Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Non-invasive neurotechnology reaches senior housing via ASHA-NeuroVigil innovative partnership

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Senior Liv­ing Sees Huge Poten­tial in Res­i­dent Brain Data (Senior Hous­ing News):

The Amer­i­can Senior Hous­ing Asso­ci­a­tion (ASHA) has announced a new part­ner­ship that aims to use neu­ro­science to deter­mine whether senior liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties are ben­e­fit­ing their res­i­dents. As part of the ini­tia­tive, La Jol­la, Cal­i­for­nia-based Neu­roVig­il will mon­i­tor Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Health News: Top Articles and Resources in March

There’s such a flood of very sig­nif­i­cant research stud­ies, edu­ca­tion­al resources and arti­cles relat­ed to brain health, it’s hard to keep track — even for us!

Let me intro­duce and quote some of the top Brain Health Stud­ies, Arti­cles and Resources pub­lished in March:

1) Cog­ni­tive Decline Begins In Late 20s, Study Sug­gests (Sci­ence Dai­ly)

- “These pat­terns sug­gest that some types of men­tal flex­i­bil­i­ty decrease rel­a­tive­ly ear­ly in adult­hood, but that how much knowl­edge one has, and the effec­tive­ness of inte­grat­ing it with one’s abil­i­ties, may increase through­out all of adult­hood if there are no patho­log­i­cal dis­eases,” Salt­house said.

- How­ev­er, Salt­house points out that there is a great deal of vari­ance from per­son to per­son

2) Cere­brum 2009: Emerg­ing Ideas in Brain Sci­ence — new book by the Dana Foun­da­tion that “explores the cut­ting edge of brain research and its impli­ca­tions in our every­day lives, in lan­guage under­stand­able to the gen­er­al read­er.”

A cou­ple of excel­lent chap­ters of direct rel­e­vance to every­one’s brain health are:
— Chap­ter 4: A Road Paved by Rea­son, by Eliz­a­beth Nor­ton Lasley

- Chap­ter 10: Neur­al Health: Is It Facil­i­tat­ed by Work Force Par­tic­i­pa­tion?, by Denise Park, Ph.D

3) Stay­ing Sharp DVD Pro­gram: “Dr. Jor­dan Graf­man, chief of the Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science Sec­tion at the Nation­al Insti­tute of Neu­ro­log­i­cal Dis­or­ders and Stroke out­side of Wash­ing­ton, DC, and a mem­ber of the Dana Alliance for Brain Ini­tia­tives, is your guide as we cov­er what to expect from the aging brain and what we can do to ‘stay sharp.’

For a free DVD of this pro­gram you can con­tact stayingsharp@dana.org. (they say free in their web­site, I don’t know if that includes ship­ping & han­dling)

4) Dri­vers to be test­ed on cog­ni­tive abil­i­ty start­ing at age 75 (Japan Times)

The out­line of a cog­ni­tive test that dri­vers aged 75 or over will be required to take from June when renew­ing their licens­es was released Thursday…The test is intend­ed to reduce the num­ber of traf­fic acci­dents involv­ing elder­ly dri­vers by mea­sur­ing their cog­ni­tive lev­el.

5) Phys­i­cal Fit­ness Improves Spa­tial Mem­o­ry, Increas­es Size Of Brain Struc­ture (Sci­ence Dai­ly)

- “Now researchers have found that elder­ly adults who are more phys­i­cal­ly fit tend to have big­ger hip­pocampi and bet­ter spa­tial mem­o­ry than those who are less fit.”

6) Brain Train­ers: A Work­out for the Mind (Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can Mind)

I recent­ly tried out eight of the lat­est brain fit­ness pro­grams, train­ing with each for a week. The pro­grams ranged wide­ly in focus, qual­i­ty and how fun they were to use. “Like phys­i­cal exer­cise equip­ment, a brain exer­cise pro­gram does­n’t do you any good if you don’t use it, says Andrew J. Car­le, direc­tor of the Pro­gram in Assist­ed Living/Senior Hous­ing Admin­is­tra­tion at George Mason Uni­ver­si­ty. And peo­ple tend not to use bor­ing equip­ment. “I remem­ber when Nor­dic­Track was the biggest thing out there. Every­one ran out and bought one, and 90 per­cent of them end­ed up as a clothes rack in the back of your bed­room.

