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We Need a Global Consortium For Brain Fitness and Training Innovation

The World Economic Forum asked me to write “an 800 words summary of your most compelling actionable idea on the challenges of aging and gerontology”, in preparation for the Inaugural Summit of the Global Agenda taking place November 7 to 9th in Dubai.

Here you have my proposal to create a Global Consortium for Brain Fitness and Training Innovation and help ensure that “No Brain is Left Behind”:

I. The Context

- Growing Demands on Our Brains: Picture 6.7 billion Primitive Brains inhabiting a Knowledge Society where lifelong learning and mastering constant change in complex environments are critical for productive work, health and personal fulfillment.

Welcome to Planet Earth, 2008.

- Further stretched by increased longevity: Now picture close to 1 billion of those brains over the age of 60 – and please remember that, less than 100 years ago, life expectancy was between 30 to 40 years. The rapidly evolving Knowledge Society is placing new and enormous demands on our “primitive” human brains. And the longer our lifespans, the more obvious the “cognitive gap”. Hence, from a health point of view, the growing prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease and its precursor Mild Cognitive Impairment. And, from a workplace point of view, the perception that older workers can’t learn new tricks, and are to be substituted by younger employees as soon as practical.

- Significance of lifelong neuroplasticity: The good news is that substantive brain research is showing how our brains retain lifelong neuroplasticity (the ability of our brains to rewire themselves responding to experience), how they can physically be strengthened -via the Cognitive/ Brain Reserve- and its functions enhanced, opening the way to slow-down if not reverse the cognitive decline that often comes with age. Use it and Improve It may be more accurate than Use It or Lose It, and help close the growing cognitive gap. Humans can become the gardeners of our own brains by focusing on four pillars: a balanced diet, cardiovascular physical exercise, stress management and brain exercise that incorporates well-directed novelty, variety and challenge.

- Cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology are ready to step up: a growing number of research-based frameworks and applications present clear mainstream opportunities, yet they are often misunderstood, since they are presented in fragmentary and confusing ways. Think about the potential for having an annual “mental check-up” that helps set up a baseline and identify appropriate interventions. Think about being able to pinpoint specific needs and enhance, in non-invasive ways, specific neurocognitive functions, such as visual and auditory processing speed, working memory, executive functions, emotional self-regulation, attention.

II. The Problem

- We need bridges: There seems to be multiple areas of disconnect between gerontology, preventive healthcare overall, cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology. Innovative and collaborative partnerships will be required to transform the growing amount of mainstream interest and research findings into a rational, interdisciplinary, and sustainable approach to neurocognitive fitness.

- Growing confusion among consumers and professionals: there are no “magic pills” or “general solutions”, but very useful tools when used appropriately. Better assessments, taxonomies and integrated research efforts are required for the field to mature. Some brain functions tend to improve as we age, whereas some tend to decline. For example, as executives tackle many difficult situations over time, we grow an “intuition” (or crystallized pattern-recognition) for best approaches. As long as the environment does not change too rapidly, we can continue to accumulate wisdom. But some areas of mental functioning typically decline. We usually see this in areas that test our capacity to learn and adapt to new environments, such as effortful problem-solving in novel situations, processing speed, working memory, and attention. Research has shown that all these areas can be enhanced in older brains. But the priorities are not the same for all individuals, or for all objectives (safer driving, preventing Alzheimer’s symptoms, improving memory…) In summary, the field holds much promise, but the picture is complicated.

III. The Opportunity

- A Global Consortium for Brain Fitness and Training Innovation composed of 100 leading universities, policy-makers, healthcare/ insurance providers and developers of technology-based neurocognitive assessments and training tools can provide the taxonomy, guidance and structure required to guide applications of cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology in gerontology and geriatrics -and healthcare overall.

- A transparent online presence could facilitate the engagement of professionals and the public at large. Especially, yes, of brains over 60.

- Outcomes:

1) Best practices: to share best practices in preventive brain health education, seniors housing, hospital-based programs, insurance-led initiatives, public policy efforts.

