Monthly Archives: January 2017

BrainHQ Crushes Competition in First Review of Science Behind Brain Apps

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 31, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The first systematic review of study evidence that commercially-available, brain-training programs might help with healthy aging just published in Neuropsychological Review. The reviewers found that BrainHQ from Posit Science had by far the most and the highest quality studies.

The authors of this first systematic review conclude “current evidence supports that at least some commercially available computerized brain training products can assist in promoting healthy brain aging.”

The reviewers surveyed the brain training market and the academic literature to categorize the quantity and quality of peer-reviewed studies showing effects of brain training in healthy aging.

They looked at 18 commercially-available, brain-training programs, and found that 11 had no clinical trials or empirical evidence for review.

The reviewers found seven companies had studies that were relevant, and met the review criteria of being peer-reviewed clinical trials of computerized exercises with formal cognitive outcome measures for healthy adults aged 50 and older. This methodology resulted in 26 studies for review.

Of those 26 studies, 10 were trials of Posit Science exercises.  Eight of those 10 studies were judged to be of the highest quality. Posit Science far outpaced its nearest competitor, which had three studies of which only one was considered high quality.

The reviewers wrote: “Multiple peer-reviewed articles evaluating Posit Science programs have fulfilled the gold standard for clinical trials.”

Of the seven companies that the reviewers found had any relevant evidence from trials, Lumosity was found to anchor the lower-end, with what the reviewers described as one randomized controlled trial of “moderate quality.”

The reviewers noted that until five years ago there were relatively few studies of brain-training programs. Even now, the lack of a systematic review has left “clinicians with inadequate information from which to base recommendations for their patients at risk of cognitive decline.”

However, with this review the authors conclude that the evidence behind a majority of the programs evaluated supports “the notion that the human brain is plastic in later life, and can benefit from specifically designed brain training programs.”

“There’s been a lot of conflicting reports on whether or not brain training works,” said Dr. Ralph Martins, who led the review team.  “This systematic review shows that some brain training has lots of evidence of efficacy, which may surprise some health professionals. Personally, I was more surprised by the amount of brain training on the market with no evidence at all.”

“This review performs an overdue public service by differentiating between what has been shown to work and what has little or no evidence,” said Dr. Henry Mahncke, CEO of Posit Science, which makes BrainHQ. “It’s a strong response to those who have said that the evidence for brain training is ‘mixed’ – what’s mixed is the scientific quality of different brain training programs, some of which have strong evidence for efficacy and some of which have none.”

“This review marks a first step of treating brain training programs like we treat new pharmaceuticals – carefully evaluating which ones work, and then putting those to work to help people,” Dr. Mahncke concluded.

For more information, contact jeffzimman@positscience.com

AFRICAN UNION CALLS ON US TO RETURN GUANTANAMO BAY TO CUBA

The chairperson of the African Union Commission asked the United States on Monday to return Guantanamo Bay naval base to Cuba, and to end the embargo on the island.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma made this appeal in one of her last speeches as the African Union leader during the annual summit held at the organization’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, where heads of state and governments from across the continent will elect her successor.

Dlamini-Zuma recalled the legacy of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who died last November, for his role in the fight against colonialism and imperialism in Africa, which the Cuban regime supported militarily and with educational and health initiatives.

She stressed that the greatest tribute to be paid to Castro is to continue the friendship and solidarity with the Cuban people.

The South African politician expressed her willingness to fight for the total lifting of the economic embargo and the return of Guantanamo Bay to Cuba.

During the process of normalisation of bilateral relations between the United States and Cuba, the island has insisted on reclaiming the territory occupied by the US naval base since 1898, when the United States took control of the island after defeating Spain in the Spanish-American War.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

VIETNAM EXPECTS CLOSER BUSINESS CONNECTIVITY WITH SOUTH AFRICA

Vietnam hopes to increase exchange of economic information with South Africa and enhance closer connectivity between businesses of the two countries, Vietnam news agency quoted Vietnamese Ambassador to South Africa Vu Van Dung as saying.

