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This Is The Only Type Of Brain Training That Works, According To Science – Fast Company

There are dozens of apps and online courses that claim their brain training can make you more mentally agile, but theres usually little scientific evidence to back up those claims. While the FDA does approve certain brain training programs aimed to treat specific medical disorders, such as Alzheimers, and the FTC goes after false advertising claimsas it did when Lumonsity made claims not supported by sciencetheres also no industry body that certifies brain training programs, which is a problem for both the field and consumers, according to Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science.

Right now, theres no group that specifically reviews brain training programs and says based on the science, these ones have been shown to work in these ways, and these other ones have not been shown to work, says Mahncke. It would be very helpful to people to have this kind of resourceits challenging for a lay person to wade through the hundreds of scientific papers and figure out which brain training programs are evidence-based and which arent.

Thats why a group of Australian scientists undertook a systematicreview of what studies have been published of commercially available brain training programs in an attempt to give consumers and doctors credible information on which brain training programs are actually scientifically proved to workif any. Unfortunately, of the 18 different computerized brain training programs marketed to healthy older adults that were studied, 11 had no peer reviewed published evidence of their efficacy and of the seven that did, only two of those had multiple studies, including at least one study of high qualityBrainHQ and Cognifit. And of those, just one had multiple high-quality studies: Mahnckes BrainHQ program.

That study, along with other similar ones, shows that most brain training only make you better at the exercises themselves, and dont carry those gains over to your real-world concentration, productivity, or mental acuity.

But there is good news. Science does show that some brain training programs do work. So which ones? As the Australian study showed, Mahnckes BrainHQ and competitor Cognifit actually do have a real benefit. Because both are based on brain training that is focused on improving processing speedthe speed and accuracy with which the brain processes information. Mahncke says this type of training focuses on the visual system: You see an image in the center of your visionfor example, either a car or a truckand at the same time, you see another image way off in your peripheral vision. The images are only on the screen for a brief period of timewell under a second. You then have to say whether you saw the car or the truck in the center of your vision, and then you have to show where you saw the image in your peripheral vision. This challenges the speed and the accuracy of your visual system. And as you get faster and more accurate, the speed increases and the peripheral vision task gets more demandingpushing your brain further.

As your visual system is continually challenged by these specific tests, your brain will adapt through a process known as neuroplasticity. At its core purpose, the brain wants to resolve things. It is constantly moving from the particular to the big picture and back again, Mahncke says. As the brain works to put the big picture together it goes through neuroplastic changes in order to do so (neuro = brain, and plastic = the ability to undergo structural changes).

These plasticity-based changes actually form new neuropathways in your brainliterally changing its shape. The new neuropathways can then be called upon to help you process stimuli beyond just the specific methods used in the brain training exercises. This is why brain training that results in neuroplastic changes works much better than simple memory brain training games, which may help you remember where, for example, the red card is hidden, but wont help you remember the details from that last meeting with your client.

We know that the brain is more plastic when brain chemicals are activated, so the design of these exercises also incorporates attentional demands, novelty, and rewards to activate those chemicals and drive the chemical and physical change that produce the better functional results, says Mahncke. Those brain chemicals also impact mood and learning rates. If you think about it, what you do, pretty much every waking moment, should be positively affected by a faster and more accurate brain.

The result, as the science has shown, says Mahncke, is that people who undertake plasticity-based brain training programs notice feeling sharper, quicker, and more able to notice the important details of everyday lifelike what someone says in a noisy restaurant, or whats happening at the edge of your peripheral vision, or what all seven digits of that phone number were.

But what if you dont feel like undertaking scientifically proven brain training programs like BrainHQ and Cognifit? Mahncke says that you can prime your brain for and spur it into plastic changes by challenging yourself in everyday life. Here are his four tips how to do that:

Just doing the same old stimulating thing over and over again doesnt challenge the brain to rewire itself, Mahncke says. If youve been doing crossword puzzles for 10 years, pick something newand really differentand work at it 2-3 hours per week, even though it will be hard. My mom started harpsichord lessonsand practiced a lot! It was great for her brain: the speed and accuracy of listening and finger movements are a good form of brain exerciseand everyone in my family enjoyed having music in the house!

Dont want to switch up your hobbies or learn a new musical instrument? No problem, just get out there and travel. Travel is a great way to challenge your brain to learn and changeeverything from buying a loaf of bread to finding your way home is new and different. But if you cant afford to jet to Italy as a form of brain training, then take new paths in your own neighborhood, Mahncke says. Find a new way to the grocery store, or the long way to your favorite park. Focus on noticing new landmarks, different sounds (and smells?) and putting together and more detailed mental map of your own neighborhood. As soon as a route gets familiar, find a new oneevery few days. This engages your brains hippocampusthe seat of learning and memory.

