Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


The Ten Habits of a Sharp Brain

As our final article for 2011, let us repurpose one of SharpBrains’ most popular blog posts since 2006. It may give you a few pointers to sharpen those New Years Resolutions. Let’s summarize some lifestyle guidelines we can all follow to enhance and maintain a sharp brain through life...

  1. Learn what is the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic understanding will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses.
  2. Take care of your nutrition. Did you know that the brain only weighs 2% of body mass but consumes over 20% of the oxygen and nutrients we intake? As a general rule, you don’t need expensive ultra-sophisticated nutritional supplements, just make sure you don’t stuff yourself with the “bad stuff”.
  3. Remember that the brain is part of the body. Things that exercise your body can also help sharpen your brain: physical exercise enhances neurogenesis.
  4. Practice positive, future-oriented thoughts until they become your default mindset and you Read the rest of this entry »

The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Brains – Time for Brain Fitness Resolutions?

Given many of us are starting to prepare New Year Resolutions, let’s revisit one of SharpBrains’ most popular-ever articles that can help us all refine our Brain Fitness Resolutions

The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Brains

  1. Learn what is the “It” in “Use It or Lose It”. A basic understanding will serve you well to appreciate your brain’s beauty as a living and constantly-developing dense forest with billions of neurons and synapses.
  2. Take care of your nutrition. Did you know that Read the rest of this entry »

New Report Finds A Brain Health Revolution in the Making, Driven by Digital Technology and Neuroplasticity Research

2010MarketReportIn spite of the recent economic downturn, revenues for digital technologies to assess, enhance and treat cognition, or digital brain health and fitness tools, grew 35% in 2009. “The convergence of demographic and policy trends with cognitive neuroscience discoveries and technological innovation is giving birth to a nascent marketplace that can fundamentally transform what brain health is, how it is measured, and how it is done,” says Alvaro Fernandez, member of the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Aging Society and Editor-in-Chief of the report. “This groundbreaking report can help pioneers shape the emerging toolkit to benefit an aging society that increasingly seeks new ways to enhance cognitive functionality and mental wellness across the lifespan.”

“As the brain is thrust into the center of the healthcare ecosystem, innovative cognitive health and brain fitness applications will play an increasingly important role in defining neurocentric health,” adds Jake Dunagan, Research Director at the Institute For The Future.

Report: Transforming Brain Health with Digital Tools to Assess, Enhance and Treat Cognition across the Lifespan: The State of the Brain Fitness Market 2010.

A majority among the 1,900+ decision-makers and early-adopters surveyed said they trusted the effectiveness of non-invasive options above invasive options to enhance critical brain functionality. Professional and intellectual challenges were rated very effective by 61% of respondents, aerobic exercise and reading books by 42%, meditation by 38%, computerized brain training by 26%, taking prescription drugs by 13%, taking supplements by 12%, and self-medicating with drugs by 1%.

These are among the key findings of a 207-page market report released today by SharpBrains and prepared in collaboration with 24 leading scientists and 10 innovative organizations — the most comprehensive such research study done to analyze emerging research, technologies and marketplace.

“We must do for brain health in the 21st century what we largely accomplished in cardiovascular health in the past century. It’s time to take scientific insights out of the lab and to identify practical applications, making the maintenance of good brain fitness a public health priority,” indicates William Reichman, MD, President and CEO of Baycrest.

Other Report Highlights are: Read the rest of this entry »

Invitation to SharpBrains Summit – Technology for Cognitive Health and Performance

We are excited to invite you to the first virtual, global SharpBrains Summit (January 18-20th, 2010). The SharpBrains Summit will feature a sharpbrains_summit_logo_webdream team of over 25 speakers who are leaders in industry and research from 7 countries, to discuss emerging research, tools and best practices for cognitive health and performance. This inaugural event will expose health and insurance providers, developers, innovators at Fortune 500 companies, investors and researchers, to the opportunities, partnerships, trends, and standards of the rapidly evolving cognitive fitness field.

