Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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The Future of Cognitive Enhancement and Mental Health: Meet the Experts

Since 2006, as part of the research sup­port­ing The Sharp­Brains Guide to Brain Fit­ness and Sharp­Brains’ mar­ket reports, we have inter­viewed dozens of lead­ing-edge sci­en­tists and experts. Below are some of our favorite quotes and inter­views — you can read the full inter­view notes by click­ing on the links:

Con­ver­sa­tions in 2010

“…putting good evi­dence to work in prac­tice requires more than pub­lish­ing good research. I’d say that sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence is direct­ly rel­e­vant to per­haps 15% of clin­i­cal deci­sions…we require tech­nolo­gies that trans­late emer­gent knowl­edge into prac­tice.” — Dr. John Docher­ty, Adjunct Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try at Weill Med­ical Col­lege, and for­mer Branch Chief at NIMH.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“We should be think­ing about the brain through its whole life­time…We need to break the silos, to aggre­gate knowl­edge, to help advance our knowl­edge of the brain 50 years in 5 years.” — Patrick Dono­hue, founder of the Sarah Jane Brain Project.
Full Inter­view Notes.

Con­ver­sa­tions in 2009

My dream in all of this is to have stan­dard­ized and cred­i­ble tools to train the 5–6 main neu­rocog­ni­tive domains for cog­ni tive health and per­for­mance through life, cou­pled with the right assess­ments to iden­ti­fy one’s indi­vid ual needs and mea sure progress” — Dr. Michael Merzenich, Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor at UCSF, and pio­neer in brain plas­tic­i­ty research.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“We have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI cen­tu­ry, sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with Car­diovascular Health in the XX, and tech­nol­o­gy will play a cru­cial role.” — Dr. William E. Reich­man, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Bay­crest.
Full Inter­view Notes.
Growth only real­ly comes at the point of resis­tance, but that is the moment that we tend to stop. Because it hurts…pushing our lim­its is a mus­cle that can be cul­ti­vat­ed like any other–incrementally” — Joshua Wait­zkin, chess cham­pi­on and author of The Art of Learn­ing.
Full Inter­view Notes.
“The cor­re­la­tion between iden­ti­cal twins reared apart gives an over­es­ti­mate of her­i­tabil­i­ty because the envi­ron­ments of iden tical twins reared apart are often high­ly sim­i­lar. But the main con­tra­dic­tion of her­i­tabil­i­ty esti­mates lies in the fact that adop­tion pro­duces a huge effect on IQ” ‑Dr. Richard Nis­bett, Pro­fes­sor at Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan and author of Intel­li­gence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cul­tures Count.
Full Inter­view Notes.

For more, please vis­it our Neu­ro­science Inter­view Series.

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

Save the Date: SharpBrains Summit, Technology for Cognitive Health and Performance

We are very excit­ed to announce the first Sharp­Brains Sum­mit, a vir­tu­al con­fer­ence to take place Jan­u­ary 18–20th, 2010.  Over 30 lead­ing speak­ers and a pro­fes­sion­al audi­ence will dis­cuss emerg­ing inno­va­tion and tech­nol­o­gy for life­long cog­ni­tive health and per­for­mance. The Sum­mit will high­light the con­ver­gence of neu­rocog­ni­tive research, non-inva­sive tech­nol­o­gy and health­care, dis­cuss emerg­ing best prac­tices, and help pre­dict how a grow­ing range of tools may pro­vide solu­tions to cog­ni­tive health and per­for­mance-relat­ed issues.

sharpbrains_summit_logo_webYou can see speak­ers and agen­da by click­ing on Sharp­Brains Sum­mit. Please reg­is­ter if you are inter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing: Jan­u­ary 18–20th 2010 (Pacif­ic Time).

  • Con­fer­ence: Jan­u­ary 18–19th. 9–10 pan­els to dis­cuss Mar­ket and Research Insights,  togeth­er with online dis­cus­sions.
  • Expo Day: Jan­u­ary 20th. Prod­uct demos by Spon­sors.

