Cognitive Fitness and the Mature Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges

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Presentation at the 4th annual Aging is Good Business summit, themed "The Silvering Workforce” organized by The Gerontology Program at University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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Cognitive Fitness and the Mature Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges

  1. 1. Cognitive Fitness and the Mature Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges Alvaro Fernandez UNCG, April 2009 © SharpBrains
  2. 2. Please name the color of the word
  3. 3. In summary  Old dogs do learn new tricks  Slower in completely new areas  Faster in domains of expertise  Lifestyle factors and training can help protect that ability to learn  Not all old dogs are the same: age itself is not the best predictor of performance  Cognitive Fitness: the new frontier for HR departments © SharpBrains.
  4. 4. Why Now? A Perfect Storm of Factors © SharpBrains 2008
  5. 5. The number of people over 50 will double in 30 years. And it’s Baby Boomers.
  6. 6. The Aging Mind Source: Denise Park, Roybal Center Healthy Minds
  7. 7. Debunking 10 Myths 1. Genes determine the fate of our brains. 2. Aging means automatic decline. 3. Medication is the only hope for cognitive enhancement. 4. We will soon have a Magic Pill or General Solution. 5. There is only one “it” in “Use It or Lose it”. 6. All brain activities or exercises are equal. 7. After age X, no new neurons are generated in the human brain. 8. We all have something called “Brain Age”. 9. That “brain age” can be reversed by 10, 20, 30 years. 10. All human brains need the same brain exercise. © SharpBrains.
  8. 8. What contributes to Cognitive Fitness Source: The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009
  9. 9. Tools for Augmenting Cognition Type Research Areas Value Proposition Invasive Drugs, stem cells, Treat CNS indications interventions implants, explants, DBS, nutrition Non-invasive Software, VR, exercise, Achieve specific interventions mindfulness, cognitive outcomes (similar to therapy, TMS, physical fitness videogames, hypnosis paradigm), potentially becoming first-line treatment strategy Lifestyle Sleep, music, stress, Maintain cognitive cognitive reserve, wellness, increase interacting with nature neuroprotection Source: Frontiers in Neuroscience, Augmenting Cognition April 2009 Issue, Alvaro Fernandez © SharpBrains.
  10. 10. How is this possible? - Brain biochemistry - Brain weight - Brain function Graph by Elkhonon Goldberg, The Wisdom Paradox
  11. 11. If you lived in London, and wanted to grow your hippocampus, which job would you choose? Source: Maguire, Woollett, & Spiers, 2006 © SharpBrains.
  12. 12. Work = lifelong mental cross-training
  13. 13. The 4 Pillars of Cognitive Fitness A balanced nutrition 1. Cardiovascular physical exercise 2. Stress management 3. Brain exercise: Novelty, Variety, 4. Challenge (that doesn’t stress us out) © SharpBrains.
  14. 14. What is the most important problem you see (n=2,087, January 2009) 5% 6% 14% 39% 15% 21% Public Awareness Navigating Claims Research Healthcare Culture Lack of Assessment Other Source: SharpBrains, The Brain Fitness Software Market 2009 © SharpBrains.
  15. 15. A call to action… How is your organization getting ready to help solve these problems? Awareness I. Navigating Claims II. Research III. Health Culture IV. Assessment V. Other VI. © SharpBrains.
  16. 16. In summary  Old dogs do learn new tricks  Slower in completely new areas  Faster in domains of expertise  Lifestyle factors and training can help protect that ability to learn  Not all old dogs are the same: age itself is not the best predictor of performance  Cognitive Fitness: the new frontier for HR departments © SharpBrains.
  17. 17. SharpBrains: what we do & don’t do  Market Research & Educational Resources: www.SharpBrains.com Don’t develop or sell products  Slides? Email alvaro@sharpbrains.com  Free Monthly eNewsletter, Twitter: alvarof  Upcoming Publications:   Report: The State of the Brain Fitness Software 2009 (April)  Book: The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness (May)

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