Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Relaxing for your Brain’s Sake

What stress­es you out ?Meditation School Students

What­ev­er it is, how you respond to it may have more con­se­quences than you think. Let me show you how.

Recap­ping from last months arti­cle (see Stress and Neur­al Wreck­age: Part of the Brain Plas­tic­i­ty Puz­zle)…our bod­ies are a com­plex bal­anc­ing act between sys­tems work­ing full time to keep us alive and well. Any change which threat­ens this bal­ance can be referred to as stress. Cor­ti­sol, a key com­po­nent of the stress response, does an excel­lent job of allow­ing us to adapt to most stres­sors which last more than a cou­ple of min­utes. How­ev­er, hav­ing to endure a high stres­sor for longer than about 30 min­utes to an hour neg­a­tive­ly impacts the brain in var­i­ous ways.

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Cognitive Fitness as a New Frontier of Fitness

emWave for Stress ManagementVery good arti­cle in the LA Times today. Like a Stair­Mas­ter for the brain: Can men­tal work­outs improve the mind’s agili­ty? Baby boomer con­cerns stim­u­late an indus­try expan­sion.

The reporter, Melis­sa Healy, reviews the healthy aging seg­ment in the Brain Fit­ness field. A few select­ed quotes:

- “There is plau­si­bil­i­ty, both bio­log­i­cal and behav­ioral, to the claim that these may work,” says Mol­ly Wag­ster, chief of the Nation­al Insti­tute on Aging’s neu­ropsy­chol­o­gy branch. “But it is still a sit­u­a­tion of ‘buy­er beware.’ ”

- “I see this as a new fron­tier of fit­ness over­all,” says Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, founder and chief exec­u­tive of the web­site Sharp­Brains .com, which tracks the busi­ness and sci­ence of brain-train­ing. Amer­i­cans already under­stand the val­ue of phys­i­cal fit­ness as a means of pre­serv­ing the body’s prop­er func­tion and pre­vent­ing age-relat­ed dis­eases, says Fer­nan­dez. He pre­dicts that cog­ni­tive fit­ness will become a goal to which Amer­i­cans equal­ly aspire as we learn more about aging and the brain.
— (Dr. Elkhonon) Gold­berg, who pro­vides sci­en­tif­ic advice on the web­site http://www.sharpbrains.com/, says that as neu­ro­sci­en­tists use imag­ing tech­nolo­gies to “see” the cel­lu­lar changes that come with learn­ing, he grows more con­fi­dent that well-designed train­ing pro­grams can have dis­cernible every­day effects in pre­serv­ing or repair­ing the intel­lec­tu­al func­tion of old­er adults. “This is shared hard­ware” that’s being changed in the brain, “and to the extent you some­how enhance it, that will have wide-rang­ing effects,” Gold­berg says. “It pro­vides a much more com­pelling raison­tre for this whole busi­ness.”

The arti­cle adds that “Amer­i­cans this year are expect­ed to invest $225 mil­lion in these pro­grams — up from just $70 mil­lion in 2003 — in an effort to tune up the brain, strength­en the mem­o­ry and fore­stall or reverse the cog­ni­tive slip­page that often comes with age, psy­chi­atric dis­ease, stroke or med­ical treat­ments.”

Our break­down for those 2007 US pre­dic­tions are as fol­lows: $80m for the Con­sumer seg­ment, $60m in K12 Edu­ca­tion, $50m in Clin­i­cal appli­ca­tions, and $35m in the Cor­po­rate seg­ment. The Con­sumer seg­ment, with a healthy aging val­ue propo­si­tion, is the most recent one but the most rapid­ly grow­ing.

Read the full arti­cle: Like a Stair­Mas­ter for the brain.

PS: the arti­cle also says “In the last three years, these brain­pow­er-boost­ing pro­grams have pro­lif­er­at­ed, with names like Mind­Fit, Hap­py Neu­ron, Brain Fit­ness and Lumos­i­ty.”.. if there are reporters read­ing this, please avoid future con­fu­sion by nam­ing Posit Science’s pro­gram “Posit Sci­ence Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram 2.0”. Brain Fit­ness refers to the full cat­e­go­ry.

