Brain Fitness Program





Ever heard of Norman Doidge, M.D.?

If you haven't, you will be hearing more about him and his recent book entitled "The Brain That Changes Itself-Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science".

From the preface;

"This book is about the revolutionary discovery that the human brain can change itself, as told through the stories of the scientists, doctors, and patients who have together brought about these astonishing transformations.

Without operations or medications, they have made use of the brain's hitherto unknown ability to change.

Some were patients who had what were thought to be incurable brain problems; others were people without specific problems who simply wanted to improve the functioning of their brains or preserve them as they aged. "

Dr. Doidge writes enthusiastically about how research is revealing some options for working with issues, like stroke and its aftermath or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or brain fitness programs that we can all buy and use at home, or use online. (See the Lumosity link below)

Most writers are calling this "Neuroplasticity", which refers to the physical changes that are continually taking place in your brain as you experience and adapt to the world around you.

During every day of your life, neurons and the connections between them change to encode information. By influencing this plasticity with the right activities, it is possible to train your brain to function better.

Learning new things and challenging yourself frequently may promote more constructive neuroplasticity, and help prevent or off-set the negative effects of brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, or aging.

Improving Cognitive Ability

Fundamental cognitive abilities – such as memory, attention and processing speed – can be improved with appropriate training.

The Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study, funded by NIH, demonstrated that older adults could improve their cognitive abilities with proper training, and that some of these gains were maintained several years later. In this experiment conducted by a number of researchers across the US, over 2800 adults aged 65-94 received training in memory, reasoning, or processing speed. After about 10 hours of training, each group improved significantly in the area that they trained. Even 5 years later subjects maintained many of their improvements.

So millions of us are looking for ways to do brain fitness programs, either to become really good at Trivial Pursuit or do battle with evil genuises, or maybe even to become an evil genius. Actually, I have small children and I want to be an active part of their life. I have outlived both parents and all my grandparents, by decades actually, so I have no models for how we age. Just in case, I want to practice healthy aging.

And we can pick and choose between any number of alternative products, some involving buying something online and having it sent to my home and then installing it on my computer, others involve an online experience.

In the interests of my own brain, I am currently trying three different programs, two from CD which I had to purchase and install on my computer, very painless process for someone with a bit of computer experience. Those two programs are Brain Builder 3.0 and the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program. The other is the Lumosity program, from Lumos labs, which I can do online.

There are others out there that I would like to try but cannot afford just yet.

I really enjoy working with the programs, and analyzing my experience of them. I am suddenly more aware than ever of my particular style of losing attention, and also how incredibly fast losing attention happens.

The Brain Builder, which may be coming online soon, (as off July 8th 2008), works with auditory and visual memory using a series of numbers that I have to listen for or read and recite or type. I am moving up challenge levels and working with longer strings on numbers each practice. I really like that when I make an error, the program repeats that particular trial so I can get it correct.

I noticed a very strong improvement in my Brain Builder after just a few practices of the Posit Science Brain Fitness, which is an auditory program, designed to really challenge the sound processing parts of my brain to re-establish a more youthful clarity.

The directions for the Posit Science program are easy, the installation was easy, and the game is actually intriguing to do.

The Lumosity Program can be done all online, and that is a big point in its favor as far as I am concerned.

It trains things like attention, memory, processing speed, and cognitive control. Those things are explained at the site in more detail. I play Brain Builder and Lumosity first thing every day, and get to Posit Science later on, usually at work.

Doing the exercises is not like a workout at the gym where I can see changes in muscle mass, and I am on guard to not make extraordinary claims for the products, but I am seeing an improvement in my ability to remember a series of items, like an account number, and I am following my schedule, rather than getting excited, distracted, and wandering off on some internet quest. Staying on schedule that way will actually free up time for my family.



This material is from the Posit Science site, and it is compelling isn't it?

