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Top Ten Cognitive Health Events in 2007 Brain Fitness Program Explained and More





By now, you surely are aware that our brains retain the ability to generate neurons and change over our lifetimes, breaking the scientific paradigm prevalent during the 20th century. And you have read about the growing number of brain games and brain fitness programs offered. Now, you may wonder, why is all this happenning now?

To understand that, let's review 10 important events that took place in 2007, a seminal year for the field.

1.In January, many mainstream media publications, such as Time Magazine and CBS News, started to publish major stories on neuroplasticity and "brain exercise", following the publication of the ACTIVE study, in the Journal of the American Medical Association in December 2006, where significant percentages of the participants age 65 and older who trained for five weeks improved their memory, reasoning and information-processing speed. Even more impressive, when tested five years later, the participants in the computer-based program (for information-processing) had less of a decline in the skill they were trained in than did a control group that received no cognitive training, and the results were more clear and consistent than in the non-computer-based programs (for memory and reasoning). In all programs, though, the payoff from mental exercise seemed far greater than we are accustomed to getting for physical exercise  as if 10 workouts at the gym this month were enough to help keep you fit five years from now.

2.January: two superb popular science books, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (Ballantine Books) by science journalist Sharon Begley, and The Brain That Changes Itself (Viking) by psychiatrist Norman Doidge, make neuroplasticity research accessible to a general audience, exploring the research and rationale behind a variety of structured "mental exercise" programs, both computer-based and not (like meditation).

3.May: A 10-question Checklist is released to evaluate the growing number of programs making brain-related claims, at an event co-sponsored by the American Society on Aging and SFSU Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

4.June: The Journal of Gerontology publishes a special Summer Issue fully devoted to Cognitive Training research studies.

5.June: Nicole Kidman becomes the face of "Brain Training", highlighting the commercial success of Nintendo Brain Age in the US and Europe, following the previous success in Japan. Brain Training becomes a household expression.

6.June: The Center for Disease Control and the Alzheimer's Association release a Cognitive Health Roadmap to guide the growing research and improve public health education in order to "To maintain or improve the cognitive performance of all adults."

7.September: Susan Greenfield, neuroscientist and Director of the Royal Institution in the UK, endorses MindFit program, which trains 14 different cognitive skills.

8.November: At the Gerontology Society of American meeting in San Francisco, Dr. Elizabeth Zelinski of the University of Southern California Andrus Gerontology Center, who led the IMPACT study based on Posit Science's program that trains auditory processing, reports very positive initial (not yet published) results.

9.November: The Brain Resource Company, specialized in developing cognitive assessments for clinical trials, signs a multi-million dollar contract with an insurance company to develop more sensitive diagnostic brain "markers" and assessments to enable wider adoption of cognitive assessments.

10.December: PBS releases an special program on neuroplasticity, featuring Michael Merzenich's research and Posit Science Brain Fitness 2.0 program.

Now you see why this field is growing so rapidly. Please stay tuned!


About Author Alvaro Fernandez :

Alvaro Fernandez is the CEO and Co-Founder of SharpBrains.com, which covers the brain training and brain health fields. SharpBrains has been recognized by Scientific American Mind, Newsweek, Forbes. Alvaro holds MA in Education and MBA from Stanford University, and teaches The Science of Brain Health at UC-Berkeley Lifelong Learning Institute. You can learn more at <a href="http://www.sharpbrains.com/" target="_blank">http://www.sharpbrains.com/</a>


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Article Added on Friday, May 23, 2008
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