Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

On the limits of Citicoline and the need for comprehensive brain injury rehabilitation

Citi­co­l­ine does not improve func­tion­al, cog­ni­tive sta­tus in patients with trau­mat­ic brain injury (Out­come Mag­a­zine):

Although approved for use for treat­ing trau­mat­ic brain injury (TBI) in near­ly 60 coun­tries, use of citi­co­l­ine in a ran­dom­ized tri­al that includ­ed more than 1,200 par­tic­i­pants with TBI did not result in improve­ment in func­tion­al and cog­ni­tive sta­tus, accord­ing to a study appear­ing in the Novem­ber 21 issue of JAMA.

Despite con­sid­er­able advances in emer­gency and crit­i­cal care man­age­ment of TBI as well as decades of research on poten­tial agents for neu­ro­pro­tec­tion or enhanced recov­ery, no effec­tive phar­ma­cother­a­py has yet been iden­ti­fied Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness/ Training Report Finds Market Growth, Potential, and Confusion

After many many months of men­tal stim­u­la­tion, phys­i­cal exer­cise and the cer­tain need for stress man­age­ment… we have just announced the release of the The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket 2009 report, our sec­ond annu­al com­pre­hen­sive mar­ket analy­sis of the US mar­ket for com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive assess­ment and train­ing tools. In this report we esti­mate the size of the US brain fit­ness soft­ware mar­ket at $265M in 2008, up from $225M in 2007 (18% annu­al growth), and from $100m in 2005. Two seg­ments fuelled the mar­ket growth from 2007 to 2008: con­sumers (grew from $80m to $95m) and health­care & insur­ance providers (grew from $65m to $80m).

The 150-page report finds promis­ing research and ini­tia­tives to dri­ve sig­nif­i­cant growth, com­bined with increased con­sumer con­fu­sion giv­en aggres­sive mar­ket­ing claims and lack of edu­ca­tion and stan­dards. The report includes:
— The com­plete results of an exclu­sive Jan­u­ary 2009 Sur­vey with 2,000+ respon­dents
— A pro­pri­etary Mar­ket & Research Momen­tum Matrix to cat­e­go­rize 21 key ven­dors into four cat­e­gories
— 10 Research Exec­u­tive Briefs writ­ten by lead­ing sci­en­tists at promi­nent research labs
— An analy­sis of the lev­el of clin­i­cal val­i­da­tion per prod­uct and cog­ni­tive domain

Top 10 High­lights from the report:

1) Con­sumers, seniors, com­mu­ni­ties and insur­ance providers drove year on year sus­tained growth, from $225m in 2007 to $265m in 2008. Rev­enues may reach between $1 bil­lion to $5 bil­lion by 2015, depend­ing on how impor­tant prob­lems (Pub­lic Aware­ness, Nav­i­gat­ing Claims, Research, Health Cul­ture, Lack of Assess­ment) are addressed.

2) Increased inter­est and con­fu­sion: 61% of respon­dents Strong­ly Agree with the state­ment Address­ing cog­ni­tive and brain health should be a health­care pri­or­i­ty. But, 65% Agree/Strongly Agree. I don’t real­ly know what to expect from prod­ucts mak­ing brain claims.

3) Invest­ment in R&D seeds future growth: Land­mark invest­ments by insur­ance providers and gov­ern­ment-fund­ed research insti­tutes test­ing new brain fit­ness appli­ca­tions plant­ed new seeds for future growth.

4) Becom­ing stan­dard in res­i­den­tial facil­i­ties: Over 700 res­i­den­tial facil­i­ties most­ly Inde­pen­dent and Assist­ed Liv­ing facil­i­ties and CCRCs have installed com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams.

5) Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion: Con­sumers seem more sat­is­fied with com­put­er-based prod­ucts than paper-based options. But, sat­is­fac­tion dif­fers by prod­uct. When asked I got real val­ue for my mon­ey, results were as fol­lows: Lumosity.com (65% Agree), Puz­zle Books (60%), Posit Sci­ence (52%), Nin­ten­do (51%) agreed. Posit Sci­ence (53% Agree) and Lumosity.com (51%) do bet­ter than Puz­zle Books (39%) and Nin­ten­do (38%) at I have seen the results I want­ed.

