Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


The Benefits of a One-Time Cognitive Training Program Do Last but Wane Over Time

Do you remember the IMPACT study published in 2009? It was a randomized clinical trial with healthy older adults that compared a computer-based cognitive program that trains audi­tory pro­cess­ing (Brain Fitness Program, Posit Science) with educational video programs (control group). People who used the program improved in the trained tasks, which was not that surprising, but there was also a clear ben­e­fit in audi­tory mem­ory, which wasn’t directly trained.

A 2011 paper reports the 3-month follow-up results of the IMPACT study. The 487 participants in the original study were 65 and older. Training was 1 hour a day, 4 to 5 days a week, for a total of 40 hours in 8 to 10 weeks. There was no contact with the researchers between the initial training study and the follow-up study.

The results showed that 3 months after the initial training most of the improvement observed in the training group was still present, although not as strongly. Read the rest of this entry »

Posit Science Program Classic and InSight: Alzheimer’s Australia

Brain-fitness plan can improve memory (Sydney Morning Herald), reports on the recent endorsement of Posit Science’s programs (Posit Science Program Classic, focused on auditory processing training, and Posit Science Cortex with InSight, on visual processing). Quotes: Read the rest of this entry »

Posit Science, Nintendo Brain Age, and Brain Training Topics

A few colleagues referred me over the weekend to a very nice article at business publication Portfolio.

While the article does an excellent job at introducing the reader to the concept and promise of computerized cognitive assessments, it also contributes to the mythology of “Brain Age”. MRI scan neuroimaging

Let’s first take a look at the article How Smart Are You: The business of assessing cognition and memory is moving from testing brain-impaired patients to assessing healthy peoples’ brains online.

A couple of quotes:

– “Cognitive Drug Research is one a handful of businesses, most of them outside of the U.S., that work with pharmaceutical companies to test how new drugs for everything from nicotine addiction to Alzheimer’s disease affect the mind’s ability to remember things, make decisions, and analyze information.”

– “Cognitive tests have been around for a century as examinations taken with paper and pencil. In the 1970s and ’80s the tests shifted to computers, Cognitive Drug Research founder Keith Wesnes says.

So far, so good. In fact, one of the key highlights from the market report we released in March was that “Large-scale, fully-automated cognitive assessments are being used in a growing number of clinical trials. This opens the way for the development of inexpensive consumer-facing, baseline cognitive assessments.” And we profiled a few leading companies in the space: Brain Resource Company, Cognitive Drug Research, CNS Vital Signs and CogState.

Now, the article is accompanied by a 5-7 minute quick test that promises to give us our “Brain Age”. And this doesn’t come from Nintendo, but from Cognitive Drug Research, a respected science-based company.

You can check it out Read the rest of this entry »

Nintendo BrainAge, Lumosity, Happy Neuron, MyBrainTrainer…

A collection of recent announcement in the “brain games” or “brain training games” space:

The Wii sets new generational standards for the videogame industry

  • “The ageing of the Japanese population compelled gamemaker Nintendo to widen its audience. Now, the Wii is leading the industry standards. But hardcore gamers are still too important to be neglected.”

Strain your brain the smart way

  • “George Harrison, Nintendo’s senior vice president of marketing and corporate communications, has said that more than half of the company’s marketing for Wii is aimed at adults. And the system has been presented at conventions for the aging “gray gamer” population.” and talks about sudoku, Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, and more.

SBT Announces the Acquisition of Quixit

Neurogenesis and How Learning Saves Your Neurons

Jon Barron’s blog highlighted this recent press release from The Society for Neuroscience.

For decades, it was believed that the adult brain did not produce new neurons after birth. But that notion has been dispelled by research in the last ten years. It became clear by the mid- to late-1990’s that the brain does, in fact, produce new neurons throughout the lifespan.

This phenomenon, known as neurogenesis, occurs in most species, including humans, but the degree to which it occurs and the extent to which it occurs is still a matter of some controversy, says Tracey Shors, PhD, at Rutgers University.

“However, there is no question that neurogenesis occurs in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in aspects of learning and memory. Thousands of new cells are produced there each day, although many die with weeks of their birth.” Shors’ recent studies have shown a correlation in animal models between learning and cell survival in the hippocampus.

Read the rest of this entry »

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