Finally, dont forget your body. The National Academies of Science, Engineering & Medicine recently reviewed the data and suggested three things as supported by scientific evidencebrain training (from ACTIVE specificallynot just brain games), physical exercise, and maintaining healthy blood pressure in middle age, says Mahncke. In other words, its going to be harder to maintain a sharp brain if your body is diverting its energy to fighting other elements in your body, like high blood pressure. So avoid consuming too much salt and get out there for a walk or a runand if you want to work in exercise and brain training in one go, adjust your runs every few days to let your brain discover new paths and routes around your home.

We are at the beginning of a paradigm shift in how we think about brain health. As with any major paradigm shift in science, things may seem confusing for a while. Headlines will scream about some major breakthroughs in cognitive performance from plasticity-based brain training. This will seem to be followed within the month by headlines screaming about some other study seemingly showing the opposite. In fact, what you are experiencing is scientists rather messily trying to separate the wheat from the chaff, says Mahncke.

Some brain training has been repeatedly shown to work. If you sort through it, youll find that is a plasticity-based brain, training developed by knowledgeable and reputable experts. Other brain games have been rushed to market to make a buck, and will fail in serious trials. Its important to realize that not all brain training is the same. Look for products designed by real experts and subjected to peer-reviewed studies, and be wary of those that spend more money on advertising than on research.

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This Is The Only Type Of Brain Training That Works, According To Science – Fast Company

FSU institute contributes to Global Council on Brain Health recommendations – Florida State News

Neil Charness, FSU William G. Chase Professor of Psychology

Florida State Universitys Institute for Successful Longevity was among a number of scientific sources the Global Council on Brain Health relied upon in drafting its new recommendations on enhancing brain health.

In its release of the recommendations, the council, established by AARP and the British organization Age UK, also weighed in on the question of whether brain-training games and software can lead to general improvement in cognition. In a consensus statement released by AARP, the council asserted, There is insufficient evidence that getting better at brain games will improve peoples overall functioning in everyday life.

The consensus statement is consistent with findings reached by institutes director, Neil Charness, and ISL Faculty Affiliate Walter Boot in their critical analyses of existing research.

Charness, FSUs William G. Chase Professor of Psychology, was one of 13 scientists who formulated the recommendations for the Global Council on Brain Health.

These recommendations can be used by individuals, caregivers and health professionals to guide their decisions on what activities and practices can enhance brain health, Charness said.

Based on the scientific evidence, the Global Council on Brain Health concluded that:

These recommendations are strongly supported by scientific research, Charness said.

The council suggested an array of cognitive stimulating activities. It encouraged individuals to:

We want people to find activities that work for them and make those activities a part of their daily lives, Charness said. Brain games can be fun, and it is OK to play the games, but people need to do other activities that research shows make a difference in brain health.

Such activities include pursuing new hobbies and developing new skills. The global council also recommended returning to activities from ones earlier years, such as playing a musical instrument.

Physical activity is equally important, Charness said. If people do nothing else, they should get regular aerobic exercise. It is good for the brain, as well as for general health.

The full recommendations of the Global Council on Brain Health can be found at http://www.globalcouncilonbrainhealth.org.

FSUs Institute for Successful Longevity conducts research into how to live longer, stay active and be fully engaged in life. You can learn more about the institute at http://www.isl.fsu.edu.

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FSU institute contributes to Global Council on Brain Health recommendations – Florida State News

Online Applications Could Make Traditional Resumes, Cover Letters A Thing Of The Past – CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) Texting and playing games on your phone might just be the path to a new job.

As CBS2s Dana Tyler reports, resumes are starting to take a back seat to the latest in online applications.

Meg Nicol is two years out of college and has yet to gain much job experience.

We have a lot to offer companies but its hard when our resumes are so thin, she said. Being able to show someone your raw skills and your raw talent in a very quantitative way is important.

Nicol showed off her potential by playing games on her phone and landed a new job.

Its a way to get at key abilities you might not notice, or be hard to measure, Criteria Corp. CEO Josh Millet said.

Criteria Corp. is a pre-employment testing company. It recently launched Job Flare, an app that uses six different 90 second brain games for candidate assessment.

The games are measuring things like attention to detail, problem solving, critical thinking, and some jobs require quantitative skills as well, Millet said.

Millet says resumes and interviews arent always the best indicator of the person and their real qualifications.

An objective environment where youre judged on your abilities is much fairer to the applicant and its more fun, Millet said.

Launch Pad is another games based application process.

A resume and cover letter, theyre stale, Job Search Ketchum intern Riis Massey-Williams said. On Launch Pad, you can be as vibrant as possible.

