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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Technology as the missing link to enable a brain-based model of brain care: interview with Dr. John Docherty

Dr. John Docher­ty is an Adjunct Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try at the Weill Med­ical Col­lege, Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty, Direc­tor of Post Grad­u­ate Edu­ca­tion there, and Chief Med­ical Offi­cer of Brain Resource. Trained as a clin­i­cal research fel­low in neu­ropsy­chophar­ma­col­o­gy at NIMH, he lat­er returned as Chief of the Psy­choso­cial Treat­ments Research Branch, respon­si­ble for all fed­er­al­ly sup­port­ed psy­choso­cial treat­ment research in men­tal health nation­wide. He over­saw the land­mark Nation­al Col­lab­o­ra­tive Study of the Treat­ment of Depres­sion and served as a mem­ber and Chair­man for over 10 years on the NIMH and then NIDA Treat­ment Research IRGs. Dr. Docher­ty has wide expe­ri­ence in suc­cess­ful­ly imple­ment­ing inno­va­tion in both clin­i­cal oper­a­tions and man­aged health care. He found­ed North­east Psy­chi­atric Asso­ciates in 1985. As Nation­al Med­ical Direc­tor for Nation­al Med­ical Enter­pris­es, he over­saw med­ical con­trol and qual­i­ty improve­ment in 74 hos­pi­tals in 34 states. He was the Exec­u­tive Vice-Pres­i­dent and Chief Med­ical Offi­cer for Mer­it Behav­ioral Care, which then cov­ered 30 mil­lion peo­ple. In 1998, he found­ed Com­pre­hen­sive Neu­ro­Science (CNS). Its Care Man­age­ment Tech­nolo­gies are cur­rent­ly imple­ment­ed in 17 state Med­ic­aid plans. Dr Docher­ty has received numer­ous hon­ors and awards and has authored over 100 sci­en­tif­ic pub­li­ca­tions.

(Editor’s note: this inter­view with Dr. John Docher­ty was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in Sharp­Brains’ mar­ket report Trans­form­ing Brain Health with Dig­i­tal Tools to Assess, Enhance and Treat Cog­ni­tion across the Lifes­pan, pub­lished in July 2010)

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez: Dr. Docher­ty, it is a plea­sure to be with you today to dis­cuss the main theme of Sharp­Brains’ 2010 mar­ket report – how the con­ver­gence of sci­en­tif­ic find­ings and tech­nol­o­gy plat­forms and tools is reshap­ing how as a soci­ety and as indi­vid­u­als we will take care of cog­ni­tion and men­tal well­ness along the life­course, giv­ing birth to the emerg­ing dig­i­tal brain health and fit­ness mar­ket. Can you first briefly dis­cuss your career tra­jec­to­ry and your cur­rent role at Brain Resource?

Dr. John Docher­ty: Sure. The main theme of my work since the 1960s has remained the same, “How do we put knowl­edge into effec­tive use to improve men­tal health?” Over the last cen­tu­ry, med­i­cine made tremen­dous progress in gen­er­at­ing sci­en­tif­ic and clin­i­cal knowl­edge. Basic research dis­cov­ery sci­ence and clin­i­cal treat­ment devel­op­ment sci­ence have made great progress. With­in Psy­chi­a­try there was stan­dard set­ting advance in the 1960’s through the NIMH-VA coop­er­a­tive stud­ies to the method­ol­o­gy of assess­ing the effi­ca­cy of psy­chophar­ma­co­log­i­cal drugs. This work estab­lished prin­ci­ples adopt­ed for the study of med­ica­tions in the oth­er areas of med­i­cine. The study of psy­chother­a­py, how­ev­er, lagged in devel­op­ment. In my role of Chief of the Psy­choso­cial Treat­ments Branch of the NIMH , I helped con­tribute to the advance of that work by sup­port­ing the efforts of an extra­or­di­nary group of indi­vid­u­als led by Irene Waskow who car­ried out the TDCRP. This study estab­lished the method­olo­gies that made pos­si­ble the effec­tive sci­en­tif­ic study of the effi­ca­cy of psy­chother­a­pies. The evi­dence base and of such treat­ments as CBT, DBT, Moti­va­tion­al Enhance­ment Treat­ment and oth­er evi­dence-based psy­chother­a­pies derives direct­ly from this study and its sem­i­nal influ­ence. This was a con­tri­bu­tion to the sci­ence of Clin­i­cal Treat­ment Devel­op­ment research.

