Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Update: The Future of Preventive Brain Medicine

Time for Sharp­Brains’ Jan­u­ary 2012 eNewslet­ter, fea­tur­ing in this occa­sion mul­ti­ple thought-pro­vok­ing per­spec­tives on how emerg­ing neu­ro­science can and should make us rethink pre­vail­ing prac­tices in edu­ca­tion, healthy aging and pre­ven­tive med­i­cine.

 

Fea­tured Per­spec­tives:

New Research: 

Resources:

 

Final­ly, you may want to read our answers to the many excel­lent ques­tions we received about the upcom­ing Online Course: How to Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach in 2012. 80 indi­vid­u­als have reg­is­tered so far, rep­re­sent­ing a fas­ci­nat­ing diver­sity of back­grounds: health and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als, edu­ca­tors, busi­ness exec­u­tives, traders, con­sul­tants, coach­es, soft­ware engi­neers, ther­a­pists,  and more. Please remem­ber that ear­ly-bird rates end on Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 31st!

Have a great month of Feb­ru­ary.

Research: Does Nintendo Brain Age work as a brain training game?

A new study tries to, but unfor­tu­nate­ly doesn’t, answer that ques­tion. Study: Brain Train­ing Game Improves Exec­u­tive Func­tions and Pro­cess­ing Speed in the Elder­ly: A Ran­dom­ized Con­trolled Tri­al (PLoS ONE).

Con­clu­sions: Our results showed that play­ing Brain Age for 4 weeks could lead to improve cog­ni­tive func­tions (exec­u­tive func­tions and pro­cess­ing speed) in the elder­ly. This result indi­cat­ed that there is a pos­si­bil­i­ty which the elder­ly could improve exec­u­tive func­tions and pro­cess­ing speed in short term train­ing. The results need repli­ca­tion in large sam­ples. Long-term effects and rel­e­vance for every-day func­tion­ing remain uncer­tain as yet.” Read the rest of this entry »

Update: 15 FAQs on Neuroplasticity / Brain Plasticity

Here you have the Octo­ber edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics.

We recent­ly run an online sur­vey among sub­scribers of our month­ly eNewslet­ter, and over 500 peo­ple neuroplasticity faqssaid we have helped them make bet­ter per­son­al or pro­fes­sion­al deci­sions on how to main­tain and improve brain fit­ness. Respon­dents also had many good ques­tions to ask, so I have select­ed 15 com­mon ones, paraphrased/ syn­the­sized them below, and answered them by link­ing to our most rel­e­vant posts and resources. I hope you enjoy the FAQ ses­sion.

Q: I teach a brain fit­ness class at my library/ senior center/ school, using much of your info. Can you share some of your pre­sen­ta­tions?
A: Yes, we have just decid­ed to share, using a Cre­ative Com­mons Attri­bu­tion No Deriv­a­tives License, the full pre­sen­ta­tion of my recent book talk at New York Pub­lic Library (opens video in YouTube). As long as you give cred­it to Sharp­Brains and don’t mod­i­fy it, you are free to use the pre­sen­ta­tion you can view and down­load HERE.

Q: What exact­ly does neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty neurons in actionmean, and why is it so impor­tant for edu­ca­tion and health?
A: Start by read­ing how learn­ing changes your brain.

Q. Is this only rel­e­vant for old­er adults? Can I also apply it in the work­place (I am 47)
A. I strong­ly sus­pect you do have a human brain, so you may ben­e­fit from these Ten Habits of High­ly Effec­tive Brains. Fur­ther, HR depart­ments would do well to start pay­ing more atten­tion to Cog­ni­tive Fit­ness and the Mature Work­force trends.

Q. I read so many con­flict­ing things I don’t know where to start.
A. You are not alone. We should all be aware that It is Not Only Cars That Deserve Good Main­te­nance: Brain Care 101.

Q. How can my orga­ni­za­tion deliv­er brain fit­ness activ­i­ties as a com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice?
A. These arti­cles will pro­vide good guide­lines and ideas: Retool­ing Use It or Lose It , and Pub­lic Libraries: Com­mu­ni­ty-Based Health Clubs for the Brain.

Q. Every­one seems obsessed with brain games. What about med­i­ta­tion?
A. Check out Yes, You Can Build Willpow­er, and Mind­ful­ness Med­i­ta­tion in Schools.

Q. Are soft­ware-based cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions effec­tive?
A. As a cat­e­go­ry, it cer­tain­ly seems so, as long as we ask the right ques­tions, For Whom, For What?. For exam­ple, did you see this Sci­ence paper on how Cog­ni­tive Train­ing Can Influ­ence Dopamine Sys­tem?.