6) Assess­ments: Increas­ing adop­tion of com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive assess­ments to base­line and track cog­ni­tive func­tions over time in mil­i­tary, sports, and clin­i­cal con­texts. The Alzheimer’s Foun­da­tion of Amer­i­ca now advo­cates for wide­spread cog­ni­tive screen­ings after 65–75.

7) Spe­cif­ic com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive train­ing and videogames have been shown to improve brain func­tions, but the key ques­tions are, Which ones, and Who needs what when?

8) Aggres­sive mar­ket­ing claims are cre­at­ing con­fu­sion and skep­ti­cism, result­ing in a dis­tract­ing con­tro­ver­sy between two mis­lead­ing extremes: (a) buy­ing prod­uct XYZ can reju­ve­nate your brain Y years or (b) those prod­ucts don’t work; just do one more cross­word puz­zle. The upcom­ing book The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness aims to help con­sumers nav­i­gate these claims.

9) Devel­op­ers can be clas­si­fied into four groups, based on a pro­pri­etary Mar­ket and Research Momen­tum Matrix: Sharp­Brains finds 4 Lead­ers, 8 High Poten­tials, 3 Cross­words 2.0, and 6 Wait & See com­pa­nies.

10) Increased dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion: Lead­ing com­pa­nies are bet­ter defin­ing their val­ue propo­si­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion chan­nels to reach spe­cif­ic seg­ments such as retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties, schools, or health­care providers.

Lead­ing researchers pre­pared 10 Research Exec­u­tive Briefs:
- Dr. Joshua Stein­er­man (Ein­stein-Mon­te­o­re): Neu­ro­pro­tec­tion via cog­ni­tive activ­i­ties
— Dr. Jer­ri Edwards (South Flori­da): Assess­ments of dri­ving fit­ness
— Dr. Susanne Jaeg­gi and Dr. Mar­tin Buschkuehl (Bern, Michi­gan): Work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing and  intel­li­gence
— Dr. Torkel Kling­berg (Karolin­s­ka): Work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing, dopamine, and math
— Dr. Liz Zelin­s­ki (UC Davis): Audi­to­ry pro­cess­ing train­ing
— Dr. David Vance (UAB): Speed-of-pro­cess­ing train­ing
— Dr. Jer­ri Edwards (South Flori­da): Cog­ni­tive train­ing for healthy aging
— Dr. Daphne Bave­li­er & Dr. Shawn Green (Rochester): Action videogames and atten­tion­al skills
— Dr. Arthur Kramer (Illi­nois): Strat­e­gy videogames and exec­u­tive func­tions
— Dr. Yaakov Stern (Colum­bia): The cog­ni­tive reserve and neu­roimag­ing
— Dr. David Rabin­er (Duke): Objec­tive assess­ments for ADHD

Table of Con­tents

Edi­to­r­i­al
Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry
Chap­ter 1. Bird-Eye View of the Grow­ing Field
Chap­ter 2. Mar­ket Sur­vey on Beliefs, Atti­tudes, Pur­chase Habits
Chap­ter 3. The Emerg­ing Com­pet­i­tive Land­scape
Chap­ter 4. The Sci­ence for Brain Fit­ness and Cog­ni­tive Health
Chap­ter 5. Con­sumers  Adopt­ing Cross­words 2.0?
Chap­ter 6: Health­care and Insur­ance Providers — A Cul­ture of Cog­ni­tive Health
Chap­ter 7: K12 School Sys­tems- Ready for Change?
Chap­ter 8: Mil­i­tary, Sports Teams, Com­pa­nies,  Brain-Per­for­mance Link
Chap­ter 9: Future Direc­tions‚ Pro­jec­tions and Bot­tle­necks

Com­pa­nies pro­filed include: Advanced Brain Tech­nolo­gies, Applied Cog­ni­tive Engi­neer­ing, Brain Cen­ter Amer­i­ca, Brain Resource, CNS Vital Signs, Cogmed, Cogstate, Cog­niFit, Cog­ni­tive Drug Research, Dakim, Houghton Mif­flin, Learn­ing Enhance­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, Learn­ingRx, Lumos Labs, Mar­bles: The Brain Store, Nin­ten­do, NovaV­i­sion, Posit Sci­ence, Sci­en­tif­ic Brain Train­ing, Sci­en­tif­ic Learn­ing, Trans­An­a­lyt­ics, vibrant­Brains, Vig­or­ous Mind, Viv­i­ty Labs.

