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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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The FDA clears two computerized cognitive tests to assist in medical evaluations following brain injury or concussion

impact testingFDA allows mar­ket­ing of first-of-kind com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive tests to help assess cog­ni­tive skills after a head injury (FDA news release):

The U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion today per­mit­ted mar­ket­ing of two new devices to assess a patient’s cog­ni­tive func­tion imme­di­ate­ly after a sus­pect­ed brain injury or con­cus­sion. The Imme­di­ate Post-Con­cus­sion Assess­ment and Cog­ni­tive Test­ing (ImPACT) and ImPACT Pedi­atric are the first med­ical devices per­mit­ted Read the rest of this entry »

Report: Cognitive Testing Program Fails Soldiers, Leaving Brain Injuries Undetected

Test­ing Pro­gram Fails Sol­diers, Leav­ing Brain Injuries Unde­tect­ed (ProP­ub­li­ca):

In 2007, with road­side bombs explod­ing across Iraq, Con­gress moved to improve care for sol­diers who had suf­fered one of the war’s sig­na­ture wounds, trau­mat­ic brain injury.

Law­mak­ers passed a mea­sure requir­ing the mil­i­tary to test sol­diers’ brain func­tion before they deployed and again when they returned. The test was sup­posed to ensure that sol­diers received prop­er treat­ment.

Instead, an inves­ti­ga­tion by ProP­ub­li­ca and NPR has found, the test­ing pro­gram has failed to deliv­er on its promise, offer­ing sol­diers the appear­ance of help, but not the real­i­ty. Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Training News Digest

Here is a news digest on brain train­ing to start your stim­u­lat­ing New Year:

Brain train­ing games: Do they work? This piece explores the world of com­put­er­ized brain train­ing soft­ware: Who uses them? Are they worth the expense? You can also check out Sharp­brains Pro­gram Eval­u­a­tion check­list to learn about the 10 ques­tions to ask when choos­ing a brain fit­ness pro­gram.

Pro­tect your brain: The new issue for ath­letes. Learn more about ImPACT (Imme­di­ate Post-Con­cus­sion Assess­ment and Cog­ni­tive Test­ing), the com­put­er­ized clin­i­cal report which is quick­ly becom­ing the norm for high schools and col­leges Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Does Cognitive Training Work?

Here you have the Feb­ru­ary edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Brain FitnessNewslet­ter by email, sim­ply by sub­mit­ting your email at the top of this page.

Cog­ni­tive train­ing (or struc­tured men­tal exer­cise) def­i­nite­ly seems to work — as long as we define prop­er­ly what “work” means, don’t expect mag­ic cures, and help nav­i­gate options. Please keep read­ing…

Inter­view: Bay­crest

Inter­view with Baycrest’s CEO Dr. William Reich­man: Dis­cussing the recent Cen­tre for Brain Fit­ness at Bay­crest, Dr. Reich­man sug­gests that “we have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI cen­tu­ry, sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Health in the XXth, and tech­nol­o­gy will play a cru­cial role.” A major obsta­cle? We need a con­sen­sus on “wide­ly accept­ed stan­dards for out­come mea­sures”.

Does It Work?

Does cog­ni­tive train­ing work? (For Whom? For What?): The grow­ing field of cog­ni­tive train­ing (one of the tools for brain fit­ness) can appear very con­fus­ing as the media keeps report­ing con­tra­dic­to­ry claims. These claims are often based on press releas­es, with­out a deep­er under­stand­ing of the sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence. Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon, Sharp­Brains’ Research Man­ag­er for Edu­ca­tion­al Ini­tia­tives, ana­lyzes a cou­ple of recent stud­ies, clar­i­fy­ing what they mean — and what they don’t mean.

It Works, and It Doesn’t Work: the IMPACT study (a major, mul­ti-site study on the Posit Sci­ence audi­to­ry pro­gram) will be pub­lished at the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Geri­atrics Soci­ety in April. Results sup­port that cog­ni­tive train­ing works — but doesn’t sup­port the grandiose “brain age” claims we see too often.

Cog­ni­tive Train­ing can Influ­ence Brain Bio­chem­istry: Dr. David Rabin­er dis­cuss­es a recent sci­en­tif­ic study that “shows that brain bio­chem­istry can be mod­i­fied by expe­ri­ence”, and that com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive train­ing (Cogmed work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing) can pro­vide that expe­ri­ence.

