Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Game Brain

From today's Philadelphia Inquirer:

Mental gymnastics to maintain the brain
Boomers try games and gadgets to ease minds about aging
By Lini S. Kadaba
Inquirer Staff Writer


As more baby boomers enter their 60s and others witness their elderly parents descend into senility, say experts, they're chasing after cognitive fitness with the same vigor they've had while pursuing wrinkle-free skin and erectile function.

By holding out the promise of sharper, longer-lasting brain cells, a plethora of gadgets, classes and computer games has captured the attention of forever-youngs - despite thin scientific proof that any of this will keep their minds humming.

Nintendo's popular Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day (1.3 million copies sold, according to the NPD Group) is more about fun than an assessment of mental acuity. But others - such as MindFit from Cognifit Ltd. and Brain Fitness, with object identifications, geometric puzzles and list recitations - have some limited evidence to back claims.

Researchers can barely keep up with the interest shown by boomers. In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alzheimer's Association plan to issue a "road map" to cognitive health. And at the Joint Conference of the American Society on Aging and National Council on the Aging last month, at least 10 sessions highlighted brain fitness and the need to master ever-more-complex tasks.

In this region alone, a half-dozen new classes - with boomers sprinkled among the elders - are devoted to exercising the old noggin'.


[ ... Read the full article ... ]