innovation
- It usually takes 20 years since basic science until applications reach inflection point and take the world by storm
- Next big thing: personal robotics. Indicators: [Read more…] about “Cells that fire together wire together” and Stanford Media X