Published Study Shows Brain Exercises Improve Memory and Attention

A study to be published in the April 4, 2009 edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that computerized brain exercises can improve memory and attention in older adults. 

The study, conducted by by researchers from the University of Southern California and the Mayo Clinic, found that participants who trained on The Brain Fitness Program from Posit Science more than doubled their processing speed, with an average increase of 131%. The researchers also report gains on standard measures of memory and attention of 10 years, on average.

From Posit’s press release about the study:

“The changes we saw in the experimental group were remarkable – and significantly larger than the gains in the control group,” said Liz Zelinski, PhD, a principal investigator for the study from the University of Southern California. “From a researcher’s point of view, this was very impressive because people got better at the tasks trained, those improvements generalized to standardized measures of memory and people noticed improvements in their lives. What this means is that cognitive decline is no longer an inevitable part of aging. Doing properly designed cognitive activities can enhance our abilities as we age.” 

“We saw gains of 4% in memory scores in the brain exercise group,” said Glenn Smith, PhD, the study’s principal investigator from the Mayo Clinic. “That may not sound like much, but it is about what an older person normally loses in a 10 year period. The lectures group saw about a 2% gain, which may sound like they did half as well; however, we look at memory on a curve, not a straight line, and a 2% gain is not something you are apt to notice in your life.” 

Posit Science is a San Francisco-based company that develops computer programs that engage the brain’s natural plasticity to improve brain health. It’s founder, Dr. Michael Merzenich, was a founder of Scientific Learning (creators of the Fast ForWord programs). And Posit Science licenses some of the patented technology behind the Fast ForWord programs for use in its Brain Fitness program.

The USC/Mayo Clinic study obviously addressed improvements in a different population from that with which Be Amazing typically works. Still, it’s great to see another published study definitively showing the improvements in brain fitness that are possible with a program based on Fast ForWord’s technology.

The full study is available online on the Web site of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The abstract is free, and the full article is available for a fee.

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