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  • Writer's pictureWishesErin

Meet Sharp Focus VR

So much of Wellness Wishes' efforts is placed with making an impact in Venture Philanthropy . We're putting our own unique spin on the term by fundraising and generating capital to invest in entrepreneurs and enterprises that share a focus with Wellness Wishes, and that strive to make our communities better places for their people.

We do this through individual efforts, our Green Phoenix Fund, and The Franklin Fund. Fairly new in implementation, The Franklin Fund provides capital to start-ups and those seeking early round funding, and that have a business model focused around Wellness Wishes four areas of impact: Veterans, First Responders, Conservation, and Underserved Populations.

We're proud to announce our first partner within The Franklin Fund, Sharp Focus VR. Below, please check out an article from Founder, Dr. Joel Acevedo, and click over to The Franklin Fund page to learn more about Sharp Focus, or go directly to their website.

Thank you Joel and team for making an impact with youth, veterans, seniors, underserved populations and all others that are looking to keep their minds sharp!


ADHD and The Necessary Cognitive Skills to Handle it

Health Tech Innovator, Entrepreneur, Professor, CEO of Sharp Focus VR

When we talk about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), we frequently think of children in the school setting having difficulty concentrating. While this is certainly the case (as each year around 6 million children are diagnosed with ADHD), we rarely associate ADHD with adolescents or adults despite its high incidence in these age groups. The current statistics indicate that in the United States, more than 10 million adults suffer from ADHD, and only 800,000 of them are actively looking for a solution.

Much of the myth of ADHD is that it disappears in adulthood, when the brain matures. As a matter of fact, there are many variants of the disorder that can develop and persist as patients age, especially in patients treated with controlled medications such as ADDerall and Ritalin. The truth is that long-term exposure to these medications does not necessarily benefit the brain. On the contrary, medications can be potentially addictive and present with multiple side effects. Furthermore, when it comes to the self-regulation skills that children with ADHD need to improve on, commonly used prescription drugs do not help. Research shows that the brains of subjects with ADHD require strengthening of self-control skills. Patients have trouble paying attention because they cannot regulate their impulses, emotions and thoughts, resulting in distractions. This lack of control predisposes them to engaging in high-risk behaviors, being prone to addictions, and making poor decisions.

Such self-control skills require consistent training in order to be maximized. At Sharp Focus VR, we have developed a tool that enables users train these skills at their own pace. In our experience working with juveniles who have ADHD, and who are in juvenile detention centers, we found that the main skills to improve in these subjects are the following: Inhibitory control, Cognitive flexibility, Working memory

These skills are associated with good decision making, problem solving, and short-term focus, respectively. At Sharp Focus VR, we strive to provide tools that will help adolescents and adults with ADHD strengthen their decision-making abilities, fostering their creativity to solve problems, and developing strategies to deconstruct long tasks into smaller ones.

To recognize how these tools can help, it is important to understand the attention process in the brain, where both capture and retention must occur. Capture itself requires mastering divided attention, which aims to integrate two or more senses towards the same task. Thus, when we integrate the five senses to a task (such as in the VR environment) the process becomes multi-sensorial, allowing for a greater capacity to capture information. Retention, on the other hand, requires good working memory skills, which can be improved by dividing a task into smaller blocks of information that can be easily memorized. Our VR platform provides engaging exercises to train these memory skills.

Finally, stimulating curiosity, recognition, and reward processes results in the release of dopamine (a neurotransmitter associated with attention and learning), which plays an important role in cognition. Intentionally fostering these skills in adolescents with ADHD helps improving attention, making them better prepared to deal with the challenges they will face in adulthood.

Authors: Dr. Joel Acevedo- Nieto, Founder & CEO Neuroscientist Dr. Joel Acevedo- Nieto is the founder of Sharp Focus, a cognitive training platform for those who have difficulty concentrating. Joel’s concept uses a virtual reality interface that engages users by stimulating the prefrontal cortex via intentional eye movements. During his childhood and adolescence, Joel had difficulty concentrating on daily tasks and school work. As a result, he lagged behind in many areas and struggled with low self-esteem. But with an exemplary background in neuroscience and psychology, Joel has earned several certifications in innovation and technology from MIT and Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Patricia Silveyra, Co-Founder & CMO Biochemist & STEM Scientist Dr. Patricia Silveyra is a professor and physiologist with expertise in neuroendocrinology, molecular biology, and biomarker discovery. She is the former Director of the UNC Biobehavioral Laboratory, a core facility that focuses on biobehavioral science, physiological measurements, and instrumentation, and she is currently an Associate Professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health. She has worked with multiple investigators in studies related to stress management, physical activity, addictions, and health disparities, and she has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles and managed dozens of grants.


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