The app is used by summer interns at a New York public relations agency.

They introduce themselves in 140 characters, they create a game name and they respond to two fictitious client challenges, Michele Lanza from Ketchum KPIX Job Search Trends said.

Lanza adds this new program allows a broader selection of people a better chance at a coveted position.

It forces people to put more energy into a job application, especially as a student, intern Jade Song said.

At Ladders, a firm that matches professionals with recruiters, CEO Marc Cendella says games boost a candidates profile.

Assessment tests that can accurately and effectively assess the ability of a candidate to do a job are welcome, he said. Theyre welcome in the workforce, theyre welcome in the interview process.

But experts say dont get rid of your resume just yet. Some games will just get you an interview. Youll still need a solid presentation on paper and in person to land the job youre after.

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Online Applications Could Make Traditional Resumes, Cover Letters A Thing Of The Past – CBS New York

Are Prescription Video Games The Next Frontier In Medicine? – BOSS Magazine

The healthcare sector continues making significant advancements, but could the next one be through video games?

According to a new study from the University of California, San Franciscos (UCSF) Neuroscape lab, this unlikely source may be the healthcare sectors next frontier.

Neuroscape Lab

For over a decade, the team at Neuroscape lab has tested video games in hopes of developing supportive methods to treat mood disorders like depression and brain disorders such as Alzheimers disease, ADHD, autism, and others.

Adam Gazzaley, Director at Neuroscape Lab, and his team believe concentrated doses of video games can improve multitasking and memory issues. Additionally, they think schools should use video games to assist children with ADHD.

Gazzaley further suggests that first-person shooter video games like Call of Duty have shown to benefit high cognitive abilities, such as multitasking and focusing for long stretches of time.

There are two ways for people to take back control: modifying behavior or enhancing the brain, said Gazzaley.

Which is why the Neuroscape Lab has partnered with Boston-based tech company Akili to bring their studies to fruition.

Neuroscape Labs Project: EVO

Together, Neuroscape Lab and Akili have developed Project: EVO, a mobile game that could be used someday as a prescription video game for children with ADHD.

The two are seeking to validate the game so it can stand out from other brain-training companies. To do so, Project: EVO must go through the process of being FDA approved.

The project has recently entered the clinical trial phase, which typically lasts one to four years, with only 25 to 30 percent moving onto the final stage.

So while Project: EVO has gotten far, it still has a way to go.

If the does FDA approve the game, it will lead to the U.S.s first ever prescription video game. Moreover, the approval will also bring forth a new and innovative method of treatment: digital medicine.

In addition to this particular game, Neuroscape is working on more video games. One is called Body Brain Trainer, and the other is a still in-development video game called Labyrinth, involving an HTC Vive and a Virtuix Omni platform.

The Pushback and Support

As expected with any innovative development, the concept of video games being medically beneficial has received criticism.

In 2014, a group of 69 scientists and researchers published an open letter in opposition of brain-training video games.

We object to the claim that brain games offer consumers a scientifically grounded avenue to reduce or reverse cognitive decline when there is no compelling scientific evidence to date that they do, said the open letter.

Additionally, Alan Smithers, Director of the Center for Education at the University of Buckingham, disagrees with Gazzaleys studies.

The effectiveness of these studies needs to be judged with some care, said Smithers. He believes the studies are not definitive and should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Interestingly, a group of 120 scientists and researchers issued a dissentin response to the group that stood in oppositionwhere they pointed out that a substantial and growing body of evidence shows that certain cognitive-training regimens can significantly improve cognitive function.

Matt Omernick, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Akili, also spoke about the growing body of evidence mentioned in the dissent.

I think its just that the evidence hasnt been clearly shown yet and thats what were trying to do here, he explained.

Similar Tech Already In Use

While brain-training video games may be a novel concept, it is not the only form in which technology has crept its way into the healthcare sector.

For years now, medical schools have used virtual reality simulators to train their students. This use of technology has become so prominent it is seen as essential to the training process.

This center supplements the hands-on training our students receive during supervised direct patient care and provides a safe environment where they can develop advanced skills critical to starting residency training, said Heidi Chumley, MD, MBA, Executive Dean and Chief Academic Officer at American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC).

AUC just celebrated the opening of their new 6,800 square-foot simulation and education center, which employs virtual reality to enhance surgical skills and simulates operating room scenarios as well as patient meetings.

Technology is also currently under development to help simulate the sense of touch during surgeries.

To be able to feel the tissue and the way the instruments feel in your hand would ultimately be the holy grail of what we want to accomplish, said Dr. Brian Gantwerker, MD, Medical Advisor at Level Ex.