Register Today

Learn more and register Here today, at discounted early-bird rates, to receive these benefits:

  • Learn: Full access to all Conference live sessions, and Downloadable Recordings and Handouts
  • See: latest technologies and products during Expo Day
  • Connect and Discuss: become a member of the SharpBrains Network for Brain Fitness Innovation (members-only LinkedIn Group) through the end of 2010, access online chats during the summit, meet other registrants in your city
  • Understand the Big Picture: access 10 Research Executive Briefs prepared by leading scientists

On top of those early-bird discounts, we offer an additional 15% discount for SharpBrains readers who want Regular Admission. Discount code: sharp2010. You can register Here.

Agenda/ Speakers

Monday, January 18th, 2010:

(Preliminary schedule, US Pacific Time)

8-9.15am. Cognition & Neuroplasticity: The New Healthcare Frontier

  • Alvaro Fernandez, SharpBrains
  • David Whitehouse, OptumHealth Behavioral Solutions
  • William Reichman, Baycrest
  • P Murali Doraiswamy, Duke University

9.30-11am. Tools for Safer Driving: The Opportunity with Teenagers and Adults

  • Steven Aldrich, Posit Science
  • Shlomo Breznitz, CogniFit
  • Jerri Edwards, University of South Florida
  • Peter Christianson, Young Drivers of Canada

Noon-1.30pm. Baby Boomers and Beyond: Maintaining Cognitive Vitality

Agenda: ASA Brain Health Day, Powered by SharpBrains

The American Society on Aging and SharpBrains have partnered to co-produce a American Society on Agingprofessional development day for professionals in the field of aging. The day is themed “New Tools, New Partnerships”, and will take place on Friday, September 11th, 2009, during ASA’s West Coast Conference on Aging, in the Oakland Marriot City Center, Oakland, CA.

“Given aging population trends, it is clear that we need more and better trained aging professionals, and that brain health needs to be a major component in that training. We are pleased to partner with SharpBrains to offer the latest thinking, best practices, and resources, to our members,” said Carole Anderson, Vice President of Education.

“The growing interest in brain health and fitness among consumers and professionals alike needs to be accompanied by high-quality educational initiatives to help separate reality from hope from hype. We are honored to partner with the American Society on Aging in this important endeavor,” said Alvaro Fernandez, CEO & co-founder of SharpBrains and co-author of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness.

Description and How to Register
Since 2006, healthy aging pioneers have been actively evaluating and implementing an expanding menu of stimulating brain health programs. The American Society on Aging and SharpBrains have partnered to introduce aging professionals to the best practices in a variety of community-based and residential settings, discuss emerging trends that will affect your work in years to come, and offer you resources to understand and navigate through the growing array of options.

Participants will receive a complimentary and signed copy of the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness (May 2009, $24.95).

Learning objectives are:

– Understand the complementary value the four main lifestyle pillars for lifelong brain health and why “mental exercise”, beyond simple “mental activity”, is one of them.
– Identify the best mix of brain health practices and technologies by discussing real world case studies in a variety of settings: adult education, independent living, assisted living.
– Discuss the opportunities and challenges of building innovative partnerships between a non-profit organizations and a for-profit companies.
– Explore emerging trends in research, public health, lifelong learning, and technology, to ensure that health and aging professionals are well equipped for years to come.

When and where: Friday, September 11th, 2009, at the Oakland Marriott City Center.

Registration fees for SharpBrains clients and readers are $150 (official fees are $180) . Fee is for the full day session and includes up to six hours of CEU credits plus book and materials.

You can Register HERE, using Partner Organization Code: WCSB.

The Program
9:00 – 10:30 am Keynote- The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness

This session will provide an overview of the most recent research, guidelines and resources to “Use It and Improve It”, summarizing the main findings and topics from the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness. It will debunk 10 brain fitness myths; discuss how the brain works and the 4 pillars of brain maintenance; explain the difference between mental exercise and mental activity and identify research-based ways to exercise our brains; and review what 21 brain fitness software packages do and what they don’t do. Finally, the session will discuss emerging trends to ensure that health and aging professionals are well equipped for years to come.

