Monday, August 31, 2009

Reading the bumps on your head--blast from the past

Thanks to MIND HACKS to link to historical information on phrenology

Kevin McGrew PhD
Educational/School Psych.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

IQs Corner Recent Literature of Interest 8-26-09

This weeks "recent literature of interest" is now available. Click here to view or download.

Information regarding this feature, its basis, and the reasons for type of references included in each weekly installment can be found in a prior post.

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New IQ, MR and Death Penalty blog

IQ, MR and the death penalty.

Today I'm announcing a new blog projected related to the "life-and-death" (literally) issues surrounding Atkins cases...court cases dealing with the topic of mental retardation and the death penalty.  The blog has a specific focus on the intellectual competence (IQ) issues and research surrounding Atkin's cases.

Additional information can be found at Intellectual Competence and the Death Penalty blog.  The announcement statement can be viewed here.

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iJournal: New JPA articles

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

iAbstract: Neuropsych developments

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iAbstract: Executive function disorder subtypes?

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Neuropsychology - Volume 23, Issue 5

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A new issue is available for the following APA journal:


Volume 23, Issue 5

The prevalence of cortical gray matter atrophy may be overestimated in the healthy aging brain.
Pages 541-550
Burgmans, Saartje; van Boxtel, Martin P. J.; Vuurman, Eric F. P. M.; Smeets, Floortje; Gronenschild, Ed H. B. M.; Uylings, Harry B. M.; Jolles, Jelle
Impairment of probabilistic reward-based learning in schizophrenia.
Pages 571-580
Weiler, Julia A.; Bellebaum, Christian; Brüne, Martin; Juckel, Georg; Daum, Irene
Selectivity of executive function deficits in mild cognitive impairment.
Pages 607-618
Brandt, Jason; Aretouli, Eleni; Neijstrom, Eleanor; Samek, Jaclyn; Manning, Kevin; Albert, Marilyn S.; Bandeen-Roche, Karen
Frontotemporal dementia selectively impairs transitive reasoning about familiar spatial environments.
Pages 619-626
Vartanian, Oshin; Goel, Vinod; Tierney, Michael; Huey, Edward D.; Grafman, Jordan
Delaying interference enhances memory consolidation in amnesic patients.
Pages 627-634
Dewar, Michaela; Garcia, Yuriem Fernandez; Cowan, Nelson; Sala, Sergio Della
Angry faces are special too: Evidence from the visual scanpath.
Pages 658-667
Bate, Sarah; Haslam, Catherine; Hodgson, Timothy L.
ERPs in anterior and posterior regions associated with duration and size discriminations.
Pages 668-678
Gontier, Emilie; Paul, Isabelle; Le Dantec, Christophe; Pouthas, Viviane; Jean-Marie, Grouin; Bernard, Christian; Lalonde, Robert; Rebaï, Mohamed

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

WJ III RPI and W-scores: New ASB explanatory report available

What are RPI (Relative Proficiency Index) and do they differ from standard scores?  Why are they the most educationally relevant scores provided by the Woodcock-Johnson III Battery [conflict of interest - I'm a coauthor of the WJ III].

Answers to these important questions are now available in ASB # 11:  Development, Interpretation, and Application of the W Score and the Relative Proficiency Index a new Assessment Service Bulletin available from Riverside Publishing.  The author of the ASB is Dr. Lynne Jaffe.  Click here to access the Riverside web page that lists ASB # 11 (and all prior ASB's).

As described at the Riverside web page:
  • The purpose of this bulletin is to familiarize users of the WJ III with the development, interpretation, and application of the W score and the RPI. Specifically, this bulletin describes the levels of interpretive information available in the WJ III, explains the special characteristics and usefulness of the W scale, and describes how the RPI fits into the hierarchy of information used to interpret test results, including, the differences between the RPI and peer-comparison scores, the usefulness of the RPI in clarifying diagnostic profiles and designing interventions and considerations for using the RPI in view of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004, and the use of the RPI in clinical research.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

SHARP BRAINS brain fitness roundup

AlvaroF: News: DriveSharp, Cognitive Health, Posit Science and
CogniFit: Round-up of recent news on cognitive health and ..

