Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: Expo Day; Top 15 Articles of 2009

In this Jan­u­ary issue of our eNewslet­ter, we will first neuronsbrief you on the enlight­en­ing demos that will take place on Wednes­day, Jan­u­ary 20th, as part of the Sharp­Brains Sum­mit, and then present the 15 most stim­u­lat­ing Sharp­Brains arti­cles of 2009.

Expo Day

If you want to see and dis­cuss the lat­est pro­grams and tech­nolo­gies for brain fit­ness, pre­sent­ed by Sum­mit Spon­sors, Wednes­day Jan­u­ary 20th is your day. Each demo will last 30 min­utes, fol­lowed by 15 min­utes of Q&A.

9am. Baycrest/ Cog­nic­i­ti will intro­duce the new Memory@Work work­shop, designed to teach what mem­o­ry is, how lifestyle fac­tors such as dis­trac­tion and stress can affect mem­o­ry, and how to enhance mem­o­ry per­for­mance at work with the use of enabling strate­gies.

10am. Cog­niFit will demo Cog­niFit Per­son­al Coach and Cog­niFit Senior Dri­ver, two online pro­grams designed to assess and main cog­ni­tive func­tions for healthy liv­ing and safe dri­ving, respec­tive­ly.

11am. Posit Sci­ence will demo InSight, a soft­ware-based cog­ni­tive train­ing pack­age designed to sharp­en brain’s visu­al sys­tem. This is the pro­gram being test­ed by All­state for safer dri­ving.

Noon. Hap­py Neu­ron will intro­duce HAP­PYneu­ron PRO, a new plat­form for pro­fes­sion­als for the effec­tive deliv­ery and man­age­ment of cog­ni­tive reme­di­a­tion and reha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams in a patient cen­tric man­ner.

1pm. Sharp­Brains will help nav­i­gate this grow­ing field by dis­cussing The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware 2009 report and The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness con­sumer guide, and sum­ma­riz­ing key Sum­mit take-aways.

Learn more and reg­is­ter HERE. Please remem­ber that reg­is­tra­tion clos­es on Jan­u­ary 17th.

We want to thank our most recent spon­sor, the Arrow­smith Pro­gram, a com­pre­hen­sive suite of cog­ni­tive pro­grams for stu­dents with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties avail­able in pub­lic and pri­vate schools in Cana­da and the U.S. More infor­ma­tion here.

And now, let’s review the (in our view) 15 most stim­u­lat­ing arti­cles of 2009.

The Big Pic­ture

100 is the new 65: Why do some peo­ple live, and well, to 100? Researchers are try­ing to find out, reports Meera Lee Sethi at Greater Good Mag­a­zine.

Learn­ing about Learn­ing: an Inter­view with Joshua Wait­zkin: Scott Bar­ry Kauf­man inter­views “child prodi­gy” Joshua Wait­zkin on The Art of Learn­ing.

Debunk­ing 10 Brain Health Myths: Does your brain have a “Brain Age”? Is a Mag­ic Pill to pre­vent mem­o­ry prob­lems right around the corner?  Check out the facts to debunk 10 com­mon myths.

Why is work­ing mem­o­ry rel­e­vant to read­ing and math­e­mat­ics: A recent large UK study iden­ti­fied 1 in 10 stu­dents as hav­ing work­ing mem­o­ry dif­fi­cul­ties. Dr. Tra­cy Alloway elab­o­rates why this mat­ters.

Change Your Envi­ron­ment, Change Your­self: Dr. Brett Steen­barg­er explains why new envi­ron­ments  force us to exit our rou­tines and active­ly mas­ter unfa­mil­iar chal­lenges.”

Tools

Retool­ing Use it or lose it: Alvaro Fer­nan­dez dis­cuss­es why rou­tine, doing things inside our com­fort zones, is the most com­mon ene­my of the nov­el­ty, vari­ety and chal­lenge our brains need.

Does cog­ni­tive train­ing work? (For Whom? For What?): Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon, dis­sects a cou­ple of recent press releas­es and the under­ly­ing stud­ies to clar­i­fy­ing what they mean – and what they don’t mean.

New Study Sup­ports Neu­ro­feed­back Treat­ment for ADHD: Dr. David Rabin­er reports the promis­ing find­ings from the first well-designed con­trolled tri­al on the effect of neu­ro­feed­back treat­ment for ADHD.

Do Art Class­es Boost Test Scores? Is there a “Mozart Effect?”: Some researchers sug­gest so; oth­ers are not con­vinced. Karin Evans offers a  thought­ful review of the evi­dence and asks, “Now, is this the right ques­tion?”

Does cof­fee boost cog­ni­tive func­tions over time? Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon reports good news (long-term effects seem more pos­i­tive than neg­a­tive, so cof­fee leads to no clear harm) and bad ones (no clear ben­e­fi­cial effects on gen­er­al brain func­tions).

Indus­try

Brain fit­ness heads towards its tip­ping point: How do you know when some­thing is mov­ing towards a Glad­wellian tip­ping point? When insur­ance com­pa­nies and pol­i­cy mak­ers pay atten­tion, Dr. Ger­ard Finnemore reports.

Visu­al Rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the State of the Mar­ket 2009: Paul Van Slem­brouck beau­ti­ful­ly presents the main find­ings of our 150-page mar­ket report, The State of the Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket 2009.

Michael Merzenich on brain fit­ness: neu­ro­sci­en­tist Michael Merzenich dis­cuss­es neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty, tech­nol­o­gy, safe dri­ving, men­tal health, and the need for stan­dards, auto­mat­ed assess­ments and “per­son­al brain train­ers”.

