Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Full Recordings Available Now: 2011 SharpBrains Summit

We are pleased to announce that full record­ings for all pre­sen­ta­tions deliv­ered dur­ing the 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit: Retool­ing Brain Health for the 21st Cen­tu­ry (March 30 — April 1, 2011) are now avail­able both to Sum­mit Par­tic­i­pants and to non-Par­tic­i­pants.

You can Learn More Here and Access 40+ Talks and 20+ hours of up-to-date infor­ma­tion and analy­sis of brain sci­ence, tech­nol­o­gy and inno­va­tion, deliv­ered by noth­ing short of a world-class fac­ul­ty.

–> Reg­is­tered Sum­mit Par­tic­i­pants can access all Ses­sion Record­ings by click­ing on the ses­sion titles in the Agen­da page and using the same User­name and Pass­word they used to par­tic­i­pate in the Sum­mit.

–> Did­n’t Reg­is­ter to Par­tic­i­pate in the 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit but want to access all Ses­sion Record­ings (20+ hours, 40+ speak­ers) Now? You can secure your log-in here.

We hope the infor­ma­tion and analy­sis pro­vid­ed by these 40+ world-class speak­ers address­ing this 3‑day agen­da pro­vide excel­lent val­ue to you: Read the rest of this entry »

Learning with Video Games: A Revolution in Education and Training?

In recent years, we have wit­nessed the begin­nings of a rev­o­lu­tion in edu­ca­tion.  Tech­nol­o­gy has fun­da­men­tal­ly altered the way we do many things in dai­ly life, but it is just start­ing to make head­way in chang­ing the way we teach.  Just as tele­vi­sion shows like Sesame Street enhanced the pas­sive learn­ing of infor­ma­tion for kids by teach­ing in a fun for­mat, elec­tron­ic games offer to great­ly enhance the way kids and adults are taught by active­ly engag­ing them in the process. Read the rest of this entry »

Intel Corporation and Lumos Labs Become Gold Sponsors of 2011 SharpBrains Summit

We are pleased to make eleven impor­tant announce­ments about the upcom­ing 2011 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit…eleven addi­tion­al rea­sons to con­sid­er reg­is­ter­ing and join­ing our event and com­mu­ni­ty next week.

  1. Intel Cor­po­ra­tion, the “Spon­sors of Tomor­row™”, and Lumos Labs have become Sum­mit Gold Spon­sors.
  2. Sharp­Brains will issue a Cer­tifi­cate of Atten­dance to par­tic­i­pants (20 hours of con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion).
  3. Jamie Wil­son shares 20 rea­sons why vir­tu­al con­fer­ences are the future.
  4. NIH/ NIA Pro­gram Chief Mol­ly Wag­ster will dis­cuss the new NIH Tool­box for Assess­ment of Neu­ro­log­i­cal and Behav­ioral Func­tion.
  5. Yaakov Stern (Colum­bia), David Dar­by (CogState), Kei­th Wesnes (Unit­ed BioSource) and Jef­frey Kaye (Orcat­e­ch) will explore The Role of Cog­ni­tive Health Mon­i­tor­ing Sys­tems.
  6. Alvaro Fer­nan­dez (Sharp­Brains) and Muki Hansteen-Izo­ra (Intel Cor­po­ra­tion) will ana­lyze The State of Inno­va­tion and Emerg­ing Mar­ket­place.
  7. You can still Reg­is­ter and obtain a com­pli­men­ta­ry copy of Sharp­Brains’ mar­ket report The State of the Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket 2010 (which includes mar­ket data, ven­dor analy­sis, inno­va­tion case stud­ies, research briefs, and more.)
  8. Michael Merzenich (UCSF), Alvaro Pas­cual-Leone (Har­vard), Wal­ter Green­leaf (Vir­tu­ally­Bet­ter) and Kate Sul­li­van (Wal­ter Reed) will dis­cuss how Inno­va­tion gets From Lab to Mar­ket­place.
  9. Lumos Labs, Brain Resource, Cogmed, Bay­crest, Cog­niFit, and Posit Sci­ence will present their lat­est tools and solu­tions dur­ing Expo Day.
  10. A total of 19 excel­lent Sum­mit Part­ners help us expand Sum­mit’s reach and influ­ence.
  11. We are plan­ning April/ May social gath­er­ings for Sum­mit par­tic­i­pants in 5 cities: San Fran­cis­co, Los Ange­les, Wash­ing­ton DC, NYC, and Toron­to, and will help facil­i­tate gath­er­ings in any city/ region with at least 10 Sum­mit par­tic­i­pants.

Please vis­it the 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit web­site to Learn More and Reg­is­ter.

