Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Research trend: Combining brain stimulation with cognitive training to enhance attention and memory

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In 47 CE, Scri­bo­nius Largus, court physi­cian to the Roman emper­or Claudius, described in his Com­po­si­tiones a method for treat­ing chron­ic migraines: place tor­pe­do fish on the scalps of patients to ease their pain with elec­tric shocks. Largus was on the right path; our brains are com­prised of elec­tri­cal sig­nals that influ­ence how brain cells com­mu­ni­cate with each oth­er and in turn affect cog­ni­tive process­es such as mem­o­ry, emo­tion and atten­tion.

The sci­ence of brain stim­u­la­tion – alter­ing elec­tri­cal sig­nals in the brain – has, need­less to say, changed in the past 2,000 years. Today we have a hand­ful of Read the rest of this entry »

DARPA invests in nonsurgical neurotechnologies for eventual use in healthy human subjects

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Non­sur­gi­cal Neur­al Inter­faces Could Sig­nif­i­cant­ly Expand Use of Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy (DARPA News):

Over the past two decades, the inter­na­tion­al bio­med­ical research com­mu­ni­ty has demon­strat­ed increas­ing­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed ways to allow a per­son­’s brain to com­mu­ni­cate with a device, allow­ing break­throughs aimed at improv­ing qual­i­ty of life, such as access to com­put­ers and the inter­net, and more recent­ly con­trol of a pros­thet­ic limb.

The state of the art in brain-sys­tem com­mu­ni­ca­tions has employed inva­sive tech­niques that allow pre­cise, high-qual­i­ty con­nec­tions to spe­cif­ic neu­rons or groups of neu­rons. These tech­niques have helped patients with brain injury and oth­er ill­ness­es. How­ev­er, these tech­niques are not appro­pri­ate for able-bod­ied peo­ple. DARPA now seeks to achieve high lev­els of brain-sys­tem com­mu­ni­ca­tions with­out surgery, in its new pro­gram, Next-Gen­er­a­tion Non­sur­gi­cal Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy (N3). Read the rest of this entry »

With pharma exiting Alzheimer’s research, new hope (and urgency) seen in the combination of brain training and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)

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What does the future hold for the war on Alzheimer’s? (The Globe and Mail):

After spend­ing huge sums on clin­i­cal trails in recent years, the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try has failed to find a drug that can halt the mind-rob­bing dis­ease. And this month, Pfiz­er announced it is end­ing its Alzheimer’s research, although oth­er com­pa­nies haven’t thrown in the tow­el yet. But oth­er pre­ven­tion mea­sures are being explored.

Sev­er­al Toron­to hos­pi­tals are involved in an ambi­tious $10-mil­lion, five-year study to deter­mine whether a com­bi­na­tion of cog­ni­tive reme­di­a­tion – men­tal exer­cis­es – plus elec­tri­cal stim­u­la­tion of the brain can delay Read the rest of this entry »

Important insights on the growing home use of tDCS brain stimulation: older-than-expected users, positive self-reported results for treatment of depression but negative for self-enhancement, and a couple areas of concern (severe burns, frequency)

Dr. Brent Williams is wear­ing a home­made tDCS device while his wife Madge is sport­ing a com­mer­cial mod­el. Pho­to by Kevin Liles/kevindliles.com

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At the 2017 Sharp­Brains Vir­tu­al Sum­mit last month, researcher and sci­ence writer Dr. Anna Wexler dis­cussed some fas­ci­nat­ing insights from her sur­vey of 339 home (or “do-it-your­self”) users of tDCS (tran­scra­nial direct cur­rent stim­u­la­tion) devices.

The sur­vey results have just been pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Cog­ni­tive Enhance­ment (details below), and pro­vide a use­ful win­dow into who pur­chas­es tDCS devices and why, how they use them and what results they see. Read the rest of this entry »

Photobiomodulation: A new and promising way to enhance brain function

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As is increas­ing­ly evi­dent, there are mul­ti­ple meth­ods aimed at enhanc­ing brain func­tion.

Brain train­ing and mind­ful­ness prac­tices are com­mon­ly used. Sub­stance-based meth­ods are pop­u­lar too, includ­ing hal­lu­cino­gens in the form of plant extracts, and drugs. Same as tran­scra­nial direct cur­rent stim­u­la­tion (tDCS) and tran­scra­nial mag­net­ic stim­u­la­tion (TMS): All of these are promis­ing but have been chal­lenged — for exam­ple, the repro­ducibil­i­ty of elec­tri­cal-based stim­u­la­tion results is increas­ing­ly ques­tioned. Read the rest of this entry »

About SharpBrains

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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