And for simulating a disaster, its much better to have a problem in the virtual world and learn how to manage it. This adds a layer of safety and space to learn an instrument.

Here To Stay

The team at Neuroscape is well aware of the controversy surrounding their work with video games and maintain that their efforts stand apart.

Neuroscape tries to reach beyond gamified exercises and create engaging and immersive video game experiences. We are increasingly integrating both cognitive challenges and physical movement, said Gazzaley.

According to The Verges Lauren Goode, they were not far off. Goode reported that the physically challenging video games she tested out were markedly different from just sitting at a computer screen.

Gazzaley remains hopeful that these video games will impact peoples lives positively.

If these games could be used to improve the functions of the brain, we could make a big difference, he said.

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Are Prescription Video Games The Next Frontier In Medicine? – BOSS Magazine

Yoga May Boost Aging Brains – Carlisle Sentinel

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 9, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Older women who practice yoga may have greater “thickness” in areas of the brain involved in memory and attention, a small study suggests.

Researchers found that even compared with other healthy, active women their age, yoga practitioners typically had greater cortical thickness in the brain’s left prefrontal cortex.

That could be good news because, as the researchers pointed out, cognitive impairment from aging is usually associated with less volume in cortical areas of the brain associated with attention tasks, and decreases in memory.

But experts said it’s not clear what conclusions can be drawn from the study’s findings.

The findings are based on one-time brain scans of fewer than 50 women — and they do not prove that yoga, itself, altered anyone’s brain structure, according to senior researcher Elisa Kozasa.

The brain differences might have existed before the women ever tried yoga, said Kozasa, a researcher at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

But the study does add to a bigger body of evidence on yoga and brain function, said Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a researcher who was not involved in the work.

“This contributes to the evidence that yoga practice has neuroplastic effects on the brain that may translate into other health benefits — like better mood and cognition,” said Lavretsky, a professor-in-residence of psychiatry at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine.

“Neuroplasticity” refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize itself and form new connections among cells over the course of a lifetime.

In her own research, Lavretsky has found some evidence that yoga benefits older adults’ brain function.

In a recent pilot study, her team tested the effects of weekly yoga classes among 25 older adults who were showing early signs of memory problems. The participants were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of yoga — which included some movement, breathing practices and meditation — or 12 weeks of “brain games.”

In the end, both groups were doing a little better on standard memory tests, compared with the study’s outset. But the yoga group showed a bigger change.

According to Lavretsky, it’s possible that yoga benefits the brain over time by easing day-to-day stress. Or, she said, yoga practices might have a more direct effect on “brain fitness.”

Kozasa pointed out that yoga involves a “cognitive component,” where practitioners hone their ability to concentrate while consciously holding poses, performing breathing exercises and meditating.

Her team was interested in whether long-time practitioners actually show a difference in their brain structure.

So they performed brain scans of 42 women age 60 and older. Half of the women regularly practiced yoga — for the past 15 years, on average. The rest were healthy and physically active, but did not practice yoga.

Women in both groups also had similarly high education levels.

“Even with those similarities,” Kozasa said, “the yoga group presented a greater cortical thickness in brain regions involved in executive functions such as attention.”

However, there could be other explanations for the findings, Lavretsky said — such as differences in the two groups’ other lifestyle choices, sleep habits, or perceived stress levels.

Kozasa agreed. What’s needed, she said, is a long-term study that charts brain changes in yoga practitioners and non-practitioners over time.

And while some research suggests that yoga boosts memory and attention, it’s not clear whether the practice can curb older adults’ risk of dementia.

“It is too soon to state that yoga can protect your brain against dementia,” Kozasa stressed.

Still, she said, there’s no reason for older adults to delay trying yoga if they are interested.

“If practiced with an experienced instructor, older adults may get benefits from yoga for their mental and physical health,” Kozasa said.

The findings were published online recently in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has more on yoga.

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Yoga May Boost Aging Brains – Carlisle Sentinel

2017 Tennessee Senior Brain Games call for teams: time to compete! – The Tomahawk

The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, in partnership with the nine Area Agencies on Aging and Disability, proudly announces the upcoming season of the Tennessee Senior Brain Games, now in its fifth year. This is an annual, statewide, team-based trivia competition designed to increase public awareness of brain health and its impact on ones quality of life.Interest and participation continues to grow every year. If an older adult organization wants to participate, this is still anyonesany teamscompetition. The only teams without a chance of winning are those that choose not to play.For the next several months, teams will compete within their districts to reach the East, Middle, and West Tennessee semi-finals. The winners of those semi-final rounds will then proceed to Jonesborough, Tennessee on Thursday, October 19, 2017 to take on the Olde Towners from the Jonesborough Senior Center, last years champions. The winning team takes home the cup for a year, earns $2000 for its organization, and gets to host the 2018 championship in their hometown.We all want to stay healthy and independent as we age. To do that, we need to exercise both our bodies and our minds. Ongoing research is helping us learn more about maintaining a healthy brain. While age and family history are risk factors, other things such as diet, exercise, and lifestyle are also believed to have an influence. You can make a difference in the quality of your life by making healthy choices and remaining active.Visit tn.gov/aging for more information about the competition and to register your team for this years Tennessee Senior Brain Games. If you have questions, call Annalea Cothron at 615-770-3901 or email her at annalea.cothron@tn.gov.