More on the report by click­ing on The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket 2009.

Education builds Cognitive Reserve for Alzheimers Disease Protection

Giv­en the grow­ing media cov­er­age men­tion­ing the terms Cog­ni­tive Reserve and Brain Reserve, you may be ask­ing your­self, “What exact­ly is my Cog­ni­tive (or Brain) Reserve?”

The cog­ni­tive reserve hypoth­e­sis, test­ed in mul­ti­ple stud­ies, states that indi­vid­u­als with more cog­ni­tive reserve can expe­ri­ence more Alzheimer’s dis­ease pathol­o­gy in the brain (more plaques and tan­gles) with­out devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease symp­toms.

How does that work? Sci­en­tists are not sure but two pos­si­bil­i­ties are con­sid­ered.
1. One is that more cog­ni­tive reserve means more brain reserve, that is more neu­rons and con­nec­tions (synaps­es) between neu­rons. Indi­vid­u­als with more synaps­es would then have more synaps­es to lose before the crit­i­cal thresh­old for Alzheimer’s Dis­ease is reached.
2. Anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty is that more cog­ni­tive reserve means more com­pen­sato­ry process­es. The brain of indi­vid­u­als with more cog­ni­tive reserve would use more alter­na­tive net­works to com­pen­sate for the dam­ages caused by the pathol­o­gy in pre­vi­ous­ly used net­works.

In a new­ly pub­lished study, Roe and col­leagues brain fitness event from Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty in St. Louis, used the num­ber of years of edu­ca­tion as a mea­sure of cog­ni­tive reserve. Why years of edu­ca­tion? Because pre­vi­ous stud­ies have shown that peo­ple who have more edu­ca­tion also exhib­it a greater resis­tance to Alzheimer’s symp­toms, even while patho­log­i­cal changes are occur­ring in the brain (see Ben­nett el al., 2003 or Roe, Xiong, et al., 2008).

Roe and her col­leagues stud­ied 198 indi­vid­u­als whose mean age was 67. Out of these 198 indi­vid­u­als, 161 were non­de­ment­ed and 37 were diag­nosed with Alzheimer’s Dis­ease.

All the par­tic­i­pants in the study took a Read the rest of this entry »

Bilingual brains stay sharp longer

In study, Bilin­gual brains stay sharp longer

We have seen a num­ber of stud­ies on why and how speak­ing more than one lan­guage may help build a Cog­ni­tive Reserve (inter­view with Yaakov Stern) that pro­tects us against cog­ni­tive decline. This arti­cle does a good job at explain­ing what may be going on (bold added by me):

- Bia­lystok, who began study­ing bilin­gual kids decades ago, believes one key to their spe­cial brain­pow­er lies in the way they must con­stant­ly decide which lan­guage to use and which to sup­press.

- For peo­ple who use two lan­guages dai­ly, “every time you want to speak one lan­guage, the oth­er lan­guage is acti­vat­ed” in the brain as well, she said. “That means you need a mech­a­nism so that you’re only draw­ing from the right pool (of words). It’s going be a mech­a­nism that works extreme­ly fast … while you’re pro­duc­ing sen­tences. It’s way below your radar for detect­ing what’s hap­pen­ing.”

- So bilin­guals get far more prac­tice than mono­lin­guals in using the part of the brain that focus­es our atten­tion, help­ing us sort through con­flict­ing infor­ma­tion and ignore dis­trac­tions. Using two lan­guages seems to bol­ster rapid deci­sion-mak­ing, mul­ti-task­ing and per­haps mem­o­ry.

In short: learn­ing and speak­ing a for­eign lan­guage pro­vides con­stant brain exer­cise to the frontal lobes (see basic brain anato­my), the area of the brain right behind your fore­head that focus­es our atten­tion, helps us ignore dis­trac­tions, and make deci­sions.

Have a nice East­er time.

About SharpBrains

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.

Search in our archives

Follow us and Engage via…

twitter_logo_header
RSS Feed

Watch All Recordings Now (40+ Speakers, 12+ Hours)

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

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