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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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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