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New brain fitness game research

PsychNews: Brain-Training Games Get Mixed Scores

Kevin McGrew PhD
Educational/School Psych.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

IQs Corner Recent Literature of Interest 8-20-09

This weeks "recent literature of interest" is now available. Click here to view or download.

Information regarding this feature, its basis, and the reasons for type of references included in each weekly installment can be found in a prior post.

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Dependability of general (g)-factor loadings: Floyd et al. 2009

This is an update to a prior "IQ Pipeline" post regarding a manuscript that had been accepted for publication in the journal Intelligence.  The article is now official.  The reference citation (with link to copy) is:
  • Floyd, R. G., Shands, E. I., Rafael, F. A., Bergeron, R., & McGrew, K. S. (2009). The dependability of general-factor loadings: The effects of factor-extraction methods, test battery composition, test battery size, and their interactions. Intelligence, 37, 453-465. (click here to view/download)
As an FYI, the prior post included a link the to original Thorndike (1987) classic "Stability of Factor Loadings" article that was foundation of the current article.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CHC Intelligence Theory Timeline Project Update: Carroll (1985) paper found + clickable map to come

In a prior post I described the CHC Intelligence Theory Timeline Project.  I will continue to work on this project as time permits.

At this time I've got a two announcements.  First, I've been in contact with the maker of the software I'm using (Timeline Maker) about the Mozilla browser bug (see prior post) and the need I have for the program to export web-based material with all the active file, image, and URL links I have on my desktop program.  As a result, I've been placed on their list of "beta" testers for their next version which should include this feature (apparently many others have asked for the same feature).  So..hang tight.  We may have an on-line CHC Timeline on the web with clickable resources sometime soon.

The second announcement is made possible by Dr. Jack Carroll's daughter (Mimi Chapin) and her husband.  I recently sent out a listserv request in hopes of finding a copy of Carroll's unpublished 1985 paper--Domains of Cognitive Ability, which was presented at an Assocition for the Advancment of Science.  Mimi and her husband dug through Jack's files and found and sent me a copy.  I'm now making it available for others to view/download (click here).  It is an interesting read.  As early as 1985 the basic building blocks (broad stratum II abilities) of Carroll's eventual tri-stratum model can be seen.  Near the end of the paper is Table 1, which lists the broad domains (as well as the higher order g-factor) of Gf, Gc, Gv, Ga, Gs, Gi (now these abilities are typically listed under Glr in the CHC taxonomy), and Gm (which later Carroll labeled Gy...and which is now divided between Gsm and Glr in the CHC model.

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Can cognitive tests differentiate Alzhemers from vascular dementia?

Can cognitive ability tests differentially diagnosis Alzheimer's from Vascular-Dementia?  A recent meta-analysis  (see reference below) suggests that the answer is "no"---cognitive measures need to be augmented by other diagnostic techniques when trying to differentiate Alzheimer's from Vascular Dementia.
  • Mathias, J. L. & Burke, J.  (2009).  Cognitive Functioning in Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia:A Meta-Analysis.  Neuropsychology, 23(4), 411–423

Abstract (underlining is emphasis added by blogmaster)
Differentiating between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and vascular dementia (VaD) remains difficult but important if existing pharmacological treatments are to provide symptomatic relief in the case of AD or to alter disease progression in the case of VaD. Cognitive assessments play an important role in aiding diagnosis, despite a lack of clear evidence defining the cognitive abilities and tests that best distinguish between the two types of dementia. The current study therefore completed a meta-analysis of research comparing the cognitive abilities of persons diagnosed with AD and VaD. A comprehensive search was undertaken of the PubMed and PsychInfo databases, with 81 studies being eligible for inclusion. Weighted Cohen’s d effect sizes, percentage overlap statistics, fail-safe Ns, and confidence intervals were calculated for all cognitive tests. Of the tests that were examined by more than one study, there was one test of perception and one test of verbal memory that showed large and significant group differences. There were an additional 12 tests that may prove useful. However, all cognitive tests were limited in their ability to discriminate between AD and VaD, suggesting that they should be used cautiously and only in conjunction with other information (imaging, medical history) when diagnosing patients.
The authors conclusion
In summary, the findings of this meta-analysis suggest that the neuropsychological tests that best discriminate between AD and VaD are the Emotional Recognition task (Shimokawa et al., 2000; Shimokawa et al., 2003), and Delayed Story recall, as assessed by WMS Logical Memory (Wechsler, 1987) Adult Memory and Information Processing Battery (Coughlan & Hollows, 1985), and Babcock Story Recall (Spinnler & Tognoni, 1987). However, it is important to note that none of the tests showed acceptably low overlap between the scores of the two groups to confidently discriminate between the two types of dementia. These cognitive tests must therefore be used cautiously and in conjunction with other diagnostic information, such as medical history, behavioral observations, imaging, and information from relatives, when making a diagnosis.