– Alvaro Fernandez, SharpBrains

11:00 to 12:00 noon Bringing Brain Fitness to the Community Center

Science continues to highlight the importance of staying active mentally as well as physically; people of all ages and situations face the challenge of learning what brain exercise is, how it can help them, and how to incorporate it into their busy lives. The Peninsula Jewish Community Center (PJCC) has formed a unique partnership with vibrantBrains, a pioneering gym for brain exercise, to explore new ways to bring brain fitness into the community on top of its existing fitness and educational activities.

– Jane Post, Peninsula Jewish Community Center; Lisa Schoonerman, vibrantBrains

1:30 to 2:30 pm Latest Technologies and Brain Health: Value and Limitations

Four innovative practitioners will share their first-hand experience implementing computerized cognitive training programs in different settings: adult education classes, independent living, and assisted living. They will discuss the Pros and Cons of technology programs provided by Dakim, Posit Science and CogniFit, helping the audience explore how technology can enhance existing brain health and wellness programs and how this trend will affect their work in the future.

– James Arp, Belmont Village; Kari Olsen, Front Porch; Shellie Sullivan, Lakeview Village; Teri Barr, Oakland Unified School District

2:30 to 3:15 pm Engaging the Community to Integrate Brain Health Research into Lifelong Learning

OLLI @Berkeley has developed a membership team to investigate how to integrate neuroscience discoveries into their lifelong learning curriculum and ongoing community activities. If older adults are told that, in addition to exercise, nutrition, among other things, mental stimulation is required that is novel, challenging and varied—how can lifelong learning centers and adults themselves judge what that is and how to integrate those understandings our activities and lives?. Susan Hoffman will share the methodology and insights of working with the community as well as with a wide range of experts and scientists, and discuss what might be possible in a variety of institutional settings such as yours.

– Susah Hoffman, OLLI@Berkeley

3:30 to 4.30 pm San Francisco Alzheimer’s Education & Prevention Taskforce: Getting Ready for the Future

The San Francisco Mayor’s office, in partnership with the Department of Aging & Adult Services recently convened an expert panel and committees to create a strategic plan for addressing the needs of San Franciscans with memory loss and dementia through the year 2020. Learn about the process, findings and recommendations on how the city of San Francisco plans to address education and prevention of dementia now and in the future.

– Elizabeth Edgerly, Alzheimer’s Association; Bill Haskells, Department of Aging & Adult Services

4:30 pm What We Have Learned, What is Next

What are some of the priorities and challenges for the next 12 months for the field at large, and for everyone involved? This interactive session will help us summarize the key highlights from the whole day, identify emerging assumptions, themes, and priorities, and discuss collaborative next steps.

– Carole Anderson, American Society on Aging; Alvaro Fernandez, SharpBrains

Speaker Bios
Alvaro Fernandez SharpBrainsAlvaro Fernandez is co-founder and CEO of SharpBrains, a leading market research firm that tracks the market and research for cognitive assessments, training, and games. A member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Councils, he has been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and more, and recently co-authored the book The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: 18 Interviews with Scientists, Practical Advice, and Product Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp. Alvaro received masters’ degrees in education and business from Stanford University, and teaches at UC-Berkeley Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.Jane Post PJCCJane Post is the Associate Executive Director at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center. With a background that started in summer youth camping and transitioned into Community Center group work, the Illinois native moved to the Bay Area in 1979 to begin her thriving career with the Peninsula Jewish Community Center (PJCC) in Foster City. Serving in positions ranging from Youth Director to Senior Adult Director, Ms. Post has enjoyed over 30 successful years with the PJCC and today is the Center’s Associate Executive Director. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California.

Lisa Schoonerman vibrantBrainsLisa Schoonerman is a co-founder at vibrantBrains. Lisa held a variety of technical and editorial positions with the Thomson Corporation in the Legal Publishing division (now ThomsonReuters), beginning in Rochester, NY and then coming to San Francisco to work for what was then Bancroft Whitney. Lisa’s work for Thomson included a 3-year assignment in the UK, where she was Editorial Director of the group providing content for Westlaw UK, the first international application of the Westlaw database.

James Arp Belmont VillageJames Arp works as the West Regional Director for Activity and Memory Programs for Belmont Village, where he was involved in a pilot program using computerized cognitive training. James has also worked as an Administrator for several Intermediate Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled and in Guardianship, and has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and Communication Disorders.

