At 64 years of age, I am one of those older adults looking to improve my cognitive performance.
I would be satisfied with a large dollop of reassurance that I was not headed to alzheimers land.
So I am very intrigued about what I read in the main stream press about the emerging field of brain fitness, which is centered around emerging information about neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.
Of course, the marketers have been all over this information, playing to the fears of Boomers, and also playing to the Boomer lifestyle, which means a more meaningful and active retirement than our parents had.
So a number of programs have emerged for sale which purport to increase your brains fitness.
According to the Posit Science folks though, for the computerized brain fitness programs to be effective, they must provide the right kind of mental stimulation.
In the recently published IMPACT study, the Posit Science Brain Fitness program was tested against what most of us would call regular kinds of classroom instruction.
"A recently published study led by investigators at Mayo Clinic and The University of Southern California compared the effects of traditional mental stimulation through coursework versus mental stimulation from a brain fitness software program. The randomized controlled trial, called the IMPACT Study, followed 487 healthy adults aged 65 and older. Half were assigned to a group that trained on brain fitness software for 40 hours over 8 weeks. The other half spent an equal amount of time listening to lectures via computer and answering quizzes.
The study found that participants who trained on the software, The Brain Fitness Program(TM) from Posit Science(R), 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."
That is the kind of reassurance I like to have.
Whether or not the Posit Science program is the ultimate older adult cognitive enhancement tool or not, I am relieved to know that there are tools in place, with more coming, since we Baby Boomers still have a lot of market place clout, that I can use to shore up what is still available in my brain, even enhance that.
Why do I say enhance?
Well, I am still exercising regularly at my local YMCA, and believe it or not, I am actually lifting more weight in some exercises than I did when I was a kid playing football at Illinois State University.
If I can lift more physical weight, why not more mental weight?
So in an effort to enhance my neural structures, I have tried out the Posit Science program.
It is easy to set up and use. And I noticed an immediate increase in my short term memory, primarily in three other brain fitness programs I already use. (Lumosity, Brain Builder, and Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro).
The one downside of the Brain Fitness Program, which has really been tested on Senior Citizens, is its time of usage. They want an hour of time for "the right kind of mental stimulation" per day for five days a week for eight weeks. I have small children, and oftentimes, I get interrupted.
However, once I buy the program, it is on my computer, and I can repeat a lesson, or pick it up where I left off. Those are useful aspects of the program for me.
It is the most expensive of the programs, but I will pay for reassurance, and all the information at their website is invaluable to me. I like to read.
For a look at the Posit Science Program, please check the right sidebar.
Another program for those serious about improving their cognitive performance is the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro.
To me, it is very important that the researchers not be involved in the marketing of the product, and they are not with this program. It is being marketed by a visionary entrepreneur. Your progress can be measured on IQ tests, but I like the the results included in the program, a simple chart.
What really turned me on about Mind Sparke is that my concentration and follow through got better immediately. The Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro is fun, and I look forward to practicing, which initially involves about 1/2 hour per day, for 19 days. If you read the research, you will understand why they came up with 19 days. Then maintenance practice is all that is necessary. However, Martin has come up with a version for the kids.