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Is associative learning/memory (Glr-MA) a causal mechanism of g (general intelligence)?

What are basic elementary cognitive mechanisms/processes that contribute to (cause?) g (general intelligence).

As has been discussed many times previously on this blog, there has been a significant amount of recent research suggesting that working memory (Gsm-MW) and processing speed (Gs) may be causal mechanisms of g (click here for a brief summary and some CHC-based causal models I've run). In the article below, Kaufman et al (hereafter referred to as the "authors") investigate whether associative learning may be another causative mechanism...above and beyond the contribution of working memory and processing speed.
  • Kaufman, S. B, DeYoung, C. G, Gray, J. R., Brown, J. & Mackintosh, N. (2009). Associative learning predicts intelligence above and beyond working memory and processing speed. Intelligence, 37, 374–382 (click here to view)

Recent evidence suggests the existence of multiple cognitive mechanisms that support the general cognitive ability factor (g). Working memory and processing speed are the two best established candidate mechanisms. Relatively little attention has been given to the possibility that associative learning is an additional mechanism contributing to g. The present study tested the hypothesis that associative learning ability, as assessed by psychometrically sound associative learning tasks, would predict variance in g above and beyond the variance predicted by working memory capacity and processing speed. This hypothesis was confirmed in a sample of 169 adolescents, using structural equation modeling. Associative learning, working memory, and processing speed all contributed significant unique variance to g, indicating not only that multiple elementary cognitive processes underlie intelligence, but also the novel finding that associative learning is one such process.


(italics indicates direct quotes; underline indicates emphasis added by blogmaster)

the existence of general intelligence (g), in the sense of a statistical feature (a “positive manifold”), is a robustfinding, it is less clear what the mechanisms are that support g. The best established candidate processes, as mechanistic substrates of g, are processing speed (Deary, 2001) and working memory (Conway, Jarrold, Kane, Miyake, & Towse, 2007)

The current study investigated associative learning as a potential additional candidate process, which might contribute to g over and above processing speed and working memory. Only recently has associative learning become a serious contender as a substrate of g (Alexander & Smales, 1997; Tamez, Myerson, & Hale, 2008; Williams, Myerson, & Hale, 2008; Williams & Pearlberg, 2006). There is good reason, however, to suspect that the ability to learn associations might support g. Intelligent behavior seems certain to require memory for patterns of associations among stimuli, and one of the original purposes of intelligence tests was to assess students' ability to learn (Binet & Simon, 1916). Relations among associative learning, general cognitive ability, and cognitive mechanisms that subserve general cognitive ability are thus of interest for both theoretical and historical reasons.

The authors define associative learning as "the ability to remember and voluntarily recall specific associations between stimuli" In this regard, it is similar to associative memory (MA) under Glr as per the CHC taxonomy.

Although early studies found a weak or no relation between associative learning and general cognitive ability (Malmi, Underwood, & Carroll, 1979; Underwood, Boruch, & Malmi, 1978; Woodrow, 1938, 1946), the failure to find a relation seems likely to be due to the fact that the associative learning tests that were used in these studies were easy and thus unlikely to be related to complex cognition

The sample was "169 participants (54 males and 115 females) included in the analysis were aged 16–18 years, and attended a selective Sixth Form College (which takes high-achieving students who are in their last 2 years of secondary education) in Cambridge, England."

