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Scientia Pro Publica: Answers to 28 popular and not-so-popular questions

Wel­come to the XL edi­tion of Sci­en­tia Pro Pub­lica (or, since we are try­ing to speak Eng­lish, the 40th edi­tion of “Sci­ence for the Peo­ple”), the rotat­ing blog car­ni­val that show­cases the finest sci­ence, med­ical and envi­ron­ment writ­ing pub­lished in the blo­gos­phere.

Quick now — ask a ques­tion, any ques­tion, that comes to mind. Chances are some­one in this excel­lent ros­ter of sci­ence blog­gers has antic­i­pat­ed it and pro­vid­ed an answer below. Enjoy!

About our­selves

  1. Why do I feel bet­ter after I exer­cise (pic: brain­blog­ger)
  2. Can thought­ful blog­ging and read­ing build brain reserve and delay demen­tia
  3. What’s the bor­der­line between high and low func­tion­ing — autism research exam­ples
  4. Can we learn to mul­ti-task more effec­tive­ly
  5. Should you mind your brain

About our bod­ies Read the rest of this entry »

UCSF study looks for Bay Area participants

We often hear inter­est from peo­ple of all ages in being par­tic­i­pants in the cog­ni­tive research we are doing in our UCSF lab. How­ev­er, all of our exper­i­ments to date have been focused on under 20 year olds and the over 60 age group, and many peo­ple fall in between. Well, we have just launched our first exper­i­ment aimed at explor­ing the impact of dis­trac­tion and mul­ti­task­ing on per­for­mance across the lifes­pan, with a large enough num­ber of par­tic­i­pants to allow for gen­der com­par­isons. So, we are reach­ing to peo­ple of all ages with the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be par­tic­i­pate in this cool new exper­i­ment.

This is a behav­ioral study using a video game that we cre­at­ed and devel­oped to eval­u­ate these skills. It sets the stage for both a brain train­ing and brain record­ing exper­i­ment to fol­low. Tak­ing part requires an approx­i­mate­ly two-hour study at our lab at the UCSF Mis­sion Bay cam­pus (mul­ti­ple days/times avail­able for the test­ing). We are look­ing for right hand­ed indi­vid­u­als that are not col­or­blind, and not on any med­ica­tion for a neurological/psychiatric dis­or­der. Read the rest of this entry »

New Research Partnership in Cognitive Aging

via Press release:

The Research Part­ner­ship in Cog­ni­tive Aging, a pub­lic-pri­vate effort NY62434LOGOto pro­mote the study of brain func­tion with age, will award up to $28 mil­lion over five years to 17 research grants to exam­ine the neur­al and behav­ioral pro­files of healthy cog­ni­tive aging and explore inter­ven­tions that may pre­vent, reduce or reverse cog­ni­tive decline in old­er peo­ple.

The part­ner­ship, led by the Nation­al Insti­tute on Aging (NIA), part of the Nation­al Insti­tutes of Health, and the McK­night Brain Research Foun­da­tion (MBRF), is seek­ing ways to main­tain cog­ni­tive health — the abil­i­ty to think, learn and remem­ber — into old age.

Hodes point­ed out that emerg­ing evi­dence sug­gests that cer­tain inter­ven­tions — such as exer­cise, envi­ron­men­tal enrich­ment, diet, social engage­ment, cog­ni­tive train­ing and stress reduc­tion — should be stud­ied more inten­sive­ly to deter­mine if they might pre­vent or reduce declines in cog­ni­tive health.

