Brain Games

Every day, millions of people around the world sign on to apps like Lumosity, Elevate, and a fleet of other programs that promise to increase a user’s focus, memory, and mental performance. Though most previous studies have found these apps’ brain enhancing claims to be dubious (at best), that hasn’t prevented them from garnering enormous and passionate followings. Lumosity has been downloaded over 35 million times from the Apple app store alone. The brain-training industry - which also includes Cogmed, Neuronation, and other cranialnyms - is now valued


Are we getting dumber?

Or just dumber at how we measure brain health?

There have been several articles lately describing the demise of contemporary brain health relative to how “smart” we were 100-150 years ago. Could our brains be decreasing in functional capacity? Has intelligence gone down over the past several decades? We’ll avoid any politically motivated discussions and think about whether there is any data that supports this. We won't discuss whether there is a degenerative process ongoing in the school systems, but rather focus on the data that has been collected


How does the sense of touch differ from all other senses?

Vision and audition do not have the affective influence that somatosensation does.

If you take a quick survey of the number of publications on different sensory systems, you’ll quickly notice that there are about 100 times as many papers published on vision as there are on somatosensation. Vision does, after all, take up about 30% of cerebral cortex and the somatosensory cortex, the region that deals with the sense of touch, only takes up about 8%. This is one reason that many people like to test brain health visually


Problems with concussion testing in sports

Most currently available concussion tests rely on baseline scores. At the beginning of the season, athletes complete an assessment to establish their baseline cognitive health. When an athlete sustains a head injury or shows symptoms of a concussion, a trainer or coach administers the test again and compares the two sets of scores. If the post-injury scores are substantially lower than the baseline results, athletes are removed from play.

At first glance, this approach seems reasonable. Everyone's brain is different, so by comparing a potentially concussed individual to that individual's


Fractal patterns in the brain

Why the Brain Gauge can detect even the smallest neurological changes

One of the chapters of my dissertation discussed the functional organization of mini-columns - the brain's smallest functional groups of neurons. Each mini-column is made up of a vertical array that runs from Layer 1 (outermost cells) to Layer 6 (innermost cells) in the cortex. Though these groupings can be difficult to study - a typical minicolumn is about 1/5 the thickness of a human hair - they can give crucial insight into the overall organization of the


Alzheimer’s and Diabetes: Cause or Effect?

Alzheimer’s is often called “diabetes type 3” because there appears to be a correlation between the two disorders.

After first identifying amyloid β plaques and tau tangles in the brain of a deceased patient in the early 1900’s, Alois Alzheimer was careful to not infer that these structures had caused the dementia in the patient. Until recently, most of the research (at least by drug companies) has been aimed at finding ways to reverse the accumulation, or at least stop the spread of these structures. While drugs have


TBI, TBI severity and dementia: what is the relationship?

There has been enormous speculation recently about how repetitive concussions could lead to dementia and/or early Alzheimer’s (or Alzheimer like symptoms). Loss of brain function with repetitive blows to the head does not seem like it would be debatable, but many hesitate to take a stand on it because of “lack of evidence”. After all, it could just be coincidence that people get dementia in their late 40s or early 50s after a long career in a sport or activity that repetitively causes glial damage without having time


Why the Brain Gauge works for people of all ages

Cortical metrics stay within normative range for a large age spectrum – as long as people stay healthy.
We often get asked whether age-related declines in skin sensitivity can affect your Brain Gauge scores. This is a legitimate concern, as confounding factors in the peripheral nervous system can invalidate many neurological tests. If peripheral sensory receptors are transmitting weak or noisey signals in response to a certain stimulus, the test will fail to effectively activate the central nervous system. Fortunately, we kept this issue in mind during our research and development,


Concussion Study Update

A summary of the results from an ongoing concussion study.


Summary of previous report: Our brain health assessment system is composed of a test device (the Brain Gauge; above) and a number of tests that task different mechanisms of information processing (e.g., lateral inhibition, adaptation, feed-forward inhibition, neuron-glial interactions). The results of these tests are then used to generate an overall performance score (or cortical metric). Sports concussion studies using this technology and protocols have established efficacy for detecting mTBI and tracking its recovery, demonstrating a 99% confidence level


Case study: Promising Results with Pre-Parkinson's Disease

Brain Gauge data from treatment of one of Dr. Phil Schalow’s patients with pre-Parkinson’s

We’ve been busy getting ready to launch the Brain Gauge, but meanwhile, there's lots of great news from our users of the Brain Gauge Pro to report on……we’ll do our best to catch up by having several newsletters in the next few weeks.

In the last post, we highlighted Timing Perception and told you which scientific findings related to it. In brief, a simple measure of timing perception (or duration