Con­firmed speak­ers and themes:

Monday, January 18th, 2010:

Cog­ni­tion and Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty: The New Health­care Fron­tier

  • Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, CEO, Sharp­Brains
  • David White­house, Chief Med­ical Offi­cer, OptumHealth Behav­ioral Solu­tions
  • William Reich­man, Pres­i­dent, Bay­crest
  • P Murali Doraiswamy, Bio­log­i­cal Psy­chi­a­try Divi­sion Head, Duke Uni­ver­si­ty

Tools for Safer Dri­ving: Teenagers and Old­er Adults

  • Steven Aldrich, CEO, Posit Sci­ence
  • Peter Chris­tian­son, Pres­i­dent of Young Dri­vers of Cana­da
  • Jer­ri Edwards, Assoc. Pro­fes­sor Uni­ver­si­ty of South Flori­da

Clin­i­cal Appli­ca­tions: Research­ing, Iden­ti­fy­ing, Treat­ing Cog­ni­tive Deficits

  • Kei­th Wesnes, Prac­tice Leader, Unit­ed BioSource Cor­po­ra­tion
  • Jonas Jen­di, CEO, Cogmed
  • Michel Noir, Pres­i­dent, Sci­en­tif­ic Brain Train­ing
  • Elkhonon Gold­berg, Chief Sci­en­tif­ic Advi­sor, Sharp­Brains

Read the rest of this entry »

Update: Does Cognitive Training Work?

Here you have the Feb­ru­ary edi­tion of our month­ly newslet­ter cov­er­ing cog­ni­tive health and brain fit­ness top­ics. Please remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive this Brain FitnessNewslet­ter by email, sim­ply by sub­mit­ting your email at the top of this page.

Cog­ni­tive train­ing (or struc­tured men­tal exer­cise) def­i­nite­ly seems to work — as long as we define prop­er­ly what “work” means, don’t expect mag­ic cures, and help nav­i­gate options. Please keep read­ing…

Inter­view: Bay­crest

Inter­view with Bay­crest’s CEO Dr. William Reich­man: Dis­cussing the recent Cen­tre for Brain Fit­ness at Bay­crest, Dr. Reich­man sug­gests that “we have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI cen­tu­ry, sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Health in the XXth, and tech­nol­o­gy will play a cru­cial role.” A major obsta­cle? We need a con­sen­sus on “wide­ly accept­ed stan­dards for out­come mea­sures”.

Does It Work?

Does cog­ni­tive train­ing work? (For Whom? For What?): The grow­ing field of cog­ni­tive train­ing (one of the tools for brain fit­ness) can appear very con­fus­ing as the media keeps report­ing con­tra­dic­to­ry claims. These claims are often based on press releas­es, with­out a deep­er under­stand­ing of the sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence. Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon, Sharp­Brains’ Research Man­ag­er for Edu­ca­tion­al Ini­tia­tives, ana­lyzes a cou­ple of recent stud­ies, clar­i­fy­ing what they mean — and what they don’t mean.

It Works, and It Does­n’t Work: the IMPACT study (a major, mul­ti-site study on the Posit Sci­ence audi­to­ry pro­gram) will be pub­lished at the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Geri­atrics Soci­ety in April. Results sup­port that cog­ni­tive train­ing works — but does­n’t sup­port the grandiose “brain age” claims we see too often.

Cog­ni­tive Train­ing can Influ­ence Brain Bio­chem­istry: Dr. David Rabin­er dis­cuss­es a recent sci­en­tif­ic study that “shows that brain bio­chem­istry can be mod­i­fied by expe­ri­ence”, and that com­put­er­ized cog­ni­tive train­ing (Cogmed work­ing mem­o­ry train­ing) can pro­vide that expe­ri­ence.

The Big Pic­ture

Mak­ing Healthy Choic­es — Pri­mare Care and Pre­ven­tion: a pan­el at the recent World Eco­nom­ic Forum explored why “New mar­kets and indus­tries are aris­ing sil­ver indus­tries such as finan­cial ser­vices, health, hous­ing and hos­pi­tal­i­ty geared to senior cit­i­zens. Longevi­ty needs to be linked to health includ­ing cog­ni­tive health and lifestyle choic­es play a major role in health.”

Enrich your envi­ron­ment now and ben­e­fit your future off­spring: Dr. Robert Syl­west­er reports that “all sorts of long held-beliefs about our brain and cog­ni­tion are being re- exam­ined by cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tists” because of fas­ci­nat­ing stud­ies such as the one he reviews (with mice): “The study’s find­ings seemed to sug­gest that acquired char­ac­ter­is­tics can be genet­i­cal­ly transmitted…long-term ben­e­fits accrue from a stim­u­lat­ing ear­ly envi­ron­ment that encour­ages curios­i­ty and explo­ration.”

Man­ag­ing Emo­tions

From Dis­tress to De-Stress: help­ing anx­ious, wor­ried kids: In a detailed 2‑part arti­cle, (Part 1, Part 2), Dr. Jerome Schultz pro­vides great tips on how to help chil­dren learn to self-reg­u­late emo­tions, adding that “Teach­ers, occu­pa­tion­al ther­a­pists, phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion teach­ers and par­ents need to actu­al­ly teach chil­dren (of all ages) how to get them­selves into a phys­i­cal state of being relaxed. This does­n’t hap­pen auto­mat­i­cal­ly. If it did, there would­n’t be so many adult yoga class­es!”

