Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Research: Does Nintendo Brain Age work as a brain training game?

A new study tries to, but unfortunately doesn’t, answer that question. Study: Brain Training Game Improves Executive Functions and Processing Speed in the Elderly: A Randomized Controlled Trial (PLoS ONE).

“Conclusions: Our results showed that playing Brain Age for 4 weeks could lead to improve cognitive functions (executive functions and processing speed) in the elderly. This result indicated that there is a possibility which the elderly could improve executive functions and processing speed in short term training. The results need replication in large samples. Long-term effects and relevance for every-day functioning remain uncertain as yet.” 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.


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!

Brain Games and Training for Baby Boomers: News Round-Up

Round-up of recent news with a variety of angles, from the effects of Brain Health Newsgaming to cognitive training for driving skills and brain fitness classes.

Seniors use brain training software to sharpen their minds (Dallas Morning News)

– “Allstate Insurance has invited some policyholders and other older drivers to try InSight so researchers can evaluate whether the software reduces accidents.”

– “Depending on the results, the auto insurer says it may expand the pilot project and offer premium discounts to drivers who take the brain training.”

– “Today, only one in seven licensed drivers is 65 or older. But by 2030, when the last of the boomers turn 65, the proportion will be one in four. “

Brain games (Palo Alto Weekly)

– “There is research that justifies the belief that games can aid the brain’s health, according to Dr. Walter Bortz II, a Stanford University School of Medicine associate professor and expert on longevity and robust aging. Studies show that stimulating the brain by learning new tasks increases blood factors in the brain that act like steroids, making it possible for the brain to grow even in old age

– “Called “brain plasticity,” such growth is the foundation of brain-fitness software research.”

Brain Fitness Classes Keep Seniors Mentally And Socially Active (Washington Post)

– “More options for exercising the brain are on the way. Last year, the Ontario government pledged about $8 million to develop a brain fitness center in Toronto. In San Francisco, Jan Zivic, a former executive search consultant, opened a center, vibrantBrains, that offers memory improvement classes and workshops. Zivic was inspired by help she got from brain fitness games she played after being injured in an automobile accident.”

The 15 Clearest Benefits of Gaming (Edge Magazine)

-“But Fernandez warns that the gamer generation isn’t automatically guaranteed to have better cognitive health than their grandparents. Cognitive fitness (having the mental abilities required to thrive in cognitively more complex environments) seems to depend on four major pillars: nutrition, physical exercise, stress management and mental exercise. All these factors have physical effects on our brains (for example, physical exercise contributes to the creation of new neurons, while stress and anxiety prevents and/or reduces the creation of new neurons). The bad news is that we have growing obesity rates and anxiety among young people. So, games are great for mental exercise, but we shouldn’t forget the other ingredients for cognitive fitness.

– “Fernandez muses, Indeed fun can be seen as a goal in itself . The problem is that we confuse gaming as a vehicle with gaming as content. Gaming as vehicle is arguably great it allows for interactivity, engagement. Gaming as content, well, it depends. It is not the same to play a bloody shooter game as it is to Tetris or Rise of Nations, so the field should do a better job at explaining to mainstream society the diversity of games and dispel some myths.

More Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Top 30 Brain Health and Fitness Articles of 2008

Here brain teasers job interview you have SharpBrains’ 30 most popular articles, ranked by the number of people who have read each article in 2008.

Please note that, since the first article already includes most of our most popular brain teasers, we have excluded teasers from the rest of the ranking. (If those 50 are not enough for you, you can also try these brain teasers).

Blog Channel
1. Top 50 Brain Teasers and Games to Test your Brain
It is always good to stimulate our minds and to learn a bit about how our brains work. Here you have a selection of the 50 Brain Teasers that people have enjoyed the most.
2. The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Brains
Let’s review some good lifestyle options we can follow to maintain, and improve, our vibrant brains. My favorite: don’t outsource your brain (even to us).
3. Why do You Turn Down the Radio When You’re Lost?
You’re driving through suburbia one evening looking for the street where you’re supposed to have dinner at a friend’s new house. You slow down to a crawl, turn down the radio, stop talking, and stare at every sign. Why is that? Neither the radio nor talking affects your vision. Or do they?
4. Brain Plasticity: How learning changes your brain
You may have heard that the brain is plastic. As you know the brain is not made of plastic! Neuroplasticity or brain plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to CHANGE throughout life.
5. Top 10 Brain Training Future Trends
In an emerging market like brain fitness training, it is difficult to make precise projections. But, we can observe a number of trends that executives, consumers, public policy makers, and the media should watch closely in the coming years, as brain fitness and training becomes mainstream, new tools appear, and an ecosystem grows around it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Fitness Newsletter: End-March Edition

(Please remember you can subscribe, at the top of this page, to receive this complimentary bi-monthly newsletter by email). 

We are proud to announce that we now belong to the exclusive Scientific American Partner Network. Scientific American Mind spoke highly of our website last year, so it was only natural (but made us very pleased) that we were invited to join their new blogger network. We remain an independent company, so there will be few obvious changes – mainly some more links between their website and ours and new banner ads administered by Scientific American’s great team. 


Brain Fitness Software Report: Reviews:  our just released Market Report is earning a growing number of accolades as a must-read publication for executives and investors interested in emerging brain health trends and opportunities.  

Brain Rules- science and practice: molecular biologist John Medina releases a new book to make brain science accessible and relevant to all, and writes a fun article challenging the very existance of classrooms and cubicles. Read the rest of this entry »

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