A New Year and Brain Fitness

As a kid I enjoyed making New Year’s resolutions, even though there was never any intent to carry them out. Rather, they simply provided the same sense of satisfaction as cleaning out my loose leaf binder for school; I knew everything would get messy again but it was nice to have a fresh start! I’m not making any resolutions, or suggesting you should, about brain fitness programs, but mentioning them at the start of a new year tickles that same sense of satisfaction.

Coincidentally, as I sat down to write this post, I checked Neurons Firing to see what I wrote around this time last year. Turns out on January 20th I posted about Michael Merzenich. Big deal, you may say. Well, among other occupations, Merzenich has a company called PositScience that focuses on brain fitness. Hmm, January and brain fitness – there’s that tickle again! 

There have been a number of prominent neuroscientists who have talked about the benefits of keeping one’s brain fit by using a combination of physical exercise, and stimulating, novel mental challenges. The latter comes under the arch of brain fitness, which has emerged as a market onto itself, complete with digital programs designed to challenge the brain, one level at a time.

SharpBrains, where I guest blog, specializes in assessing the brain fitness market, and makes its research available via several formats. In March 2008 they published The State of the Brain Fitness Software Market, a summary of which can be accessed  here. SharpBrains also has a useful post containing a 10 item checklist to help select brain fitness programs. 

Also in 2008, Dan Rather filed a report called Mind Science. The report is broken up into six parts, all of which are available on YouTube. Below is part three, which focuses on brain fitness, in particular PositScience. Approximately 8 minutes into the video, Rather and Eric Kandel provide a fascinating look into memory.

I have no experience with any of the brain fitness programs, so cannot speak to their effectiveness or ease of use. However, I have written extensively about the benefits of providing novel challenges to the brain as a way of strengthening memory and creativity. I am convinced there are benefits for older folks in getting baseline cognitive testing, particularly if there are concerns about memory, general functioning or if there is a history of age-related cognitive decline in the family.

Below are links to brain fitness programs and related articles. If you have experience in this field, please feel free to turn this post into a conversation!

This first set of links comes either from searches I did or readers of Neurons Firing.

This set of links are to programs mentioned in the earlier referenced SharpBrains report.

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2 thoughts on “A New Year and Brain Fitness

  1. synapsesensations Post author

    Hi Martin,
    Thanks for your comment! If ever you’d be interested in writing a bit about the study and how it relates to your program, I’d be happy to publish it as a guest blog piece. I don’t know much more than I’ve already written about the brain fitness area, and have never had a guest blogger, but it might be interesting for Neurons Firing readers to get an inside scoop on the field.

    Cheers,
    Laurie

  2. Martin Walker

    Hello, Laurie.

    Very good to see Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro on your list. 2008 was a very exciting year for evidence of brain fitness efficacy, with the publication of Jaeggi and Buschkuehl’s landmark study demonstrating increases in intelligence from working-memory training (a training protocol we use in our program).

    Best wishes,
    Martin
    http://www.mindsparke.com

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