Also, please fol­low us via Twit­ter and spread the word about the Sum­mit using hash­tag #svs11

We look for­ward to “meet­ing” many of you next week! Please remem­ber you can enter dis­count code sharp2011 in order to get 15% off reg­is­tra­tion fees.

The Future of Cognitive Enhancement and Mental Health: Meet the Experts

Since 2006, as part of the research sup­port­ing The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness and Sharp­Brains’ mar­ket reports, we have inter­viewed dozens of lead­ing-edge sci­en­tists and experts. Below are some of our favorite quotes and inter­views — you can read the full inter­view notes by click­ing on the links:

Con­ver­sa­tions in 2010

“…putting good evi­dence to work in prac­tice requires more than pub­lish­ing good research. I’d say that sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence is direct­ly rel­e­vant to per­haps 15% of clin­i­cal deci­sions…we require tech­nolo­gies that trans­late emer­gent knowl­edge into prac­tice.” — Dr. John Docher­ty, Adjunct Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try at Weill Med­ical Col­lege, and for­mer Branch Chief at NIMH.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“We should be think­ing about the brain through its whole life­time…We need to break the silos, to aggre­gate knowl­edge, to help advance our knowl­edge of the brain 50 years in 5 years.” — Patrick Dono­hue, founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Project.
Full Inter­view Notes.

Con­ver­sa­tions in 2009

My dream in all of this is to have stan­dard­ized and cred­i­ble tools to train the 5–6 main neu­rocog­ni­tive domains for cog­ni tive health and per­for­mance through life, cou­pled with the right assess­ments to iden­ti­fy one’s indi­vid ual needs and mea sure progress” — Dr. Michael Merzenich, Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor at UCSF, and pio­neer in brain plas­tic­i­ty research.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“We have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI cen­tu­ry, sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with Car­diovascular Health in the XX, and tech­nol­o­gy will play a cru­cial role.” — Dr. William E. Reich­man, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Bay­crest.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Growth only real­ly comes at the point of resis­tance, but that is the moment that we tend to stop. Because it hurts…pushing our lim­its is a mus­cle that can be cul­ti­vat­ed like any other–incrementally” — Joshua Wait­zkin, chess cham­pi­on and author of The Art of Learn­ing.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“The cor­re­la­tion between iden­ti­cal twins reared apart gives an over­es­ti­mate of her­i­tabil­i­ty because the envi­ron­ments of iden tical twins reared apart are often high­ly sim­i­lar. But the main con­tra­dic­tion of her­i­tabil­i­ty esti­mates lies in the fact that adop­tion pro­duces a huge effect on IQ” ‑Dr. Richard Nis­bett, Pro­fes­sor at Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan and author of Intel­li­gence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cul­tures Count.
Full Inter­view Notes.

For more, please vis­it our Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series.

Michael Merzenich on Brain Training, Assessments, and Personal Brain Trainers

Dr. Michael Merzenich Dr. Michael Merzenich, Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor at UCSF, is a lead­ing pio­neer in brain plas­tic­i­ty research. In the late 1980s, Dr. Merzenich was on the team that invent­ed the cochlear implant. In 1996, he was the found­ing CEO of Sci­en­tif­ic Learn­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (Nas­daq: SCIL), and in 2004 became co-founder and Chief Sci­en­tif­ic Offi­cer of Posit Sci­ence. He was elect­ed to the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences in 1999 and to the Insti­tute of Med­i­cine this year. He retired as Fran­cis A. Sooy Pro­fes­sor and Co-Direc­tor of the Keck Cen­ter for Inte­gra­tive Neu­ro­science at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia at San Fran­cis­co in 2007. You may have learned about his work in one of PBS TV spe­cials, mul­ti­ple media appear­ances, or neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty-relat­ed books.

(Alvaro Fer­nan­dez) Dear Michael, thank you very much for agree­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the inau­gur­al Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit in Jan­u­ary, and for your time today. In order to con­tex­tu­al­ize the Sum­mit’s main themes, I would like to focus this inter­view on the like­ly big-pic­ture impli­ca­tions dur­ing the next 5 years of your work and that of oth­er neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty research and indus­try pio­neers.

Thank you for invit­ing me. I believe the Sharp­Brains Sum­mit will be very use­ful and stim­u­lat­ing, you are gath­er­ing an impres­sive group togeth­er. I am look­ing for­ward to Jan­u­ary.

Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty-based Tools: The New Health & Well­ness Fron­tier

There are many dif­fer­ent tech­nol­o­gy-free approach­es to harnessing/ enabling/ dri­ving neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty. What is the val­ue that tech­nol­o­gy brings to the cog­ni­tive health table?