Lie to Me, Paul Ekman and Biofeed­back: You may have watched the new series Lie To Me, with Tim Roth, based on the work of Paul Ekman. The intro­duc­tion to the sec­ond episode shows why what are called “lie detec­tors” are noth­ing but biofeed­back sys­tems that mea­sure phys­i­o­log­i­cal anx­i­ety.

News

Brain Games for Baby Boomers: round-up of oth­er recent news, cov­er­ing the effects of gam­ing, cog­ni­tive train­ing for dri­ving skills, and brain fit­ness class­es.

Neu­rocog­ni­tive assess­ments and sports con­cus­sions: a new study and a new resource to under­stand and address the 1.6 to 3.8 mil­lion cas­es of sports-relat­ed con­cus­sions that occur annu­al­ly in the Unit­ed States.

Brain Teas­er

How will you, your orga­ni­za­tion, your neigh­bors, par­tic­i­pate in Brain Aware­ness Week, March 16th-22nd, orga­nized by the Dana Foun­da­tion with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of thou­sands of out­reach part­ners, includ­ing Sharp­Brains? You can find event ideas, excel­lent resources (yes, includ­ing puz­zles), and a cal­en­dar of events, Here.

Have a great month of March!

Centre for Brain Fitness at Baycrest: Interview with Dr. William Reichman

In April 2008, Bay­crest, a lead­ing research insti­tute focused on aging and brain func­tion, received $10-mil­lion from the Ontario Gov­ern­ment to cre­ate a ground­break­ing Cen­tre for Brain Fit­ness. Its stat­ed goal was to “devel­op and com­mer­cial­ize a range of prod­ucts designed to improve the brain health of aging Ontar­i­ans and oth­ers around the world”.

Our gov­ern­ment is proud to sup­port Bay­crest and its invalu­able work, which is already lead­ing to the dis­cov­ery of impor­tant new tools and approach­es to treat­ing brain dis­eases asso­ci­at­ed with aging,” said Min­is­ter of Research and Inno­va­tion, John Wilkin­son.

We have Baycrest’s CEO with us today, to explore why Ontario and Bay­crest chose to Bill Reichman Baycrestbecome pio­neers in this area, and dis­cuss some of the main oppor­tu­ni­ties, and chal­lenges. Dr. William E. Reich­man is Pres­i­dent and CEO of Bay­crest. Dr. Reich­man, an inter­na­tion­al­ly-known expert in geri­atric men­tal health and demen­tia, is also Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try on the Fac­ul­ty of Med­i­cine at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to.

Alvaro Fer­nan­dez: Bill, thank you for your time. Let me start by ask­ing, giv­en that you just spoke at the recent Con­sumer Elec­tron­ic Show, what do you make of the grow­ing brain fit­ness field?

Bill Reich­man: it looks like a clas­sic exam­ple of a very promis­ing but still ear­ly stage field – a lot of oppor­tu­ni­ty and enthu­si­asm, but also a lot of prod­uct claims that are not backed by sol­id research. Think about the phys­i­cal fit­ness anal­o­gy: even today, after decades of progress, you still see peo­ple buy­ing research-based prod­ucts such as tread­mills but also all types of ran­dom machines they see on TV and have not been sub­ject to any val­i­da­tion. Sim­i­lar­ly, con­sumers today do not know what to make of grow­ing brain fit­ness claims. As anoth­er speak­er point­ed out, for the indus­try to ful­fill its promise, it will need to be care­ful with research and claims, not to end up like the nutraceu­ti­cals cat­e­go­ry.

By the way, let me rec­og­nize that the work you are doing with Sharp­Brains reports and your web­site is very impor­tant to offer qual­i­ty infor­ma­tion.

Thank you. Let’s step back for a moment. Tak­ing a, say, 10 years view, what is the main oppor­tu­ni­ty that tech­nol­o­gy-based brain fit­ness can offer to soci­ety?

First of all, let me say that I think we have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make major progress in Brain Health in the XXI cen­tu­ry, sim­i­lar to what hap­pened with Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Health in the XX, and tech­nol­o­gy will play a cru­cial role.

Giv­en the rapid advances we are wit­ness­ing today in the research and tech­nol­o­gy are­nas, I feel con­fi­dent in say­ing that in less than 10 years we will have both valid and reli­able assess­ments of cog­ni­tive func­tions, that will be used both by Read the rest of this entry »

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