Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Barbara Arrowsmith Young: Every kid should practice stress reduction and targeted cognitive exercises at school

Bar­bara Arrow­smith Young

What is your cur­rent job title and orga­ni­za­tion, and what excites you the most about work­ing there?
As dis­cussed in The Brain that Changes Itself and in my own book, The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, I launched the Arrow­smith Pro­gram, a suite of cog­ni­tive exercises–now in more that 60 schools–designed to strength­en weak cog­ni­tive areas that under­lie a num­ber of spe­cif­ic learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and dis­abil­i­ties.

I did so based on my jour­ney to over­come my own severe spe­cif­ic learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties Read the rest of this entry »

To boost brainpower, ignore “smart drugs” and focus on experiences that harness neuroplasticity the right way

brain_scans

Tra­di­tion­al sci­en­tif­ic ideas cast the human brain as a fixed and essen­tial­ly lim­it­ed sys­tem that only degrades with age. This view saw the brain as a rigid machine in many ways, pret­ty much set after child­hood. By con­trast, we have now come to appre­ci­ate that the human brain is actu­al­ly a high­ly dynam­ic and con­stant­ly reor­ga­niz­ing sys­tem, capa­ble of Read the rest of this entry »

Using Brain Plasticity to help Children with Learning Disabilities

Did you read The Brain That Changes Itself: Sto­ries of Per­son­al Tri­umph from the Fron­tiers of Brain Sci­ence, the great book on neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty by Nor­man Doidge? If  so, you will have heard about the Arrow­smith School/ Pro­gram, which was also one of the Top Ten Final­ists in 2010 Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion Awards.  The fol­low­ing is an excerpt from Brain School: Sto­ries of chil­dren with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties and atten­tion dis­or­ders who changed their lives by improv­ing their cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing (Novem­ber 2010; $22), a new book from Eaton Arrow­smith School’s (EAS) founder and direc­tor, Howard Eaton. It tells the sto­ry of how chil­dren with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties (dyslex­ia, ADHD, etc.) can over­come edu­ca­tion­al obsta­cles by reor­ga­niz­ing their brains. An inspir­ing book about how cog­ni­tive pro­grams can result in both aca­d­e­m­ic and social suc­cess.  Read the rest of this entry »

10% Students may have working memory problems: Why does it matter?

Work­ing mem­o­ry is our abil­i­ty to store and manip­u­late infor­ma­tion for a brief time. It is typ­i­cal­ly mea­sured by dual-tasks, where the indi­vid­ual has to remem­ber an item while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly pro­cess­ing a some­times unre­lat­ed piece of infor­ma­tion. A wide­ly used work­ing mem­o­ry task is the read­ing span task where the indi­vid­ual reads a sen­tence, ver­i­fies it, and then recalls the final word. Indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences in work­ing mem­o­ry per­for­mance are close­ly relat­ed to a range of aca­d­e­m­ic skills such as read­ing, spelling, com­pre­hen­sion, and math­e­mat­ics. Cru­cial­ly, there is emerg­ing research that work­ing mem­o­ry pre­dicts learn­ing out­comes inde­pen­dent­ly of IQ. One expla­na­tion for the impor­tance of work­ing mem­o­ry in aca­d­e­m­ic attain­ment is that because it appears to be rel­a­tive­ly unaf­fect­ed by envi­ron­men­tal influ­ences, such as parental edu­ca­tion­al lev­el and finan­cial back­ground, it mea­sures a student’s capac­i­ty to acquire knowl­edge rather than what they have already learned.

How­ev­er lit­tle is known about the con­se­quences of low work­ing mem­o­ry capac­i­ty per se, inde­pen­dent of oth­er asso­ci­at­ed learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. In par­tic­u­lar, it is not known either what pro­por­tion of stu­dents with low work­ing mem­o­ry capac­i­ties has sig­nif­i­cant learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties or what their behav­ioral char­ac­ter­is­tics are. The aim of a recent study pub­lished in Child Devel­op­ment (ref­er­ence below) was to pro­vide the first sys­tem­at­ic large-scale exam­i­na­tion of the cog­ni­tive and behav­ioral char­ac­ter­is­tics of school-aged stu­dents who have been iden­ti­fied sole­ly on the basis of very low work­ing mem­o­ry scores.

In screen­ing of over 3000 school-aged stu­dents in main­stream schools, 1 in 10 was iden­ti­fied as hav­ing work­ing mem­o­ry dif­fi­cul­ties. There were sev­er­al key find­ings regard­ing their cog­ni­tive skills. The first is that the major­i­ty of them per­formed below age-expect­ed lev­els in read­ing and math­e­mat­ics. This sug­gests that Read the rest of this entry »

The Brain Fitness/ Training Market: An Executive Summary

Over the next weeks we are going to be shar­ing the Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry of our mar­ket report The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket 2008 with mem­bers and clients of sev­er­al part­ner orga­ni­za­tions (the British Colum­bia Seniors Liv­ing Asso­ci­a­tion, where I will be speak­ing this Thurs­day, Neu­rotech Reports, where I will speak on Octo­ber 24th, and the Health 2.0 con­fer­ence, where we are spon­sor­ing a pan­el on gam­ing for health), so it is only fair that we first share it with our own read­ers.

Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry

A spate of recent glob­al 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 an aging pop­u­la­tion, increas­ing preva­lence of Alzheimer’s rates, and soar­ing health care costs in the US that place more empha­sis than ever on pre­ven­tion and lifestyle changes.

US brain fit­ness mar­ket: sig­nif­i­cant and grow­ing

We esti­mate the size of the US brain fit­ness mar­ket was $225m in 2007 – more than dou­ble what it was in 2005. Where­as K12 school sys­tems were the largest buy­ers in 2005, con­sumers were respon­si­ble for most of the growth from 2005 to 2007. We esti­mate that the con­sumer seg­ment grew from a few mil­lion in 2005 to $80m in 2007, and fore­see sig­nif­i­cant mar­ket growth dri­ven not only by con­sumers but also by health­care and insur­ance providers.

Mar­ket dynam­ics

As we speak to diverse audi­ences about this emerg­ing field around the coun­try we are fre­quent­ly asked the fol­low­ing ques­tions:

- Why are we talk­ing about the brain fit­ness field at all?

Over the past decade, teams backed by neu­ro­sci­en­tists around the world Read the rest of this entry »

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 tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

Follow us and Engage via…

twitter_logo_header
RSS Feed

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

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