I would say that my major inter­est, how­ev­er, has been in the next step, the sci­ence of knowl­edge trans­fer. There has been and remains a long and cost­ly (in terms par­tic­u­lar­ly of unnec­es­sary suf­fer­ing) lag between the devel­op­ment of new knowl­edge and its com­mon and effec­tive use in prac­tice.

In order the help the field moved for­ward, I have worked for the last 20 years in the devel­op­ment and imple­men­ta­tion of meth­ods to effec­tive­ly trans­fer knowl­edge into prac­tice. Read the rest of this entry »

The Brain Fitness Program DVD (Michael Merzenich)

The most pop­u­lar ques­tion we got when we announced that PBS had a great spe­cial on Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram and Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty in Decem­ber was, when will the DVD be avail­able?

Well, final­ly here it comes. You can click on the image or the title to go over to PBS shop to learn more and buy it.

The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram DVD ($24.95, shipped by 02/01/08). “This pro­gram presents a work­out to help view­ers get their brains in bet­ter shape. The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram is based on neu­ro-plas­tic­i­ty, the abil­i­ty of the brain to change and adapt — even rewire itself. In the past two years, a team of sci­en­tists has devel­oped com­put­er-based stim­u­lus sets that dri­ve ben­e­fi­cial chem­i­cal, phys­i­cal and func­tion­al changes in the brain. Dr. Michael Merzenich of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia San Fran­cis­co and his col­leagues around the world have been lead­ing this effort; he brings the research find­ings, along with a sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly based set of brain exer­cis­es, to PBS view­ers in this inno­v­a­tive and life-alter­ing pro­gram. Peter Coy­ote nar­rates. ”

To pur­chase: click Here.

You can watch a 3-minute trail­er: click here.

———-

Note: How can any­one take care of his or her brain when every week brings a new bar­rage of arti­cles and stud­ies which seem to con­tra­dict each oth­er?

Do sup­ple­ments improve mem­o­ry? Do you need both phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise –or is one of them enough? Why is man­ag­ing stress so impor­tant to atten­tion and mem­o­ry? Which brain train­ing approach, if any, is worth one’s time and mon­ey?

SharpBrainsGuide_3DIf you have these ques­tions, check out this new book, The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness:

“Final­ly, an insight­ful and com­plete overview of the sci­ence, prod­ucts and trends to debunk old myths and help us all main­tain our brains in top shape. A must-read”
Glo­ria Cavanaugh, for­mer Pres­i­dent & CEO of the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging and found­ing Board mem­ber of the Nation­al Alliance for Care­giv­ing
Kudos for an excel­lent resource! This Sharp­Brains Guide is full of top notch infor­ma­tion, pro­vides prac­ti­cal tips and helps sep­a­rate hype from hope in the brain health are­na.”
Eliz­a­beth Edger­ly, Ph.D., Chief Pro­gram Offi­cer, Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion
“A mas­ter­ful guide to the brain train­ing rev­o­lu­tion. Promis­es to stim­u­late a much need­ed con­ver­sa­tion that will nudge soci­ety to build a new brain fit­ness cul­ture on sol­id, research-based, foun­da­tions.”
P. Murali Doraiswamy MD, Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try, Duke Uni­ver­si­ty and Co-author of The Alzheimer’s Action Plan

Brain Fitness Program and Neuroplasticity @ PBS

Update (11/10/10): Have you seen PBS great spe­cials on Brain Fit­ness and Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty ?

The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram DVD ($24.95)

The Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram is based on the brain’s abil­i­ty to change and adapt, even rewire itself. In the past two years, a team of sci­en­tists has devel­oped com­put­er-based stim­u­lus sets that dri­ve ben­e­fi­cial chem­i­cal, phys­i­cal and func­tion­al changes in the Peter Coyote Brain Fitness Programbrain. Dr. Michael Merzenich of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia and his col­leagues share their sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly based set of brain exer­cis­es in this life-alter­ing pro­gram. Peter Coy­ote (pic­tured) nar­rates. ”

PBS aired in Decem­ber 2007 a spe­cial pro­gram on neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty, brain fit­ness, aging and the brain titled “Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram”. To watch the 3-minute trail­er: click here.