The Big Pic­ture

Mak­ing Healthy Choic­es — Pri­mare Care and Pre­ven­tion: a pan­el at the recent World Eco­nom­ic Forum explored why “New mar­kets and indus­tries are aris­ing sil­ver indus­tries such as finan­cial ser­vices, health, hous­ing and hos­pi­tal­i­ty geared to senior cit­i­zens. Longevi­ty needs to be linked to health includ­ing cog­ni­tive health and lifestyle choic­es play a major role in health.”

Enrich your envi­ron­ment now and ben­e­fit your future off­spring: Dr. Robert Syl­west­er reports that “all sorts of long held-beliefs about our brain and cog­ni­tion are being re- exam­ined by cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tists” because of fas­ci­nat­ing stud­ies such as the one he reviews (with mice): “The study’s find­ings seemed to sug­gest that acquired char­ac­ter­is­tics can be genet­i­cal­ly transmitted…long-term ben­e­fits accrue from a stim­u­lat­ing ear­ly envi­ron­ment that encour­ages curios­i­ty and explo­ration.”

Man­ag­ing Emo­tions

From Dis­tress to De-Stress: help­ing anx­ious, wor­ried kids: In a detailed 2-part arti­cle, (Part 1, Part 2), Dr. Jerome Schultz pro­vides great tips on how to help chil­dren learn to self-reg­u­late emo­tions, adding that “Teach­ers, occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pists, phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion teach­ers and par­ents need to actu­al­ly teach chil­dren (of all ages) how to get them­selves into a phys­i­cal state of being relaxed. This doesn’t hap­pen auto­mat­i­cal­ly. If it did, there wouldn’t be so many adult yoga class­es!”

Lie to Me, Paul Ekman and Biofeed­back: You may have watched the new series Lie To Me, with Tim Roth, based on the work of Paul Ekman. The intro­duc­tion to the sec­ond episode shows why what are called “lie detec­tors” are noth­ing but biofeed­back sys­tems that mea­sure phys­i­o­log­i­cal anx­i­ety.

News

Brain Games for Baby Boomers: round-up of oth­er recent news, cov­er­ing the effects of gam­ing, cog­ni­tive train­ing for dri­ving skills, and brain fit­ness class­es.

Neu­rocog­ni­tive assess­ments and sports con­cus­sions: a new study and a new resource to under­stand and address the 1.6 to 3.8 mil­lion cas­es of sports-relat­ed con­cus­sions that occur annu­al­ly in the Unit­ed States.

Brain Teas­er

How will you, your orga­ni­za­tion, your neigh­bors, par­tic­i­pate in Brain Aware­ness Week, March 16th-22nd, orga­nized by the Dana Foun­da­tion with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of thou­sands of out­reach part­ners, includ­ing Sharp­Brains? You can find event ideas, excel­lent resources (yes, includ­ing puz­zles), and a cal­en­dar of events, Here.

Have a great month of March!

Brain Training: It Works, and It Doesn’t Work

The IMPACT study which we report­ed on in Decem­ber 2007, fund­ed by Posit Sci­ence, con­duct­ed by the Mayo Clin­ic and USC Davis, has just announced pub­li­ca­tion at the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Geri­atrics Soci­ety. Ref­er­ence:

- Smith et al. A Cog­ni­tive Train­ing Pro­gram Designed Based on Prin­ci­ples of Brain Plas­tic­i­ty: Results from the Improve­ment in Mem­o­ry with Plas­tic­i­ty-based Adap­tive Cog­ni­tive Train­ing Study. Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Geri­atrics Soci­ety, April 2009.

Com­put­er Exer­cis­es Improve Mem­o­ry And Atten­tion, Study Sug­gests (Sci­ence Dai­ly)

- “The Improve­ment in Mem­o­ry with Plas­tic­i­ty-based Adap­tive Cog­ni­tive Train­ing (IMPACT) study was fund­ed by the Posit Sci­ence Cor­po­ra­tion, which owns the rights to the Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram, test­ed in the study.”

- “Of the 487 healthy adults over the age of 65 who par­tic­i­pat­ed in a ran­dom­ized con­trolled tri­al, half used the Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram for 40 hours over the course of eight weeks. The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram con­sists of six audio exer­cis­es done on a com­put­er, and is intend­ed to “retrain the brain to dis­crim­i­nate fine dis­tinc­tions in sound, and do it in a way that keeps the user engaged,” Zelin­s­ki explained.” The oth­er half of par­tic­i­pants spent an equal amount of time learn­ing from edu­ca­tion­al DVDs fol­lowed by quizzes.

Com­ment: this is a very inter­est­ing study, in that it shows both that cog­ni­tive train­ing works, and that it doesn’t work.

What do I mean? Read the rest of this entry »

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