"If you are 50 years old today, you'll probably live into your mid-80s. If you live into your mid-80s, there's a more than even probability that your brain will decline in function before you die. At age 85, there's almost an even-money chance that you'll be identified as senile which will dramatically impair your ability to live alone, your ability to make your own decisions and live a full and interesting life until the day you die. The problem is more than just lapses in memory. There are three root causes of problems in the aging brain: (1) an increasing signal-to-noise problem in processing information collected by our senses, (2) a decline in the production of key brain chemicals and (3) a slowing in processing speed. These problems make it increasingly difficult to accurately receive, store, retrieve and manipulate information received from any of the 5 senses. The good news is that we can change this! It is not inevitable that we will be in a state of dementia at the time of our death. We know that we need physical exercise to maintain our physical strength throughout our lives, our brain also needs to be exercised in order to retain our mental acuity throughout whatever our lifespan. Over 50 neuroscientists have worked to create a system for strengthening the brain and making it perform with more agility, speed and comprehension."

Breaking News as of 2-13-09-Press Release from Posit Science

Think Faster.Focus Better. Remember More. Posit Science brain fitness programs, clinically validated

San Francisco, CA/February 11, 2009-- Study results to be published in the April 4, 2009 edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society are the first to show definitively that computerized brain exercises can improve memory and attention in older adults. An advance copy of the breakthrough study led by researchers from the University of Southern California and the Mayo Clinic has been released online.

A total of 487 healthy adults over the age of 65 participated in the randomized controlled trial, called the IMPACT Study. Half were assigned to a group that trained on a brain fitness software program for a total of 40 hours over the course of 8 weeks. The other half spent an equal amount of time learning from educational lectures on the computer followed by quizzes.

The study found that participants who trained on the software, The Brain Fitness Program™ from Posit Science®, more than doubled their processing speed, with an average increase of 131%. They also saw gains on standard measures of memory and attention of 10 years, on average. These changes were big enough that participants reported significant improvements in every day activities (such as remembering names or understanding conversations in noisy restaurants). The gains of the brain exercise group were clinically significant; the gains of the lecture group were significantly smaller and not clinically significant.

The Brain Fitness Program was developed by a global team of neuroscientists for Posit Science. It consists of six exercises done on a computer. The product is based on the science of brain plasticity – the ability of the brain to change and form new pathways in response to the right stimulation delivered in the right way.

Marlene Allen, aged 75, of Mill Valley, California participated in the brain exercise half of the study. “Now I don’t have to write down shopping lists. I remember what I need at the store,” Ms. Allen said. “And I almost never walk into a room and forget why anymore.”

While some earlier studies have shown older adults get better at exercises that they practice, this study goes two steps further. The improvements at the exercises resulted in gains in standard measures of memory and attention and people noticed improvements in their every day activities.

“The changes we saw in the experimental group were remarkable – and significantly larger than the gains in the control group,” said Liz Zelinski, PhD, a principal investigator for the study from the University of Southern California. “From a researcher’s point of view, this was very impressive because people got better at the tasks trained, those improvements generalized to standardized measures of memory and people noticed improvements in their lives. What this means is that cognitive decline is no longer an inevitable part of aging. Doing properly designed cognitive activities can enhance our abilities as we age.”

“We saw gains of 4% in memory scores in the brain exercise group,” said Glenn Smith, PhD, the study’s principal investigator from the Mayo Clinic. “That may not sound like much, but it is about what an older person normally loses in a 10 year period. The lectures group saw about a 2% gain, which may sound like they did half as well; however, we look at memory on a curve, not a straight line, and a 2% gain is not something you are apt to notice in your life.”

“This study has profound personal and public implications for aging baby boomers and their parents,” said Joe Coughlin, PhD, Director of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute Technology. “This means boomers may now have tools for a future that is not their grandfather’s old age.  It also impacts most aspects of independent living – from aging-in-place to transportation to all the great and little things that we call life. This is big news for aging and for all of us.”

The IMPACT study is the largest study ever of a brain fitness program that is available to the public and the first published in a medical journal to show improvements in memory and attention.





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