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Whitepaper: 10 Myths Debunked

Brain Health and Fitness whitepaper
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We are offer­ing a com­pli­men­ta­ry copy of our new whitepa­per, which will be made avail­able to you via email with­in 24 hours of sub­scrip­tion to our free Sharp­Brains Month­ly Newslet­ter .
The 40-page whitepa­per “11 Sharp Brains Debunk 10 Myths on the Sci­ence Behind The Nascent Brain Fit­ness Indus­try”, fea­tures 11 in-depth inter­views with lead­ing neu­ro­sci­en­tists, psy­chol­o­gists and experts in the field of cog­ni­tion, con­duct­ed by Alvaro Fer­nan­dez dur­ing the last 12 months. The quotes below come from those inter­views.
Health and Med­i­cine

Myth 1: It’s all in our genes.

Real­i­ty: A big com­po­nent of our life­long brain health and devel­op­ment depends on what we do with our brains. Our own actions, not only our genes, influ­ence our lives to a large extent. Genes pre­dis­pose us, not deter­mine our fates.

Indi­vid­u­als who lead men­tal­ly stim­u­lat­ing lives, through edu­ca­tion, occu­pa­tion and leisure activ­i­ties, have reduced risk of devel­op­ing Alzheimer’s. Stud­ies sug­gest that they have 35–40% less risk of man­i­fest­ing the dis­ease — Dr. Yaakov Stern, Divi­sion Leader of the Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science Divi­sion of the Sergievsky Cen­ter at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty.

Myth 2: The field of Cognitive/ Brain Fit­ness is too new to be cred­i­ble.

Real­i­ty: The field rests on sol­id foun­da­tions dat­ing back more decades — what is new is the num­ber and range of tools that are now start­ing to be avail­able for healthy indi­vid­u­als.

Rig­or­ous and tar­get­ed cog­ni­tive train­ing has been used in clin­i­cal prac­tice for many years. Exer­cis­ing our brains sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly is as impor­tant as exer­cis­ing our bod­ies. — Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg, neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist, Frontal Lobes fMRIclin­i­cal pro­fes­sor of neu­rol­o­gy at New York Uni­ver­si­ty School of Med­i­cine, and dis­ci­ple of Alexan­der Luria.

Today, thanks to fMRI and oth­er neu­roimag­ing tech­niques, we are start­ing to under­stand the impact our actions can have on spe­cif­ic parts of the brain.” — Dr. Judith Beck, Direc­tor of the Beck Insti­tute for Cog­ni­tive Ther­a­py and Research.

Myth 3: Med­ica­tion is and will remain the only evi­dence-based inter­ven­tion for a num­ber of brain-relat­ed prob­lems.

Real­i­ty: Cog­ni­tive train­ing pro­grams are start­ing to show val­ue as com­ple­ments to drug-based inter­ven­tions.

Cog­ni­tive train­ing rests on sol­id premis­es, and some pro­grams already have very promis­ing research results”- Pro­fes­sor David Rabin­er, Senior Research Sci­en­tist and Direc­tor of Psy­chol­o­gy and Neu­ro­science Under­grad­u­ate Stud­ies at Duke Uni­ver­si­ty.

Edu­ca­tion

Myth 4: We need to buy very expen­sive stuff to improve our brains.

Real­i­ty: Every time we learn a new skill, con­cept or fact, we change the phys­i­cal com­po­si­tion of our brains. Life­long learn­ing means life­long neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty.neurons

Learn­ing is phys­i­cal. Learn­ing means the mod­i­fi­ca­tion, growth, and prun­ing of our neu­rons, con­nec­tions called synaps­es and neu­ronal net­works, through experience…we are cul­ti­vat­ing our own neu­ronal net­works. — Dr. James Zull, Pro­fes­sor of Biol­o­gy and Bio­chem­istry at Case West­ern Uni­ver­si­ty,

Myth 5: Schools should just focus on basic skills like Read­ing and Math.

Real­i­ty: “Men­tal mus­cles, such as work­ing mem­o­ry, are fun­da­men­tal to aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance and are cur­rent­ly over­looked by the school sys­tem.