All the stud­ies are fas­ci­nat­ing, and a few of them may have sig­nif­i­cant impact in the near-term giv­en mar­ket trends:

  • Ellen F. Binder, M.D., and Mark A. McDaniel, Ph.D., Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine, St. Louis: Com­bin­ing Exer­cise and Cog­ni­tive Train­ing to Improve Every­day Func­tion. A pilot tri­al in 90 old­er adults will eval­u­ate whether cog­ni­tion improves when aer­o­bic exer­cise is com­bined with cog­ni­tive enrich­ment pro­vid­ed by a spe­cif­ic research-based video game. The ran­dom­ized tri­al is aimed at find­ing an inter­ven­tion to improve day-to-day cog­ni­tive func­tion.
  • Mark D’Esposito, M.D., Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley: A Brain-Based Approach to Enhanc­ing Exec­u­tive Con­trol Func­tions in Healthy Aging
  • Patri­cia A. Boyle, Ph.D., Rush Uni­ver­si­ty Med­ical Cen­ter, Chica­go: Char­ac­ter­iz­ing the Behav­ior Pro­file of Healthy Cog­ni­tive Aging
  • Randy L. Buck­n­er, Ph.D., Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal, Boston: Neur­al Process­es Under­ly­ing Cog­ni­tive Aging
  • Joe Z. Tsien, Ph.D., Med­ical Col­lege of Geor­gia, Augus­ta: Hip­pocam­pal Net­work Pro­files of Mem­o­ry Aging.
  • Yaakov Stern, Ph.D., Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, New York: Com­bined Exer­cise and Cog­ni­tive Train­ing Inter­ven­tion in Nor­mal Aging

For more infor­ma­tion

My two cents:

  • Why $28 mil­lion and not, say, $300m (one dol­lar per liv­ing Amer­i­can who tomor­row will be one day old­er than he or she is today)?
  • Why the main empha­sis on “pre­vent, reduce or reverse decline” and not on “devel­op, build, main­tain func­tion­al­i­ty”?

ETech09: on Life Hacking and Brain Training

Here you have the pre­sen­ta­tion I deliv­ered on Tues­day at ETech 2009 (this year’s O’Reilly Emerg­ing Tech­nol­o­gy Con­fer­ence):

Emerg­ing Research and Tech­nol­o­gy for Life Hacking/ Brain Train­ing

(click to open pre­sen­ta­tion in new win­dow)

Descrip­tion: Life hack­ing. Brain train­ing. They are one and the same. The brain’s frontal lobes enable our goal-ori­ent­ed behav­ior, sup­port­ing exec­u­tive func­tions, such as deci­sion-mak­ing, atten­tion, emo­tion­al self-reg­u­la­tion, goal-set­ting, and work­ing mem­o­ry. These func­tions can be enhanced with tar­get­ed prac­tice  such as life hack­ing. This ses­sion will pro­vide an overview of the cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science under­pin­ning life hack­ing, and review the state-of-the-art of non-inva­sive tools for brain train­ing: neu­ro­feed­back, biofeed­back, soft­ware appli­ca­tions, cog­ni­tive sim­u­la­tions, Tran­scra­nial Mag­net­ic Stim­u­la­tion, and plain-old med­i­ta­tion.

It was great to meet fel­low blog­gers and pre­sen­ters, such as Shel­ley Batts of Of Two Minds and Chris Patil of Ouroboros, and very inquisite and through­ful audi­ence mem­bers. Get­ting ready to speak at ASA/ NCOA and IHRSA next week!

Brain Fitness Newsletter: Premium Research Sponsors

Here you have the twice-a-month newslet­ter with our most pop­u­lar blog posts. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Newslet­ter by email, sim­ply by brain fitness and health newslettersub­mit­ting your email at the top of this page.

Have you ever won­dered how we can main­tain Sharp­Brains’ web­site, blog and newslet­ter with­out sell­ing any prod­ucts and with only lim­it­ed adver­tis­ing? The answer is, we offer mar­ket research to orga­ni­za­tions such as health­care providers, research cen­ters, tech­nol­o­gy devel­op­ers, ven­ture cap­i­tal firms, con­sult­ing and train­ing com­pa­nies, and more.

Our new Pre­mi­um Research Spon­sors pro­gram will allow pio­neer­ing orga­ni­za­tions to col­lab­o­rate with us to shape the future of the brain fit­ness and cog­ni­tive health field, by spon­sor­ing and access­ing the most up-to-date infor­ma­tion on the sci­ence and best prac­tices to assess and improve cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing across the lifes­pan. You can learn more about the Pre­mi­um Research Spon­sors pro­gram Here.