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2017 Tennessee Senior Brain Games call for teams: time to compete! – The Tomahawk

2017 Tennessee Senior Brain Games call for teams: Time to compete! – Winchester Herald Chronicle

The Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, in partnership with the nine Area Agencies on Aging and Disability, proudly announces the upcoming season of the Tennessee Senior Brain Games, now in its fifth year.

This is an annual, statewide, team-based trivia competition designed to increase public awareness of brain health and its impact on ones quality of life.

Interest and participation continues to grow every year. If an older adult organization wants to participate, this is still anyonesany teamscompetition. The only teams without a chance of winning are those that choose not to play.

For the next several months, teams will compete within their districts to reach the East, Middle, and West Tennessee semi-finals. The winners of those semi-final rounds will then proceed to Jonesborough, Tennessee on Thursday, October 19, 2017 to take on the Olde Towners from the Jonesborough Senior Center, last years champions. The winning team takes home the cup for a year, earns $2,000 for its organization, and gets to host the 2018 championship in their hometown.

Stay healthy and independent as you age. To do that, exercise bodies and minds. Ongoing research is helping teach more about maintaining a healthy brain. While age and family history are risk factors, other things such as diet, exercise, and lifestyle are also believed to have an influence. You can make a difference in the quality of your life by making healthy choices and remaining active.

Visit tn.gov/aging for more information about the competition and to register your team for this years Tennessee Senior Brain Games. If you have questions, call Annalea Cothron at 615-770-3901 or email her at annalea.cothron@tn.gov.

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2017 Tennessee Senior Brain Games call for teams: Time to compete! – Winchester Herald Chronicle

How to keep your brain sharp in older age – Medical Xpress

New research has revealed which mentally engaging activities best keep the brain sharp. Credit: University of Exeter

New research from the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) has revealed which mentally engaging activities best keep the brain sharp.

The research, involving Professor Linda Clare, of the University of Exeter, a member of the GCBH governing board, has concluded that doing puzzles and mind games isn’t the most effective way to keep our brains healthy as we get older.

More than 1 in 3 people surveyed by Age UK said that doing puzzles and mind games was likely to be the best way to keep our brains healthy as we get older.

But GCBH, working with Age UK and the AARP, have said in new research that the long-term benefits of these ‘brain games’ are little to non-existent.

Their research showed that if we play a brain game several times, despite getting better at the game, there is little improvement in our thinking abilities.

The research reveals which mentally engaging activities do have a link to keeping our brains sharp.

Examples include learning a language, practicing tai-chi, taking photography classes and investigating your genealogy. Physical activities that involve mental engagement (such as dancing or tennis) are also important.

It is especially important to include social engagement as part of these activities, such as volunteering and mentoring others in your community.

This advice is not just relevant for older people – we should be maintaining our brain health from as young an age as possible.

Professor Linda Clare, of the University of Exeter, said: “‘Engaging in mentally stimulating activities helps to maintain your brain health. This is true at any age – it’s never too late.”

Age UK’s Chief Scientist, James Goodwin explained: ‘Even though it’s never too late to learn something new, the overwhelming message from the report is that you shouldn’t wait until later life to try to maintain your brain health.

The younger you start challenging yourself with mentally stimulating activities, the better your brain function will be as you age.’

Tips from the experts

Myth-busting the brain ageing process

The report has also goes against many of the myths commonly believed about getting older:

Explore further: Want to stay mentally healthy in older age? Stimulate your brain in early life

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How to keep your brain sharp in older age – Medical Xpress

49ers’ love of game versus reality of research – SFGate

Photo: Ben Margot, Associated Press

San Francisco 49ers’ fullback Kyle Juszczyk smiles during a media conference Friday, March 10, 2017, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

San Francisco 49ers’ fullback Kyle Juszczyk smiles during a media conference Friday, March 10, 2017, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

49ers love of game versus reality of research

Kyle Juszczyk might be the only economics major from his graduating class at Harvard who is working a blue-collar job that comes with significant health risks.

His 9-to-5 gig: NFL fullback.