Dung had a meeting with leaders of South Africa’s Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) on Monday to discuss issues related to cooperation between Vietnam and South Africa as well as the embassy and the DCCI.

The Vietnamese diplomat said that Vietnam and South Africa – a large economy of Africa and the world – still hold great potential for stronger trade cooperation although two-way trade reached only US$1.2 billion in 2016.

“Vietnam will host the APEC this year with about 200 activities along with the APEC high-level week at the end of the year, which is a good chance for enterprises from Durban and South Africa in general to tighten connections with their partners in Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

Dao Manh Duc, head of the Vietnamese embassy’s office for trade affairs said, although Vietnamese products are suitable for the South African market, they have yet been popular among South African consumers and businesses due to a lack of information as well as business exchange channels.

South Africa’s strong products such as beef, fruits, wine and mineral products have yet to successfully enter the Vietnamese market, added Duc.

He also asked the DCCI to enhance the sharing of information and partnership opportunities through trade promotion events hosted by the DCCI and increase meetings between trade delegations of both sides.

Alta Keyter, DCCI Director for Marketing and Communications, said that in the future, the DCCI will promptly update information about Vietnam’s goods, tourism and trade fairs and exhibitions in its news bulletins.

Durban is the largest port city in South Africa as well as a major container port of the South Hemisphere.

It is South Africa’s economic hub with diverse sectors including production, tourism, transportation, finance and import-export activities. With long beaches, warm weather and unique culture, the locality is also an attractive tourist destination.

The DCCI was established in 1856, grouping over 2,800 firms.

It is one of the largest and most prestigious commerce and industry chambers of South Africa.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

South Africa: Minister Siyabonga Cwele On Implementation of SA Post Office Turnaround Plan

The Minister of Telecommunications And Postal Services, Dr. Siyabonga Cwele says the South African Post Office is turning around and ready to play its part in delivering more services to all citizens

The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr. Siyabonga Cwele says the South African Post Office (SAPO) is turning around and ready to play its part in delivering more services to all citizens.

Minister Cwele and Deputy Minister Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize were briefing Parliament about the progress that is being made in the implementation of the SAPO Strategic Turnaround Plan that was approved by Cabinet in June 2015.

“The SAPO is a Titanic. It is large and takes time to turn but it is turning into an organisation that play an increasingly important part in the radical transformation of our society,” said Minister Cwele.

He said the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services was engaging with the National Treasury to expedite the corporatisation of the Postbank. Nominees have passed the fit and proper process and will be appointed after following due process.

Minister Cwele said the SAPO Strategic Turnaround Plan requires that the SA Post Office is modernised to focus on new businesses that are based on courier services, financial services and on the internet economy.

He said the performance of the post office was slightly behind the projections but the focus on generating revenue through new businesses will improve performance going forward.

SAPO Board Member Mduduzi Zakwe said SAPO’s stable IT environment is an important cog of the turnaround. It is a platform to launch new innovations and it is being modernised through an upgrade of our network and systems for financial services and mail operations. We are undertaking a technology upgrade at our data centre to improve resiliency because our customers are expecting secured services.

SAPO CEO Mark Barnes said customer confidence is beginning to return.

“Now that we are operationally stable, the key thing is to bring back customer confidence, especially amongst those customers who left the post office over the past three years. We have to consistently demonstrate our ability to deliver and that we have a stable workforce,” he said.

Barnes said the Postbank will provide inclusive financial services at the right cost to communities in rural areas. He also said the SAPO was interested in participating in the distribution of the South African Social Security Agency grants.

“We are also focusing on e-Commerce in collaboration with the Universal Postal Union and local and international players to make a case for South Africa being an e-Commerce Hub for the Southern Africa region. In line with this, we intend expanding our space at OR Tambo by 70% and are also engaging our port and rail operators.

This will provide us with an opportunity to launch a new courier business after we closed CFG.

Source: Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services