Emerging Research and Technology for Life Hacking/ Brain Training


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ETech 2009 session: Life hacking. Brain training. They are one and the same. The brain’s frontal lobes enable our goal-oriented behavior, supporting “executive functions,” such as decision-making, attention, emotional self-regulation, goal-setting, and working memory. These functions can be enhanced with targeted practice – such as life hacking. This session will provide an overview of the cognitive neuroscience underpinning life hacking, and review the state-of-the-art of non-invasive tools for brain training: neurofeedback, biofeedback, software applications, cognitive simulations, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, and plain-old meditation.

Published in: Health & Medicine, Technology
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Emerging Research and Technology for Life Hacking/ Brain Training

  1. 1. Emerging Research and Technologies for Life Hacking Alvaro Fernandez #ETech 2009 © SharpBrains
  2. 2. Devising/ learning a new Life Hack Graph by Elkhonon Goldberg, The Wisdom Paradox <ul><li>Brain biochemistry </li></ul><ul><li>Brain weight </li></ul><ul><li>Brain function </li></ul>
  3. 3. A complex system Breathing, movement Goal-oriented behavior, thinking Emotions, memory Graph by Rita Carter, Mapping the Mind © SharpBrains.
  4. 4. If you lived in London, and wanted to grow your hippocampus, which job would you choose? © SharpBrains. Source: Maguire, Woollett, & Spiers, 2006
  5. 5. But: need cross-training
  6. 6. Life Hacking: An Evolution? <ul><li>1.0: Tricks </li></ul>© SharpBrains. 2.0: Tricks x Capacity
  7. 7. Debunking 10 Myths © SharpBrains. 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 “life hacking”.
  8. 8. Use and Enhance (Klingberg’s The Overflowing Brain) Source: Klingberg et al
  9. 9. Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene <ul><li>“… even if we look on the dark side and assume that individual man is fundamentally selfish, our conscious foresight -our capacity to simulate the future in imagination- could save us from the worst selfish excesses of the blind replicators. We have at least the mental equipment to foster our long-term selfish interests rather than merely our short-term ones...We have the power to defy the selfish genes of our birth and, if necessary, the selfish memes of our indoctrination. We can even discuss ways of deliberately cultivating and nurturing pure, disinterested altruism -something that has no place in nature, something that has never existed before in the whole history of the world. We are built as gene machine and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators.“ </li></ul><ul><li>- Last paragraph of chapter on memes. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Tools for Life Hacking 2.0 © SharpBrains. Source: Frontiers in Neuroscience, Augmenting Cognition April 2009 Issue, Alvaro Fernandez Type Research Areas Value Proposition Invasive interventions Drugs, stem cells, implants, explants, DBS, nutrition Treat CNS indications Non-invasive interventions Software, VR, exercise, mindfulness, cognitive therapy, TMS, videogames, hypnosis Achieve specific outcomes (similar to physical fitness paradigm), potentially becoming first-line treatment strategy Lifestyle Sleep, music, stress, cognitive reserve, interacting with nature Maintain cognitive wellness, increase neuroprotection
  11. 11. Start by identifying bottleneck <ul><li>Quality nutrition </li></ul><ul><li>Aerobic exercise </li></ul><ul><li>Stress management </li></ul><ul><li>Mental exercise </li></ul><ul><li>Sleep </li></ul><ul><li>Medication management </li></ul>Lifestyle <ul><li>Emotional self-regulation (meditation, biof, VR) </li></ul><ul><li>Visual/ auditory (software) </li></ul><ul><li>Attention (software, neurof, meditation) </li></ul><ul><li>Executive functions (exercise, cog simulations) </li></ul><ul><li>Working memory (software, stress mng) </li></ul><ul><li>Long-term memory (sleep) </li></ul>Cognitive priority © SharpBrains.
  12. 12. Source: SharpBrains, The Brain Fitness Software Market 2009 © SharpBrains. What is the most important problem you see (n=2,087, January 2009)
  13. 13. Next steps? Learn about the research <ul><li>Read Klingberg’s The Overflowing Brain </li></ul><ul><li>Kids 4-6? Attention training (Posner) </li></ul><ul><li>www.teach-the-brain.org/ </li></ul><ul><li>Working Memory Training (Jaeggi) </li></ul><ul><li>www.braintwister.unibe.ch/ </li></ul><ul><li>Read Neuroscience Interviews </li></ul><ul><li>www.sharpbrains.com/ </li></ul>© SharpBrains.
  14. 14. SharpBrains.com <ul><li>Market Research, Blog, Publishing: applications of Cognitive Science and Neuroscience. </li></ul><ul><li>Free monthly newsletter; Twitter: alvarof </li></ul><ul><li>Slides? [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Publications: </li></ul>