The authors operationally defined an associative learning (AL) latent factor (Glr-MA as per CHC as interpreted by the blogmaster) via multiple associative learning indicators (see article). Gf was operationally measured by the Raven's advanced progressive matrices (RAPM), DAT verbal reasoning test and the Mental rotations test. Mulitple indicators of Gs included the Verbal speed test (Speed-V) from the Berlin model of Intelligence Structure, the Numerical speed test (Speed-N), and the Speed of Information Processing sub-test from the British Ability Scales. The working memory measurement model consisted of the Operation span task. The authors used structural equation method to test predictions about the independent prediction of g by associative learning (Glr-MA), working memory (Gsm-MW), and processing speed (Gs). The final causal model can be seen in the included visual-graphic causal model diagram. Note that, as per the CHC taxonomy, I would relabel the latent factors as Glr-MA (not AL), Gsm-MW (not WM), and Gs (the same as the authors).

[double click on image to enlarge]

The primary results, as represented in the above causal model diagram:

showed that associative learning, working memory, and processing speed all made statistically independent contributions to g. This finding suggests that each of these elementary cognitive processes may represent a mechanism that contributes differentially to general intelligence

Conclusions of authors
The results of the current study add to a growing literature on the existence of multiple cognitive mechanisms that support general cognitive ability (Sternberg & Pretz, 2005). Our findings suggest that multiple cognitive processes — including the abilities to process information quickly, to maintain, update, and manipulate information in working memory, and to learn specific associations between stimuli — should contribute to performance on any highly g-loaded task. Identification of separable elementary cognitive mechanisms that support g should further attempt to develop neurobiological theories of intelligence. Such theories may help to resolve current debates regarding the nature of the mechanisms underlying g (e.g., Colom, Franciso, Quiroga, Shih, & FloresMendoza, 2008). Evidence exists already that working memory and associative learning rely on different regions of the PFC (Petrides, 1995, 2000; Petrides et al., 1993), and processing speed seems likely to be determined by a distinct set of biological parameters that are not yet known. The investigation of the precise number and nature of the mechanisms that underlie g remains a promising line of research.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition - Volume 35, Issue 5

A new issue is available for the following APA journal:

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

Volume 35, Issue 5

Deficits in cross-race face learning: Insights from eye movements and pupillometry.
Pages 1105-1122
Goldinger, Stephen D.; He, Yi; Papesh, Megan H.
Use of self-to-object and object-to-object spatial relations in locomotion.
Pages 1137-1147
Xiao, Chengli; Mou, Weimin; McNamara, Timothy P.
Test sequence priming in recognition memory.
Pages 1162-1174
Johns, Elizabeth E.; Mewhort, D. J. K.
Neural correlates of individual differences in strategic retrieval processing.
Pages 1175-1186
Bridger, Emma K.; Herron, Jane E.; Elward, Rachael L.; Wilding, Edward L.
Component structure of individual differences in true and false recognition of faces.
Pages 1207-1230
Bartlett, James C.; Shastri, Kalyan K.; Abdi, Hervé; Neville-Smith, Marsha
Dissociating interference-control processes between memory and response.
Pages 1306-1316
Bissett, Patrick G.; Nee, Derek Evan; Jonides, John
Attentional requirements for the selection of words from different grammatical categories.
Pages 1344-1351
Ayora, Pauline; Janssen, Niels; Dell'Acqua, Roberto; Alario, F.-Xavier
Metacognitive control over the distribution of practice: When is spacing preferred?
Pages 1352-1358
Toppino, Thomas C.; Cohen, Michael S.; Davis, Meghan L.; Moors, Amy C.
Embodied memory judgments: A case of motor fluency.
Pages 1359-1365
Yang, Shu-Ju; Gallo, David A.; Beilock, Sian L.
Classifying partial exemplars: Seeing less and learning more.
Pages 1374-1380
Taylor, Eric G.; Ross, Brian H.
Automaticity of cognitive control: Goal priming in response-inhibition paradigms.
Pages 1381-1388
Verbruggen, Frederick; Logan, Gordon D.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Brain wrinkles protect against brain injury

This story is all over the brain blogosphere

Kevin McGrew PhD
Educational/School Psych.

