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What Is Brain Health?

A group of related backpackers smile at a mobile phone while taking a selfie near a lake in the wilderness. The group is a real multi-ethnic and multi-generation extended family of mature adults and teenage children. Wide angle view of the forest and pond in the background.

A New Era of Understanding

The concept is so new that as recently as 1999, the Center for BrainHealth® was able to trademark the term. Since that time, we have continued pioneering research to gain a fuller understanding of brain health – and its application for real-world benefit.


Traditional thinking about brain health is rooted in the medical model, focusing on disease, disorder and deficits.
BrainHealth researchers have determined that interventions shown to help populations with specific deficits also helped people with different deficits.
Eventually, research led to the discovery that these interventions can even help healthy people strengthen their brain health. Our research shows that better brain health helps people thrive within the context of their personal life.
We are reframing how to define brain health: it’s about making the most of your capacity to thrive in life.

BrainHealth Index: A 21st Century Metric

BrainHealth Neural Systems Wheel: Clarity, Connectedness, Emotional Balance and Emerging Factors.
The concept of IQ might have been useful 100 years ago when it was developed, when repetitive, assembly-line work was the norm and the ability to remember a lot of information was prized.
But this concept is limiting – today, complex skills such as adaptability, innovation, meaningful social connection, and deriving meaning from data are the strongest drivers of success, not to mention our ability to use computers and phones to store and retrieve almost infinite amounts of data.
So what is the “IQ test” for the 21st century?
BrainHealth researchers developed the BrainHealth Index: the world’s first holistic measure of brain health, with a unique focus on the brain’s ability to improve. This holistic measure of brain health and performance establishes a composite score and highlights contributing factors of brain health, including: clarity, emotional balance and connectedness.

Decline Is Not Inevitable

The SMART Loop from SMART Brain Training: Strategic Attention (filter, focus), Integrated Reasoning (zoom in, zoom out, zoom deep and wide), Innovation (infinite, paradox, unknown).
At Center for BrainHealth, cognitive neuroscientists have teamed up with clinicians to translate exciting scientific findings into real-world applications.
Common thinking once held that after our mid-20s, the only brain change possible was decline. In the late 1990s science began to reveal the power of neuroplasticity, and researchers started exploring the extent to which the brain can grow stronger, adapt and work better throughout our lifespan.
Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Tactics, or SMART™ Brain Training, teaches strategies to calibrate mental energy, reinforce strategic thinking and ignite innovation.
The components of brain health: cognition, daily life, well-being and interaction.


It is still common to envision a healthy brain as a set of pillars – all equally important and seeming to function independently.
However, research demonstrates that the multiple components of the brain’s health are tightly integrated, and that cognitive fitness creates change across all the components.
Because cognition is the way we perceive and engage with the world, this component undergirds the others.
View largescale wheel of components