Mar­ket News

All­state: Can we Improve Dri­ver Safe­ty using Com­put­er­ized Cog­ni­tive Train­ing?: Insur­ance com­pa­ny All­state and brain fit­ness soft­ware devel­op­er Posit Sci­ence just announced a very intel­li­gent ini­tia­tive, and Tom War­den, Assis­tant Vice Pres­i­dent and Leader of Allstate’s Research and Plan­ning Cen­ter, explains to us why cog­ni­tive train­ing may be the new safe­ty fea­ture fol­low­ing seat belts and airbags.

The Cog­ni­tive Health and Fit­ness Mar­ket On The Move: As you have prob­a­bly seen, the Cog­ni­tive Health and Brain Fit­ness field is rapid­ly evolv­ing. Here we high­light some of the main devel­op­ments affect­ing the field over the last 6-months: pub­lic pol­i­cy ini­tia­tives in Cana­da and the US, the grow­ing role of com­put­er­ized assess­ments, sev­er­al ven­ture cap­i­tal rounds, major ini­tia­tives by insur­ance com­pa­nies, and sig­nif­i­cant research find­ings.

The Big Pic­ture

Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry of the Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket: Let’s step back and ask our­selves, “Why is the field evolv­ing in such a fast way? What is hope, what is hype, what is real­i­ty?” 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, the increased preva­lence of Alzheimer’s rates, and soar­ing health care costs in the US that place more empha­sis than ever on pre­ven­tion and lifestyle changes. This arti­cle sum­ma­rizes the main mar­ket dynam­ics, open ques­tions, and top trends to watch for.

Nour­ish­ing Our Brains and Minds

Teach­ing is the Art of Chang­ing the Brain: Lau­rie Bar­tels promis­es, “I have read a num­ber of books that trans­late cur­rent brain research into prac­tice while pro­vid­ing prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions for teach­ers to imple­ment. This is the first book I have read that pro­vides a bio­log­i­cal, and clear­ly ratio­nal, overview of learn­ing and the brain.” Go and enjoy her review of a very inter­est­ing book by James Zull, Direc­tor Emer­i­tus of the Uni­ver­si­ty Cen­ter for Inno­va­tion in Teach­ing and Edu­ca­tion at Case West­ern Reserve.

Phi­los­o­phy as the Miss­ing Link in School Cur­ric­u­la: Kim­ber­ly Wick­ham answers pro­vides some good answers to the ques­tion, “Why would any­one want to teach phi­los­o­phy to pre-ado­les­cent chil­dren? that will engage your crit­i­cal think­ing skills.

A User’s Guide to Life­long Brain Health: Drs Simon Evans and Paul Burghardt hope (as we do) that the emerg­ing empha­sis on cog­ni­tive exer­cise and fit­ness helps com­ple­ment -not sub­sti­tute- oth­er lifestyle fac­tors impor­tant for the “phys­i­cal health of the brain and all the sys­tems it com­mu­ni­cates with”. Think: nutri­tion, exer­cise, sleep.

Exer­cis­ing Our Brains

Excel­lent Read­er Com­ments: Our last newslet­ter gen­er­at­ed a round of excel­lent  com­ments by read­ers on cog­ni­tive train­ing, Posit Sci­ence and Alzheimer’s Aus­tralia, geron­tol­ogy and the brain, and the val­ue of videogames. Come enjoy this col­lec­tive wis­dom and par­tic­i­pate as you wish.

Brainy Haikus:
riv­er with haikus
flow­ing in since the sum­mer
keep­ing  us afloat

The Chal­lenges of Geron­tol­ogy?: The World Eco­nom­ic Forum has asked me, as one of the 16 mem­bers of the Glob­al Agen­da Coun­cil on the Chal­lenges of Geron­tol­ogy, for “an 800 word sum­ma­ry of your most com­pelling action­able idea on the chal­lenges of geron­tol­ogy.” Feel free to help me out by offer­ing your own action­able ideas, either relat­ed to the dis­ci­pline of geron­tol­ogy itself or on ways to best engage the grow­ing num­ber of brains over the age of 60 in our plan­et.

Enjoy!

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.

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