Are there really benefits?
Brain training seems to be all the rage. Proponents claim many benefits ranging from simple improved memory to fewer car accidents.
We know that the brain constantly changes. It rewires itself daily in response to our environments. That monumental task is called neuroplasticity. It’s a unique feature of the human brain that allows us to adapt and change permitting greater survival among our species.
The brain’s ability to change remains throughout our lifetimes. However, the brain is much like a muscle; it’s a use it or lose it proposition. This is especially true as we age.
The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (November 2010) reports of a study involving more than 900 active drivers with an average age of 73. Several universities were involved in the study. The researchers divided the drivers into four groups. Group 1 used a computer program designed to decrease their reaction times. Group 2 were taught strategies to improve reasoning and problem-solving. Group 3 got classroom training designed to improve memory, and Group 4, which served as the control group, received no training at all.
The researchers collected data on the drivers (state driving records) over the following six years. They found that drivers who received the computer or problem-solving training caused 50 percent fewer accidents during the six years compared with the control group. Those who went through memory training, however, showed no significant change.
This indicates that if one’s goal is to improve driving skills, then they must practice a task that is closely associated with the driving. It is safe to generalize this maxim to virtually any skill set.
Another study published in the December 2010 Archives of Internal Medicine is a one-year follow-up of 155 women ages 65 to 75 who participated in an earlier strength-training exercise program in 2007-2008. Those researchers found that strength training not only increased strength and bone density, but also improved focus.
The researchers randomly divided the female participants into once-weekly and twice-weekly workouts that used dumbbells, weight machines and free-form exercises to build muscle strength. The control group performed twice-weekly balancing and toning exercises, but performed no weight lifting exercises. At the end of the 12-month program, both the weight-training groups showed sharply improved mental focus. In the control group, mental function slightly declined.
Many other studies confirm what these researchers tell us: brain exercises can improve cognitive function and exercise helps maintain a healthy focused brain. We’ve been saying this for close to twenty years. Play Attention can be used to maintain a healthy brain throughout one’s life. It addresses a variety of cognitive skill sets which will keep growing as new games are created. This is well past cutting edge; it’s leading edge.