I don’t see that schools are apply­ing the best knowl­edge of how minds work. Schools should be the best place for applied neu­ro­science, tak­ing the lat­est advances in cog­ni­tive research and apply­ing it to the job of edu­cat­ing minds. — Dr. Arthur Lavin, Asso­ciate Clin­i­cal Pro­fes­sor of Pedi­atrics at Case West­ern School of Med­i­cine.

Cor­po­rate Train­ing

Myth 6: On-the-job train­ing is the only way to train one’s mind.

Real­i­ty: Com­put­er-based pro­grams can be more effec­tive at train­ing spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive skills.

What research has shown is that cog­ni­tion, or what we call think­ing and per­for­mance, is real­ly a set of skills that we can train sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly. And that com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive train­ers or “cog­ni­tive sim­u­la­tions are the most effec­tive and effi­cient way to do so — Dr. Daniel Gopher, Pro­fes­sor of Human Fac­tors Engi­neer­ing at Tech­nion Insti­tute of Sci­ence.

Myth 7: Brain exer­cise is only for seniors. And, only about mem­o­ry.

Real­i­ty: Peo­ple of all ages can ben­e­fit from a vari­ety of reg­u­lar brain exer­cis­es. For active pro­fes­sion­als, Working memoryman­ag­ing stress and emo­tions is often a good first step.

The elite per­form­ers are dis­tin­guished by the struc­tur­ing of their learn­ing process. It is impor­tant to under­stand the role of emo­tions: they are not “bad”. They are very use­ful sig­nals. It is impor­tant to become aware of them to avoid being engulfed by them, and learn how to man­age them. — Dr. Steen­barg­er, Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Behav­ioral Sci­ences at SUNY Upstate Med­ical Uni­ver­si­ty, and author of the book Enhanc­ing Trad­er Per­for­mance.

Myth 8: This all sounds too soft to be of real val­ue to man­agers and pro­fes­sion­als.

Real­i­ty: There is noth­ing soft about the hard sci­ence-based train­ing of spe­cif­ic cog­ni­tive and emo­tion­al skills.

I can eas­i­ly see the rel­e­vance in high­ly com­pet­i­tive fields, such as pro­fes­sion­al sports and mil­i­tary train­ing. — Dr. Bradley Gib­son, Direc­tor of the Per­cep­tion and Atten­tion Lab at Uni­ver­si­ty of Notre Dame.

Seri­ous Games

Brain Health and Fitness whitepaper
Sub­scribe to our free month­ly newslet­ter and receive your com­pli­men­ta­ry copy.
Email:


We are offer­ing a com­pli­men­ta­ry copy of our new whitepa­per, which will be made avail­able to you via email with­in 24 hours of sub­scrip­tion to our free Sharp­Brains Month­ly Newslet­ter .

Myth 9: Videogames are always a waste of time.

Real­i­ty: Sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly-designed, com­put­er-based pro­grams can be a good vehi­cle for train­ing spe­cif­ic skills. For exam­ple, it has been shown that short term mem­o­ry can be expand­ed by such pro­grams.

We have shown that work­ing mem­o­ry can be improved by train­ing.”  Dr. Torkel Kling­berg, Direc­tor of the Devel­op­men­tal Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science Lab at Karolin­s­ka Insti­tute.

Myth 10: This means kids will spend more time play­ing videogames.

Real­i­ty: In Japan  the world’s ear­li­est adopter of brain-relat­ed videogames- over­all home videogame sales have declined, with chil­dren play­ing less over time. Inter­est­ing­ly, adults in Japan have start­ed to play brain-relat­ed video games more, and we are start­ing to see the same trend with adults in the US and Europe.

The sales of soft­ware on home game machines have declined (in Japan) from its peak of 533 bil­lion yen in 1997 to 53% of that amount, 315 bil­lion yen in 2005” — Go Hira­no, Japan­ese exec­u­tive.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters, and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm and think tank tracking health and performance applications of brain science.