The company was founded by Dr. Oscar Ybarra from the University of Michigan, a published researcher on cognitive function. Dr. Ybarra is an expert on brain fitness and has been engaged directly with breakthroughs in this area. His research has been reported, for example, in the New York Times, L.A. Times, U.S. News & World Report, ABC News, the Wall Street Journal, the Discovery Channel, Health Magazine, WebMD, and many other outlets around the world. In addition, Dr. Ybarra has been featured in the industry guide’s to brain fitness, Sharp Brains, and the PBS television special, Smarter Brains.
Dr. Ybarra has done extensive research measuring cognitive functioning and how it relates to 6 lifestyle factors. He has conducted research with over 7,000 participants to better determine the different factors (there isn’t just one!) that predict better cognitive function.
SharpMind Solutions is the commercial outgrowth of that research and puts the academic research to work in a practical and fun setting.
Current Thinking on Changing One’s Capacities
“Use it or lose it,” “cognitive plasticity,” and “neuroplasticity” are terms that come up when talking about how to keep one’s brain fit and mind sharp. The idea is that the more you actively use your mind, for example, by attempting new mental challenges such as learning a new language, acquiring a new hobby, or learning to play a musical instrument, you continue to “use” your brain and that helps to keep it sharp.
Actively using your brain and mind can do more than just help maintain your current mental performance; it many times leads to growth, for example, in improved mental abilities such as better focus and memory and in the transformation of one’s brain, as new brain cells can be created or form new connections with other brain cells.
In addition to using your brain and mind (what is referred to as mental engagement), neuroscientific research indicates that five other factors are critical for staying mentally sharp. Together these 6 factors serve as foundations of the Sharp Mind and make up what we call the Life EcoSystem. They include:
- social-relational wellbeing
- physical exercise
- sleep quality
- stress levels
- mental engagement
At SharpMind Solutions, we think computer games can be fun and some even helpful in the quest to use one’s brains and not lose current capabilities. But we also recognize how complex life is and that a Sharp Mind relies on a whole Life EcoSystem.
This means that our brains and minds are influenced by several behaviors and recurring experiences in our lives, so knowing how we are doing on all of them is critical to giving us a clearer picture of our brain health. At SharpMind Solutions we thus take a holistic approach to brain fitness. If you want to get a sense of your individual mental sharpness profile, where you stand in relation to others, what you can do to change, how your employees compare to those in peer organizations, or where health plan members need some help, give SharpMind Solutions a try.