Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Booming Memory Industry

My brain needs Viagra
Are memory lapses the result of stressful family lives or multi-tasking? Or maybe the simple aging process?
The Globe and Mail
Saturday, March 12, 2005 Updated at 9:26 AM EST


Senior moments are becoming boomer moments. So what? Well, this generation is the first in history to try to beat back the mental ravages of aging. (And if we aren't the first, we think we are.)

Boomers, after all, never resigned themselves to grey hair, wrinkles and bifocals. Instead, we embrace Botox, hair dye and laser-eye surgery, even if we have to get one eye done for reading, the other for distance.

Now, we want to fight the invisible. We want to stave off the inevitable winter of the mind. We want Viagra for the brain.

"Perhaps boomers are more self-conscious, literally. They don't like to reveal imperfection," says Fergus Craik, 69, a research psychologist at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto.

His colleague, Morris Moscovitch, says that in the 1990s, reporters would interview him for memory stories once every three years. Now, he gets a call every three months. "I was thinking it was because I was becoming more prominent, but it may be because more editors are boomers," jokes Dr. Moscovitch, 59, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and a Rotman senior scientist.

Indeed, the memory industry is booming. There are workshops, self-help books, flash cards, board games, video games and dietary supplements. On-line sites vie to remind forgetful customers of important dates. The hottest trend is mental-gymnastics software, even though it hasn't been shown conclusively to limber up the brain.

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