Brain Teas­er

Stim­u­late your Con­cen­tra­tion Skills: when one real­ly wants to mem­o­rize a fact, it is cru­cial to pay atten­tion. Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon chal­lenges you to count a few sim­ple let­ters.

Res­o­lu­tion

Final­ly, an arti­cle that may inspire some New Year Res­o­lu­tions. In Yes, You Can Build Willpow­er, Daniel Gole­man dis­cuss­es how the brain makes about 10,000 new cells every day, how they migrate to where they are need­ed, and how each cell can make around 10,000 con­nec­tions to oth­er brain cells. Impli­ca­tion? Med­i­tate, mind­ful­ly, and build pos­i­tive habits.

Wish­ing you a Hap­py and Pro­duc­tive 2010, and look­ing for­ward to meet­ing many of you (200 so far) at the inau­gur­al Sharp­Brains Sum­mit!

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 »

Wellness Coaching for Brain Health and Fitness

We just received this quote of how a major health sys­tem is using our Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket Report:

At Sut­ter Health Part­ners we rec­og­nize the impor­tance of brain health and how much the health of the brain and the body are inter­de­pen­dent.  The mar­ket report helped us fur­ther tar­get our coach­ing efforts to inte­grate brain fit­ness and upgrade our entire coach­ing plat­form.  It is easy to read and gives you the indus­try per­spec­tive in a thor­ough yet con­cise man­ner.  I high­ly rec­om­mend it!”

– Mar­garet Sabin, CEO of Sut­ter Health Part­ners and VP, New Prod­uct Devel­op­ment, at Sut­ter Health.

You may won­der, “what is the link between  well­ness coach­ing and brain fit­ness”?

In prac­tice, good health and well­ness coach­es pro­vide excel­lent brain health advice, giv­en that the areas they focus on (nutri­tion, phys­i­cal exer­cise, stress man­age­ment) do play an impor­tant role in main­tain­ing our brains in top shape.

Addi­tion­al­ly, pio­neers  such as Sut­ter Health Part­ners are adding a Brain “lens” to their work. How?

First, by bet­ter under­stand­ing and explain­ing the brain ben­e­fits of what they already do, in order to pro­vide addi­tion­al moti­va­tion to stick with healthy behav­iors. For exam­ple, most peo­ple will be able to recite mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits of mod­er­ate car­dio­vas­cu­lar exer­cise. But how many know  that it can also con­tribute to neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis -the cre­ation of new neu­rons — in adult brains?

Sec­ond, by start­ing to offer brain fit­ness guide­lines to clients who want too go beyond cross­word puz­zles and sudoku.

I had a great train­ing ses­sion with a num­ber of Sut­ter Health coach­es last week — let me sum­ma­rize some of the main points we cov­ered. Read the rest of this entry »

Mind Games @ Venture Capital Journal

The August issue of Ven­ture Cap­i­tal Jour­nal brings a very good piece on the emerg­ing brain fit­ness soft­ware  (also called “neu­rosoft­ware”) cat­e­go­ry:

Mind Games (sub­scrip­tion required)

– Dakim, Lumos Labs, Posit Sci­ence and oth­er brain fit­ness star­tups are start­ing to gain mind share and cap­i­tal from ven­ture firms.

The reporter and I spoke as Lumos Labs received its $3m round, and we dis­cussed oth­er fund­able start-ups, fea­tur­ing Cog­niFit. Which, as men­tioned over the week­end, just raised $5m.

If case you are a new Sharp­Brains read­er, per­haps vis­it­ing us after read­ing this VCJ arti­cle, let me pro­vide a quick overview of the cat­e­go­ry and our Mar­ket Report (which is annu­al, not quar­ter­ly as the arti­cle states):

A) Report High­lights

We esti­mate the size of the US brain fit­ness soft­ware mar­ket at $225M in 2007, up from $100m in 2005 (50% CAGR), ana­lyz­ing the size and brain fitness/ training markettrends of four cus­tomer seg­ments: con­sumers, health­care & insur­ance providers, K12 school sys­tems, and for­tune 1000 com­pa­nies, mil­i­tary, and sports teams. Two seg­ments fueled the mar­ket growth from 2005 to 2007: con­sumers (grew from $5m to $80m, 300% CAGR) and health­care & insur­ance providers (grew from $36m to $65m, 35% CAGR).

Ten Spe­cif­ic High­lights from The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket 2008 report include:

1) 2007 was a sem­i­nal year for the US Brain Fit­ness soft­ware mar­ket, which reached $225 mil­lion in rev­enues up from an esti­mat­ed $100 mil­lion in 2005.

2) Over 20 com­pa­nies are offer­ing tools to assess and train cog­ni­tive skills to four cus­tomer seg­ments: con­sumers; health­care and insur­ance providers; K12 school sys­tems; and For­tune 1000 com­pa­nies, the mil­i­tary, and sports teams.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Exercise: Software vs. Crosswords

Today I had a great con­ver­sa­tion with Mar­tin Buschkuehl, one of the U Michi­gan researchers involved in the cog­ni­tive train­ing study that has received much media atten­tion since ear­ly last week, when the study was pub­lished at the Pro­ceed­ings of the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences.

I will pub­lish the inter­view notes next week. For the moment, let me para­phrase his answer to the ques­tion: “Why are com­put­er­ized pro­grams like the one you used fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent from, say, sim­ply doing many cross­word puz­zles?”.

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 and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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