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Spatial thinking in education

From ENL blog

Kevin McGrew PhD
Educational/School Psych.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Brain rhythm treatment efficacy: Can we fine-tune our brain clocks?

Brain rhythm. Got it? Need it? What is it? Can you improve it?

Check out new IAP Research Report No. 9: The efficacy of rhythm-based (mental timing) treatments with subjects with a variety of clinical disorders: A brief review of theoretical, diagnostic, and treatment research (McGrew & Vega, 2009). at the IQ Brain Clock blog (sister blog to IQs Corner).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brain Fitness Update: Preparing Society for the Cognitive Age

SHARP BRAINS brain fitness update summary. 

Kevin McGrew PhD
Educational/School Psych. 

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SharpBrains Logo
Brain Fitness Update: Preparing Society for the Cognitive Age

August 2009

Book CoverScientific publication Frontiers in Neuroscience recently published a special issue on Augmenting Cognition, and invited Alvaro Fernandez to contribute with an article titled Preparing Society for the Cognitive Age. Groundbreaking brain research has occurred over the last 20 years. The opportunity to improve brain health and performance is immense, but we need to ensure the marketplace matures in a rational and sustainable manner, both through healthcare and non-healthcare channels. Click Here to read Alvaro's article.
In This Issue
State of the Market
Market Survey
Competitive Landscape
The Science
Customer Segments
Future Directions
The Webinar
2009 Report CoverIn May 2009 SharpBrains published The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market 2009, the main industry report for leading organizations preparing their members, their clients, and their patients for the cognitive age. 150-pages long, the report includes a market survey with 2,000+ respondents, detailed analysis of 20+ vendors, research briefs written by 12 leading scientists and data and trends for 4 major customer segments.

Below we share the full
Executive Summary of the report and announce an exclusive webinar on September 29th to discuss the State of the Market in more depth with buyers of the report.

To order the report and access both the report and the webinar, you can click
Here. (Only $975 -a 25% discount- using Discount Code Frontiers2009 before September 28th).
State of the Market
The brain fitness field holds exciting promise for the future while presenting clear opportunities and challenges today. The good news is that there are more tools available than ever before to assess and train a variety of cognitive skills. The bad news is that there are no magic pills and that consumers, while satisfied overall, seem confused by competing claims on how to reduce one's "brain age."

We do see signs that this early-stage market can mature in a more rational, structured manner; but there is much work to be done. We estimate that the size of the U.S. brain fitness software (i.e., applications designed to assess or enhance cognitive abilities) market in 2008 was $265M - growing 18% from $225M in 2007, and representing an annualized growth rate of 38% since 2005.

Growth came in roughly equal parts from two segments: consumers (grew from $80M to $95M) and healthcare and insurance providers (grew from $65 to $80). K12 school systems remained mostly flat. The military, sports and corporate segment continued to expand but from a lower base.

Advances in neuroscience and the interest of baby boomers in the concept and implications of neuroplasticity are driving popular interest and effort into retaining mental sharpness. This in turn has fueled the interest of healthcare and insurance providers to test and introduce brain fitness products. A variety of developments in 2008 underline the sector's annual growth and plants seeds for significant future breakthroughs:

Innovation by pioneering institutions:
We estimate that around 300 residential communities added computerized cognitive training programs in 2008, making for an estimated accumulated total of over 700. Insurance providers Allstate and OptumHealth launched major initiatives, while the USA Hockey League announced an upcoming hockey-specific brain fitness software package.

Research themes got reinforced:
1) Lifestyle, led by aerobic exercise, can improve cognition and reduce dementia risk,
2) Building the cognitive reserve through leading mentally stimulating lives provides neuroprotection to help stay sharper longer,
3) Specific cognitive abilities can be assessed and enhanced through the use of appropriate tools.
Funding events and acquisitions: A number of developers raised money during the year: Dakim ($10.6m), CogniFit ($5m), Lumos Labs ($3m), Scientific Brain Training ($1.5m), Vivity Labs ($1m). Scientific Learning bought Soliloquy and Posit Science bought Visual Awareness.