The reporter used: Posit Sci­ence’s Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram Clas­sic, Hap­pyNeu­ron, Nin­ten­do BrainAge, Cog­niFit’s MindFit/ Cog­niFit Per­son­al Coach, Lumos­i­ty, MyBrain­Train­er, Brain­Twister, Cogmed Work­ing Mem­o­ry Train­ing.

7) The Lat­est in Men­tal Health: Work­ing Out at the ‘Brain Gym’ (Wall Street Jour­nal)

- “Mar­shall Kahn, an 82-year-old fam­i­ly doc­tor in Fuller­ton, Calif., says he got such a boost from brain exer­cis­es he start­ed doing at a “Nifty after Fifty” club that he decid­ed to start see­ing patients again part-time. “Doing all the men­tal exer­cise,” he says, “I real­ized I’ve still got it.”

8) Debate Over Drugs For ADHD Reignites (Wash­ing­ton Post)

- “New data from a large fed­er­al study have reignit­ed a debate over the effec­tive­ness of long-term drug treat­ment of chil­dren with hyper­ac­tiv­i­ty or atten­tion-deficit dis­or­der, and have drawn accu­sa­tions that some mem­bers of the research team have sought to play down evi­dence that med­ica­tions do lit­tle good beyond 24 months.”

- “The study also indi­cat­ed that long-term use of the drugs can stunt chil­dren’s growth.”

8) Adap­tive train­ing leads to sus­tained enhance­ment of poor work­ing mem­o­ry in chil­dren (Devel­op­men­tal Sci­ence)

Abstract: Work­ing mem­o­ry plays a cru­cial role in sup­port­ing learn­ing, with poor progress in read­ing and math­e­mat­ics char­ac­ter­iz­ing chil­dren with low mem­o­ry skills. This study inves­ti­gat­ed whether these prob­lems can be over­come by a train­ing pro­gram designed to boost work­ing mem­o­ry. Chil­dren with low work­ing mem­o­ry skills were assessed on mea­sures of work­ing mem­o­ry, IQ and aca­d­e­m­ic attain­ment before and after train­ing on either adap­tive or non-adap­tive ver­sions of the pro­gram. Adap­tive train­ing that taxed work­ing mem­o­ry to its lim­its was asso­ci­at­ed with sub­stan­tial and sus­tained gains in work­ing mem­o­ry, with age-appro­pri­ate lev­els achieved by the major­i­ty of chil­dren. Math­e­mat­i­cal abil­i­ty also improved sig­nif­i­cant­ly 6 months fol­low­ing adap­tive train­ing. These find­ings indi­cate that com­mon impair­ments in work­ing mem­o­ry and asso­ci­at­ed learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties may be over­come with this behav­ioral treat­ment.

9) Brain cor­tex thin­ning linked to inher­it­ed depres­sion (Los Ange­les Times)

- “On aver­age, peo­ple with a fam­i­ly his­to­ry of depres­sion appear to have brains that are 28% thin­ner in the right cor­tex — the out­er­most lay­er of the brain — than those with no known fam­i­ly his­to­ry of the dis­ease. That cor­ti­cal thin­ning, said the researchers, is on a scale sim­i­lar to that seen in patients with Alzheimer’s dis­ease or schiz­o­phre­nia.”

Upcoming Health & Brain Fitness events

Here are some upcom­ing events I will par­tic­i­pate in — feel free to leave a com­ment below or con­tact us if you will be attend­ing too and want to say Hel­lo. I real­ly enjoy meet­ing Sharp­Brains read­ers!Lecture

» Jan­u­ary 22nd, Con­sumer Reports’ Blog­ger Health Sum­mit, NYC.

» March 5th, New York Acad­e­my of Med­i­cine, NYC. I will present Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware — Con­sumers Guide to dis­tin­guish­ing hope from hype, at the Com­pre­hen­sive Approach to Demen­tia Sym­po­sium spon­sored by Mon­te­fiore Med­ical Cen­ter and with cred­it des­ig­nat­ed by Albert Ein­stein Col­lege of Med­i­cine. Will blog when their web­site lists the agen­da and allows reg­is­tra­tion.

» March 15–19th, ASA/ NCOA annu­al con­fer­ence in Las Vegas. I will be pre­sent­ing two ses­sions. Reg­is­tra­tion is open now at 2009 Aging in Amer­i­ca Con­fer­ence, but there is lim­it­ed infor­ma­tion on the ses­sions. Will blog when there are detailed abstracts avail­able.

