Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Update: Connecting technology, healthy living, healthcare, concussions, and the Brain

Time for Sharp­Brains’ Sep­tem­ber 2012 eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing lead­ing-edge research and insights to help con­nect the dots among tech­nol­o­gy, healthy liv­ing, healthare, con­cus­sions, and–our protagonist–the brain.

Tech­nol­o­gy & the Brain:

Healthy Liv­ing & the Brain:

Health­care & the Brain:

Con­cus­sions & the Brain:

Have a great month of Octo­ber!

Pic cour­tesy of Big­Stock­Pho­to

The NIH Toolbox -First Comprehensive & Standardized Tests of Brain Function- To Be Released Next Week

Neu­ro­science Just Got Faster, Cheap­er and Eas­i­er (press release):

On Sept. 10 and 11, Ger­shon will intro­duce the new NIH Tool­box for Assess­ment of Behav­ioral and Neu­ro­log­i­cal Func­tion to hun­dreds of researchers at a spe­cial Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health (NIH) con­fer­ence in Bethes­da, Mary­land. At the end of Sep­tem­ber, the resource will be made ful­ly avail­able to the research com­mu­ni­ty and clin­i­cians. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from the SharpBrains Summit: Status Quo Not an Option

The 2011 Sharp­Brains Sum­mit gath­ered  more than 260 research and indus­try lead­ers in 16 coun­tries for 3 days to dis­cuss the chang­ing land­scape. Held online, par­tic­i­pants from all over the globe  attend­ed to hear more than 40 thought lead­ers, sci­en­tists, entre­pre­neurs and pol­i­cy mak­ers out­line the evolv­ing mar­ket­place. Dis­cus­sion moved from cog­ni­tive fit­ness to neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty, across reg­u­la­to­ry and pol­i­cy trends, and new prod­uct launch­es by new and estab­lished play­ers  What did we take home from the Sharp­Brains Sum­mit? Was it nov­el con­sumer insights aris­ing from a new retail land­scape? What of pol­i­cy ini­tia­tives from inno­va­tion clus­ters around the globe? Do you see a future pop­u­lat­ed by neu­ro­science toolk­its, dri­ven by the inex­orable demo­graph­ic changes set to occur in the com­ing decades? Or was it a look “under the hood” of tech­nol­o­gy plat­forms devel­oped by cat­e­go­ry lead­ers that sharp­ened our insight? Here are 10 emerg­ing themes:

1. The Need for Stan­dard­iza­tion of method­olo­gies

A pro­fu­sion of cog­ni­tive and emo­tion­al health tests, bat­ter­ies and new tech­nolo­gies are crowd­ing the research envi­ron­ment. The NIH tool­box for the assess­ment of a broad range of cog­ni­tive domains 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.

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

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