Juszczyk, 26, who signed a four-year, $21 million contract with the 49ers in March, could be doing something else with his Ivy League education. And he was recently asked if hed ever considered how long he wanted to stay in a profession that requires him to routinely run full-speed into 250-pound linebackers.

Yeah, absolutely, Juszczyk said. Definitely. I think any player that tells you they havent put some sort of thought into it, theyre not being truthful with you.

Ive put thought into it, but I love this game so much and I wouldnt take a snap away from my career to leave early. Thats just my feelings on it. This is a game I love so much that Im willing to put it on the line.

Juszczyk spoke last week, four days after a major study generated a new wave of questions about the long-term effects of playing football.

The study published by the American Medical Association examined the brains of deceased former football players and found that 110 of 111 brains of those who played in the NFL had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition that can be diagnosed only after death.

On the same day news of the study broke, wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, 31, announced he was retiring from the NFL after six seasons and donating his brain to concussion research. Hawkins said his body wasnt responding during the offseason after he signed with the Patriots in May. Two days after Hawkins exit, Baltimore offensive lineman John Urschel, 26, retired. Urschel is an aspiring chess master who is pursuing his doctorate in math at MIT.

Given the ever-intensifying spotlight on brain trauma and football, several 49ers have been asked during training camp about the potential long-term effects of their job: Do they think about what could await them in retirement?

Yeah, I think about it, tight end Vance McDonald said. And the day I dont think about it, I get reminded from my wife about it. Its really serious. I think honestly that the day that something is released that can connect football to (CTE) its going to change the game dramatically.

Such candor might have been unusual from an NFL player just a few years ago. But the landscape has changed, partly because of the stunning retirement of 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, who cited brain-trauma concerns when he left the NFL in 2015 after a standout rookie season.

More than two years later, its now common for players to at least acknowledge the potential fallout from their playing careers is a concern.

Everybody thinks about it, said center Jeremy Zuttah, 31. Everybody has to make a personal choice.

Said running back Tim Hightower, 31: Youre not oblivious to it.

Left tackle Joe Staley, 32, said: Its definitely on your mind. You see it. Id be lying to you up here if I said I hadnt thought about it. You know the risks playing football The studies are out there. They are what they are. I wouldnt trade my position. Im very happy playing the game of football. Its something I love and will continue to do so.

The majority of players are forging ahead, but some also are making attempts to protect themselves as best as they can.

This season, McDonald is using a helmet with a cushioned outer shell that has been deemed the safest by the teams equipment staff. He says it makes him resemble a bobblehead, but hes not worried about making a fashion statement.

In 2015, after his second concussion of the season, quarterback Brian Hoyer, then with the Texans, visited Dr. Micky Collins, a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh. The meeting inspired him to keep his brain engaged when he was away from football.

The thing that I walked away with is that concussions are treatable, Hoyer said. There are different types of concussions and there are different things you can do. So ever since then, I try to stay on top of things that keep my brain active. I try to read a lot more Theres some brain games you can do. Obviously, we know the risks.

Hoyer used acupuncture to treat both of his concussions in 2015. Hes also used a hyperbaric chamber and an app known as BrainHQ, which has games that are designed to aid concussion recovery.

Still, there is a tacit acknowledgment among players that even as they take steps to protect themselves, they are still taking a leap of faith.

We all understand the risk that weve signed up for, Hightower said. But I cant think about that when Im going into a game. I just have to prepare myself; just trust that Im doing the best that I can and that all will turn out well.

Eric Branch is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: ebranch@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Eric_Branch

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49ers’ love of game versus reality of research – SFGate

40 things you might not know about Tom Brady – Boston.com

Since his meteoric rise from backup quarterback to Super Bowl champion in the 2001 season, Tom Brady has been the franchise player of the New England Patriots. Hes won five Super Bowls, four Super Bowl MVPs, two NFL MVPs, and made 12 Pro Bowls. But most fans are more than aware of these accolades.

As the Patriots legend turns 40 years old, here are 40 things you might not know about him:

1. He unintentionally dozed off for twenty or thirty minutes before his first Super Bowl.

Prior to the kickoff of Super Bowl XXXVI, Brady navigated the elongated pregame by taking a short nap in the locker room: Twelve minutes later we were running out onto the field.

2. His diet used to be a far cry from the healthy standards he now adheres by.

While Brady is now a strict disciplinarian about what he eats, his rookie year was a little different. He used to eat nachos before games in 2000, when he was a fourth string quarterback. And his go-to lunches were ham-and-cheese subs with onion rings, washed down with orange soda, while his dinners were often pizza.

