Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Study: Working memory training can improve fluid intelligence

Very interesting new study on computerized cognitive training (or brain training), well summarized in LA Times article Memory training improves intelligence in some children, report says. Quote:

The training program used by Jaeggi and co-workers focused on ramping up working memory: the ability to hold in mind a handful of information bits briefly, and to update them as needed. Cognitive scientists consider working memory a key component of intelligence. But they have Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Live Well to 100 by Using Your Brain

Here you have the November edition of our monthly newsletter covering 107px-gray1197thumbnailcognitive health and brain fitness topics. Please remember that you can subscribe to receive this Newsletter by email, using the box at the top of this page.

Living Well to 100

100 is the new 65: Why do some people live, and well, to 100? Researchers are trying to find out, reports Meera Lee Sethi at Greater Good Magazine. They are discovering that genetic factors may account for only 20 to 30 percent of a person’s lifespan, while environmental and behavioral factors can dictate the other 70 to 80 percent.

Does coffee boost cognitive functions over time? Dr. Pascale Michelon weighs the evidence and reports good and bad news. The good news: long-term effects seem more positive than negative, so coffee leads to no clear harm. The bad news: there are no clear beneficial effects on general brain functions (implication for proponents of “smart pills”: don’t use coffee as the analogy).

10 Innovations for the Aging Society: In the Thanksgiving’s spirit, we want to thank 10 pioneers for emerging innovations that may help millions of people alive today to keep our brains in top shape perhaps till we are 100 or more. Many of those pioneers will participate in the inaugural SharpBrains Summit.

In Autopilot?

Train your autopilot….and how to turn it off: Madeleine Van Hecke, Ph.D shares an excerpt from The Brain Advantage, in which she encourages maintaining mental “autopilot” when it’s working well, yet shifting to more conscious deliberations when needed.

Scientia Pro Publica:  A good way to turn off autopilot is to enjoy some great science and nature blogging, courtesy of Scientia Pro Publica blog carnival. Additionally, you can enjoy reading some of the best neuroscience, psychology and medical blogging at the first ever combined Grand Rounds/ Encephalon edition.

Games for Health

Games for Health Research: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced more than $1.85 million in grants for research teams to study how digital games can improve players health. One of the grantees is UCSF’s Adam Gazzaley (who will be speaking at the SharpBrains Summit) to develop a driving game for cognitive fitness among younger and older adults.

Smart industry-research collaboration: Lumos Labs and researchers Susanne Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl announce a collaboration to make the original Dual N-Back working memory training program available online and use it for ongoing research.

News

Marian C. Diamond to open SharpBrains Summit: Kicking off our January 2010 SharpBrains Summit is Marian C. Diamond, one of the pioneers of neuroplasticity research since the 1960s. She will introduce us to the human brain, its anatomy and function, and implications of  neuroplasticity for brain health and performance at any age.

The SharpBrains Guide’s reviews and interviews: a collection of links to interviews and reviews of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness.

Network for Brain Fitness Innovation (members-only): Discussion on the future of computerized cognitive behavioral therapy; United BioSource acquires Cognitive Drug Research; innovative partnership between Navigenics and Posit Science; new research on brain impact of Tetris; how a drop in visual skills may precede Alzheimer’s Disease;  excellent report by the National Academies for the US Army available for free now.

Brain Teaser

Who will you believe, me or your own eyes? discover the 3 Winners of the 2009 Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest. Neuroscientists Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik, who help organize the contest, will give a fun demo on Magic and the Brain at SharpBrains Summit, to discuss the limits of human perception and cognition.

Enjoy the final month of 2009!

Can Intelligence Be Trained? Martin Buschkuehl shows how

Today I had a great conversation with Martin Buschkuehl, one of the University Martin Buschkuehl of Michigan Cognitive Neuroimaging Lab researchers  involved in the cognitive training study that has received much media attention (New York Times, Wired, Science News…) since late April, when the study was published at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Reference: Jaeggi, S. M., Buschkuehl, M., Jonides, J., & Perrig, W. J. (2008). Improving Fluid Intelligence With Training on Working Memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105(19), 6829-6833 (You can read it here, with subscription).

Before you keep reading, let me clarify a couple of terms:

Read the rest of this entry »

Beating forgetfulness and boosting the brain

Very good article in MarketWatch titled Beating forgetfulness and boosting the brain. Probably the best we have seen so far providing an overall industry perspective on a nascent field. I recommend reading the whole article, but here you have some teasers:

  • “As boomers age, the drive to correct such discomfort has implications for health and wellness, employment and corporate training — even sports. It’s giving rise to a burgeoning business of brain-boosting products and services, as well as exploration into “cognitive enhancing” prescription drugs.”
  • “The market for brain-fitness software targeting U.S. adults is estimated to be $80 million to $100 million this year, up from $60 million last year and $2 million in 2005, according to SharpBrains, a San Francisco-based portal that helps individuals and companies navigate brain-training information, products and services.”
  • “It’s also easy to confuse age-related memory problems with the effects of undiagnosed depression or anxiety, which are reversible, said Dr. Gene Cohen, director of the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at George Washington University Medical Center”
  • “The business of brain training started taking off after Read the rest of this entry »

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