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Alvaro Fernandez on Brainf Fitness


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Alvaro Fernandez's presentation at LearnTrends 08

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Alvaro Fernandez on Brainf Fitness

  1. 1. Brain Fitness for Peak Health and Performance November 20 th , 2008 Alvaro Fernandez © SharpBrains. All rights reserved. No part of this presentation or handout can be reproduced by any means without the written permission of SharpBrains
  2. 2. What do you see? © SharpBrains.
  3. 3. Overview of session <ul><li>The Brain 101 </li></ul><ul><li>What is “Brain Fitness”, and Why it Matters </li></ul><ul><li>A growing technology-enabled market </li></ul>© SharpBrains.
  4. 4. What is this? How many do we have? How many connections can each have? © SharpBrains.
  5. 5. Use It or Lose It Source: New Horizons for Learning
  6. 6. Each brain is unique <ul><li>The brain is made up of a hundred billion neurons. Each neuron can have between 1 and 10,000 connections to other neurons. </li></ul>© SharpBrains.
  7. 7. The “3 brains” 1) Reptilian: breathing, movement 3) “Human”: thoughts 2) Mammalian: emotions, memory Graph by Rita Carter, Mapping the Mind © SharpBrains.
  8. 8. Parts of the cortex Graph by Morphonix © SharpBrains. Frontal Lobe Goal-oriented thinking and behavior. Parietal Lobe Sensory information, orientation, calculation. Temporal Lobe Auditory. Occipital Lobe Visual.
  9. 9. The need for lifelong learning Graph by Elkhonon Goldberg, The Wisdom Paradox
  10. 10. The Memory Process Encoding Encoding Retrieval
  11. 11. The “sins” of memory…and why “sins” may not be sins <ul><li>Transience: adapt to new demands </li></ul><ul><li>Absent-mindness: avoid information overload and fragmentation </li></ul><ul><li>Misattribution: encode information selectively and efficiently </li></ul><ul><li>Bias: facilitate emotional well-being </li></ul><ul><li>Blocking: stress blocks memory to favor action. </li></ul>Source: Daniel Schacter, The Seven Sins of Memory
  12. 12. Overview of session <ul><li>The Brain 101 </li></ul><ul><li>What is “Brain Fitness”, and Why it Matters </li></ul><ul><li>A growing technology-enabled market </li></ul>© SharpBrains.
  13. 13. The Science of Brain Fitness <ul><ul><li>Neuroplasticity : the brain retains a lifelong capacity to change responding to experience. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neuroimaging enables the scientific exploration of the live brain. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognition is a core set of brain functions-not just one. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some cognitive functions improve as we age – others typically decline . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The four “pillars” of brain health : nutrition, physical exercise, stress management and brain exercise. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Software -based applications can help assess and/ or train specific brain functions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive assessments will become critical to identify bottlenecks and measure progress. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cross-training the brain builds up the Brain/ Cognitive reserve. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is still an emerging field: much more research needs to be done. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. What is Brain Fitness/ a “sharp brain” <ul><ul><li>The general state of feeling alert, in control, productive, especially as the result of mental and physical exercise and proper nutrition. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Having the mental abilities required to function in society, in our occupations, in our communities. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It is not about “IQ”. It is about skills such as attention, memory, emotional self-regulation, planning, resist temptations… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can it be measured today? Yes, but only by neuropsychologists and researchers. We expect to see cheaper and widely available assessments (perhaps via a 30-40 minute set of online assessments) over the next few years. </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. We each build our own Brain Reserve <ul><li>To maximize chances of healthy aging, increasing focus on 4 main &quot;brain health&quot; pillars: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a balanced diet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>physical exercise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>stress management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>brain exercise </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Growing evidence suggests the earlier the better to build a Brain Reserve that may delay decline and problems such as Alzheimer's related symptoms. Studies have shown a risk reduction of up to 38% thanks to these lifestyle habits, with emphasis on physical and brain exercise. </li></ul>© SharpBrains 2007. All rights reserved.
  16. 16. Working Memory capacity as we age Source: Klingberg et al Working Memory: the ability to keep several units of information “online”. For example, if I tell you know the 7 digits of my phone number.
  17. 17. Brain Reserve- Physical exercise <ul><li>Enhances brain structure and function. Exercise improves learning through increased blood supply and growth hormones. </li></ul><ul><li>If you can only do one thing, focus on cardiovascular training—exercise that gets your heart beating faster, like walking, running, skiing, swimming, biking, hiking, tennis, basketball. </li></ul>© SharpBrains 2007. All rights reserved.
  18. 18. Brain Reserve- Good Nutrition <ul><li>As a general guideline, what is good for your body is also good for your brain. Eat a variety of foods of different colors while avoiding foods with added ingredients or processed foods. </li></ul><ul><li>Add some cold-water fish to your diet (tuna, salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, and herring) which contain omega-3 fatty acids. </li></ul><ul><li>If you can only focus on one change, eat more vegetables, particularly leafy green ones. </li></ul><ul><li>Few supplements have shown long-term benefits on memory and other cognitive functions . </li></ul>© SharpBrains 2007. All rights reserved.
  19. 19. Brain Reserve- Stress Management <ul><li>Since chronic stress reduces and can even inhibit the creation of new neurons, stress management is important. </li></ul><ul><li>Practice meditation, yoga, or other calming activities as a way to take a relaxing time-out.  If you want a more high-tech option, use biofeedback devices that measure heart rate variability and allow you to see your levels of stress in real-time. </li></ul><ul><li>If you can only do one thing, set aside 5-10 minutes to just breathe deeply and recharge. </li></ul>© SharpBrains 2007. All rights reserved.