2) Standards: to define standards for neurocognitive assessments and training tools,

3) Taxonomy: to establish a common taxonomy and language,

4) Education: to engage professionals and the public at large in well-informed “brain maintenance”,

5) Policy readiness: to anticipate policy implications and improve readiness,

6) Research path: to propose a research and applications path.

Copyright (c) 2008 SharpBrains

Education And Choosing The Right Course Online

In this global world, getting qualified educationally is one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to achieve success. It is a proven fact that graduates end up making great career choices that provide them with not only a means to earn their livelihood, but also a sense of self-accomplishment and happiness about their role in the society. Naturally, graduates are major contributors towards innovation and the betterment of human existence. Therefore choosing to take up a graduation course can be one of the most gratifying things you can ever do. Not only would you be empowering yourself, but would also contribute to your nation as well as the world. Here are some of the great courses that are offered by institutions.

Business administration courses provide you with a skill set that is practically required by every industry in the world. No matter what the type of business is, it would definitely need capable business administrators who are well aware of management strategies and can use it effectively to manage the business. This 2 year graduation course will also equip you with essential leadership skills such as decision making, analytically thinking, and communication skills. This course is a highly versatile one and job opportunities for BBA graduates are quite plenty. BBA would be perfect for anyone who would want to make themselves a career in this global world of businesses.

Computer Science Courses
As we all know, today is the age of computers and technology. Hence a course in this field would be of much requirement in times to come. Computer science B.Sc. is a great choice that would train you in the field of programming and networking. With some looking around, you could find a great institution that would enable you to be certified by internationally recognized universities such as the UK’s University of Hertfordshire. Such a graduate degree could help you with a satisfying career anywhere in the world. Some institutions enable you to complete this course in a part time schedule which could be quite beneficial to many.

Human Resource Courses
Human Resource is comparatively a newer field that has applications in every box of life and business. All businesses make use of human resource, and hence a graduate specializing in human resource management wouldn’t have a tough time landing a great job. This course would educate and train you on the various aspects of human resources of an organization, and the strategies and policies which enable the smooth functioning of the entire organization in relation to its human resources. There are institutions in that offer B.A., B.B.A and even M.B.A in this field and are surely worth checking out.

Tips for Recruiting and Training Pharmaceutical Representatives

Is Biopharma Missing the Mark on Recruiting and Training Sales Representatives?

In 2011 81% of physicians surveyed said they wanted Higher Quality Sales Representatives. Higher Quality means sales representatives who were better educated and trained, more experienced and consultative and competent when discussing clinical studies. This issue will focus on two things you can do to improve the perception doctors have of pharmaceutical and medical sales representatives, Recruiting and Training.

Over the past decade biopharma has been focused on recruitment of new sales representatives with the objective of winning the “share of voice” or “arms” race. Many people believe we have sacrificed quality for quantity. Years ago we used to hire nurses, pharmacists and nutritionists as sales representatives who had extensive clinical backgrounds.

Now that the “Arms” race is over, it is time to begin to hire representatives with more clinical expertise. There are a lot of reps with prior pharma experience to choose from now so make sure you determine during the interview if the candidate possesses a knowledge of understanding and presenting clinical data and discussing evidence based medicine.

A good way to do this is to ask the candidate to speak extensively on their previous product and look for depth of disease state knowledge. Determine if they understand treatments other than their own and if they can discuss clinical data.

While the biopharma industry is known for rigorous training, our current methods are lacking. Physicians are willing and eager to see representatives who provide value by expanding their focus beyond product to include disease state knowledge and clinical research.

It can be as simple as understanding clinical problems your products can solve and discovering which problems the doctor is experiencing. The percent of doctors wanting more discussion of clinical studies has risen from 80% in 2005 to 89% in 2011.

This leads us to believe that the industry has not improved on this measurement, rather we are getting worse. I suggest a return to the basics of presenting clinical studies the way they are set up in the study abstract. Each study abstract is organized according to the SOAP communication format.

Biopharma may be missing the mark on recruiting and training sales representatives who are competent at discussing clinical studies and evidenced based medicine, but this can be reversed by improving the way we recruit and train new sales professionals we hire into this industry. It is up to us to give doctors what they want and need in industry representatives.