MindFit by CogniFit, and Baroness Susan Greenfield

We are glad to see that Mind­Fit is final­ly mak­ing it into the pop­u­lar press, at least in the UK. The pro­gram is mak­ing big news in the UK (BBC, Times, Dai­ly Telegragh, Guardian…) because Baroness Susan Green­field, direc­tor of the Roy­al Insti­tu­tion and a well-respect­ed neu­ro­sci­en­tist, is endors­ing it. We eval­u­at­ed it last year andTwo In One Task liked what we saw, based on our 10-Ques­tion Check­list. Now, remem­ber that no pro­gram is “best”, but that dif­fer­ent pro­grams can be more appro­pri­ate for spe­cif­ic peo­ple and spe­cif­ic goals, so read the check­list first and take a lot at oth­er pro­grams too if you are in the mar­ket for “brain train­ing”.

Mind­Fit is a soft­ware-based assess­ment and train­ing pro­gram for 14 cog­ni­tive skills impor­tant for healthy aging. We typ­i­cal­ly rec­om­mend it for peo­ple over 50 (up to any age, you sim­ply need to know how to use a com­put­er and a mouse) who want a nov­el and var­ied men­tal work­out.

The pro­gram has Read the rest of this entry »

Cognitive training research: MindFit, Lumosity, Posit Science, Cogmed

The field of com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive train­ing (part of what we call “Brain Fit­ness”) is start­ing to get trac­tion in the media and becom­ing an emerg­ing indus­try, and we are hap­py to see how a grow­ing num­ber of researchers and sci­ence-based com­pa­nies are lead­ing stud­ies that will allow to bet­ter mea­sure results and refine the brain exer­cise soft­ware avail­able.

Pub­lished new research

  • Com­put­er­ized work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing after stroke-A pilot study. A pub­lished study on how Cogmed work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing may help stroke patients. See the ref­er­ence at Cogmed Research page (and full arti­cle here)
  • The Jour­nals of Geron­tol­ogy pub­lished a series of relat­ed papers in their June issue, includ­ing this by Kar­lene Ball, Jer­ri D. Edwards, and Les­ley A. Ross on The Impact of Speed of Pro­cess­ing Train­ing on Cog­ni­tive and Every­day Func­tions, J Geron­tol B Psy­chol Sci Soc Sci 2007 62: 19–31.  Abstract: “We com­bined data from six stud­ies, all using the same speed of pro­cess­ing train­ing pro­gram, to exam­ine the mech­a­nisms of train­ing gain and the impact of train­ing on cog­ni­tive and every­day abil­i­ties of old­er adults. Results indi­cat­ed that train­ing pro­duces imme­di­ate improve­ments across all sub­tests of the Use­ful Field of View test, par­tic­u­lar­ly for old­er adults with ini­tial speed of pro­cess­ing deficits. Age and edu­ca­tion had lit­tle to no impact on train­ing gain. Par­tic­i­pants main­tained ben­e­fits of train­ing for at least 2 years, which trans­lat­ed to improve­ments in every­day abil­i­ties, includ­ing effi­cient per­for­mance of instru­men­tal activ­i­ties of dai­ly liv­ing and safer dri­ving per­for­mance.”

Ongoing/ start­ing research

Brain Exercise and Brain Fitness July Monthly Digest

We often are told that we offer too much con­tent for you to read giv­en var­i­ous time pres­sures… but it is tough for us to write less giv­en the wealth of areas we cov­er around cog­ni­tive and emo­tion­al train­ing.

To make your life eas­i­er (and please feel free to give us feed­back!), what we will do is to offer a Month­ly Digest of Most Pop­u­lar Blog Posts. Today, August 1st, we will list the most pop­u­lar July posts. Con­sid­er it your month­ly Brain Exer­cise Mag­a­zine 🙂

(Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our RSS feed, check our Top­ics sec­tion, and sub­scribe to our month­ly newslet­ter at the top of this page).

News you can use

Trad­ing per­for­mance psy­chol­o­gy and self-talk

Stress Man­age­ment for Lawyers

Men­tal Train­ing for Grat­i­tude and Altru­ism

Brain Fitness/ Train­ing Mar­ket News

Mar­ket­Watch on Beat­ing for­get­ful­ness and boost­ing the brain

Nin­ten­do BrainAge, Lumos­i­ty, Hap­py Neu­ron, MyBrain­Train­er…

Brain Health through Seri­ous Games and Brain Exer­cise

Brain Fit­ness Work­shops

Osh­er Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute Brain Fit­ness class at UC Berke­ley

Healthy Aging

Inter­view with Neu­ro­sci­en­tist Yaakov Stern: Build Your Cog­ni­tive Reserve

Jud­son Laipply’s Danc­ing Brain

Jack and Elaine LaLanne and Brain Health

Exer­cise Your Brain! Enjoy Learn­ing!

Atten­tion Deficits

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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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