  20. 20. Brain Reserve- Brain Exercise <ul><li>Mental exercise enhances neuron survival and strengthen the synapses or connections among neurons. </li></ul><ul><li>The 3 key principles for good brain exercise are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1.  Novelty: you need to try new things, including things you aren't good at. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2.  Variety: given that the brain is composed of a variety of functionally distinct areas, you need to ensure a complete mental “workout circuit” to maintain sharpness in all areas.  Excessive specialization is not the best strategy for our long-term Brain Health. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3.  Challenge: you need to be exposed to increasing levels of challenge, so the task is never too easy. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If you can only do one thing, learn something new every day. </li></ul>© SharpBrains 2007. All rights reserved.
  21. 21. What is this
  22. 22. Ideas to exercise our “mental muscles” <ul><li>Motor coordination: learning how to dance, yoga, choreographed aerobics. </li></ul><ul><li>Emotions: meditation, cognitive therapy, biofeedback. </li></ul><ul><li>Memory: categorize information, visualize links. </li></ul><ul><li>Sensory: wine tasting, let a chocolate melt. </li></ul><ul><li>Language: write a haiku, do a crossword, learn a language. </li></ul><ul><li>Visual: guided imagery, reading “mental” maps when we drive. </li></ul><ul><li>Attention: meditation, writing/ using lists. </li></ul><ul><li>Executive functions: setting up goals, follow-up on them, make decisions. </li></ul>© SharpBrains.
  23. 23. Overview of session <ul><li>The Brain 101 </li></ul><ul><li>What is “Brain Fitness”, and Why it Matters </li></ul><ul><li>A growing technology-enabled market </li></ul>© SharpBrains.
  24. 24. 2007 welcomed an emerging cognitive/ brain fitness market. © SharpBrains 2008 Sales of brain fitness products in the US more than doubled from 2005 to 2007: from estimated $100m to $225m. CAGR: 50%.
  25. 25. Why talk about Brain Fitness now? © SharpBrains 2008
  26. 26. The number of people over 50 will double in 30 years. And it’s Baby Boomers.
  27. 27. Growing number of studies on the value of computer-based programs Source: Klingberg et al.
  28. 28. Evaluation checklist (available at <ul><li>1. Are neuropsychologists behind the program </li></ul><ul><li>2. What peer-reviewed research supports it </li></ul><ul><li>3. Is there a solid Scientific Advisory Board </li></ul><ul><li>4. What are the specific benefits claimed </li></ul><ul><li>5. What cognitive function does it train </li></ul><ul><li>6. How many hours/ days per week to use it </li></ul><ul><li>7. Do the exercises teach something new </li></ul><ul><li>8. Always challenging </li></ul><ul><li>9. Does the program fit user’s specific goals </li></ul><ul><li>10. No stress </li></ul>© SharpBrains 2008
  29. 29. <ul><ul><li>In summary… </li></ul></ul>© SharpBrains.
  30. 30. Build a Brain Reserve based on these Pillars <ul><ul><li>A balanced diet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cardiovascular physical exercise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stress management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brain exercise: Novelty, Variety, Challenge (that doesn’t stress us out) </li></ul></ul>© SharpBrains.
  31. 31. Predictions Brain Fitness Market 2008-2015 <ul><li>Cognitive/ Brain Fitness goes Mainstream </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing Focus on Brain Maintenance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better Integration of Physical and Mental Exercise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public policy initiatives to drive adoption </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Leveraging Better Tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wide Use of Cognitive Assessments as Baseline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More and Refined computer-based programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Low-tech options to play increasing role </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A Growing Eco-System </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Health professionals will need Professional Development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Insurance companies will introduce incentives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased Transfer from military research and applications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Corporate Wellness and Training adds a Brain component </li></ul></ul>© SharpBrains 2008
  32. 32. An Introduction to SharpBrains <ul><li>Market Research and Advisory Services focused on applications of Cognitive Science and Neuroscience. </li></ul><ul><li>Co-Founded by neuroscientist Elkhonon Goldberg and executive Alvaro Fernandez. </li></ul><ul><li>Website & newsletter with many free resources: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Articles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teasers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviews with scientists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Newsletter </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contact: [email_address] </li></ul>
  33. 33. Who buys our research publications? <ul><li>Venture Capital </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Aberdare Ventures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Binnacle Capital </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Osmium Partners </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Health systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kaiser Permanente </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sutter Health </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Memorial Hospital </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research centers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>US Army Research Lab </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Harvard Medical Schools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Oregon Center for Applied Science </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cognitive Training </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Posit Science </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dakim </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NovaVision </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cognitive Assessments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brain Resource </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CogState </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AARP </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sunrise Senior Living </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Industry-leading publications at State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2008 ($495) Brain Fitness Centers in Seniors Housing – A Field in the Making ($25) 10-Questions Checklist to Evaluate Programs Making Brain Fitness Claims (Free)
  35. 35. is a leading Brain Fitness educational resource.