3. According to Drew Bledsoe, Brady isnt the best skier.

During the offseason, the 40-year-old often frequents the slopes at the Yellowstone Club in Montana. Videos of him skiing sometimes inspire terror in New England fansnot because of his death-defying stunts, but more because of his novice status. As Bledsoe jokingly pointed out when they skied together a few years ago, He was really awful then.

4. Football wasnt the only sport he was drafted to play professionally.

While history will remember him being selected 199th overall by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Bradys baseball rights were taken by the Montreal Expos in the 18th round of the 1995 MLB Draft. He ultimately chose not to sign.

5. A former Red Sox hero is his brother-in-law.

One of Bradys sisters, Julie, is married to retired Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis.

6. He almost didnt make it to Gillette Stadium in time for the start of his first playoff game.

Due to wintry conditions, Brady was stuck in traffic before the Patriots divisional-round playoff game against the Raiders in January 2002. Only after he got a police escort did the young quarterback reach Foxborough in time.

7. Brady has a Cal Ripken-like streak on the injury report.

With exception of the 2008 seasonwhen he was out for the year with a torn ACL and MCLBrady was listed on every regular-season injury report from 2004-2010because of his right shoulder.

8. All of Bradys siblings earned athletic scholarships.

While Tom attended Michigan on a football scholarship, he was actuallynot the first of his siblings to earn such athletic recognition. Maureen went to Fresno State on a softball scholarship. Julie walked on the St. Marys soccer team before earning a scholarship of her own. And Nancy was recruited to Cal-Berkeley on a scholarship for softball before deciding to pursue another path.

9. He is also not the only of his siblings to be inducted into his home countys Hall of Fame.

Due to her 111-10 career record as a softball pitcher for Hillsdale High Schoolincluding 29 no-hitters and 14 perfect gamesMaureen was inducted into the San Mateo County Hall of Fame in 1999, along with baseball great Moises Alou. Tom was inducted in 2003.

10. Along with his greatest rival, he was once a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the NFL.

During the 2011 NFL lockout, Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and seven other players sued the league on behalf of the players. The suit came to an end when the lockout ended prior to the start of the season.

11. His bedtime is probably earlier than yours.

As part of his strict personal regimen, Brady has adopted specific concessions that he says help him stay at the top of his gameone of them being an early bed time. The five-time Super Bowl winner says he goes to sleep at 8:30 p.m.

12. He was once Patriots fans last choice to be quarterback.

In a team poll conducted in 2000 when Drew Bledsoe was questionable to play, fans slotted Brady dead lastin regards to whom they wanted to start. Michael Bishop (78.5 percent) and John Friesz (12.8 percent) beat out the rookie, who only won over 8.7 percent of vote.

13. Part of his daily routine includes brain games.

In a Sports Illustrated profile from early 2017, Brady showcased how he uses brain games on his laptop or iPad to help stay sharp.

14. Only one team has a winning record against Brady in his career (so far).

Although Brady is a combined 24-0 against the Bears, Buccaneers, Cowboys, Falcons, Jaguars, and Vikings in regular-season games, he actually has a losing record against one team in the league. In both regular-season and postseason games, Brady is 7-9 against the Broncos.

15. Rookies are not his favorite Super targets.

Before Malcolm Mitchells seven-yard reception in the first quarter of Super Bowl LIBradys seventh appearance on footballs biggest stagehe had never completed a Super Bowl pass to a rookie receiver.

16. He bought his first house from former Patriots cornerback Ty Law.

Using part of his $38,500 signing bonus from his rookie contract, Brady bought a house from Law located in Franklin for $265,000. To help pay for it, he initially had two teammates live with him.

17. He says he dominated mini golf in college.

Im the champ right here, Brady once declared in a 1998 Detroit Free Press story, referencing his putt-putt abilities amidst the Michigan football teams collective obsession with miniature golf.

18. Patriots owner Robert Kraft treats Brady like a fifth son.

Kraft still remembers the first time the pair met before Bradys second year in the NFL: He came down in training camp and introduced himself. Here was this skinny beanpole, with this pizza under his arm. He says, Im Tom Brady.

19. Brady says he has never had a sip of coffee.

When Brady arises at 5:30 a.m., coffee isnt a part of his morning routine. Not even Dunkin Donuts. For one reason or another, I never had coffee or anything like that, he said on WEEI. I just never tried it.

20. On the sidelines, Brady drinks a specially prepared concoction instead of Gatorade.

I have this lemon drink with a ton of electrolytes in it, Brady said on WEEI. It doesnt have any sugar. I just load it up on electrolytes and it just keeps me right where I need to be.

21. He once wrote a paper proclaiming that he was going to become a household name.

Throughout his younger years, Brady was largely known by his relation to his three older sisters, but he longed for the day when they would be known as Tom Bradys sisters. He reportedly told his mother, One day, Im going to be a household name.