- The State of the Brain Fit­ness Mar­ket, 16-Mar-09, 08:00 PM — 09:30 AM

- Brain Fit­ness in Senior Hous­ing: 18-Mar-09, 11:30 AM — 12:30 PM

Brain Fitness around the Globe

A few days ago, Rajen­dra, an Indi­an read­er of our newslet­ter, told us that ASHA (the acronym for the Amer­i­can Seniors Hous­ing Asso­ci­a­tion, for whom we pre­pared this spe­cial report), means Hope in Hin­di.

Asha, every­one!

Then, we saw a few excel­lent arti­cles on Brain Fit­ness and Sharp­Brains in mul­ti­ple lan­guages and con­ti­nents-time to prac­tice our lan­guage skills!:

Train your brain (Finan­cial Times Ger­many):

Ob Gehirn­train­ing etwas ntzt ist nicht bewiesen. Aber in den USA boomt der Markt, Her­steller kooperieren mit Krankenkassen und Senioren­heimen. In Deutsch­land fassen die Spiele ger­ade erst Fu.”

Toman auge ejer­ci­cios que adies­tran la mente (Mile­nio, Mex­i­co):

La clave est¡ en encon­trar activi­dades que estim­ulen m¡s nues­tra memo­ria.”

Trois nou­velles tudes IDATE : Seri­ous Games (Pub­li-News, France):

A tra­vers une analyse dtaille des car­ac­tris­tiques, des usages et des diffrentes familles de seri­ous games, cette tude met en vidence les enjeux asso­cis aux phas­es de con­cep­tion, de devel­oppe­ment et de dif­fu­sion des diffrents types de seri­ous games.”

Eng­lish-speak­ers were rep­re­sent­ed too:
An idea whose time has (final­ly) come (McK­night’s Long Term Care News):

Like many rev­o­lu­tions, long-term care’s recent embrace of tech­nol­o­gy-based brain fit­ness tools began qui­et­ly. Then it explod­ed.”

Mind Games @ Venture Capital Journal

The August issue of Ven­ture Cap­i­tal Jour­nal brings a very good piece on the emerg­ing brain fit­ness soft­ware  (also called “neu­rosoft­ware”) cat­e­go­ry:

Mind Games (sub­scrip­tion required)

– Dakim, Lumos Labs, Posit Sci­ence and oth­er brain fit­ness star­tups are start­ing to gain mind share and cap­i­tal from ven­ture firms.

The reporter and I spoke as Lumos Labs received its $3m round, and we dis­cussed oth­er fund­able start-ups, fea­tur­ing Cog­niFit. Which, as men­tioned over the week­end, just raised $5m.

If case you are a new Sharp­Brains read­er, per­haps vis­it­ing us after read­ing this VCJ arti­cle, let me pro­vide a quick overview of the cat­e­go­ry and our Mar­ket Report (which is annu­al, not quar­ter­ly as the arti­cle states):

A) Report High­lights

We esti­mate the size of the US brain fit­ness soft­ware mar­ket at $225M in 2007, up from $100m in 2005 (50% CAGR), ana­lyz­ing the size and brain fitness/ training markettrends of four cus­tomer seg­ments: con­sumers, health­care & insur­ance providers, K12 school sys­tems, and for­tune 1000 com­pa­nies, mil­i­tary, and sports teams. Two seg­ments fueled the mar­ket growth from 2005 to 2007: con­sumers (grew from $5m to $80m, 300% CAGR) and health­care & insur­ance providers (grew from $36m to $65m, 35% CAGR).

Ten Spe­cif­ic High­lights from The State of the Brain Fit­ness Soft­ware Mar­ket 2008 report include:

1) 2007 was a sem­i­nal year for the US Brain Fit­ness soft­ware mar­ket, which reached $225 mil­lion in rev­enues up from an esti­mat­ed $100 mil­lion in 2005.

2) Over 20 com­pa­nies are offer­ing tools to assess and train cog­ni­tive skills to four cus­tomer seg­ments: con­sumers; health­care and insur­ance providers; K12 school sys­tems; and For­tune 1000 com­pa­nies, the mil­i­tary, and sports teams.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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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