WASHINGTON, May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- To help clarify the confusing media controversies on whether "brain training" actually works, a new book by independent market research company SharpBrains outlines five key conditions required for brain training to work, based on the analysis of hundreds on scientific studies.
"Brain training is rapidly becoming an important tool in our brain health and mental health toolkit," says Alvaro Fernandez, CEO of SharpBrains and co-author of The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Optimize Brain Health and Performance at Any Age. "We need to help consumers and professionals understand its value and its limitations. If something claims to be brain training, but doesn't meet these five conditions, then it's not credible brain training to start with."
Misha Pavel, Ph.D., Program Director of Smart Health and Wellbeing at the National Science Foundation, adds, "Although there is no 'final word' on this nascent topic, an important transformation is underway that people need to be aware of and prepared for. This new book is a great start."
The most critical factor in determining whether a brain training method works is the extent to which the training "transfers" to benefits in daily life. Building on an analysis of documented examples of brain training techniques that "work" or "transfer," the new SharpBrains Guide outlines five conditions that must be met for brain training to translate into meaningful real-world improvements:
- The training must engage and exercise a core brain-based capacity that is relevant to real-life outcomes, such as executive attention, working memory, speed of processing and emotional regulation. Many supposed "brain training" games fail to provide any actual "brain training" because they were never really designed to target specific and relevant brain functions.
- It must target a real performance bottleneck – otherwise it is an exercise in vanity similar to building the largest biceps while neglecting crucial muscle groups.
- A minimum "dose" of 15 hours total per targeted brain function, performed over 8 weeks or less, is necessary for real improvement. Training only a few hours across a wide variety of brain functions will not deliver real-world benefits.
- Training must adapt to performance, require effortful attention, and increase in difficulty. This is often a key advantage of computerized "brain training" over pen-and-paper-based options.
- Continued practice is required for continued benefits. The same as you wouldn't expect to derive lifelong benefits from running a few hours this month and then never exercising again, brain training cannot be sporadic and still be effective. While the minimum dose is just that—a minimum threshold that begins to produce benefits—continued practice, either at a reduced number of hours or as a periodic "booster," is the final condition for transfer to real-world benefits over time.
The SharpBrains Guide describes in detail specific protocols of the four brain training methodologies that meet these conditions –meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback and cognitive training—and reviews the leading computerized brain training programs based on published evidence and an independent customer satisfaction survey conducted in 2012 with over 3,000 respondents.
To learn more about the SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness, or buy the book now, visit www.sharpbrains.com/book/ or any book retailer such as Amazon.com and bn.com.
About The SharpBrains Guide
The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Optimize Brain Health and Performance at Any Age" (284 pages; April 2013) is a user-friendly, how-to guide that cuts through the clutter of media hype and confusing research, offering proven, practical tips and techniques that anyone can use to enhance and maintain cognitive, emotional and executive functions throughout life and even ward off cognitive decline. The book is published by SharpBrains, an independent market research firm and think tank tracking health and well-being applications of brain science. Kirkus Reviews found the book to be "a stimulating, challenging resource, full of solid information and practical tips for improving brain health." The book is available now at SharpBrains.com, Amazon.com and everywhere books are sold in paperback and e-book.