It’s all about effi­cien­cy, scal­a­bil­i­ty, per­son­al­iza­tion, and assured effec­tive­ness. Tech­nol­o­gy sup­ports the imple­men­ta­tion of near-opti­mal­ly-effi­cient brain-train­ing strate­gies. Through the Inter­net, it enables the low-cost dis­tri­b­u­tion of these new tools, any­where out in the world. Tech­nol­o­gy also enables the per­son­al­iza­tion of brain health train­ing, by pro­vid­ing sim­ple ways to mea­sure and address indi­vid­ual needs in each per­son­’s brain-health train­ing expe­ri­ence. It enables assess­ments of your abil­i­ties that can affirm that your own brain health issues have been effec­tive­ly addressed.

Of course sub­stan­tial gains could also be achieved by orga­niz­ing your every­day activ­i­ties that grow your neu­ro­log­i­cal abil­i­ties and sus­tain your brain health. Still, if the ordi­nary cit­i­zen is to have any real chance of main­tain­ing their brain fit­ness, they’re going to have to spend con­sid­er­able time at the brain gym!

One espe­cial­ly impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion of tech­nol­o­gy is the scal­a­bil­i­ty that it pro­vides for deliv­er­ing brain fit­ness help out into the world. Think about how effi­cient the drug deliv­ery sys­tem is today. Doc­tors pre­scribe drugs, insur­ance cov­ers them, and there is a drug store in every neigh­bor­hood in almost every city in the world so that every patient has access to them. Once neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty-based tools and out­comes and stan­dard­ized, we can envi­sion a sim­i­lar sce­nario. And we don’t need all those drug stores, because we have the Inter­net!

Hav­ing said this, there are obvi­ous obsta­cles. One main one, in my mind, is the lack of under­stand­ing of what these new tools can do. Cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams, for exam­ple, seem counter-intu­itive to con­sumers and many pro­fes­sion­als “ why would one try to improve speed-of-pro­cess­ing if all one cares about is mem­o­ry? A sec­ond obvi­ous prob­lem is to get indi­vid­u­als to buy into the effort required to real­ly change their brains for the bet­ter. That buy-in has been achieved for many indi­vid­u­als as it applies to their phys­i­cal health, but we haven’t got­ten that far yet in edu­cat­ing the aver­age old­er per­son that brain fit­ness train­ing is an equal­ly effort­ful busi­ness!

Tools for Safer Dri­ving: Teens and Adults

Safe dri­ving seems to be one area where the ben­e­fits are more intu­itive, which may explain the sig­nif­i­cant trac­tion.

Yes, we see great poten­tial and inter­est among insur­ers for improv­ing dri­ving safe­ty, both for seniors and teens. Appro­pri­ate cog­ni­tive train­ing can low­er at-fault acci­dent rates. You can mea­sure clear ben­e­fits in rel­a­tive­ly short time frames, so it won’t take long for insur­ers to see an eco­nom­ic ratio­nale to not only offer pro­grams at low cost or for free but to incen­tivize dri­vers to com­plete them. All­state, AAA, State Farm and oth­er insur­ers are begin­ning to real­ize this poten­tial. It is impor­tant to note that typ­i­cal acci­dents among teens and seniors are dif­fer­ent, so that train­ing method­olo­gies will need to be dif­fer­ent for dif­fer­ent high-risk pop­u­la­tions.

Yet, most dri­ving safe­ty ini­tia­tives today still focus on edu­cat­ing dri­vers, rather that train­ing them neu­ro­log­i­cal­ly. We mea­sure vision, for exam­ple, but com­plete­ly ignore atten­tion­al con­trol abil­i­ties, or a dri­ver’s use­ful field of view. I expect this to change sig­nif­i­cant­ly over the next few years.

Long-term care and health insur­ance com­pa­nies will ulti­mate­ly see sim­i­lar ben­e­fits, and we believe that they will fol­low a sim­i­lar course of action to reduce gen­er­al med­ical and neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease- (Mild Cog­ni­tive Impair­ment and Alzheimer’s- and Parkin­sons-) relat­ed costs. In fact, many senior liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties are among the pio­neers in this field.

Boomers & Beyond: Main­tain­ing Cog­ni­tive Vital­i­ty

Main­stream media is cov­er­ing this emerg­ing cat­e­go­ry with thou­sands of sto­ries. But most cov­er­age seems still focused on does it work? more than “how do we define It”, what does work mean? or work for whom, and for what? Can you sum­ma­rize what recent research sug­gests?

We have seen clear pat­terns in the appli­ca­tion of our train­ing pro­grams, some pub­lished (like IMPACT), some unpub­lished, some with healthy adults, and some with peo­ple with mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment or ear­ly Alzheimers Dis­ease (AD). What we see in every case: Read the rest of this entry »

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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