Public policy & public sector initiatives:
1) a new US Army policy required computerized cognitive screenings of all soldiers before deployment,
2) the Government of Ontario invested $10m in Baycrest to develop and commercialize brain fitness technologies.
3) The Mental Health Parity Act will take effect in January 2010,
4) a growing emphasis by Medicare to reduce hospital readmissions (which can be predicted by patient's functional status, including cognitive functioning).
Market Survey
In January 2009 we conducted an online survey to understand emerging beliefs, attitudes and habits among decision-makers and early adopters. Highlights of the 2,000+ responses were:

61% of respondents Strongly Agree with the statement "Addressing cognitive and brain health should be a healthcare priority." But, 65% Agree/Strongly Agree with "I don't really know what to expect from products making brain claims." In sum, interest and confusion.

The top three out of ten predictions ("Over the next 5 to 7 years we will see...") with the highest percentage of respondents who Strongly Agree are: 1) "...a wide selection of computer-based programs, for different uses" (33%), 2) "...more locations and tools integrating physical and mental exercise" (27%), and 3) "...brain fitness becoming a mainstream topic, for most if not all ages" (27%).

Customer satisfaction among buyers (both of electronic products and puzzle books) was good overall but could be better. To the statement, "I got real value for my money," the results were: 18% Strongly Agree, 35% Agree, 33% Neutral, 11% Disagree, 3% Strongly Disagree.

Top four products among buyers: 1) Posit Science, 2) Puzzle Books, 3) Nintendo Brain Age, 4) They seem to attract different demographic groups, and present different levels of customer satisfaction: Posit Science (53% Agree) and (51%) do better than Puzzle Books (39%) and Nintendo (38%) at "I have seen the results I wanted." Given very different price points, the rank changes with "I got real value for my money": Lumosity (65% Agree), Puzzle Books (60%), Posit Science (52%), Nintendo (51%).
Competitive Landscape

In 2008 the competitive landscape started to become more clearly defined, with a number of players taking the lead in specific niches both on the assessment and training sides of the market.

Our Market and Research Momentum analysis resulted in the categorization of twenty-one companies into four groups to better predict long-term sustainability of company and approach.

- Leaders: Brain Resource, Cognitive Drug Research, Lumos Labs, Posit Science
- High Potentials: Applied Cognitive Engineering, Cogmed, CogniFit, Houghton Mifflin, NovaVision, Scientific Brain Training, Scientific Learning, TransAnalytics
- Crosswords 2.0: Dakim, Nintendo, Vivity Labs
- Wait & See: Advanced Brain Technologies, Brain Center America, CNS Vital Signs, CogState, Learning Enhancement Corporation, Vigorous Mind

Our product analysis shows that the products with higher levels of clinical validation are also the ones focused on more specific cognitive needs. It is important to evaluate the clinical validation per cognitive skill(s) targeted, together with other product attributes, to find a potential product to match specific needs. Not even the training products with relative higher levels of clinical validation, by Cogmed and NovaVision, should be seen as the best intervention for every single individual and purpose.
The Science

There is growing evidence that cognition is more malleable that once thought, and that lifestyle, non-invasive interventions, and invasive interventions all play a role in augmenting or maintaining cognitive abilities. With that context, technology-based assessments and training tools may be an important part of the overall mix.

Computerized programs have been found to be an efficient and scalable way to assess and train a range of specific cognitive skills. However, they have not been found to be "general solutions" that can address all cognitive priorities for everyone. Consumers and professionals need to make informed decisions about which, if any, tools may be worth trying without falling prey to manufacturers' inflated claims or negating the value of those tools as a general principle.
We asked thirteen leading scientists to examine the state of the research, and emerging implications, in five areas:

The neuroprotective value of cognitive activity in general: this is well established through a variety of long-term epidemiological studies.

The importance of using cognitive assessments as predictors of driving safety: driving may well become one of the major areas where cognitive assessments and training can play a significant role in the next few years. Update: in July 2009, AAA announced a new initiative to deploy Posit Science's DriveSharp to Assess and Train Older Driver's Brains

The value of computerized cognitive training targeting working memory, auditory processing, visual processing: a growing amount of published evidence shows the clear benefits, and the limitations, from different training approaches.

