Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Can Brain Training and Biofeedback Help Prevent Depression

In two inno­v­a­tive pilot stud­ies, Ian Gotlib and his col­leagues at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, Cal­i­for­nia, showed that brain train­ing can be used to help elim­i­nate depres­sion, even before it starts. They stud­ied young girls (10 to 14 year old) whose moth­ers were depressed and who thus were at high­er risk of devel­op­ing depres­sion them­selves lat­er-on. The girls had not expe­ri­enced depres­sion per se but already showed behav­iors typ­i­cal of depressed brains, such as over­re­ac­tion to neg­a­tive stim­uli. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Brain Training Trends — Putting our Cognitive Reserve to Work

Yes­ter­day I had the chance to chat with Yaakov Stern, lead­ing Cog­ni­tive Reserve researcher at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, and then with a group of 25 life­long learn­ers in Ari­zona who attend­ed a brain fit­ness class (hel­lo, Robert and friends!) based on our con­sumer guide The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness. On reflec­tion, I found both con­ver­sa­tions to be very stim­u­lat­ing for the same rea­son: they were for­ward-look­ing, focused not so much on sta­tus quo but on how emerg­ing research, tech­nol­o­gy and trends may impact our soci­ety and lives in years to come. Let’s con­tin­ue the con­ver­sa­tion. Let me share the 10 main trends that we analyzed/ fore­cast­ed in our book, and then ask you, sharp read­ers, to add your own 2 cents to the dis­cus­sion. Read the rest of this entry »

SharpBrains Council Monthly Insights: How will we assess, enhance and repair cognition across the lifespan?

When you think of how the PC has altered the fab­ric of soci­ety, per­mit­ting instant access to infor­ma­tion and automat­ing process­es beyond our wildest dreams, it is instruc­tive to con­sid­er that much of this progress was dri­ven by Moore’s law. Halv­ing the size of semi­con­duc­tor every 18 months catal­ysed an expo­nen­tial accel­er­a­tion in per­for­mance.

Why is this sto­ry rel­e­vant to mod­ern neu­ro­science and the work­ings of the brain? Because trans­for­ma­tive tech­no­log­i­cal progress aris­es out of choice and the actions of indi­vid­u­als who see poten­tial for change, and we may well be on the verge of such progress. Read the rest of this entry »

The Brain Fitness/ Training Market: An Executive Summary

Over the next weeks we are going to be shar­ing the Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry of our mar­ket report The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket 2008 with mem­bers and clients of sev­er­al part­ner orga­ni­za­tions (the British Colum­bia Seniors Liv­ing Asso­ci­a­tion, where I will be speak­ing this Thurs­day, Neu­rotech Reports, where I will speak on Octo­ber 24th, and the Health 2.0 con­fer­ence, where we are spon­sor­ing a pan­el on gam­ing for health), so it is only fair that we first share it with our own read­ers.

Exec­u­tive Sum­ma­ry

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, increas­ing preva­lence of Alzheimer’s rates, and soar­ing health care costs in the US that place more empha­sis than ever on pre­ven­tion and lifestyle changes.

US brain fit­ness mar­ket: sig­nif­i­cant and grow­ing

We esti­mate the size of the US brain fit­ness mar­ket was $225m in 2007 – more than dou­ble what it was in 2005. Where­as K12 school sys­tems were the largest buy­ers in 2005, con­sumers were respon­si­ble for most of the growth from 2005 to 2007. We esti­mate that the con­sumer seg­ment grew from a few mil­lion in 2005 to $80m in 2007, and fore­see sig­nif­i­cant mar­ket growth dri­ven not only by con­sumers but also by health­care and insur­ance providers.

Mar­ket dynam­ics

As we speak to diverse audi­ences about this emerg­ing field around the coun­try we are fre­quent­ly asked the fol­low­ing ques­tions:

- Why are we talk­ing about the brain fit­ness field at all?

Over the past decade, teams backed by neu­ro­sci­en­tists around the world Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Programs For Seniors Housing, Healthcare and Insurance Providers: Evaluation Checklist

Dur­ing the research phase before the pub­li­ca­tion of the spe­cial report Brain Fit­ness Cen­ters in Seniors Hous­ing — A Field in the Mak­ing, pub­lished by the Amer­i­can Seniors Hous­ing Asso­ci­a­tion (ASHA), we real­ized that there were equal amounts of inter­est and con­fu­sion among exec­u­tives and pro­fes­sion­als think­ing about adding com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive exer­cise prod­ucts to their mix of health & well­ness activ­i­ties, so we includ­ed the Eval­u­a­tion Check­list that fol­lows.

The real-life expe­ri­ences at lead­ing orga­ni­za­tions such as Senior Star Liv­ing, Bel­mont Vil­lage Senior Liv­ing, Erick­son Retire­ment Com­mu­ni­ties and oth­ers were instru­men­tal in the devel­op­ment of the Check­list. We hope it is use­ful.

Brain Fit­ness Pro­grams For Seniors Hous­ing, Health­care and Insur­ance Providers: Eval­u­a­tion Check­list

Over the next sev­er­al years, it is like­ly that many seniors hous­ing oper­a­tors will begin to care­ful­ly eval­u­ate a grow­ing num­ber of options to include “brain fit­ness cen­ters” in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Some options will require pur­chas­ing a device, such as Nin­ten­do prod­ucts, or the Dakim touch-screen sys­tem. Oth­ers will require installing soft­ware in PCs in exist­ing or new com­put­er labs, such as Posit Sci­ence, Cogmed or Cog­niFit’s pro­grams. Oth­ers will be ful­ly avail­able online, such as those offered by Lumos Labs, Hap­py Neu­ron and My Vig­or­ous Mind. And still oth­ers may be tech­nol­o­gy-free, promis­ing engag­ing com­bi­na­tions of inter­ac­tive, group-based, activ­i­ties with pen-and-paper exer­cis­es.

Cre­at­ing a sol­id busi­ness case will help com­mu­ni­ties nav­i­gate through this grow­ing array of options. We sug­gest com­mu­ni­ties con­sid­er this Sharp­Brains Check­list for Brain Fit­ness Cen­ters:

1. Ear­ly Users: Who among our res­i­dents is ready and will­ing to do the pro­gram? How are they react­ing to the pilot test­ing of the pro­gram?

2. Cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits: What are the spe­cif­ic ben­e­fits claimed for using this pro­gram? Under what sce­nario of use (how many hours/week, how many weeks)? What spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive skill(s) does the pro­gram train? How will we mea­sure progress? Read the rest of this entry »

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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