Q. What about the trade-off between time invest­ed vs ben­e­fits real­ized.
A. Effi­cien­cy and replic­a­bil­i­ty of cog­ni­tive and brain-based out­comes seem to be, in fact, the strongest points of struc­tured cog­ni­tive inter­ven­tions. They seem to max­i­mize the Cog­ni­tive Val­ue of your Men­tal Work­out.


Q. It some­times looks like the whole field came out of nowhere, due to Nin­ten­do Brain Age’s suc­cess, so we can’t be talk­ing about some­thing seri­ous.

A: Nin­ten­do did indeed cre­ate con­sumer aware­ness (for a prod­uct with lit­tle evi­dence) but “brain train­ing” has sol­id roots in neu­ropsy­chol­o­gy and cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science, as you can read in our inter­view with Elkhonon Gold­berg.

Q. What about neu­ro­feed­back?
A. After years of much clin­i­cal use and lit­tle sol­id evi­dence, sev­er­al impor­tant tri­als have been pub­lished since 2009, show­ing how neu­ro­feed­back can help diag­nose and treat ADHD patients, for exam­ple.

Q. How can one improve mem­o­ry?

A. Well, the answer deserves a whole book, but we can offer some Tips to Improve Mem­o­ry includ­ing Sleep, Prac­tice and Test­ing.

Q. How can I brain fitness bookschoose one among the num­ber of prod­ucts mak­ing mem­o­ry and brain claims?
A. We sug­gest you use this Eval­u­a­tion check­list, and con­sid­er read­ing our con­sumer guide/ book.

Q. Any gen­er­al tips for edu­ca­tors and life­long learn­ers?
A. Indeed, here you have these 10 Brain Tips to Teach and Learn.

Q. How can I keep track of all the new brain fitness market infographictrends, com­pa­nies and prod­ucts? Our health system/ insurer/ senior community/ ven­ture firm/ com­pa­ny needs to make good deci­sions.
A. Well, that’s why we pub­lish mar­ket research, such as the one sum­ma­rized in this Info­graph­ic: State of the Mar­ket 2009 and also recent­ly launched a pro­fes­sion­al Net­work for Brain Fit­ness Inno­va­tion.

Q: Thank you for all the infor­ma­tion you provide…but what I want more of is… brain teasers!
A. Under­stood. We will make sure to offer more, but you can try, right now, these Top 50 Brain Teasers and con­tin­ue with more recent puz­zles and brain games.

Brain Training Market Talk, at MIT/ BoomerTech Series

We’ll have an excit­ing ses­sion in Palo Alto on Octo­ber 6th, as part of the BoomerTech series orga­nized by the MIT Club and Smart­Sil­vers. Let me share the details now.

Fact or Fad: Who is Shap­ing the Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket?
Descrip­tion: Lots of buzz … Per­haps you think that “Senior Moments” are an inevitable part of aging. MIT Club Northern CaliforniaBut research shows you may be able to keep your brain young and fit the same way you do your body, with exer­cise and train­ing. With the suc­cess of Nintendo’s Brain Age, Posit Sci­ence and dozens of new soft­ware pro­grams and games that promise “brain fit­ness”, the real ques­tion is: “Are we expe­ri­enc­ing a fad, or an emerg­ing new con­sumer mar­ket?”

Join our speak­er, Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, author of the new book, The Sharp Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness, and our expert pan­el to dis­cuss:

* What are the top prod­ucts on the mar­ket today?
* Can the emerg­ing field of Brain fit­ness improve your job per­for­mance?
* How will con­sumers make informed deci­sions on what to buy and use?
* What are the emerg­ing trends to lever­age for entre­pre­neurs to jump into the mar­ket­place?

Click Here to Reg­is­ter

Speak­er, Pan­elist & Mod­er­a­tor

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, Sharp­Brains — Alvaro is co-founder and CEO of Sharp­Brains, a lead­ing mar­ket research firm that tracks the mar­ket and research for cog­ni­tive assess­ments, train­ing, and games. A mem­ber of the World Eco­nom­ic Forum’s Glob­al Agen­da Coun­cils, he has been quot­ed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Jour­nal, USA Today, and more, and recent­ly co-authored the book, The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness: 18 Inter­views with Sci­en­tists, Prac­ti­cal Advice, and Prod­uct Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp. Alvaro received mas­ters’ degrees in edu­ca­tion and busi­ness from Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, and teach­es at UC-Berke­ley Osh­er Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute.