The cognitive effects of action and strategy videogames: it is impossible to answer the question "are videogames good or bad" without clarifying a) which videogames, b) good or bad for what? Specific games are showing the kind of benefits that justify educational and health uses.

The need for objective markers: innovative approaches are trying to solve this major bottleneck.
Customer Segments

The demand for brain fitness software presents different dynamics in each of the four main customer segments:

Consumers: "Brain fitness" is quickly becoming a mainstream cultural phenomenon - with all of the opportunities and challenges that this development represents. On the one hand, it was time for adults of all ages to start paying more attention to the impact of lifestyle options on cognitive health, including the potential usefulness of new tools beyond crossword puzzles and Sudoku, driven by recent scientific findings such as adult neuroplasticity and the cognitive reserve. On the other hand, the overwhelming amount of superficial media coverage and aggressive claims is creating significant confusion among consumers, and skepticism among researchers and healthcare professionals.

Healthcare and Insurance Providers: A good number of innovators are actively testing and incorporating a variety of brain fitness tools, which over time should help better integrate cognitive health issues into mainstream healthcare. Seniors housing operators have quickly been adding cognitive training to their range of health and wellness activities. Insurance companies are running major initiatives aimed at driver safety and improving the accuracy of diagnostics. Drug companies are adding cognitive testing to their trials. Growing evidence is supporting the use of specific cognitive interventions in clinical conditions such as attention deficits and stroke/traumatic brain injury, among others.

K12 School Systems: Despite growing potential, there were few meaningful market developments in this segment in 2008. Revenues and the competitive landscape were basically stagnant. It is in the applied research area where we are starting to see seeds of potential future growth, given emerging evidence that cognitive training does not only contribute to cognitive development but, when directed appropriately, can also impact academic performance in subjects like math and reading.

Military, Sports Teams, Corporate:
Three of the trends we identified last year, including baseline assessments, training to improve performance, and applications for the aging population, continued and grew significantly in 2008. First, the US Army introduced a new policy requiring mandatory computer-based cognitive baselines for soldiers before deployment, in order to better identify the extent of potential brain damage such as Traumatic Brain Injury. Second, the USA Hockey League partnered to develop a new cognitive simulation training to improve the performance of hockey players. Third, the Conference Board and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives launched a booklet and website to raise awareness about cognitive fitness issues among large corporations.
Future Directions

Innovative partnerships will be required to transform the growing amount of mainstream interest and research findings into a rational, interdisciplinary, and sustainable approach to brain/ neurocognitive fitness. There are no "magic pills" or "general solutions" but there are useful tools when used appropriately. Better information, assessments, taxonomies and integrated research efforts are required for the field to mature. The priorities are not the same for all individuals, or for all objectives (such as safer driving, preventing Alzheimer's symptoms, improving memory). The field holds much promise, but the picture is complex.

We continue to predict that between now and 2015 brain fitness will become a mainstream concept, consumers and professionals will be able to leverage better tools, and that a growing ecosystem will enable this opportunity.

The key question, of course, is how much value will computerized cognitive assessment and training tools deliver in the real world? The US brain fitness software market may grow to be between $1 billion to $5 billion by 2015. Whether the market reaches the high end of that range or stays closer to the lower end depends on how the whole field addresses the most important problems.

When asked "What is most important problem in the field?" respondents to our survey prioritized Public Awareness (39%), Navigating claims (21%), Research (15%), Healthcare Culture (14%), Lack of Assessment (6%), and Other (5%). We believe that in years to come we will see progress in all those areas, and a deeper understanding of "Who needs what when?", the most important unanswered question so far.
The Webinar

Webinar IconOn Tuesday September 29th, we will host a 90-minute webinar to review the findings of the report in more depth (60-minutes) and discuss our clients' perspectives and questions (30-minutes).

Time: Tuesday September 29th, 9am Pacific Time/ noon Eastern Time.

To order the report and access report and webinar, click Here. (only $975 -a 25% discount- using Discount Code Frontiers2009 before September 28th).

To preview several pages of the report, click Here. To view an infographic, click Here.

If you are an existing client, we will contact you directly with Registration details.
Have a stimulating rest of the summer,
-The SharpBrains Team