“According to the World Health Organization’s large-scale studies, about a third of the adult worldwide population suffer from a mental disorder such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. If also taken together with neurological disorders, such as dementia and stroke, these “disorders of the brain” account for [Read more…] about Why “disorders of the brain” deserve at least equal attention as cardiovascular diseases and cancer
The best alternative for tomorrow should be better than the best alternative available today. How do we get there, when “cognition” and “brain fitness” remain elusive concepts in popular culture? I believe that the lack of public education is the major obstacle that limits the brain fitness field’s potential to deliver real-world benefits, since only informed demand will ensure the ongoing development of rational, structured “rules of the road.” What could be done to address this and other particular obstacles? [Read more…] about The Business and Ethics of the Brain Fitness Boom — Part 4: The Future
Engaging people where they are in the life-course
Eighty percent of the 38,000 adults over age 50 who were responders in the 2010 AARP Member Opinion Survey indicated “staying mentally sharp” was their top ranked interest and concern (Dinger, 2010). What exactly does this phrase mean? And what role can technology play in “staying mentally sharp”? Intel CEO Paul Otellini has said, “You have to start by thinking about what people want to do… and work backward.” [Read more…] about The Business and Ethics of the Brain Fitness Boom — Part 3: The Real Need
The terminology “fundamental attribution error” describes the tendency to overvalue personality-based explanations for observed human behaviors, while undervaluing situational explanations for those behaviors. I believe that a primary reason behind many perceived and real ethical challenges in the brain fitness field is due not so much to certain stakeholders’ lack of personal or professional ethics, but derives from the flawed societal construct that underpins current, relevant innovations. To improve the ethics of the brain fitness business and its application (and empower consumers’ informed decision making), there must first be agreement about a meaningful, appropriate way to analyze and guide innovation. This is the crux of the problem. The current medical model is not up to the task at hand, since it is heavily skewed toward invasive drugs and devices driven by disease-based models, and fails to leverage [Read more…] about The Business and Ethics of the Brain Fitness Boom — Part 2: The Ethics
(Editor’s Note: I recently came across an excellent book and resource, The Alzheimer’s Action Plan: The Experts’ Guide to the Best Diagnosis and Treatment for Memory Problems, just released in paperback. Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, one of the authors and leading Alzheimer’s expert, kindly helped us create a 2‑part article series to share with SharpBrains readers advice on a very important question, “How can we help the public at large to distinguish Alzheimer’s Disease from normal aging — so that an interest in early identification doesn’t translate into unneeded worries?” What follows is an excerpt from the book, pages 3–8).
As it turns out, Jane did not have Alzheimer’s. She consulted a doctor, who, in docspeak, told her that the passage of time (getting older) had taken a slight toll on her once-superquick memory. She was slowing down a little, and if she relaxed, the name or date or other bit of information she needed would come to her soon enough. She was still good at her job and home life. She had simply joined the ranks of the worried well.
Normal brain aging, beginning as early as the forties in some people, may include:
- Taking longer to learn or remember information
- Having difficulty paying attention or concentrating in the midst of distractions
- Forgetting such basics as an anniversary or the names of friends
- Needing more reminders or memory cues, such as prominent appointment calendars, reminder notes, a phone with a wellstocked speed dial
Although they may need some assistance, older people without a mental disorder retain their ability to do their errands, handle money, find their way to familiar areas, and behave appropriately.
How does this compare to a person with Alzheimer’s? When Alzheimer’s slows the brain’s machinery, people begin to lose their ability to [Read more…] about Alzheimer’s Early and Accurate Diagnosis: Normal Aging vs. Alzheimer’s Disease
What started as an academic dispute regarding disclosure of conflict of interest is now snowballing into the mainstream media, due to the over-reaction by JAMA editors as reported in this Wall Street Journal blog post, JAMA editor calls Critic a “Nobody and a Nothing”
In summary, Dr. Jonathan Leo, the “Critic”, dared to draw attention to 2 important points regarding a study comparing the efficacy of therapy vs. medication published in the Journal of the American Academy of Medicine (JAMA) — one of the most prestigious scientific publications:
1) The study results were presented and reported in a biased way, since they favored one specific intervention, a drug, while ignoring another one, therapy-based, that had equally statistically significant effects.
2) Both the lead author of the study and one of the main experts asked to comment on the study in several media outlets had undisclosed and unreported conflicts of interest. JAMA could have done a 5‑minute Google search to identify and report the conflict of interest of the lead author (received a variety of revenues from the drugmaker).
Dr. Leo has summarized the continuing matter in several impressive letters. The 2 main ones, in chronological order:
- “Central to the idea of evidence-based medicine is that the choices made by patients and doctors to use a certain treatment should at least in part be based on scientific studies published in peer reviewed academic journals. For a patient diagnosed with [Read more…] about Therapy vs. Medication, Conflicts of Interest, and Intimidation