Pan­elists

Roger Quy, Gen­er­al Part­ner, Tech­nol­o­gy Part­ners — Roger has been respon­si­ble for the life sci­ence prac­tice of Tech­nol­o­gy Part­ners since 1989. He spe­cial­izes in neu­rotech­nol­o­gy, invest­ing in both bio­phar­ma and med­ical device com­pa­nies. Roger began his career at the Queen Square Insti­tute of Neu­rol­o­gy, Lon­don where he was a Research Fel­low for the British Med­ical Research Coun­cil. He devel­oped and com­mer­cial­ized tech­niques for mon­i­tor­ing the brains of ambu­la­to­ry patients. He con­tributed to a text­book on epilep­sy and holds eight patents. Roger earned a BA with hon­ors in psy­chol­o­gy and law and a PhD in neu­ro­science from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Keele, Eng­land. He received an MBA from the Haas School of Busi­ness at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley.

Jan Zivic, Founder, Vibrant Brains — Jan’s inter­est in Brain Fit­ness is very per­son­al. She suf­fered a trau­mat­ic brain injury after an auto­mo­bile acci­dent sev­er­al years ago, and expe­ri­enced the con­cept of neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty first-hand as she reha­bil­i­tat­ed from not being able to walk or think ratio­nal­ly to restor­ing much of her pre­vi­ous func­tion.

Jan has served in a vari­ety of lead­er­ship roles includ­ing: the Board of Direc­tors of the Yer­ba Bue­na Cen­ter for the Arts where she cur­rent­ly serves as Pres­i­dent of the Board, the Library Com­mis­sion of SF, the Cal­i­for­nia Exec­u­tive Recruiters Asso­ci­a­tion (its first female Pres­i­dent), the Kather­ine Del­mar Burke Inde­pen­dent School, and The Fam­i­ly Ser­vices Agency of SF — Pres­i­dent of the Board. Jan was rec­og­nized as The SF Cable Car Awards “Woman of the Year,” and lat­er as the recip­i­ent of the Maya Angelou Com­mu­ni­ty Lead­er­ship Award, from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cis­co Med­ical School’s Cen­ter Of Excel­lence.

Date: Tues­day, Octo­ber 6, 2009

Time:

* 6:00PM Reg­is­tra­tion, Hors d’oeuvres and Net­work­ing
* 7:00PM Pre­sen­ta­tion and Pan­el Dis­cus­sion

Cost:

* $20.00 in advance on the web­site
* $25.00 Walk-ins at the door (cash or check please, no cred­it cards accept­ed at door)

Con­tact:

Michael Sar­fat­ti
tel 415–885-2293
sarfatti@alum.mit.edu

Loca­tion:

Wil­son Son­si­ni
950 Page Mill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Click Here to Reg­is­ter

Brain Quiz: Do You Have a Brain?

Have you already read The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness?

Let’s see…brain health and brain fitness

1. Pick the only part of your body that does not con­tain fat:

a. Arm
b. Thigh
c. Brain
d. None

Answer: d) Fats are also present in the brain: in neu­rons’ mem­branes to keep them flex­i­ble. These fats are the omega 3 and omega 6 fat­ty acids mol­e­cules. (Page 32 of the book)

2. Pick the only food prod­uct that doesn’t con­tain Omega-3 fat­ty acids

a. Tuna
b. Wal­nut
c. Kiwi
d. Jel­ly Beans

Answer: d) Fat­ty acids can be found in cold-water fish (such as mack­er­el, her­ring, salmon, and tuna), kiwi, and wal­nuts. (Page 33)

3. Pick the only food prod­uct that doesn’t con­tain antiox­i­dants

a. Olive oil
b. Milk
c. Nuts
d. Berries

Answer: b) Antiox­i­dants can be found in veg­etable oils, nuts, green leafy veg­eta­bles (e.g., spinach), cit­rus fruit, and berries. (Page 33)

4. Chron­ic Stress can­not:

a. Pre­vent you from being cre­ative
b. Kill brain cells
c. Pre­vent you from sleep­ing
d. Kill liv­er cells

Answer: d) Pro­longed expo­sure to adren­al steroid hor­mones like cor­ti­sol, which is released into the blood stream when we are stressed, can lead to cell death and block the for­ma­tion of new neu­rons. (Page 35)

5. What type of phys­i­cal exer­cise is the best for your brain health?

a. Weight lift­ing
b. Aer­o­bic exer­cis­es
c. Flex­i­bil­i­ty exer­cis­es Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Follow us and Engage via…

twitter_logo_header
RSS Feed

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

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