In 2008, PBS released a sec­ond DVD:

Brain Fit­ness 2: Sight and Sound DVD ($24.95)

This pro­gram, specif­i­cal­ly designed to help peo­ple get the most from their vision and hear­ing as they age, con­sid­ers how these sens­es change through­out life and what peo­ple can do to keep them healthy and ful­ly func­tion­al.”

.

If you do not have time to watch these great doc­u­men­taries, here are a few points one needs to under­stand about neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty:

1.  The human brain is now con­sid­ered to be a high­ly dynam­ic and con­stantly reor­ga­niz­ing sys­tem capa­ble of being shaped and reshaped across an entire lifes­pan. It is believed that every expe­ri­ence alters the brain’s orga­ni­za­tion at some lev­el. The key words in this new approach to the brain are neu­ro­plas­tic­ity and neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis. Neu­ro­plas­tic­ity refers to the life­long capac­ity of the brain to change and rewire itself in response to the stim­u­la­tion of learn­ing and expe­ri­ence. Neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis is the abil­ity to cre­ate new neu­rons and con­nec­tions between neu­rons through­out a life­time. The lat­ter process is also referred to as synap­to­ge­n­e­sis. This new par­a­digm con­trasts with tra­di­tional ideas of the human brain being a fixed and essen­tially lim­ited sys­tem that only degrades with age.

2. As we age, the rate of change in the brain, or neu­ro­plas­tic­ity, declines but does not come to a halt. In addi­tion, we now know that new neu­rons can appear in cer­tain parts of the brain up until the day we die.

3. Brain plas­tic­ity is cru­cial fol­low­ing head injury. It is the one brain’s abil­ity that allows recov­ery. Brain plas­tic­ity is also the abil­ity that brain train­ing takes advan­tages of to try to slow down the aging process.

To read about evi­dence of neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty in the human brain take a look at Brain plas­tic­i­ty: How learn­ing changes you brain

———-

Note: How can any­one take care of his or her brain when every week brings a new bar­rage of arti­cles and stud­ies which seem to con­tra­dict each oth­er?

Do sup­ple­ments improve mem­o­ry? Do you need both phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise –or is one of them enough? Why is man­ag­ing stress so impor­tant to atten­tion and mem­o­ry? Which brain train­ing approach, if any, is worth one’s time and mon­ey?

If you have these ques­tions, check out this new book, The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness:

“Final­ly, an insight­ful and com­plete overview of the sci­ence, prod­ucts and trends to debunk old myths and help us all main­tain our brains in top shape. A must-read”
Glo­ria Cavanaugh, for­mer Pres­i­dent & CEO of the Amer­i­can Soci­ety on Aging and found­ing Board mem­ber of the Nation­al Alliance for Care­giv­ing
“Kudos for an excel­lent resource! This Sharp­Brains Guide is full of top notch infor­ma­tion, pro­vides prac­ti­cal tips and helps sep­a­rate hype from hope in the brain health are­na.”
Eliz­a­beth Edger­ly, Ph.D., Chief Pro­gram Offi­cer, Alzheimer’s Asso­ci­a­tion

A mas­ter­ful guide to the brain train­ing rev­o­lu­tion. Promis­es to stim­u­late a much need­ed con­ver­sa­tion that will nudge soci­ety to build a new brain fit­ness cul­ture on sol­id, research-based, foun­da­tions.”
P. Murali Doraiswamy MD, Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try, Duke Uni­ver­si­ty and Co-author of The Alzheimer’s Action Plan

The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness
SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness. The Book Click

Here

to order at Amazon.com.
Print Edi­tion, $24.95


SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness. The Book Click

Here

to order at Amazon.com,
Kin­dle Edi­tion, $9.99

Can Thoughts and Action Change Our Brains?

We final­ly had time to hear and enjoy the 35-minute inter­view with WSJ sci­ence writer Sharon Beg­ley about her new book, Train Your Mind Change Your Brain. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed. (Thanks Beate!)

NPR Talk of the Nation, Feb­ru­ary 2, 2007: “For years, sci­en­tists believed the brain’s struc­ture couldn’t be changed. The new sci­ence of neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty says that’s not the case, and argue the brain is much more flex­i­ble than pre­vi­ous­ly thought.”

Lis­ten to the inter­view here.

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.

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