Cognitive Workout

More news on the mental fitness front:

Cognitive Fitness as a New Frontier of Fitness

For decades, physicians and scientists asserted that declining mental performance is an immutable fact of aging. Brain cells inexorably are lost with age and wear-and-tear, they believed. And unlike most other organs capable of self-repair, lost brain cells cannot be replaced, they said.

But the past 15 years have brought about a revolution in thinking about the brain — not only its ability to generate replacement cells but to respond at any age to a stimulating environment by strengthening and developing new connections between cells and among different regions of the brain.

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Now change “cognitive fitness programs” to “cognitive fitness video game” and there you go. Bonnie knows wassup:

Bonnie Theis, a 65-year-old from St. Cloud, Minn., now spends roughly $10 per month on Happy Neuron’s cognitive fitness programs, after putting in “way too much time in front of the boob tube” following her recent retirement from library science. The Happy Neuron program, designed by French neuroscientists and widely used in Europe, “takes itself very seriously” but is fun to use and has coached her to improve in the areas in which her performance is weakest, said Theis. After spending some time with the program most days for a year, she feels her attention to details in her environment has sharpened, her memory has improved and her response time to cues like traffic signs seems faster. And that perceived improvement is all she needs to justify the expenditure of time and money in a program.

“How much proof do you need to go see a movie? The expense is the same,” said Theis. “It’s $10 a month — big whoopee deal. . . . And the time I spend on it would be time spent doing a hand-held Sudoku game or watching TV. I’d prefer to be learning while being entertained.

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