Scientific Brain Fitness Program
With the myriad of choices available, what brain fitness exercises are the right fit for you? The team at SharpBrains created a 10-point criteria checklist to help you evaluate and build a brain training program. Here is a summary about how the program at HAPPYneuron supports these ten points.
- Are there scientists, ideally neuropsychologists, and a scientific advisory board behind the program?
- HAPPYneuron is founded by, and based on the research of, scientists and neuropsychologists. Dr. Bernard Croisile is a respected neurologist and neuroscientist with an international reputation for his research on aging and cognition. Dr. Michel Noir is a cognitive psychologist and chief scientific advisor. HAPPYneuron continues to add scientific advisors specializing in the area of neuroscience to its team of researchers. Please refer here for information about our scientific team.
- Are there published, peer-reviewed scientific papers in PubMed written by those scientists? How many?
- Dr. Croisile has over 40 peer-reviewed scientific papers in neuroscience
and neurology that are indexed by PubMed, and those represent only a fraction
of his scientific publications. Some other of his publications can be found
on other scientific and medical databases. Below are some examples of his
publications pertaining to cognitive training:
Croisile, B. (2006). Memory stimulation. Which scientific benefits? Which exercises? Revue de Gériatrie; (31), 421-433. (French Geriatrics Journal).
Croisile, B. (2002). How to train memory? Value of a CD-ROM and a play station. Soins Gerontologie, Jul-Aug; (36), 38-9.
- What are the specific benefits claimed for using this program?
- The benefits from the program are many. The HAPPYneuron program comprises more than 35 games that strengthen the five major cognitive brain functions of memory, attention, language, executive function, and visual and spatial skills. Attention, memorization techniques, processing speed, visual memory, abstract critical thinking, visuo-spatial orientation may all improve over time, depending what cognitive function is targeted. HAPPYneuron users have experienced an average of 16% cognitive improvement after playing 20 an average of 20 minutes, 3 times a week over a 21 week period.
- According to a number of scientific studies, certain mental exercises can offset some of the expected decline in older adults' thinking skills and show promise for maintaining cognitive abilities needed to do everyday tasks such as shopping, driving, making meals and handling finances.
- A growing body of research supports the protective effects of intellectual stimulation. Also, recent research indicates that neural plasticity endures across the lifespan, and that cognitive stimulation in the environment is an important predictor of enhancement and maintenance of cognitive functioning, even in old age. Moreover, sustained engagement in cognitively stimulating activities has been found to impact neural structures.
- Does the program tell me what part of my brain or which cognitive skill I am exercising, and is there an independent assessment to measure my progress?
- Yes. A full informational page exists for each game that outlines the game description and objective, the cognitive function exercised, including which parts of the brain are stimulated) and the associated benefits to daily life. An additional benefit for HAPPYneuron members is access to an online virtual "coach" who recommends personal brain workouts based on your usage,performance and preferance. Uniquely at HAPPYneuron, we provide a personal coach who tracks your performance on specific skills and provides a progress record of your strengths and challenges for each cognitive function. Use the coach to see what you've accomplished and where you need to work harder. In addition, you can compare your own achievement levels and progression with other players of the same gender, age and education level:
ANALYZE: Analysis is performed based on age, gender and education level. COMPARE: Scores are compared to others in a similar demographic group. Personal coaching continually improves over time as algorithms improve with data collected. REPORT: Report performance to users. ADVISE: Suggests specific (class of) games to ensure comprehensive brain workout. Provides tips for performance improvement and application to every day life.
- Is it a structured program with guidance on how many hours per week and days per week to use it?
- The HAPPYneuron approach is to provide a balance of variety and complexity with challenging activities that cross train an array of critical cognitive skills. Dr. Croisile recommends playing a minimum of 20 minutes, 3 times a week for best results. The number of hours you play is your own choice but we encourage you to set aside time every day to engage your brain in at least one of the following three ways: 1) try something new in the diversity of games available, 2) increase your skills in those areas where you need more training, and 3) maintain your strength in areas where you are doing well. Much like physical exercise, a regular program made up of different training areas makes for a well-rounded workout and is optimal for your brain health.
- Do the exercises vary and teach me something new?
- This is a key strength of HAPPYneuron over other scientific brain training programs. HAPPYneuron offers a variety of games - 35 to date, with more coming online every month. With thousands of hours of unique game play, the total brain training program makes maximizing mental agility both challenging and fun, and there's always something new to experience.
- Does the program challenge and motivate me, or does it feel like it would become easy once I learned it?
- We all enjoy conquering a task and then moving to a more complex one. HAPPYneuron Adapts as You Improve. The way to improve is to continually challenge yourself. As you develop your abilities, HAPPYneuron will automatically adapt to your progress and present ever increasing challenges. It is satisfying to succeed quickly and effortlessly, but the key to creating new neural pathways and keeping your mind sharp is to challenge yourself and “push the envelope”. You’ll see our recommendations highlighted by a yellow star as you start each new game. The yellow star designates the level of challenge we believe you are capable of, based on our scientific analysis of your past performance. Of course, some days you may want to return to a familiar exercise and so you can always elect to override our advice and select an easier level that will lead you to quick success. You always have that option.
- Does the program fit my personal goals?
- HAPPYneuron emphasizes numerous skills with exciting games where you can choose your own path to reach your personal goals. Whether your personal goal is to embark on a daily 30 minute program or just on a casual basis, Happy Neuron always offers something new. Our cognitive functions thrive and improve when we're faced with new ideas, events and challenges. Happy Neuron's unique and innovative games provide new experiences to engage our brains in diverse and novel ways.
- Does the program fit my lifestyle?
- If you believe in a guided brain fitness program that is easily accessible, flexible, stimulating, beneficial and entertaining all in one, then the HAPPYneuron program may be the best choice for you. An online solution allows you to fit your cognitive training wherever you have access to an internet connection. HAPPYneuron CDs enable offline play as well.
- Am I ready and willing to do the program, or would it be too stressful?
- It's all about engaging in enjoyable and productive activities that can benefit your mental health long-term. It is never too late to start. We recommend you try our free games or sign up for a full free trial membership and see if the program supports all the points made above and more importantly, will be beneficial - and engaging - to you.