We are honored to announce the following Sponsors and Partners of the upcoming 2011 SharpBrains Summit: Retooling Brain Health for the 21st Century (March 30th — April 1st, 2011). And we are looking for more, so please contact us if interested! [Read more…] about Announcing Sponsors and Partners: 2011 SharpBrains Summit
MaRS (a Toronto-based innovation center) has just announced the Ontario Innovation Summit: The Business of Aging to “feature some of the worldâ€™s top experts focused on the many issues that the aging of the global population poses for communities, governments, academic and healthcare institutions, and businesses.”
- Innovation in an Age Friendly Society: Interconnected Challenges and Opportunities
— Rethinking Technology & Community: Optimizing our Economic Contributions and Enhancing Quality of Life
— Maintaining Autonomy: The Brain Fitness Movement
— Public Policy Impact: Putting Innovation to Work across the Continuum of Aging
— Commitment to Action
The conference will host special keynote appearances by the Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, and Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut. Other confirmed speakers:
- Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing
— Dr. John Beard, Director, Department of Aging and Life Course, World Health Organization
— Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Assistant Deputy Minister, Health System Strategy Division, Ontario Ministry of Health
— Alvaro Fernandez, Co-Founder, SharpBrains
— Saul Kaplan, Chief Catalyst, Business Innovation Factory
— Dr. David Naylor, President, University of Toronto
— Dr. Bill Reichman, President and CEO, Baycrest
To learn more, click Here.
Will make sure to blog about the event — what Ontario is doing, including its $10m investment in Baycrest last year (see my interview with Baycrest CEO, Bill Reichman), is truly enlightened and stimulating.
In April 2008, Baycrest, a leading research institute focused on aging and brain function, received $10-million from the Ontario Government to create a groundbreaking Centre for Brain Fitness. Its stated goal was to “develop and commercialize a range of products designed to improve the brain health of aging Ontarians and others around the world”.
“Our government is proud to support Baycrest and its invaluable work, which is already leading to the discovery of important new tools and approaches to treating brain diseases associated with aging,” said Minister of Research and Innovation, John Wilkinson.
We have Baycrest’s CEO with us today, to explore why Ontario and Baycrest chose to become pioneers in this area, and discuss some of the main opportunities, and challenges. Dr. William E. Reichman is President and CEO of Baycrest. Dr. Reichman, an internationally-known expert in geriatric mental health and dementia, is also Professor of Psychiatry on the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.
Alvaro Fernandez: Bill, thank you for your time. Let me start by asking, given that you just spoke at the recent Consumer Electronic Show, what do you make of the growing brain fitness field?
Bill Reichman: it looks like a classic example of a very promising but still early stage field – a lot of opportunity and enthusiasm, but also a lot of product claims that are not backed by solid research. Think about the physical fitness analogy: even today, after decades of progress, you still see people buying research-based products such as treadmills but also all types of random machines they see on TV and have not been subject to any validation. Similarly, consumers today do not know what to make of growing brain fitness claims. As another speaker pointed out, for the industry to fulfill its promise, it will need to be careful with research and claims, not to end up like the nutraceuticals category.
By the way, let me recognize that the work you are doing with SharpBrains reports and your website is very important to offer quality information.
Thank you. Let’s step back for a moment. Taking a, say, 10 years view, what is the main opportunity that technology-based brain fitness can offer to society?
First of all, let me say that I think we have an opportunity to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI century, similar to what happened with Cardiovascular Health in the XX, and technology will play a crucial role.
Given the rapid advances we are witnessing today in the research and technology arenas, I feel confident in saying that in less than 10 years we will have both valid and reliable assessments of cognitive functions, that will be used both by [Read more…] about Centre for Brain Fitness at Baycrest: Interview with Dr. William Reichman
Round-up of recent news with a variety of angles, from the effects of gaming to cognitive training for driving skills and brain fitness classes.
Seniors use brain training software to sharpen their minds (Dallas Morning News)
- “Allstate Insurance has invited some policyholders and other older drivers to try InSight so researchers can evaluate whether the software reduces accidents.”
- “Depending on the results, the auto insurer says it may expand the pilot project and offer premium discounts to drivers who take the brain training.”
- “Today, only one in seven licensed drivers is 65 or older. But by 2030, when the last of the boomers turn 65, the proportion will be one in four. ”
Brain games (Palo Alto Weekly)
- “There is research that justifies the belief that games can aid the brain’s health, according to Dr. Walter Bortz II, a Stanford University School of Medicine associate professor and expert on longevity and robust aging. Studies show that stimulating the brain by learning new tasks increases blood factors in the brain that act like steroids, making it possible for the brain to grow even in old age
- “Called “brain plasticity,” such growth is the foundation of brain-fitness software research.”
Brain Fitness Classes Keep Seniors Mentally And Socially Active (Washington Post)
- “More options for exercising the brain are on the way. Last year, the Ontario government pledged about $8 million to develop a brain fitness center in Toronto. In San Francisco, Jan Zivic, a former executive search consultant, opened a center, vibrantBrains, that offers memory improvement classes and workshops. Zivic was inspired by help she got from brain fitness games she played after being injured in an automobile accident.”
The 15 Clearest Benefits of Gaming (Edge Magazine)
-“But Fernandez warns that the gamer generation isn’t automatically guaranteed to have better cognitive health than their grandparents. Cognitive fitness (having the mental abilities required to thrive in cognitively more complex environments) seems to depend on four major pillars: nutrition, physical exercise, stress management and mental exercise. All these factors have physical effects on our brains (for example, physical exercise contributes to the creation of new neurons, while stress and anxiety prevents and/or reduces the creation of new neurons). The bad news is that we have growing obesity rates and anxiety among young people. So, games are great for mental exercise, but we shouldn’t forget the other ingredients for cognitive fitness.
- “Fernandez muses, Indeed fun can be seen as a goal in itself . The problem is that we confuse gaming as a vehicle with gaming as content. Gaming as vehicle is arguably great it allows for interactivity, engagement. Gaming as content, well, it depends. It is not the same to play a bloody shooter game as it is to Tetris or Rise of Nations, so the field should do a better job at explaining to mainstream society the diversity of games and dispel some myths.
How do you know when something is fast moving towards a Gladwellian tipping point? When health insurance companies and public policy makers launch significant initiatives.
For example, the government of Ontario recently announced a $10 million investment with Baycrest Research Centre who will partner with MaRS Venture Group to develop and commercialise brain fitness technologies. The investment was matched by an additional $10 million from private sources.
Another important development was the $18 million agreement between the Australian-based Brain Resource Company (ASX:BRC) and OptumHealth in the US. This will allow for the provision of web-based cognitive assessments as part of a clinician’s decision support systems.
These are some initiatives covered in a webinar Top Ten Cognitive Fitness Events of 2008 presented in December for SharpBrains’ clients. Alvaro Fernandez described the state of play and main drivers behind the growth of the burgeoning brain fitness market — which I will try and summarize here.
The key drivers seem to be [Read more…] about Brain fitness & training heads towards its tipping point
Crisp CNN article:
Including my final quote “[Brain fitness] is not just some fad. The market is much deeper than Nintendo.”
The “brain fitness center” financed by Ontario is Baycrest. Companies mentioned: Mindfit, Posit Science, Nintendo, Allstate, BrainBuilder, MyBrainTrainer.
The reporter and I also discussed in depth the need for better consumer education and professional development, so people can make informed decisions, and for cognitive assessments to serve as independent baseline, help identify priorities and measure results. Please note that our market estimates do include revenues of computerized cognitive assessments, today mostly used in clinical trials, and within the military and sports teams.