“Mr. Fernandez…compares the brain-fitness industry of today with the physical-fitness industry of half a century or more ago. Whereas once there were no health clubs or personal trainers, today they’re ubiquitous. “Who will be the personal brain trainers of the future?” he says. “Are they going to be doctors, life coaches, neuropsychologists? Will health clubs [Read more…] about Who will be the personal brain trainers of the future?
Here you have the July 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.
Public libraries have long offered the public more than books. And now, recent demographic and scientific trends are converging to fundamentally transform the role of libraries in our culture. You may enjoy reading this recent article I wrote for the May-June 2009 Issue of Aging Today, the bimonthly publication of the American Society on Aging: Public Libraries: Community-Based Health Clubs for the Brain.
The Big Picture
Can You Outsmart Your Genes? An Interview with Author Richard Nisbett: David DiSalvo interviews Richard Nisbett, the author of Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count, who has emerged as a persuasive voice marshalling evidence to disprove the heredity-is-destiny argument.
Yes, You Can Build Willpower: Daniel Goleman discusses how the brain makes about 10,000 new cells every day, how they migrate to where they are needed, and how each cell can make around 10,000 connections to other brain cells. Implication? Meditate, mindfully, and build positive habits.
Bird’s Eye View of Cognitive Health Innovation: Alvaro Fernandez opened the Cognitive Health Track during the Games for Health Conference (June 11–12th, Boston) with an overview of the serious games, software and online applications that can help assess and train cognitive abilities. The presentation is available Here.
Brain Tests and Myths
The Best Memory Tests, from the Alzheimer’s Action Plan: Dr. Murali Doraiswamy discusses the Pros and Cons of the most common assessments to identify cognitive problems, including what the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) does and doesn´t, and innovative computerized neuropsychological tests.
Debunking 10 Brain Health Myths: Does your brain have a “Brain Age”? Is a Magic Pill to “prevent memory problems” right around the corner? Does “aging” equal “decline”? Check out the facts to debunk 10 common myths on brain health.
Free Webinar: On July 21st, 10am Pacific Time/ 1pm Eastern Time, Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg and Alvaro Fernandez, co-authors of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness, will cover the main highlights from this new book and address the questions submitted by readers. You can learn more and register HERE.
Research References: This is a partial list of the scientific studies reviewed during the research phase of SharpBrains’s new book, organized by relevant chapter, for those of you who like to explore topics in depth by reading original research (perhaps PubMed should promote itself as a never ending source of mental stimulation?).
Brain Teasers on Brain Fitness: Are you ready to test your knowledge of several key brain fitness metrics? For example: How many soldiers in the US Army have gone through computerized cognitive testing before being deployed, and why?
Finally, a request: if you have already read The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness, and could write a brief customer review at Amazon.com, we would surely appreciate! The Amazon.com book page is Here.
Best regards, and enjoy the month
- “The patent-pending bike, engineered by Dr. Bergeron and BCA (Brain Center America)Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s international team of brain specialists, makes its U.S. debut this month at Lady of America (LOA) fitness centers.”
- “Users of the NeuroActive Bike may select from 22 brain-stimulating exercises that train different parts of the brain, including: memory of names and faces, 3D visuo-spatial skills, concentration, word naming and arithmetic. As they pedal, they manipulate a wireless mouse to interact with the computer and complete the NeuroActive Program”
In our 2008 market report we offered Top 10 Brain Training Future Trends, including:
“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.”
In the past two days, The New York Times has published twoÃ‚Â excellent articles onÃ‚Â brain and cognitive fitness. Despite appearing in separate sections (technology and editorial),Ã‚Â the twoÃ‚Â have more in common thanÃ‚Â immediately meets the eye. BothÃ‚Â raiseÃ‚Â keyÃ‚Â questions thatÃ‚Â politicians, health policy makers, business leaders,Ã‚Â educatorsÃ‚Â and consumersÃ‚Â shouldÃ‚Â pay attention to.
1) First, Exercise Your Brain, or Else YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll … Uh …, by Katie Hafner (5/3/08). Some quotes:
- “At the same time, boomers are seizing on a mounting body of evidence that suggests that brains contain more plasticity than previously thought, and many people are taking matters into their own hands, doing brain fitness exercises with the same intensity with which they attack a treadmill.”
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
There are several brain fitness topics where we still see a large disconnect between research and popular knowledge, and a major one is the relationship between memory and stress. Caroline and I collaborated on this post to bring you some context and tips.
Our society has changed faster than our genes. Instead of being faced with physical, immediately life-threatening crises that demand instant action, these days we deal with events and illnesses that gnaw away at us slowly, that stress us out and that, believe it or not, end up hurting our memory and brain.
Dr. Robert Sapolsky, in an interview about his book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, points out that humans uniquely “can get stressed simply with thought, turning on the same stress response as does the zebra.” But, the zebra releases the stress hormones through life-preserving action, while we usually just keep muddling along, getting more anxious by the moment.
What is the relationship between stress and memory? We all know chronic stress is bad for our heart, our weight, and our mood, but how about our memory? Interestingly, acute stress can help us focus and remember things more vividly. Chronic stress, on the other hand, reduce our ability to focus and can specifically damage cells in the hippocampus, a brain structure critical to encoding short term memory.
When is stress chronic? When one feels [Read more…] about 10 (Surprising) Memory Improvement Tips