22. His yearbook quote was one of ambition.

Under his senior photo, Brady wrote: If you want to play with the big boys, youve got to learn to play in the tall grass. He also gave a shoutout to his family.

23. In high school, Brady was the backup to the backup quarterback on a winless freshmen football team.

The young squad went 0-8 and scored only two offensive touchdowns that season. The starting QB, Kevin Krystofiak, ended up quitting football the very next year to pursue basketball.

24. He didnt always play quarterback.

Before he was a legendary quarterbackor even just a high school varsity quarterbackBrady was going through drills as an outside linebacker on his freshman team. That year, he actually got more reps on the line of scrimmage than in the pocket. And according to one of his teammates, he not only wasnt a pushover but also wanted to go up against our big fullback.

25. He led a game-winning drive in his first-ever JV football game.

Were down five with two minutes to go and he led us on a game-winning drive, former teammate John Kirby recalled. It was awesome. Its just like he does all the time now. Whenever he was in the huddle, he always seemed in control. He never panicked. He was always motivational, not negative. If we were way down hed say, Cmon, lets get this going. He never yelled or blamed.

26. During his junior and senior years of high school, Brady had an 11-9 record as a starting quarterback.

Despite being considered one of the Bay Areas hottest young players by a local TV station, Bradys winning percentage as a starter at Junpero Serra High School was just .550.

27. Brady wasnt the happiest camper during the first half of The Catch game.

At four years old, he attended the 1981 NFC Championship at Candlestick Park but cried throughout the beginning of the contestbecause he wanted a foam finger. The crying ceased after his father bought him one for the second half.

28. His car was once pranked by Bledsoe.

In 2000, Bledsoe pranked his then-understudy so that when Brady turned on his car, it unleashed a blizzard of glitter.

29. Kraft once confused him with another Brady.

In one of their first interactions, Kraft erroneously called Brady Kyle,as he likely mistook the quarterback for atight end in the league at the time who shared a surname.

30. In the same conversation, he told Kraft a prophetic message.

Both Kraft and Brady have recalled the eerily predictive assertion a young Brady made in their very first meeting: Im the best decision this organization has ever made.

31. Hes attended the State of the Union address.

In 2004, Brady attended George W. Bushs State of the Union address to Congress. He was personally invited by Laura Bush and was evenbriefly shown on TV.

32. Brady was drafted by the Patriots using a compensatory pick.

Due to the loss of several free agents in 1999, the Patriots were awarded a compensatory pick, the 199th, which they used to select Brady.

33. He reportedly only wanted to live on the 12th floor of his apartment.

Proving his adoration for his jersey number, Brady paid extra so that he could switch from the 11th floor of a New York City apartment to the 12th.

34. Brady has scored more rushing touchdowns than many of the running backs from the 2000 draft.

With 17 career rushing touchdowns, Brady has accrued more TDs than 13 of the 20 running backs taken in his draft class, including first-round pick Trung Candidate.

35. His first NFL pass completion actually didnt count.

Making his debut at the end of a 34-9 loss to the Lions in 2000, Brady completed a pass to running back J.R. Redmond. Yet what should have been a milestone moment was cut short by a Damien Woody penalty.

36. He was once just a Merrill Lynch intern.

In the summers of 1998 and 1999, Brady was an assistant to a senior sales broker at Merrill Lynch, according to a copy of his resume from when he was at Michigan:

37. He had a 103-degree fever 24 hours before the 2004 AFC Championship.

As a Sports Illustrated feature explained in great depth, Brady had an IV in his left arm and desperately tried to recuperate a day before facing the Steelers in the AFC Championship in 2004. He shrugged it off, leading the Patriots to a 41-27 win and another trip to the Super Bowl.

38. Brady has thrown touchdown passes to 65 different players over the course of his 17-year career.

Despite playing for only one team in his NFL career, Brady has thrown touchdown passes to 65 different receivers. Only Vinny Testaverde, who played for eight teams, has morewith 70.

39.He uses babe as a term of endearment for those close to him, regardless of gender.

Dont be surprised if you hear Brady tossing the word, babe, around the locker room. A habit picked up from his father, hes used the nickname on both offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and his teammates. According to an anonymous teammate, Its the California boy in him, I guess.

40. Brady and his wife Gisele Bndchen have three dogs.

The most recent addition was a rescue dog, Fluffy, which they adopted from Wags and Walks in Los Angeles. The other two are another rescue pup, Scooby, and a pit bull mix named Lua, who actually starred in an UGG Australia commercial with Brady.

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40 things you might not know about Tom Brady – Boston.com


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