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I had the fortune to join over 1,900 innovators from 90 countries at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Tianjin, China, to discuss how innovation can improve the state of the world. last month
Throughout a huge selection of workshops, panels, private assemblies and social gatherings, we analyzed how to cope with climate change, how you can invest in public infrastructure, how to better control financial services, and heaps of other urgent matters. In addressing these problems, everyone -- independent of nationality or discipline - brought to the table our most precious asset: the astounding Human Brain.
During captivating and stimulating sessions we investigated the newest frontiers in neuroscience. A prominent focus was around how emerging neurotechnologies, including those empowered by the White House BRAIN Initiative, can help revolutionize our understanding of the brain as well as the mind and record brain activity in unprecedented detail and, thus, detect.
In parallel, high ranking government officials and wellness experts convened to brainstorm about how exactly to "maximize healthy life years." The conversation revolved around physical health and promoting positive lifestyles, but was largely silent on the issues of cognitive or mental health. The brain, that vital advantage everyone has to learn, problem solve and make good-choices, and also the associated cognitive neurosciences where much progress has happened over the last two decades, are still largely absent from the health agenda.
What if existing brain research and non invasive neurotechnologies might be employed to improve public health and well-being? How can we start building bridges that are better from present science and the technologies towards wards that are tackling real world health challenges we are facing?
Good news is that the transformation has already been underway, albeit under the radar. As William Gibson eloquently said, "The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly spread." Individuals and associations worldwide are likely to spend over $1.3 billion in 2014 in web-based, mobile and biometrics-based solutions to evaluate and enhance brain function. Increase fueled by emerging mobile, is poised to continue and noninvasive neurotechnologies, and by patient and consumer demands for self-powered, proactive brain care. For example, 83% of studied early-adopters agree that "adults of ages should take charge of the own brain fitness, without waiting for his or her physicians to tell them to" and "would personally require a brief appraisal each year as an annual mental check-up."
These are 10 priorities to contemplate, if we should improve wellness, well-being & based about the most recent neuroscience and non-invasive neurotechnology:
1. Transform the mental health framework, from a constellation of analyses for example anxiety, depression, ADHD...to the identification and strengthening of the specific brain circuits ("cells that fire together wire together") that may be deficient. This really is what the Research Domain Criteria framework, set forth by the National Institute of Mental Health, is beginning to do.
2. Bring meditative practices to the mainstream, via school-based and corporate programs, and leveraging relatively-inexpensive biometric systems
3. Coopt pervasive activities, such as playing videogames...but in a way that ensures they have a favorable effect, such as with cognitive training games created specifically to prolong cognitive energy as we age
4. Offer internet-based psychotherapies as first-line interventions for depression and anxiety (and likely sleeplessness), as recommended by the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
5. Surveil the negative cognitive and psychological side effects from a number of health interventions, to ensure unintentional effects in the cure are not afflictive than the treated individual's initial state. Given that the US Food and Drug Administration just cleared an innovative mobile brain health assessment, what prevents wider use of baseline assessments and active monitoring of cognition as an individual begins a particular treatment program or drug?
6. Combine pharmacological interventions (bottom up) with cognitive training (top-down) such as the CogniFit - Bayer venture for patients with Multiple Sclerosis
7. Start-up Thync just raised $13 million to market transcranial stimulation in 2015, helping users "change their state of mind."
8. Invest more research dollars to fine-tune brain stimulation methods, including transcranial magnetic stimulation, to empower truly personalized medicine.
9. Adopt big data research models, like the newly-declared UCSF Brain Health Registry, to leapfrog the present clinical trial model that was modest and move us closer towards delivering personalized, integrated brain care.
10. And, last but certainly not least, encourage bilingual instruction and physical exercise in our schools, and reduce drop out rates. Improving and enriching our schools is probably the most powerful social intervention (and the first non invasive neurotechnology) to develop lifelong brain reserve and delay issues brought by cognitive aging, японска диета and dementia.
If we need every citizen to embrace lifestyles that are more positive, particularly as we face longer and more demanding lives, it's imperative that we equip ourselves with the right cognitive and mental resources and tools and better empower. Initiatives such as for example those above are an important start treat and to view the human brain as an asset to invest in across the complete human lifespan, and also to actually optimize years of practical, healthy and purposeful living.
Existing bridges strengthen -- and build needed new ones -- to enhance our collective well-being and well-being.