Do you monitor your cognitive state ?

A company I am an investor in (there, early disclosure out of the way ) focuses on cognitive ability monitoring and testing. They, CogState, have products for sports concussion management and products for measuring cognitive effects of therapeutically drugs etc.  But one aspect of their business I was not so aware of till a recent newsletter, is their CogHealth product.  CogHealth is designed to give you a documented history of cognitive state, to help in detection of early dementia, Alzheimer’s or even to pick up on possible injuries or impacts of any medication you might take one day.  The idea is you evaluate and record your current cognitive state, then compare it later as different events occur through out your life.

Personally, I haven’t taken the test yet (have to find the free 15 minutes… hmm perhaps if I didn’t blog I could ).  But as I hit and enjoy my mid-life crisis, I do do smart things such as try to visit the doctor just for a checkup at least once every two years.  And when I do visit him, we look at my history, blood pressure, weight cholesterol etc.. But not my cognitive state.  Yet I really make my living from my cognitive state more so than my physical state.  Oh and if you have ever had a cholesterol test (I hate needles) you’ll know it’s a real pain to fast for the 12 hours or whatever it is

Anyway, should my doctor and me be looking at my cognitive state ?  Should you ? Should we as developers take steps to safe guard our biggest asset ?  What do you think ?  I would love to hear from anyone who does 

6 Comments so far

  1.   Geoff Appleby on December 16th, 2004          

    I haven’t put any thought into my cognitive state, but bad eyesight runs in my family (while i remain glasses-free). Given the developers penchant for very high resolutions and coding in the dark, i get my eyes tested every year just in case so far, so good however, i’m still glasses-free!

  2.   Dr. Neil on December 16th, 2004          

    This is so true! I don’t get profeesional opinion of my cognitive state but it is something that both me and my partner monitor. It is interesting how much ‘health’ is driven by attitude and we have been researching this area a fair bit. Kris (my partner) runs a motivational coaching and mentoring company and I do my share of this for technical companies. Maybe measuring cognitive health is something that could (should?) be added to the package we offer?

  3.   Bill McCarthy on December 17th, 2004          

    Hey Geoff,

    I’m lucky there, and despite having once scratched my eye badly, had chemical burns, welder’s flash, etc, my eyes are still good These days I have modified my behaviour, and have lots of different safety glasses for all occassions

  4.   Bill McCarthy on December 17th, 2004          

    Hi Neil,

    Ah, straight from "the doctor’s mouth" And yes, most definetly! I think software development needs to be more holisitc, not just matching the product to the customer, but also in the complete development process. I think the "softmore" days of drinking coke and eating pizza while coding for days on end without a break is a lifestyle that people often associated with "geeks". Yet that lifestyle is really unsustainable and is also probably a major contributor to those late night mistakes/bugs. And we also really are at a unique period in time, when only now are we beginning to have "veteran" developers

    But I haven’t heard of software shops really taking this into consideration. I’m not even sure how many individuals do.

    Maybe it’s time for a "healthy developer" movement ?

  5.   Brian H. Madsen on December 31st, 2004          

    best remedy ever – coffee….i’d swear by it!

  6.   Bill McCarthy on December 31st, 2004          

    LOL ! Funny you should say that … I’ve gone from a 10+ cup a day person down to a 2 cups a day only, and decaf the rest of the time. I still love the taste of coffee, but am no longer addicted…. and it’s that addiction I am afraid you might be thinking is a "pick me up". It’s not really, it’s more your brain is bitchin’ on ya till you feed it some more caffaene