Mason Professor Lists Top ‘Brain Games’ for Older Adults
Posted: June 19, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
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Responding to a study estimating a quadrupling of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease by 2050, Mason professor Andrew Carle has released a list of the best “brain games” available for those seeking to maximize cognitive function.
The study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health estimates that as the world’s population ages, Alzheimer’s could affect more than 100 million people by 2050. The study also states that interventions that could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by as little as one year would reduce prevalence of the disease by 12 million cases by that time.
Carle, assistant professor and director of the Program in Assisted Living/Senior Housing Administration at Mason, has developed a list of computer-based brain games that he feels are among the best current technologies for addressing cognitive declines inherent in the aging process. The list reflects his opinions and is not based on formal criteria.
- Posit Science – Brain Fitness Program 2.0: Developed in conjunction with more than 50 brain scientists, the program utilizes software that can be purchased for use on a home computer. Recommended “training” includes completion of 40 hours of a variety of 15-minute exercises over a period of 90 days. A peer-reviewed study completed by the company showed an average 10-year improvement in memory among participants, with results maintained up to three months after the training’s conclusion. Cost is $395/single user; $495/two users. Available at www.positscience.com.
- MindFit: Another software program, MindFit is part of a portfolio of products available from CogniFit, an Israel-based company focusing on cognition products for people of all ages. The software provides a patented “Individualized Training System” that takes users through 24 training sessions, each lasting 20 minutes. Recommended participation is three times per week. Results of an independent, double-blind study released by the company showed short-term memory improvement of 18 percent among participants age 50 and over. Cost is $129-$149. Available at www.cognifit.com.
- Dakim [m]Power: Currently available only in assisted living, retirement and related senior housing communities, the [m]Power was developed by former Hollywood and Disney executives in conjunction with the UCLA Center on Aging. A stand-alone touch screen system eliminates the need for a mouse or keypad. The “EasyTouch” log-on allows those with early to mid-stage dementia to access and participate in a variety of entertaining and engaging activities across six cognitive domains. Results are uploaded daily to a central computer, allowing individualized programming designed to maximize participation and results. A home version is scheduled for release this fall at an estimated cost of $1,995. Available at www.dakim.com.
- MyBrainTrainer.com: While not supported by product-specific research, this web-based program provides 19 exercises based on neuroscience and includes a recommended 21-day training program. Participants can track and measure personal results on a “brain diary” or against any of the site’s 12,000 members by age, occupation or other characteristics. Cost is $9.95 for a one-year membership. Available at www.mybraintrainer.com.
While additional studies are needed to determine actual as well as long-term benefits for any cognition improvement program, Carle says research has determined that “brain strength” like “physical strength” is a “use it or lose it” proposition.
“Everyone will experience a decline in cognitive skills after age 50, just as athletes see a decline in physical skills,” says Carle. “What we know is that it doesn’t mean you can no longer function – indeed, even outperform younger individuals – or maximize either skill. You just have to be willing to work at it.”