Kari Olson Front PorchKari Olson, Chief Information Officer of Front Porch, leads all technology initiatives for Front Porch and its partners. Kari is also the President of the Front Porch Center for Technology Innovation and Wellbeing whose mission is to explore innovative uses of technology to empower individuals to live well, especially in their later years. Kari is actively involved in the Center for Aging Services Technologies where she serves as a commissioner, steering committee member and task group chair for Boomer Technology Needs Research and co-chair of the Provider Needs Research Workgroup. Kari speaks regularly around the country on technology for aging services. Kari holds a BA in economics from University of California, Los Angeles and has completed graduate course work in education at California State University, Los Angeles.

Teri Barr Oakland UnifiedTeri Barr administers the brain fitness classes for older adults at Oakland Unified School District. She has a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and a MSPE from the University of Illinois. In Illinois, she designed and implemented wellness classes in Community College, University and Hospital settings. Since moving to California, she has worked for OACE (Oakland Adult and Career Education) in the Older Adult Program. She started research for brain health classes in 2006 and began the program at OACE in 2007.

Shellie Sullivan Lakeview VillageShellie Sullivan is the Volunteer Coordinator at Lakeview Village, a faith-based, nonprofit retirement community in Lenexa for 800 seniors offering active living and supported options. Ms. Sullivan coordinated and supported the cognitive training portion of the Physical & Cognitive Training Study in which Lakeview participated under the supervision of Dr. Art Kramer, from the University of Illinois. She administered all of the cognitive pre- and post-assessments to Lakeview Village residents and community volunteers and guided participants using cognitive training software throughout the entire study. Ms. Sullivan is a graduate from The Ohio State University with a degree in Communications.

Susan Hoffman OLLI@BerkeleySusan E. Hoffman is the director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute within the Vice Provost’s Office for Teaching and Learning at UC Berkeley. For the past fifteen years she has worked at UC and CSU campuses launching new interdisciplinary and international programs. Before then, she served as the Executive Director of the California Confederation of the Arts, representing California artists, art educators and arts organizations in Sacramento and Washington for a decade. Her creative work includes being a writer and filmmaker. Her faculty appointments have been in creative writing, theatre and political philosophy.

Elizabeth Edgerly Alzheimer's AssociationElizabeth Edgerly, Ph.D., is the Chief Program Officer for the Alzheimer’s Association and national spokesperson for the Association’s Maintain Your Brain program. She oversees the many programs of the Association for patients, families and health care professionals. In addition, she staffs the Medical Scientific Advisory Council of the Alzheimer’s Association – Northern California. She received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the State University of New York and specialized in geropsychology and neuropsychology. Dr. Edgerly joined the Alzheimer’s Association after completing a fellowship in clinical geropsychology at the Palo Alto VA Hospital.

How to Register

Registration fees for SharpBrains clients and readers are $150 (official fees are $180) . Fee is for the full day session and includes up to six hours of CEU credits plus book and materials.

You can Register HERE, using Partner Organization Code: WCSB. 

About the American Society on Aging

Founded in 1954, the American Society on Aging is an association of diverse individuals bound by a common goal: to support the commitment and enhance the knowledge and skills of those who seek to improve the quality of life of older adults and their families. The membership of ASA is a multidisciplinary array of professionals who are concerned with the physical, emotional, social, economic and spiritual aspects of aging. They range from practitioners, educators, administrators, policymakers, business people, researchers, students, and more. For more information, visit

About SharpBrains

SharpBrains is a market research & publishing firm devoted to helping organizations, professionals and consumers navigate the brain fitness and cognitive health field. The company was co-founded by executive Alvaro Fernandez, member of the Global Agenda Councils initiative run by the World Economic Forum, and neuroscientist Dr. Elkhonon Goldberg, internationally renowned for his clinical work, research, and writing. SharpBrains recently released the The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: 18 Interviews with Scientists, Practical Advice, and Product Reviews, to Keep Your Brain Sharp (May 2009; $24.95). For more information, visit

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